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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Commando issues 4823-4826

Commando issues on sale 2nd July 2015.

Commando No 4823 – Waterloo!
The wars started with a peasant’s revolt in Paris and ended beside an obscure farmhouse in Belgium. Over nearly three decades, France, her armies and her new emperor turned Europe into a cauldron of conflict.
   Henri Durant and Jean Tavere were just two of the thousands of men whose lives were turned upside down in these tumultuous years. In the end, only one of them would survive the battle of…

200 years ago, the battle that — arguably if you’re French — set the political landscape of Europe for many generations was fought in a previously insignificant area of what was then the Netherlands. Waterloo.
   Described by the eventual victor, the Duke of Wellington, as "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life" it was a titanic struggle between the armies of half the nations of Europe. But what of the men, the ordinary Joes and Pierres who closed together in the heat and smoke of battle? We asked regular Commando writer Ferg Handley to weave some of his magic and give us a tale that showed a little of the life they might have lived. That he’s managed to put those lives in an authentic historical setting — not just an extended battle scene — is testament to his talents.
   He came up with a pair of stories (Part Two is coming soon!) that Carlos Pino has illustrated with his customary panache. I really do think they’ve done us proud.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Ferg Handley
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

Commando No 4824 – The Desperate Hours
“Old Soldiers never die,” was just another saying to Corporal Bill Curtis and Private Jack Hunt until that night they landed on an island to sabotage the huge guns threatening the Allied invasion forces.
   Then strange things began to happen. It all started when they met up with an officer of Napoleon’s Army — a man who by rights should have been dead for over a hundred years, but still helped them fight the Nazis.

Waterloo is very much in the minds of military historians (and war comic fans) right now. In this batch of four Commandos, we’ve included a tale set very much around the battle which I hope you’ll enjoy. Checking out 50-year-old stories for the Gold Collection, I didn’t expect to come across anything remotely connected with the battle 200 years ago. Then this tale popped up.
   It was a surprise as Ken Barr’s outrageous cover gives no clues to the Napoleonic connection. Skentleberry’s script, though, weaves the echo in very nicely, thanks.
   So get reading and finally face our Waterloo.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Skentleberry
Art: Sostres
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 157 (March 1965), re-issued as No 763 (August 1973).

Commando No 4825 – Hi-Jack!
Lieutenant Pete Wade was very glad to see the last of Greece. He had seen too many brave men die facing hopeless odds as the Nazis swarmed in with overwhelming numbers.
   But he wouldn’t have been nearly so pleased if he’d known that he’d be sent back to Greece…by parachute, at dead of night. And there would be other enemies to deal with, more dangerous even than the Nazis!

When Commando fan Phil Singleton nominated this book for a fresh viewing, I don’t think he realised that he’d done me a huge favour. As a nipper, I remembered reading this particular story but had singularly failed to track it down despite many visits to the archive. I was on the third or fourth page when I realised I’d found it at last. Cheers, Phil.
   We try (yes we do!) to avoid too much stereotyping of our characters these days but back in ’71 there were obviously no such reservations — check out Spiro if you don’t believe me! That said, this is a cracking tale of intrigue, filled with contrasting, clashing players. As usual, the art totally does justice to the script.
   Now, if you’ll excuse me, the 11-year-old me is about to read the story again.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: R. A. Montague
Art: Collado
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No 605 (December 1971), re-issued as No 1692 (April 1983).

Commando No 4826 – Fit To Fight
Massive doors set in a cliff face. Enemy submarines slinking in at night to their hidden lair…and slinking out again before dawn to go about their deadly business.
   This base could not be bombed or shelled, but it had to be destroyed. And the man to do it was a soldier sent home from the desert with wounds that had made him “unfit for duty”.

This book is nicely paced. Just as we’re getting into an action-packed war desert tale, our hero, and with him the reader, unexpectedly find themselves thrust into an entirely different, but equally welcome kind of story — a sabotage mission involving killer U-boats, the French Resistance and the Gestapo.
   It’s gripping stuff and Lieutenant Dick Morgan, the aforementioned hero, is a memorable Commando character. Side-lined on several occasions, he is absolutely determined to be involved in the action and do his duty.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Elias
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 1065 (September 1976), re-issued as No 2379 (June 1990).

