Commando war comic marks 60 years of battlefield adventures
The Commando Pocket Books with its iconic dagger logo celebrate 60 years of wartime adventure and lantern-jawed heroes.
First published in 1961 by DC Thomson Media, Commando has delighted readers, ages eight to 80, with over 5,000 issues of adventure, heroism and camaraderie.
At first, Commando’s stories were almost exclusively about World War II, but over time readers were able to delve into tales of any conflict from the days of the Roman Empire to almost the First Gulf War. contemporary.
The first editor, Charles ‘Chick’ Checkley, had served in the RAF, and his deputy editor, Ian Forbes, had served in the Royal Corps of Signals, so neither fought to find inspiration.
Commando books became, at their peak, a publishing phenomenon, with sales reaching 750,000 copies in one month during the 1970s.
The stories were then replayed on the living room or bedroom floor using “Action Man” or “Matchbox” toys.
And the comic has continued to entertain loyal readers despite the current coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the challenges of the team working remotely across the world, and publishing and distributing the comic, Commando continued to thrive with a 21.4% increase in subscribers over the past year.
We asked the Commando team to select six classic issues from the past 60 years to mark the latest milestone in the country’s only war comic.
WALK – OR DIE!
The problem that started it all – the first of Commando’s 60 (and over) years, leading him to become the British war comic, if not the oldest in the world.
This summer marks the fourth reprint of the famous issue, and for the first time with an all-new cover from the legendary Ian Kennedy.
Ken Barr’s stunning coverage cemented the heroes’ gritty, masculine look, even basing them on his own bodybuilder physique.
Barr and publisher Charles ‘Chick’ Checkley designed the title logo and header together, with the famous Commando dagger slicing through the C – their design was so timeless that 60 years later, it remains unchanged.
Number 1 captures all of the themes and values at the heart of Commando: adventure, camaraderie, compassion in war and, of course, heroism.
Such a foundation of character-driven stories is perhaps the reason the title has outlived so many of its contemporaries, still resonating with today’s readers.
| History | Castle | Art | Garcia | Coverage | Ken Barr |
Originally Commando n ° 1 (1961)
SEARCH AND STRIKE
While Ian Kennedy began his artistic career at DC Thomson as the boy who colored the black and white squares on the Sunday Post crossword, Kennedy’s talent shone and he began working on several comic book titles. including The Wizard and Adventure before going freelance. , but continues its close relationship with the company.
It was then, several years after Commando’s childhood, that editor Chick Checkley asked Kennedy to cover Commando while playing it in a round of golf.
Kennedy agreed, creating the brilliant “Seek and Strike” in 1970 and the rest of the story.
Kennedy would go on to become Commando’s most prolific cover artist and remain synonymous with the brand, leading to DC Thomson’s first “Art of” book, The Art of Ian Kennedy.
| History | Clegg | Art | Amador | Coverage | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando n ° 453 (1970)
THE LONG PURSUIT
To highlight another issue of Ian Kennedy, the cover artwork of ‘The Long Chase’ is truly exceptional.
It shows a Sunderland seaplane attacking a submarine, with the horizon and the plane shifted, using a limited color scheme to make it look atmospheric as the Sunderland moves towards the drive above the submarine in the background, drawing your eye into the image creating a sensation of movement.
This, combined with some amazing internal artwork from Gordon C Livingstone and an adventure tale from Bill Fear, gives this Commando everything it needs to make it an all-time classic.
| History | Bill scared | Art | Gordon C Livingstone | Coverage | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando n ° 1210 (1978)
THE RAIDERS OF RAMSEY
The issue that spawned over a dozen (and still going strong!) Sequels, “Ramsey’s Raiders” is an instant classic and a fan favorite.
Even those who might not read the weekly issues of Commando will know the title as the first four issues in the series were collected in two of DC Thomson’s very first graphic novels, making it the only full-color graphic novel and full. Commando size numbers to date.
The brainchild of then-publisher George Low and prolific writer Ferg Handley, ‘Ramsey’s Raiders’ is the gold of the Boys’ Adventure comic book.
With a roster of lovable, mocking wanderers like the eponymous raiders, there’s a lot of action and wit in every story, which Keith Page expertly portrays with his charming illustrations.
And, you guessed it, it’s complemented by another cover from the master, Ian Kennedy.
| History | Ferg Handley | Art | Keith Page | Coverage | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando n ° 3854 (2005)
To celebrate Commando’s historic 5,000th issue, it seemed fitting to honor the legendary British commando units of World War II.
The story follows Joe Hartley, a young boy in awe of his brother, Terry, who has joined the famous ranks of Churchill’s commandos.
But Terry was taken too soon, captured and killed by a vicious SS regiment.
Distraught and desperate to follow in his brother’s footsteps, Joe enlisted.
Young and inexperienced, Joe struggled to impress the veteran soldiers in his brigade. As the end of the war drew closer and closer, his opportunity to honor his brother’s memory was exhausted.
But in the last hours of the war, Joe Hartley would have his revenge!
Bringing together some of Commando’s best talent for the special issue, the story is expertly written by Ferg Handley and brought to life by the stunning artwork of Carlos Pino and framed by a stunning cover from the great Ian Kennedy.
If that wasn’t enough, the team added an eye-catching red finish to the cover and awarded Commando a very special 5,000th medal, based on the long service medal.
| History | Ferg Handley | Art | Carlos Pino | Coverage | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando n ° 5000 (2017)
COMMANDOS AGAINST ZOMBIES
For several reasons, the last Commando we want to highlight is one of the newer companies, “Commandos Versus Zombies”.
Released in 2019 with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, the comic was a hit with readers.
Written by the team’s own Georgia Battle and matched with the interior art of the ever-brilliant Vicente Alcazar, all that was missing was a cover of British comic book legend Ian Kennedy – which it has!
Battle crafted a gripping story that evolved at a steady pace, working with Vicente to shatter some of Commando’s storytelling traditions and prove that they could do something a little bit there. The pair even went for bleed (pun intended) on some pages.
| History | Battle of Georgia Standen | Art | Vicente Alcazar | Coverage | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando n ° 5277 (2019)
Nine special issues to celebrate
To mark the 60th anniversary, Commando is publishing nine special issues starting with a reprint of the very first issue “Marchez ou mourez!” with a brand new cover from British comic book legend Ian Kennedy.
All four comics are all new stories written by Team Commando and former publisher Calum Laird, including a sci-fi adventure on WWIII and the long-awaited sequel to Number 1.
This set also includes an exclusive collection of cover art prints for subscribers.
Closing the celebration, the final set goes on sale July 8 and consists of four classic issues from the Golden Age of Commando voted on by fans and complemented by all-new covers from modern artists.