Wednesday, May 20, 2009

War, what is it good for?

Fantastic retro comics, is what. Just arrived in Secondhand, old (and highly collectible) issues of Commando, plus Conflict Libraries, War Picture Library and Combat Picture Library series, not to mention some volumes of the Cowboy Adventure Library and Sabre series.

The pocket-sized Commando, or Commando War Stories in Pictures to give them their full title, were launched by DC Thomson & Co. in 1961 and celebrated its 4,000 issue in 2007:

Classic World War II movies are one source of inspiration for the stiff-upper-lip Tommy, but for those who came of age during the 60s and 70s, memories of childhood comics are perhaps as great a contribution.

Writing in the Observer, Will Hutton made the link: "For those who lived in the world of Commando comics, in which the dashing squaddy or Spitfire pilot always heroically triumphed in a trial of honest Brit against foreign evil, the contrast is bitter..."

In their heyday, British war comics, like Victor ("True stories of men at war"), Valiant and Warlord, shifted by the Bedford lorry load. Commando, which began in 1961, is all that remains of this history, and continues to sell healthily to this day. Four editions are published per fortnight, and this week the 4,000th issue goes on sale, snappily titled "Aces All".

Each pocket-sized edition houses a 63-page black and white saga of square jawed heroes and dastardly villains (mostly Teutonic types typically exclaiming "Achtung!" when surprised, "Schnell!" when in a rush, and "Aieee!" when shot), clashing mostly on the WWII battlefield.

Available at Chapters Secondhand while stocks last.

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