During my junior year of university, the above image adorned one wall of my small dorm room. The massive piece of art, the noted Marvel Universe poster with art by penciller Ed Hannigan and inker Joe Rubenstein, was actually a collage of his cover artwork from the first 12 issues of the original Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe limited series, over the course of 1982 to 1984 (the total run was 15 issues, with the last three focusing on dead characters and weapons)..
The poster, measuring 50 inches by 50 inches (more than 16 square feet), would’ve been released in 1988 — oddly enough, after the followup index series, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition had wrapped up. Of course, since different artists ultimately contributed cover artwork for that second series while Hannigan handled all of the covers for the original series, I suppose it made more sense to release his work as a poster (albeit updated to reflect some additions and costume changes).
Alas, sometime during my university days, or perhaps as they came to an end, I misplaced the poster, packed up safely in its original hard cardboard tube. I left it behind somewhere after one of my many moves.
I’ve seen the image pop up from time to time in recent years during my meandering through the corner of the Internet dedicated to all things comics. It occurred to me I’d love to have a copy of the poster again, so I set out this weekend to track down a copy. After all, you can find anything online these days, can’t you?
Well, other than eBay listings for a smaller, 20-inch-by-20-inch version of that poster, I found only one listing for a copy of the original print run: $250 US plus another fifty bucks to ship it. And it’s not a pristine copy; images showed it was a well worn poster, damaged around the edges from use.
I want a copy again, but not that much. Given the size of the poster and presumably the small print run for such a speciality product in that day, I shouldn’t be surprised it’s hard to come by and pricey.
Every time I see it mentioned online, it’s clear it’s a fondly remembered piece of comics-related merchandise, something in demand by fans of my age. And that gives rise to another question: why hasn’t Marvel reissued a new printing of the poster? Or commissioned a new version that brings together its extensive library of iconic and obscure characters?
I’d be willing to plunk down some of my hard-earned cash for a new copy of Ed Hannigan’s landmark connected cover work. And it seems that the 30th anniversary of the original poster would be a great time to revisit it with a new printing.