Monday, 9 March 2009


Axa was a strip that ran in british newspaper The Sun between 1978 & 1985, it's main draws being it's luscious artwork & sexy heroine. Set a hundred years after a nuclear holocaust, it's the adventures of the titular Axa, a bored citizen of one of the last remaining cities, who heads out into the wasteland for fun, excitement & the chance to drop her clothes every few panels. It's kind of Red Sonja meets Logan's Run, but with a strange mixture of sensibilities.

Written by Donne Avenell, a brit, and illustrated by spanish master Enrique Romero, it feels simultaneously like a grimy english working class strip, like Adam Eterno or The Spider, and a sexually liberated european fantasy, like Barbarella.

The push-me, pull-you effect between words & pictures makes Axa an engaging, if at times, stilted strip, and it often reads as if something has been lost in translation. You almost feel like you should be reading it in french or spanish. The stricture's of the daily three panel format also add to the alienation, as Axa and her supporting cast are constantly forced to iterate & reiterate what just happened 5 panels ago.

Axa herself is a likeable, though slightly long-winded character,
often given to pontificating about love, history & mankind's future. And popping out of her fur bikini every couple of panels, of course. Intelligent, strong willed and brave, she makes the men she meets in her adventures ( who all end up dumping her anyway ) to be the shallow, insipid idiots they are. She's actually a pretty good role model, as well as, obviously, being a major babe.

Unfortunately, by the mid '80's, adventure strips were well on the way out in british newspapers, deemed far too slow & ponderous by the editors, and our heroine was unceremoniously cancelled halfway through the aptly titled story " Axa The Betrayed ".

Avenell went on to write many other newspaper strips, including a well received run on The Phantom, before passing away in 1997. While Romero, of course, became the artist on that other great female-led brit strip Modesty Blaise.
Axa occasionally reappears though; There was a set of trade's from Ken Pierce reprinting the entire run, then two colour issues from Eclipse, and the buxom barbarian babe still pops up in collected albums across Europe. There's even the occasional talk of a movie.

But for english newspapers, the day of the adventure strip has come & gone. You'd think, with the wave of comic book movies, and higher profile the form now has, somebody'd try it again, wouldn't you?


  1. I have a couple of the Ken Pierce books from the mid-to-late 80s, but when I bought them only a few years back, Axa seemed very familiar to me. I'm almost sure the strip ran in a New Zealand tabloid when I was a young kid. No doubt I would have been riveted..

  2. Ah, Axa - fine pulp SF action with a fine lady. I had a few of the reprint books and still miss the strip.

  3. A great strip: in every sense of the word!


  4. In September 1981 my then girlfriend won an Axa lookalike competition in The Sun. Part of the prize was having her picture taken by Beverley Goodway as she was all dressed up - if I can put it that way - as Axa.