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Roger Longrigg

A couple of clippings from The Independent from 2000 covering the death of Roger Longrigg. He was the author of some 55 novels under a variety of pen-names, most notably Rosalind Erskine, under which name he penned the novel The Passion-Flower Hotel, which was turned into a long-running play in the 1960s and later filmed in Germany in the 1970s with Nastassja Kinski.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ian Allan (1922-2015)

A rail news website is reporting that publisher Ian Allan died on 28 June, one day before his 93rd birthday. Ian Allan Publishing has been in existence since the Second World War with Allan at its head for many years until he retired.

Born in London on 29 June 1922, Allan was educated St. Paul's School. He had a leg amputated following an accident during an Officer Training Corps exercise at the age of 15.

He had joined the office of the General Manager of the Southern Railway at Waterloo Station in 1939, but moved to the PR department following the outbreak of war. Here he learned the basics of the print and production of the Southern Railway magazine.

Dealing with a stready stream of questions from the public meant Allan kept extensive notes on all of Southern Railway's rolling stock but his suggestion that the company publish his notebooks was turned down. Instead, Allan published them himself and The ABC of Southern Locomotives, collecting useful information for "locospotters", appeared in 1943. The one shilling book quickly sold out its 2,000-copy print run.

A reprint and further titles followed. The company Ian Allan Ltd. was incorporated in 1945 and Trains Illustrated magazine began appearing the following year. Other magazines, including Locomotive Railway Magazine and Railway World followed. There was such an interest amongst readers that the publisher set up the Ian Allan Locospotters Club which would eventually have 300,000 members. Organizing trips for members gave Allan the experience to set up a travel agency. Other business interests included hotels, model making and manufacturing regalia.

Allan published a great many annual over the years, including Aircraft Annual (1949, 1954-75), Trains Annual (1954-60, 1967-71), Locospotters' Annual (1957-71), Ships Annual (1958, 1967-69, 1971), Buses Annual 1963-72, 1976-77) and Railway World Annual (1972, 1976-77).

He also published Eileen Gibb's The Adventures of Sammy the Shunter stories in an oblong format similar to the railway stories to the Reverand Awdry and kept them in print into the 1970s.

Allan, who was awarded the OBE in 1995, married Mollie Eileen Franklin in 1947 and had two sons.

Geoffrey Trease

Although he was well known for his stories for boys, Geoffrey Trease did not contribute heavily to boys' papers, contributing only a handful of stories to Boy's Own Paper in the late 1930s. He was, however, a regular in The Children's Newspaper with a number of stories and serials published in the post-Arthur Mee era between 1949 and 1960. He notably published a series of stories featuring The Silver Gentleman (1950) and the serial The Silver Gentleman Again (1951-52). He also contributed to Collins Young Elizabethan, including the serial Word of Caesar (1955-56).

Here from the clippings file is an obituary from 1998.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Anne Perry

Another clipping from my scrapbook. Peter Jackson's fantastic Beautiful Creatures was based on the murder case mentioned.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Red Dwarf

More from the boxes of paperwork that have built up over the past thirty years. For commercial reasons, we covered a lot of ground in Comic World outside of comics, including the (then) new season of Red Dwarf. Today's scrapbook consists of a couple of cards - Craig Charles and Starbug - that were published by Portico Designs in 1993, plus a couple of photographs from the same era.

This was, of course, the launch for Season VI, which to my mind was one of the best in the show's history. Just look at the delights on offer that season: Psirens, Legion, Gunmen of the Apocalypse, Emohawk: Polymorph II, Rimmerworld and Out of Time. I know there are people who hate the series because the crew were trapped in Starbug with the Red Dwarf itself nowhere in sight, but I still think this is one of the best six-episode runs of any comedy on TV.

(* Red Dwarf © Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Comic Cuts - 26 June 2015

I'm in the eye of the storm. It's press week at Hotel Business and after a nervy couple of days waiting for features to start appearing the last two days have been incredibly frantic, turning around editorial at a rate to keep the hungry beast that is our design studio fed.

At the beginning of last week I thought I had everything ticking along reasonably well only to have the rug pulled from under my feet. Without going into detail, I was left with a couple of holes last Thursday that needed filling. Thankfully, a useful service I had been asked not to use was made available to me and a request went out for material. Four or five responses was all I needed, and I had those by Friday. Everyone had a deadline of Wednesday—hence the nervy start to the week. Thankfully, all was delivered and I ended up with a selection to choose from.

Unfortunately, there's very little room in the mag for extensive articles and almost invariably they come in long. One dealt with today was meant to be around 600 words, came in at nearly 900 and had to be hacked back to 550. I'm going to have to get tougher with anyone who sends in over long pieces.

