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Brian Bolland "Lost" Starlord Artwork Auctioned Without His Knowledge

Auction site Propstore recently sold the original cover artwork to the Starlord Annual from 1980, by Brian Bolland. Which was news to him.

Auction site Propstore recently sold the original cover artwork to the Starlord Annual from 1980, by Brian Bolland as part of their March Poster Online Auction. A full-colour piece, with more Bolland work on the back, it sold for a relatively low £8,125 with 14 bids, against an estimated sale of $2,000-4,000. It was listed thus:

First released in May 1978, Starlord was a British sci-fi comic magazine published by IPC Magazines Ltd. The series was cancelled after 22 issues and was eventually merged with 2000AD. This hand-drawn full-colour cover page artwork by renowned comic artist Brian Bolland was for the "Starlord Annual 1981", one of the three annuals published between 1979 and 1981. Presented on card, this highly detailed design is rendered in colour inks, with black ink and pen used for outlining and detailing. The title artwork and "Fleetway Annual" logo have been cut and pasted onto the background. A pencil illustration is drawn onto the back of the card. 21" x 14" (53.5 x 35.5 cm) Condition: Good to Very Good. Title and logo have begun to peel, signs of restoration to the top of Starlord's black hair. Outside borders of card exhibit discoloured tape remnants and marks, notable surface tears across lower edge.

Illustrator David Roach posted on Facebook about the sale, saying "Here's something weird and unexpected- Brian Bolland's Starlord Annual cover is currently in an auction of movie posters at Propstore. How? Where did it come from? Why is it the only comic original in the auction? We may never know. The back of the art features an abandoned first go too- fascinating!"

Comic book art collector John Bamber added "Possibly stolen as it's not signed by Brian" to which Brian Bolland himself replied simply "Yes. This was never returned to me." In 2021,  Bolland explained:

"Publishers IPC in London had been publishing comics for many years. They paid the artists for their work but their names wouldn't be printed on their pages and their artwork would not be returned to them. At 2000AD Kevin O'Neil arranged for a credit box naming the "art droid" to be added to the first page of each story. Eventually the archive of artwork stored in the vaults became so unmanageable IPC had the revolutionary idea of returning it to the artists. Something the artists had been asking for for some time. BUT – IPC required each artist to draw up a list of his pages and pay for a transparency to be made of each. I made a deal with the Forbidden Planet store in London to do that for me, collect my (probably) 300 pages and they would buy them off me (all except for a few I chose to keep). Mike Lake went to collect them and returned with about 185. It seemed about 115 had already been taken by someone else. Various British publishers and individuals had been given access to artwork, including mine, for use in other publications. All of the people who had access came from the closed world of comics – be they publishers, shop owners or fellow artists. The individuals who took my pages were people known to me, even friends. Soon news surfaced of the stolen pages turning up in the hands of American collectors. The pages that actually came my way were then signed by me in red biro. Anything not signed that way was stolen. In the decades that have passed some buyers of these pages have contacted me. Some have offered to pay me a small amount in compensation. The best I can do is to keep this issue alive, shame the people who took them and the people now selling them."

The Starlord Annual cover, however, not being 2000AD, was not listed in this list published by The Comics Journal a few decades previously.

Brian Bolland Stolen Starlord Artwork Sold At Auction

When contacted about the Starlord Annual cover sale, Propstore told Bleeding Cool, "Thank you for reaching out to Propstore regarding Mr Bolland's concerns."

"We have been back in contact with the consignor of the Brian Bolland artwork, and he states that this came into his possession whilst working at Time Out magazine in the 1980s. It was provided to Time Out for use in an editorial article by Bolland or his representative. The standard and accepted practice during this period was that unless an artist or contributor specifically asked for their piece to be returned, they were retained and in most instances, disposed of. There was no request for a return of this artwork by Mr Bolland or his representative and it sat with other paperwork until the consignor left Time Out in the 80s. It was only recently re-discovered during a clear-out by the consignor. The sale of this artwork was heavily promoted in the media and was open for bidding for four weeks. At no time during this period was the ownership of the artwork brought into question by any parties. Propstore has only just today been advised of Mr Bolland's concerns by the good folks at Bleeding Cool. We'd welcome the opportunity to connect directly with Mr Bolland and discuss this matter further with him in person."

We have passed on Propstore's details to Brian Bolland.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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