Egmont's comic archive arrives at Rebellion. Image: Rebellion

Egmont’s classic comics archive arrives at Rebellion, Roy of the Rovers collections already in the works

Egmont's comic archive arrives at Rebellion. Image: Rebellion
Egmont’s comic archive arrives at Rebellion. Image: Rebellion

The surviving  bound comics volumes and comics art from the Egmont archive has arrived at new owners Rebellion‘s Oxford HQ, another step in the process of seeing some great British girls and boys comics material get back into print.

2000AD‘s owners bought Egmont’s classics comic titles first published by Fleetway Editions and characters earlier this year. The company now own brands such as Action, Battle, Jinty, Misty, Cor! and Whizzer and Chips; along with any characters first created by Fleetway Editions after January 1970 (and some characters created before that, such as somecharacters from Buster and the iconic Roy of the Rovers); and the right to reprint thousands of strips.

Rebellion says staff at 2000AD were delighted to get the chance to leaf through five pallets’ worth of boxes containing such an important part of British comics history.

“The comics will now be stored and archived by the team behind 2000AD‘s successful graphic novel line as the company draws up plans on what to do with dozens of titles, hundreds of characters, and hundreds of thousands of pages,” notes a report on the 2000AD web site.

Bound volumes of many classic British comics, now safely held by Rebellion. Image: Rebellion
Bound volumes of many classic British comics, now safely held by Rebellion. Image: Rebellion

The impressive lorry load of art pictured in their report, together with shelves of bound volumes, is impressive and great to see, but it is of course, sadly, still a small fraction of what was created down the years. For example, some art featuring characters now owned by Rebellion was sold by IPC when they divested of their art archive some years ago and is now on sale from various outlets.

downthetubes readers may even have bought pages from eBay or at conventions, via companies such as Blase Books, the principal seller of art from the IPC (now Time UK) collection, or Silver Acre, who also sell British comic art, as do other companies such as the Book Palace Illustration Art Gallery or great auction houses such as ComPalComics.

Charley's War
The classic World War One strip “Charley’s War” is now owned by Rebelion, among many others. Charley’s War TM & © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

That art featuring now Rebellion-owned characters was in the hands of IPC rather than Egmont reflects the muddle that was once was who owned the rights to Fleetway Édition assets, until a deal was struck in the 1990s drawing a line between pre-January 1970 published comics such as Lion and Tiger and characters such as Faceache, Skid Solo and Robot Archie, and those first published after that date in comics such as Thunder, Shiver and Shake, Misty and more.

Time UK own the pre 1970 material and Rebellion now own the more modern characters and comic brands, with the exception of Dan Dare and some Eagle characters from both the original Eagle and the 1980s edition (for example, Doomlord) who are owned by the Dan Dare Corporation.

Sadly, while some art was returned to artists who asked for it, much art from both the IPC and Egmont archives has been lost down the years, through damage, dumping, deliberate destruction on the orders of short-sighted management, and theft – none of which, and I cannot stress this highly enough, has anything to do with any company mentioned now selling art).

IPC and Egmont aren’t alone in facing art disappearance problems, either – at Marvel UK, one employee asset stripped that former comics publisher’s comics library in a very short space of time, before being caught and sacked. When Marvel UK was sold to Panini, some artwork still in the Arundel House stacks in London was dumped before the company’s assets were transferred to Tunbridge Wells in the 1990s.

Comic art has also been stolen from other companies such as the Daily Express, who hold art from TV21, Countdown and Lady Penelope, after being loaned out for exhibition purposes.

A panel of Roy of the Rovers in action by David Sque, running onto a pass from Blackie Grey! Roy of the Rovers TM & © Rebellion Publishing Ltd
A panel of Roy of the Rovers in action by David Sque, running onto a pass from Blackie Grey! Roy of the Rovers TM & © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

But let’s end this item on a positive note, including the reminder that while Titan Comics still currently hold a license to publish some strips from what was Egmont-owned material, Rebellion has already hinted at plans for Roy of the Rovers, mentioning last month that he “will soon be back on the pitch after over twenty years on the sidelines“.

It’s great that many classic British comic characters are now in the ownership of a company that understands their value and importance to fans.

Reflecting that dedication to promoting British comics, we’re very pleased to report that Rebellion have kindly extended their support to our small attempts to document the Battle-published strip “Charley’s War” and Action through our micro sites. Our work continues the efforts of the late Neil Emery to champion the World War One strip created by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun, and the research and analysis  of Action initiated by Moose Harris, originally via his Sevenpenny Nightmare project.

Our thanks to Rebellion for those permissions.

Here’s an over view of what Rebellion own in terms of comics and characters, based on Egmont-supplied paperwork from 2008

Here’s our original report on Rebellion’s purchase of Egmont’s classic comics archive

Creating Comics: Could Rebellion bring back Buster?

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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.

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