Judge Dredd AD2000 Rebellion Comics

Judge Dredd publisher acquires rights to trove of historic comics — including what may be the world’s oldest

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Sep 29, 2018, 10:33 AM EDT

A library’s worth of historic comics that includes what may, depending on how you define it, be the world’s very first comic book series, has reportedly just been picked up by British publisher Rebellion Developments in a landmark deal that involves a trove of comic book properties vital in shaping the medium’s modern history. 

Via The Hollywood Reporter, Rebellion has acquired the comics library previously owned by TI Media, giving Rebellion control over a collection of comics that begins with the 1800s Comic Cuts — the title “that some believe is responsible for the name of the medium as a whole” — as well as more than 400 other titles including American namesake precursors like The Halfpenny Marvel (published from 1893 through 1922) and Valiant (published from 1962 through 1976). 

Rebellion is known to present-day fans as the company that controls the Judge Dredd comics franchise, which falls under the publisher's 2000 AD anthology of British comics.

The TI acquisition further puts Rebellion in charge of “an archive that stretches back more than 130 years of comic book publishing,” according to the report, which also notes that Comic Cuts is more than 40 years older than Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics — which many fans regard as the first American comic.

Rebellion also takes over an archive of “never-before-reprinted work from comic book greats” like the work of Jerry Siegel, whom Superman fans may recognize as the Man of Steel’s original co-creator, as well as the work of American comics artist and Hanna-Barbera animator Alex Toth. 

Judging by Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley’s remarks on the deal, the plan appears to be to re-release curated selections from the company’s newly-expanded and rich back catalog.

“It gives me great pleasure to secure the future for this extraordinary archive and I am incredibly excited to able to bring back into print so many lost treasures,” he said, via the report.

Rebellion already has demonstrated that it’s interested in sharing its archives through the re-release of historic material. In 2016, the company acquired Egmont Publishing’s collection of British comics from the Fleetway/IPC Youth Group archive, and already has re-released selected titles from that collection.