Although it's only May, Amazon already have the 2012 dated annuals listed for pre-order. Although children's annuals used to be a traditional Christmas gift it appears that isn't the case so much these days. Therefore the books come out even earlier, presumably so they can be read during the summer holidays or given as birthday presents. August/September used to be the publication date, last year they were in the shops the last week of July. This year, according to Amazon, The Dandy and The Beano annuals are scheduled for 10th July although some of the other titles are scheduled for later in the year.
Despite this, as you can see from the covers above, The Beano Annual 2012 has a lively winter scene, which may still encourage some parents to save the book for a Christmas present. (I hope so, as the three-page Super School I have in there has a Christmas theme, with snow on the logo for good measure.)
The Dandy Annual 2012 surprisingly uses an old masthead from the late 1970s/early 1980s. This might not be as strange a decision as one might first think. As these books are bought by parents and grandparents perhaps a retro logo might grab their attention? Whatever the reason, it's a good strong logo. As for the contents, I'm not sure what else will be in there yet but I've drawn a two page Kid Cops strip for it.
A trek around Amazon.co.uk shows that there will again be numerous annuals devoted to various licensed properties, from In the Night Garden to Ben 10, some of which might even feature comic strips if you're lucky. The lack of original, non-licensed annuals is depressing but not unexpected. This has been the standard for years, and we're now at the situation where the retail staff of newsagents, supermarkets etc would have grown up only expecting comics to be tied into a licensed product. Therefore they're not likely to order anything that doesn't have TV, game, or movie endorsement. It appears to be too late to turn back the clock.
That said, at least we still have annuals for Dandy, Beano, and Viz. Cherish them while you still can.