Phil Comics June 2019 Auction Montage

Phil Comics offers TV21, Tornado and “Curly Wee” rarities in latest eBay auction

Phil Comics June 2019 Auction MontageThere’s another astonishing array of comics and comic-related items on offer in the latest eBay auction from Phil Comics this month: hundreds of vintage comics, annuals, free gifts, holiday specials and more, in 550 odd listings, including some very rare and often much sought after Curly Wee annuals.

Items include a number of Gerry Anderson Supermarionation-focused TV21 comics, TV Tornado, Tornado (yes, the short-lived comic featuring artist Dave Gibbons as a superhero), 1960s Holiday Specials, and many US comics.

Two items of that jumped out at me in the auction were the rare annuals featuring the bizarrely-named but beautifully drawn porcine hero “Curly Wee“, featuring stories by Maud Budden and art by Roland Clibborn, from 1948 and 1950 respectively. The 1948 edition is signed by the artist.

Curly Wee Annual 1948
Curly Wee Annual 1948

Curly Wee Annual 1948Curly Wee Annual 1948Curly Wee Annual 1948

Like Ken Reid’s “Fudge the Elf”, the “Curly Wee” picture stories, told in the same format as Rupert the Bear, were published in British regional papers.

“They’re lovely books, with very crisp artwork and matt covers,” Phil tells us. “We’ve only handled one run before these two books and don’t know all that much about them. Publishing seem to transfer between Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Mail and a Northern Ireland publisher.”

Research reveals the strip was published between 20th September 1937 until at least 31st December 1969, the strip, originally distributed by Newspaper Features Ltd., now syndicated through The Press Association, running in papers that include the Irish Independent.

“Curly Wee” was originally written by the poet, writer and journalist Maud Budden (real name Dora Magdalene, nee Fraser), who wrote the stories in both these books offered, and drawn by Clibborn.

An episode of “Curly Wee” that was republished in the Irish Independent in March 2006
An episode of “Curly Wee” that was republished in the Irish Independent in March 2006

In total, “Curly Wee” fan Nicholas Morrison, who has assembled quite an archive of the strip, noted back in 2006, the numbers strip ran from 1 to 1199, 2000 – 10,274 and from 1 to 1004 drawn by “Clark”, his last story first appearing in the Birmingham Mail. Curly Wee annuals were published from 1944 onwards until 1953 and some command high prices and fond memories from a clearly loyal cohort of fans who grew up reading the character, including comic writer Maura McHugh. The first two were not in full colour; the 1949 annual was reprinted in 1990.

An erudite author who died in 1976, in his book, British Children’s Fiction in the Second World War, Owen Dudley Edwards notes Maud Budden drew inspiration for her verse from writers as diverse as Marco Polo and Charles Dickens.

Her husband Lionel was a Professor of Architecture at Liverpool University and her son Julian, who died in 2007, distinguished himself in the world of opera. Their daughter’s family remembers her fondly.

She was a member of the Sandon Studios Society, a community of working artists first established in 1905 that expanded membership to others interested in art and ideas, preparing the ground for Bluecoat to become the UK’s first arts centre, which was formally constituted in 1927 with the establishment of Bluecoat Society of Arts.

The “Curly Wee” strip not only featured in regional British newspapers and in Ireland – it was syndicated abroad, Clibborn’s grandson, Nick, noting that at one point the strip was syndicated to over 300 newspapers, mainly in the old ‘empire’ countries. These include Melbourne Age in the 1950s, Zimbabwe’s Bulawayo Chronicle, the Madras Mail in India and the Cape Argus and the Johannewsburg Daily Star in South Africa.

Roland Clibborn
Roland Clibborn

Born in 1881 in Philadelphia of British parents, Roland Clibborn was a much celebrated cartoonist for the Liverpool Echo, after many years as an import/export merchant.

