Tag Archives: Colin Watson

“The Rattle Of The Thompson Gun”*

There’s an outbreak of “Tommy Guns” and Stens on the covers of these Commandos –Nos 4987 – 4990 on sale 26th January 2017 in the UK. WW2 was the sub-machine gun’s war – think also PPSh-41 and MP38/MP40 as well. The Thompson and the MP38 were quality guns, made to fine tolerances and cost a small fortune. The Sten and the PPSh were churned out by the thousand and were cheap as chips.

The Soviets probably issued more sub-machine guns than anyone else but even so the rifle remained the usual infantryman’s weapon on all sides.

But war comics aren’t bothered with that sort of detail. Their covers have to be punchy, full of action and movement. And nothing gets that across like a blazing sub-machine gun. If someone counted the numbers of SMGs compared to rifles on war comics covers they’s probably get a proportion in direct opposition to what the situation really was.

So, a big blazing gun is the thing to have on a cover. And an explosion. And action that smashes towards the reader.

Agreed?

Right, so why does an editor allow the artist who painted the cover of 4990 break all the rules we’ve just settled on?

First, the artist hasn’t actually broken the rules he’s just stretched them a bit. There are guns blazing on that submarine, and they’re firing at the reader. The bullets are striking the tug in the foreground and it in turn is pulling the reader towards the action.

The second reason is that it was executed by Jeff Bevan and, when it came to ships, boats or submarines, he really could get away with anything such was his craftsmanship. (Sorry, pun not intended.)

 

*From “Off To Dublin In The Green” as often sung by The Dubliners. Quoting this does not signify any political affiliations, just a fondness for stirring songs.


Operation Arrowhead — Commando No 4987

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In the fourteenth century, the English bowmen were the scourge of French knights. The machine-gunners of their days, the bowmen used six-foot long bows to fire long arrows with three-inch wide arrowheads to pierce the hearts of their enemies.

One such arrowhead was found six centuries later in a field in France by Private Len Mason. This chance encounter saved Len from being gunned down by the enemy.

Surrounded by the bodies of his squadron, Len wondered why he had survived the brutal attack. Was the arrowhead a good luck charm or was it simply a coincidence?

Story: George Low  Art: Carlos Pino  Cover: Carlos Pino

 


Blaze of Glory — Commando No 4988

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A squad of Commandos set out to deliver one RAF Flight Lieutenant to an address in German-held Norway. Mark Ritchie was his name – and desperately daring was his nature. The trick was to get him there alive…

 

 

Story: Wilkinson  Art: Buylla  Cover: Alvaro

Introduction 

Following a devastating crash, claustrophobic RAF test pilot, Mark Ritchie, didn’t expect to be chosen for an immediate mission to accompany a Commando squad into the heart of Nazi-occupied Norway to steal a never-before-flown aircraft prototype.

Wilkinson’s fast-paced story brilliantly captures Mark’s battle to prove his worth, creating dramatic tension between the pilot and the Commandos. The story is perfectly complemented by Buylla’s mastery of ink, as his visuals lead us from the cockpit of an unarmed plane, across vast seas, and deep into enemy territory. This is one action-packed adventure that’s not to be missed!

The Commando Team

Blaze of Glory, originally Commando No. 299 (December 1967)

 

 


Tromsø — Commando No 4989

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The Tirpitz was one of the most feared battleships of the Second World War. A forty-two-thousand-ton titan of the seas, the RAF’s brave and desperate attempts to destroy it became notorious.

Lesser known was the story of Erik and Olav, scientists turned SOE agents, and their role in the battleship’s fate. Their lives inextricably linked with brutal Nazi Major Herman Klinger, see how they came to take their revenge in the barren town of… Tromsø!

 

Story: Colin Watson  Art: Keith Page  Cover: Keith Page

 


Pirate Patrol — Commando No 4990

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Nick Borley cursed the day he had been switched from commanding a fast motor launch to take over an antiquated schooner. And never more so than now as they ran before a storm, the sails and rigging in tatters after the Luftwaffe had paid a call.

Up ahead lay the hostile enemy-held coast and at Nick’s elbow was the grinning, bearded pirate who had started all this trouble. And he wasn’t finished yet!

 

Introduction

If you’re looking for a swashbuckling tale of heroism and maritime madness, venture no further than Pirate Patrol! Veteran writer, Alan Hemus is at the top of his game in this seafaring thriller. Hemus creates a great anti-hero in the form of Barney Lee, a loveable rogue with interesting views on the Second World War erupting around him. His counterpart, Lieutenant Nick Borley, is the perfect straight-laced man to counter balance Barney’s disorder, and both are expertly depicted in Keith Shone’s excellent interior art.

