Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Reprint This! 3. Axa

Reprint This! is a periodic feature where I will talk about some out-of-print comic book gems that are not available in collected form for readers to enjoy. You might consider it a companion to my Weekly Comics Hype, which is taking a short summer vacation, except while that's preaching to a potential audience, this is hoping to let rights owners know that, yes, readers are out here, and we'd like to buy the things we can't get at this time!

Despite such an enormous variety of books available these days, and genuine efforts to present the material in reasonably-priced, archival volumes, there are still countless fabulous series from the US, Britain and Japan which are overdue for new editions. I've selected two dozen titles which should be on bookshelves, but at this time are not.

One missing gem is AXA by Enrique Badia Romero. This is a science fiction serial where, following a global catastrophe, a woman tired of regimented life inside a domed city breaks away to discover the bizarre fates of small pockets of survivors on the outside. And get naked. Frequently.

Axa appeared as a daily newspaper strip in The Sun from 1978 to 1986. It would be foolish to suggest that the principal draw is anything other than the fabulous artwork. Romero, who was taking a sabbatical from the Evening Standard's Modesty Blaise strip, draws absolutely gorgeous women. Donne Avenall, who actually scripted the series from Romero's plots, finds plenty of excuses for most of the cast to wear little more than loincloths and bikinis, and strip out of those as often as is plausible. Newspaper standards are a little different in the UK than in America; adult-themed T&A like this has a long history, and attracts some very good artists. Even the science fiction setting is unusual by our standards, where continuity strips rarely get more fantastic than Dick Tracy or the infrequently-seen Spider-Man strip.

The stories themselves are pretty good. Installments are clearly inspired by most of the usual, pre-Star Wars suspects: Logan's Run, The Survivors, The Land That Time Forgot, Planet of the Apes, I Am Legend and so on. You've got communities trapped between armies of dinosaurs warring against robots in one story, and families where the women are barren, so Axa gets kidnapped in order to provide an heir in another. An ongoing subplot in the first couple of years, it might have been resolved beyond the point I've read, features an old boyfriend of Axa's sent into the wilderness to return her to the dome. So there's nothing incredibly original in the series, but it's incredibly fun to read.

Axa was collected, while the strip was still running, by a firm called First American Editions. These are flimsy little 64-page things with some dodgy reproduction. They're long out of print, but older comic shops might have some in stock. What's needed are some proper, large size collections, with better page count and reproduction. I do not know who holds the rights, but since Titan is currently doing such a nice job on Romero's other major series, Modesty Blaise, they might be the best choice to give Axa a proper collected treatment. So how about it, Titan?

(Originally posted June 27, 2007, 10:59 at hipsterdad's livejournal.)

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