Before anyone starts scrabbling in their attics for fading issues of Comic Media News, Solar Wind or Fantasy Advertiser thinking to strike gold while the world’s gone mad, you should know this fanzine is a rarity because only (at most) 50 were ever printed, perhaps only three copies are known to exist – and it features an article about HP Lovecraft written by Alan Moore that is considered to be his first ever published comics work.
The last time a copy was sold publicly, back in 2014, it sold for a staggering $5100, making it the most expensive comic fanzine ever sold.
Utopia/Valhalla Issue One, edited by Paul McCartney (no, not that Paul McCartney) and Dave Womack is at present considered Alan’s first known work (the seller of the previous copy of the ‘zine, Ewen Brownlow, has suggested there might be other material), predating an article on The Shadow in Seminar #2, published in September 1970 and a copy of which sold on eBay in 2008 for £325, and Embryo #5.
According to the listing, Utopia/ Valhalla was published as a one-shot in February 1970. (The April 1970 date on the editorial pages merely adopted the same system as for all US comic books, which were issued a couple of months before their cover date to maintain their presence on the newsstands).
The previous copy sold at auction reached its final selling price after multiple bids from interested collectors across the globe because it included an article written in 1969 by the then 15-year-old Alan Moore.
To date, it remains the first piece of work by Alan ever published in a comic related fanzine (although a letter by Moore was printed in a horror fanzine, Shadow 9, which was dated Jan/Feb 1970) and the article was received, together with some unpublished artwork by Moore, several months before publication.
The concept for Utopia/Valhalla was conceived by the editors, Paul McCartney and Dave Womack. Valhalla was an adzine containing copious pages of McCartney’s own comics for sale together with other advertisers. It was similar in style to the acclaimed Fantasy Advertiser, published up until that time by Frank Dobson. But McCartney had always wanted to combine fanzine-styled pages together with adverts, so the ‘dual-zine’ Utopia/Valhalla evolved from that idea, with Utopia being edited by Dave Womack and stapled together, back to front, with Valhalla.
Both covers were drawn by the highly regarded fanzine artist, Alan Hunter.
Sadly, a second issue never reached print, primarily because McCartney took over the editorship of Fantasy Advertiser, together with close friend Dez Skinn, at the invitation of Frank Dobson who had emigrated to Australia. Their first issue was the mammoth-sized No. 32, published in the early summer of 1970 and it maintained and improved upon the concept of the dual-zine launched with Utopia/Valhalla months previously.
“Whilst Paul found combining university commitments with publishing FA on a regular basis too much to maintain by 1971, Dez steadfastly produced Fantasy Advertiser for years to come,” the seller notes.
This copy of the Valhalla adzine has the previous owner’s name at the top of the cover and first page, together with a few annotations/lines denoting comics the owner purchased from the listings (which adds some provenance and period authenticity to the copy). The printing quality is not good, with some pages faint; this was acknowledged with an apology in the editorial at the time. All copies were similar.
However, it’s a very nice example of perhaps the most sought after UK Fanzine/Adzine – albeit one for those with deep pockets. It’s all held together and presents nicely.
“The scarcity of Utopia/Valhalla One is unquestioned,” the seller, “ZombieBen“, notes. “Only 50 copies were printed and less than 30 sold to subscribers, such was the small scale of UK comic fandom at the time. The fragmentation of this early fandom was such that many collectors were in total isolation to all others with similar interests.
“Research has revealed that there is unlikely to be more than four or five surviving copies, only two or three of which have ever been offered for resale in recent times. Utopia/Valhalla’s worth has been known since June 2014 and worldwide searches have not unearthed more copies, though many have tried.
“This copy has also been the personal property of Paul McCartney for some time before being passed on to me fairly recently but the time has come for me to say a fond farewell to the jewel in my fanzine/adzine collection.”
This copy of Utopia/Valhalla One has a starting price of $3,495 / £2,795, to encourage bidding from disappointed Alan Moore completists who failed to secure the copy sold to a US buyer in June 2014.
UPDATE 28 February 2017: Perhaps unsurprisingly Utopia/Valhalla did not sell and it has been re-listed on eBay at the same price.