The best of British comics

With the odd exception, British comic collecting is a very local pastime. And for that reason, even the early issues of classic British comics from the 1930s to the 1970s occupy very different price levels to the American comics that dominate the market.

May 20 TSR Comic Beezer

This lot comprising all but issue number 1 of the first 50 copies of The Beezer has an estimate of £400-500. It features popular characters such as Ginger, Pop, Dick & Harry, Calamity Jane, Mick on the Moon and the Banana Bunch.

The Beezer, introduced in 1956 as a companion comic to Topper, was printed in a large tabloid size that made it difficult to store without folding. Fresh flat copies such as this command a premium with collectors.

The record for an American comic is $3.6m for a near mint copy of Amazing Fantasy number 15 in which Spiderman makes his first appearance. The record for a British comic is £18,500 for a copy of the December 1937 first issue of The Dandy that still retained the promotional free gift, an ‘Express Whistler’.
However, there is no doubt that, driven by a nostalgia for the days when The Eagle or The Beano would be read in the millions, interest is growing both in the comics themselves and the artists who produced them. A good selection of British issues and British comic artwork is included in Comic Book Auctions’ online sale held via the-saleroom.com that closes on May 29.

May 20 TSR Comic Heros

Frank Bellamy is best known for illustrating Dan Dare and Fraser of Africa in The Eagle comic and Thunderbirds for TV Century 21. The double-page artwork pictured here is for the strip Heros The Spartan drawn and painted for The Eagle in November 1962.

'Caeser has sent Heros and a hundred men to conquer the mysterious Island of Darkness but the cohort is ambushed by animal-like warriors. The survivors fight to reach a stockade, built by previous ill-fated legions but, that night, an awesome figure taunts Heros and his men once more to battle...' Estimate £4500-5000.

May 20 TSR Comic Judy

DC Thomson had published its first girls' magazine, Bunty, in 1958 with Judy following in 1960. Aimed at young teens it offered a mix of romance, school, and girl-next-door stories, plus some fashion and teen idol fare. In their heyday, between them, Bunty and Judy achieved a circulation of over one million.

This lot comprises 28 early issues of Judy including the first five and the complete set of ‘12 Young ballerinas of 1960' photos that were given out with issues 2 to 5.

The collecting of comics for girls is relatively new – something reflected in the modest estimate of £70-100.

May 20 TSR Comic Magic

The Magic was one of the so-called New Big Five comics issued by Scottish publishing company DC Thomson in the immediate pre-war years. The Dandy and The Beano would survive the paper rationing of the Second World War but The Magic only ran from July 1939 to January 1941. In its 80th and final issue its editor Bill Powrie promised it would return; however, he was killed in action in 1942.

While it ran, the pages of The Magic pages proved a splendid propaganda tool. Comic strips would encourage readers to help adults with the war effort and feature protagonists outsmarting the Axis leaders. It is rumoured that the Nazi high command were far from amused and even considered sending the Luftwaffe to bomb the factory.

These two rare war issues feature Pete of the Spitfires foiling a band of Nazi parachute troops and fishing for a U-boat. Estimate £120-160.

May 20 TSR Comic Oor Willie

The Scottish comic strip Oor Wullie has been published by DC Thomson for almost 90 years. Created by Thomson editor RD Low and drawn by the prolific cartoonist Dudley Watkins, the strip first appeared on March 8, 1936. Watkins continued to draw Oor Wullie until his death in 1969. This original Indian ink on card artwork was drawn by for the Halloween edition of Sunday Post Fun in 1965. Estimate £550-650.

May 20 TSR Comic Wizard

The Wizard, that had been a weekly British story paper since the 1920s, was by DC Thomson as a comic book in February 1970 and ran for eight years. This complete run of the first year includes all of the free gifts including the Sure-Shot Shooter issued with number 1 and the Great Football Stars of 1970 from issues 2 and 3.

The survival of any of these early gifts adds massively to the appeal and the value. Estimate £150-200.

Send feedback on this article