Ian Jack at the Guardian on the annual's latest incarnation:
Long before I realised that "annual" was an adjective that could be applied to ceremonies or wages, I knew it as a solid noun. Annuals came wrapped in Christmas paper, and because of their width and flatness often provided the foundations of a small pile of less stable presents such as chocolate oranges. Usually, those flat parcels turned out to reveal the adventures of Rupert Bear and, since we were a Scottish family, Oor Wullie or the Broons. The last two, both drawn by the incomparable Dudley D Watkins and published in alternate years, were funny, whereas Rupert was, I suppose, charming and innocent - the qualities that, in the early 1970s, proved so blasphemously attractive to the countercultural Oz magazine when it gave him a penis. Rupert appeared in the Daily Express, which we didn't buy, so the stories told in rhyming couplets beneath the drawings ("The two chums part, off Rupert goes, / Then all at once, how cold it grows") were always new to me, as were the cartoons in my older brother's Giles annual, also first published in the Express, which kept us laughing in our pyjamas during the liquorice all-sorts hour before breakfast.
Man, that totally takes me back: our Scottish grandfather used to send all sorts of books at Christmas, some very much to my taste and some not so much (he had a particularly evangelical fervor about Scottish literature, so that it seemed like every year I got another copy of the strangely named Lewis Grassic Gibbon trilogy A Scots Quair--none of which I ever read, there was too much the flavor of something that was not so much good in itself as good for you, I have not read it to this day--and at least one novel by R. L. Stevenson), but there was always a good supply of Oor Wullie and the Broons. It was a not-very-covert plan, I think, to keep us in touch with our Scottish heritage, and we pored over those comics as if they were the guide to an actual place and culture rather than a strange semi-mythic fictional past (the But an' Ben!).
Bonus links: a bumper Broons and Oor Wullie website; Wikipedia entries on The Broons and Oor Wullie; and an interesting article by Rhiannon Edward about why Oor Wullie's stopped saying "help ma Boab".