Um... I really haven't done anything else. For entertainment I've been rewatching the first season of Heroes and revelling in just how good it was. If I remember correctly, the newspapers turned against the show with season two, complaining that it was too slow or two complex, and this seemed to infect viewers who couldn't cope with anything more complicated than "Save the cheerleader, save the world". That's my memory of the situation, although maybe they waited until season three before really getting their claws out. Personally, I stuck with it and thought it was still an interesting show. And I'll definitely be watching Heroes Reborn when it comes out.

David Ainsworth, who regularly sends over book cover scans, sent me an Arrow book during the week (that's it at the head of this column) and inspired the following random collection of Dennis Wheatley titles. The first four have artwork by Sax. The fifth is by... who? It's fantastic and was used as a cover from 1954 through six impressions of The Devil Rides Out over the next decade. Not Sax, I think, but I'm struggling to put a name to the artist.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Commando issues 4819-4822

Commando issues on sale 18 June 2015

Commando No 4819 – Brilliant Death
The Convict Commandos are not known to do things the conventional way. Titch Mooney, Jelly Jakes, Smiler Dawson and Guy Tenby — not forgetting their ruthless confederate Dr Jane Mallory — always get the jobs where conventional is not an option.
   Even by their standards, though, a boat chase through the centre of Venice was a bit extreme.
   You really have got to read this tale.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4820 – Lost Patrol
Sergeant Jim Stark was trying to lead a lost patrol of fellow Chindits back to safety, through a jungle swarming with Japanese. A tight enough spot for any man, even worse for Jim who had lost his memory.
   But Jim didn’t know the half of it.
   Among the men of that lost patrol was a man already wanted in England for murder, a man whose burning dark eyes bored into Jim’s back every time it was turned, a man who had to kill the sergeant or die himself!

The trouble with the records for the early Commando books is that the entries tend to be a bit cryptic. Take the details for the names; usually it’s just a second name with an initial added only if there are two creators with the same surname.
   Take the de la Fuentes, for example. There’s V de la Fuente, R de la Fuente and finally J de la Fuente. We know the first two are Victor and Ramon but we only think the last is José Luis as the work he’s known for is nothing like this.
   Not that it matters here as the work is as punchy as the hard-hitting Powell (no first name again) script. Classic Commando.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Powell
Art: J Fuente
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally Commando No 176 (August 1965)

Commando No 4821 – A Motley Crew
In the lead-up to the hastily organised evacuation at Dunkirk, a disparate group of servicemen found themselves thrown together.
   A Pay Corps clerk…
   …an RAF policeman…
   …and a Royal Navy Able Seaman…
   …were joined by a shady civilian who was unsure whose side he was on, except his own.
   They would have to combine their skills, intelligence and abilities if they were to live to fight another day.

Story: George Low
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4822 – Full Speed East
THE MEN — Tough British sailors schooled in the traditions of Trafalgar. Lean, hard-fighting Americans spurred on by the memory of Pearl Harbour.
    THE SHIPS — MTBs of the Royal Navy — four torpedo tubes, six guns, capable of 40 knots. Patrol Torpedo Boats of the US Navy — four tubes, five guns, a top speed of 45 knots.
    THE OBJECTIVE — To close with the enemy…FAST!

Character clash is at the heart of all fiction. Without it we simply would have no drama. This tough sea and jungle tale has that character clash in spades — British Royal Navy sailors face off against their US counterparts as they struggle to put aside their differences and fight the real enemy, the Imperial Japanese Navy. The tension builds gradually, unravelling like the coils of a giant snake…
   Oh, there is a giant snake in it as well. Just thought I should mention it.—Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Story: Mclean
Art: Fleming
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No 1080 (November 1976), re-issued as No 2372 (May 1990)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Monica Edwards

Two obituaries I clipped back in the day for the late Monica Edwards. My sister loved her horseriding and her horses, and as I'd read anything I could pick up in the house when I was a kid, I also read a few of her horsey books. I remember reading Judith Beresford, especially, but I'm sure I also read some by Monica Edwards.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gerald Scarfe

A Gerald Scarfe interview from the Sunday Times Magazine, 2 November 1986.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Batman and Batman Defects

Some newspaper reports on the Tim Burton Batman movie from 1989, plus a bonus report from 1994 when Michael Keaton left the franchise.