Art featuring SF heroine Axa, offered at auction

It’s a quieter week over on the latest Catawiki International Comic Art Auction in terms of British comic art on offer, but if you’re a fan of Axa, from The Sun, Billy Bunter or “Trigan Empire”, it’s worth a look.

Because it’s a European-based auction, final prices on some British comic art can be quite low – I was surprised a “Carol Day” strip offered in last week’s auction sold for just €111, for example, expecting fiercer bidding.

Here’s the British comic related art on offer this week…

First, there’s Enrique Badia Romero’s cover for what’s described as the French edition of an Axa collection, published in 2014, which differs from the English language edition of the Axa collections published in the US by Ken Pierce Books (“The Gambler” featured in #3 of those editions).

This art was previously sold by Corner4Art, but there’s no indication there of the amount it went for.

Axa No. 6 (French Edition?) by Enrique Badia Romero

For those unfamiliar, “Axa” was the title of a newspaper comic strip featuring the eponymous lead character, first published in Britain’s The Sun newspaper from 1978 to 1986. The first episode of the strip sold at auction in 2019 for $6000.

Opening on a post-apocalyptic Earth in the year 2080, Axa is a woman who, having grown sick of the regimented and stifling society inside a domed city, flees into the untamed wilderness.

The strip, unsurprisingly risqué at times given its initial publisher, then running daily semi-nude “Page Three” photographs of models, mixed elements of science fiction and sword-swinging barbarian tales, the lead character herself bearing more than a casual similarity to Red Sonja.

A film based on the character, “Battle for the Serpent Gate” was teased back in 2017, and is still being promoted as a project.

There’s a guide to the character here on British Comics Fandom.

Also on offer is a page of “Billy Bunter” art by the brilliant Reg Parlett, first published in 1968, a character known as “Billie Turf” on the continent. Given the recent name changes to the Bash Street Kids over on BEANO, Spotty now Scotty for the latest, is Bunter a viable property today?

Billy Bunter by Reg Parlett (1968)

Next, what would this weekly auction be without a “Robot Archie” page by Ted Kearon? In this case, another page from from 1973 story “Robot Archie and the Lost World first published in Lion. (This art – and previous pages – have wrongly been identified as “Robot Archie and the Last World”).

Lion - Robot Archie and the Lost World (1973), art by Ted Kearon

Finally, there’s a page of “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire” by Don Lawrence on offer, a page from “The Giant Plant” (also known as “The Rallus Invasion”), a story first published in Look and Learn in 1975. It has to be said that it’s hardly the most exciting of pages, but as ever, Lawrence’s draughtsmanship is faultless.

Look and Learn - The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire” - The Giant Plant (1975), art by Don Lawrence

European artists featured in the auction include Dino Attanasio, Jordi Bernet, Hermann, Dick Matena, Jacques Tardi, Carol Voges, and manga from artists such as Fugu Tadashi – and this smashing artwork by Florence Magnin of the magician, Merlin, with the sword in the stone of Arthurian legend.

Merlin with the sword in the stone, by Florence Magnin

Check out items offered by Catawiki in their International Comic Art categoryends at 7.00pm Thursday 16th December 2021

Potential Additional International Auction Costs

Do note that the UK’s departure from the European Union may mean additional import duties on sales.prior to Brexit, the effective rate of UK tax on imports of art was 5%, which is lower than most other European countries. An owner could previously import an artwork to the UK from outside the EU and was then free to transport it to other EU countries, where the import tax rates may be higher, without incurring any further import-related tax charges. If the owner then wished to bring the artwork back to the UK, there would also have been no further tax charge.

This apolitical guide outlines what you should be aware of when buying or selling art internationally but is a work in progress

The Guardian has previously reported that online orders up to £135 are now supposed to have the UK’s prevailing VAT rate added at the point of sale by the EU retailer, which has to have registered with HM Revenue & Customs.

Lots of smaller EU-based retailers have decided that the paperwork of collecting UK VAT is not worth the hassle and as a result will no longer supply UK consumers

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.



Categories: Art and Illustration, Auctions, British Comics, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds

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1 reply

  1. I’d dearly love to see new English collections if Axa. I have very fond (and confusing) memories of reading this strip as a kid. God knows what a modern audience would think if it appearing in a newspaper now?!?! Romero’s art was always sublime and the stories were purely bonkers! Probably very much of it’s time but I remember her being quite a bold character….even if she seemed almost pathological in her aversion to being fully clothed.

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