A panel from "Robot Archie" in Lion. If you look closely, in the bottom right hand corner artist Ted Kearon has managed to sneak his name in! This is from the issue cover dated 15th July 1967. With thanks to Bambos Georgiou

Why Rebellion’s acquisition of IPC’s “classic comics” is great news for fans

David McDonald of Hibernia Comics, publishers of a number of limited edition collections and Archive books, assesses the impact Rebellion’s purchase of the IPC comics archive from TI Media and what it may mean for fans of British comics…

The news last week that 2000AD publisher Rebellion bought all of the pre-1969 Amalgamated Press/IPC properties was very welcome.

These properties, along with the portion they bought from Egmont in 2016, back brings back together the whole catalogue that was separated by the sale to Maxwell in the mid 1980s. Rebellion now own the entire Fleetway archive, stretching back to the 19th century, with the exception of parts of the Eagle and some educational and nursery titles.

Robot Archie Annual 1964
The cover of Robot Archie Annual (1964)
Louis Crandell, the Steel Claw, up against alien invaders... Art © Rebellion Publishing Ltd
Louis Crandell, the Steel Claw, up against alien invaders… Art © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

There’s a lot of the material I am familiar with, even though it was published long before my time. Strips like “The Steel Claw“, “The Trigan Empire“,” Janus Stark“, “Rick Random” and “The Spider” are all well known and should be an easy sell with the quality of the strips on offer.

A panel from "Robot Archie" in Lion. If you look closely, in the bottom right hand corner artist Ted Kearon has managed to sneak his name in! This is from the issue cover dated 15th July 1967. With thanks to Bambos Georgiou
A panel from “Robot Archie” in Lion. If you look closely, in the bottom right hand corner artist Ted Kearon has managed to sneak his name in! This is from the issue cover dated 15th July 1967. With thanks to Bambos Georgiou

The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Emoire - art by Don Lawrence

But, if you dig a little deeper, there is less well know gems like the criminally underrated Brian Lewis‘ run on “Captain Condor” for Lion, or Jesus Blasco‘s “Indestructible Man” from Jag.

The opening page of 'Captain Condor and the Unseen Invaders' - Brian Lewis's third and final Captain Condor serial which originally appeared in Lion from November 1962 to January 1963. This scan is taken from the edited version of the story that was subsequently reprinted in the 1968 Lion Summer Special. Via the Art of Brian Lewis Facebook group
The opening page of ‘Captain Condor and the Unseen Invaders’ – Brian Lewis’s third and final Captain Condor serial which originally appeared in Lion from November 1962 to January 1963. This scan is taken from the edited version of the story that was subsequently reprinted in the 1968 Lion Summer Special. Via the Art of Brian Lewis Facebook group

Sideways a little brings you to the Story Papers, often lumped in with comics. These were a different beast. Papers like Champion and The Gem (and many others) serialised a number of what were basically novels and short stories with the occasional spot illustration. They had a number of recurring character like Rockfist Rogan and, of course, the famous Billy Bunter.

Probably one of the most famous historically and the most voluminous that Rebellion now own is Sexton Blake, star of comics, story papers, novels, libraries, radio and telly shows, his last appearance was as Victor Drago in Tornado, the hasty name change from Sexton to Victor due to the BBC holding the rights at the time. The Sexton tales come highly recommended by Ex-Tharg Kelvin Gosnell.

War Picture Library 1834 - "Cue For Action"Another direction brings you to the Picture Libraries, not only the well known war titles but the romance comics, too and from the romance to the film and radio titles of the 1940s and 1950s.

Then there’s the proliferation of girls comics like School Friend and Princess, to the wonderful children’s titles of early twentieth century comics like Rainbow and Comic Cuts, to the more adult story papers like Wild West… the list seems endless!

This will take a long time to process, but as has been mentioned elsewhere the archive is now with a publisher with an active interest in the material. Will we see new adventures of Rockfist Rogan, or reprints of Sexton Blake?

A modern take on the Steel Claw by Martin Baines, for an abandoned mobile comics project
A modern take on the Steel Claw by Martin Baines, for an abandoned mobile comics project

Who knows, but so far Rebellion have been delivering. I don’t think I am blowing smoke up the proverbial, when I say that. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come…

 

David McDonald is the publisher of Hibernia Comics

• See also: Classic British Comics: Who Owns What?

• The next Hibernia Comics publication will be Captain Klep’s Cosmic Comics!, a Kevin O’Neill miscellany, gathering up some of his less well known covers, text stories and humour strips from titles like Lion, Starlord and 2000AD. Hibernia are hoping for an end of November release, which will be released under the Hibernia and Treasury brand

• Hibernia Comics is online at hiberniabook.blogspot.com | Buy their books on line here on Comicsy | Follow Hibernia Comics on Facebook

 

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