It’s a case of “The Usual Suspects” when it comes to the British comic art on offer in the the latest weekly Catawiki International Comic Art Auction – but if your tastes extend to the best of European comics, then there’s plenty to interest you, and not just in this auction on the site, either.
A smashing page of “Robot Archie and the Giant Scorpion”, drawn by Ted Kearon, first published in Lion, back in 1966, is the first of four items originally published in British comics on offer this week.
Also offered is another fine page from another Lion strip, “The Man Who Searched for Fear”, drawn by Bill Lacey, following in the heels of a page from the same strip that sold last week for €270.
“The Man Who Searched For Fear” centres on Hugo Masterman, a man who has no fear and tries dangerous things around the world. Bear Alley Books released the strip in a collection back in 2014, and copies are still available direct from them, or booksellers such as AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
As mentioned before, British comic art hasn’t in the past always attracted high bids on Catawiki, so on occasion, there are relative bargains to be had. Just beware the import duties on top, the result of Brexit.
The exception to this apparent blind spot is, as ever, pages from “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire”, from Look and Learn. You can expect the usual fierce bidding on a page from the 1967 story, “Revolution in Zabriz”, drawn by Don Lawrence, particularly as original art from earlier stories rarely comes to market.
There’s another beautiful page by Leslie Otway, too, again from an unfortunately unidentified story from the girls comic, Princess, first published in 1965.
For European comic art and illustration fans, the auction also features another Marvel Comics cover adaptation for the Spanish market by Eduardo Alpuente, this time featuring Thor – based on the cover of Thor #154 (Volume One), which was the work of Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta.
It was traditional in Spain to use local artists to produce covers and advertisement for their comics instead of using the original ones, because it was easier than changing the lettering before computer times. Some stapled comics were bound in soft covers to produce cheap paperbacks with leftover books once they were old, and resold in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.
Two covers by Fernando Fernández – one a World War Two scene, used on the cover of Battle Picture Library No. 294, the other a western book cover, titled “El Chacal de Senora”, are also in this week’s auction, both commissioned by Selecciones Ilustradas in the 1970s for the American and European market. There’s a lovely romance cover artwork by José Gonsález on offer, too.
One gem that certainly hasn’t gone overlooked, with bids already at over €400, is a smashing example of the daily American western newspaper strip, “The Cisco Kid”, drawn by Jose Luis Salinas, written by Rod Reed. The strip ran in American newspapers for 18 years, a short period for a King Features-syndicated comic strip that was published in Europe, too. In the world of comics done for, many series lasted for more than half a century.
José Luis Salinas (1908 – 1985) was an incredible artist, whose credits include well-known classic adventure novels in collaboration with the writer José de España, and the strip, Hernán el Corsario, considered Argentina’s first great comic series, its look much influenced by Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant.
“What is astounding is Salinas’ ability to simultaneously create a filigree work and bring an explosive energy into the drawing,” notes Zoran Djukanovic of Salinas’ work on the strip in an article for The Comics Journal. “Even the big masters of drawing can often only do one of these two things. Not many artists have the power to be elegant and wild at the same time.”
Back in 2011, Classic Comics Press began reprinting the entire run of the The Cisco Kid over eight volumes, each book reprinting over two years of dailies. The first is available here – and the sixth volume is currently in production.
Also on offer this week, in a “Comic Book Curiosities Auction”, closing tomorrow, are some smashing Asterix figures and more, including stunning prints featuring the art of the late Jean-Claude Mézières, and a stunning “Arzak” poster by Moebius.
It’s always worth having a bit of a dig around this auction site beyond, possibly, your usual searches… I don’t even dare start trawling the current US Comics & Original Comic Art auction, ending next Thursday!
Potential Additional International Auction Costs
This advice box was last updated on Friday 6th May 2022
The UK’s departure from the European Union means there may be 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 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.
While buying from European sellers carries the sting of larger costs, the auction house Catawiki does now endeavour to provide an estimate of those in its lot descriptions.
Unfortunately, many 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. It has also meant that some British sellers will no longer export to Europe.