Sadly, his grandson has noted much of his original artwork was destroyed by fire in 1993, but some examples have survived. Clibborn drawing over 10,000 episodes of “Curly Wee”, the last numbered 10,274, after which he retired due to ill health in 1967. By then, this singular blog post notes, he needed a little help with the artwork and later episodes are credited, as noted above, to “Clark”, whose interpretation of the character was different to the original.

Clibborn died in 1969.

An online discussion of the strip, archived here on Wayback, reveals further intriguing snippets about the strip, and its huge audience. One commentator notes that in Roddy Doyle’s Rory and Ita, his father descibes how the board at the Irish Independent scrapped it, only to have it reinstated by the outraged owner. He further descibes a crisis when the plates failed to arive from Liverpool. The Independent hired a plane for an emergency flight and held the presses!

As ever, some items are offered with their original free gifts, and there’s a rare library copy of 1960s comic WHAM! in the mix too, detailing who drew and wrote many of the strips – a fantastic resource for comics archivists.

Run by Phil Shrimpton, Phil Comics specialises in vintage comics and related items such as annuals, holiday specials, free gifts and original artwork.

Holding monthly eBay auctions, often with 500+ listings, they aim to bring a diverse array of items – and are always on the lookout for vintage comic collections, either to buy or auction on commission.

• The auction closes at the end of this week. Check it out at: ebay.co.uk/str/phil-comics

• To receive a monthly newsletter promoting Phil Comic auctions, save them as a seller and subscribe to their General Interest newsletter

FOOM #8 Marvel Comic Member Pack released in the 1970s, including card, poster and stickers
FOOM #8 Marvel Comic Member Pack released in the 1970s, including card, poster and stickers
Curly Wee Annual 1950
Curly Wee Annual 1950
TV21 Issue 183, with a "Captain Scarlet" strip by by Mike Noble on the cover
TV21 Issue 183, with a “Captain Scarlet” strip by by Mike Noble on the cover
TV Tornado Issue 3
TV Tornado Issue 3
Amazing Spider-Man #65
Amazing Spider-Man #65
Fantastic Four Pocket Book #1 (Marvel Digest Series)
Fantastic Four Pocket Book #1 (Marvel Digest Series)
Action Issue 1 with free gift
Action Issue 1 with free gift
Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur by P. Craig Russell
Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur by P. Craig Russell
Tornado Issue 8 - and yes, that is artist Dave Gibbons on the cover, dressed as a superhero!
Tornado Issue 8 – and yes, that is artist Dave Gibbons on the cover, dressed as a superhero!
Tornado Issue 20, with a "Captain Klep" cover by Kevin O'Neill
Tornado Issue 20, with a “Captain Klep” cover by Kevin O’Neill
Bunty Summer Special 1981
Bunty Summer Special 1981
Sue Day Annual 1963 (from Princess comic)
Sue Day Annual 1963 (from Princess comic)
Adventure comic #1303-1354 (1950)
Adventure comic #1303-1354 (1950)
Victor Issue 517 - cover dated 16th January 1971, with Star Cars free gift
Victor Issue 517 – cover dated 16th January 1971, with Star Cars free gift
War Picture Library - various issue
Some of many issues of Fleetway’s War Picture Library
Panic Comic Magazine Vol 1 #4 - Jan 1959 Holiday Issue - from the Jim Baikie Collection
Panic Comic Magazine Vol 1 #4 – Jan 1959 Holiday Issue – from the Jim Baikie Collection

• The auction closes at the end of this week. Check it out at: ebay.co.uk/str/phil-comics

• To receive a monthly newsletter promoting Phil Comic auctions, save them as a seller and subscribe to their General Interest newsletter

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

One thought on “Phil Comics offers TV21, Tornado and “Curly Wee” rarities in latest eBay auction

  1. Ah, the innocence of the likes of Curly Wee, and its contemporaries. Children had childhoods in those days. Now they treated as small/young adults almost from birth.

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