The Commando Team

Pirate Patrol, originally Commando No 2455 (March 1991)

Story: Alan Hemus  Art: Keith Shone  Cover: Jeff Bevan

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Wot did you read on your holidays?

Besides the Victor (and other) summer specials, I recall that there seemed to be more Commandos in the shops than usual and that some of them were from some months, even years past. According to former editor George Low, DC Thomson’s distribution department used to box up random copies from the firm’s printing works (they owned their own back then) and send them out to newsagents for the summer holiday demand. It must have worked as they did it for many years apparently.

So, I read a lot of extra Commandos in the long holidays, but the best summer reading experience by far was the year I was stuck in bed for a day or two. A pal who was a Valiant man brought round (with some help) about two years’ worth for me to read.

I’d never been so happy to be off-colour.

The latest Commando issues (4935-4938) possibly include one of your holiday reads from way back when. They’re on sale from the 28th July 2016 (UK).


Firebrand! — Commando No 4935Comm_4935_coverMaster

 

Siblings Ian and John Jenkins were both RAF pilots. Ian was the elder, calm and confident. John was younger and hot-headed, a definite firebrand. Based in the North-East of Scotland, they protected the coast against attack from the marauding Luftwaffe.

However, when tragedy struck, John found himself embroiled in a mystery — one that involved death, destruction and even espionage. And it seemed there was a family connection. The firebrand was determined to find the answers…whatever the cost.

Story: Colin Watson  Art: Janek Matysiak Cover: Janek Matysiak

 


Fighter Ace — Commando No 4936Comm_4936_coverMaster

“Flame Squadron” they were called in the RAF But to the baffled pilots of the Luftwaffe they were known as “Flame Devils”.

When an aircraft was shot to pieces, cartwheeling across the sky in a mass of flames, somewhere in that blazing Spitfire a cool fighting brain still functioned, a finger still pressed the firing button. Long after any pilot must have perished, each plane carried on flying.

As the Luftwaffe’s terror grew, one of Germany’s top spies was sent to ferret out the secret of the “Flame Devils”…

Introduction

This curio from 1966 has a vaguely supernatural premise about indestructible Spitfire pilots who can seemingly survive the flames of aerial battle — Commando with a pulp fiction, or even science-fiction, flavour. Then, however, author Boutland’s (first name unknown) [but probably David according to this well-researched piece on Bear Alley] story veers into espionage territory, making it more of a traditional tale — but one that’s certainly well-drawn by Arias and with a moody action cover painted by Buccheri.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Fighter Ace, originally Commando No 206 (March 1966), re-issued as No 843 (June 1974)

Story: Boutland  Art: Arias  Cover: Buccheri

 


Making His Mark — Commando No 4937Comm_4937_coverMaster

When World War II broke out Mark Enfield quit his office job and enlisted in the army. Although enthusiastic, he was quite puny and unfit. Nor was he a very good shot — and many noted the irony that he shared his surname with the famous Lee-Enfield rifle that they used.

He became a target of bullies among his fellow recruits in basic training and this continued when they went into battle.

However, Mark was determined to stand up to his detractors once and for all, especially when his unit was tasked with destroying a strategically important bridge which was in enemy hands.

Story: George Low  Art: John Ridgway  Cover: John Ridgway

 


Burning Skies — Commando No 4938Comm_4938_coverMaster

 

During the war most people served in the same unit all the time. However, Jack Banham was different. He was in an Italian jail, then a front-line trench with the Greek army, then the observer’s cockpit of an Italian biplane. At one time he was even a colonel in the Greek army…

…Or was it the Greek air force? Months afterwards he still wasn’t sure. Not that it mattered, for by that time he was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm!

Introduction

In some ways it’s a pity that this tale’s original working title wasn’t used. Veteran Commando author RA Montague called it ‘Jack Of All Trades’. This neatly sums up the multifarious activities of our protagonist, Jack Banham — on his journey from being a civilian treasure hunter to a soldier, then eventually fighting in aircraft.

This relentless yarn rarely pauses for breath. Proof once more that Commando’s 63-page format allows a story room to go to unexpected places.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Burning Skies, originally Commando No 1116, (April 1977), re-issued as No 2436 (January 1991)

Story: R.A. Montague  Art: Frederico Maidagan  Cover: Ian Kennedy