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.
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?
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”).
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.
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.
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.
• 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, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.