Commando Comics

Commando Comics
Publication information
Publisher D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
Schedule Weekly
Format Ongoing series
Genre War
Publication date July 1961 – present
Number of issues 4,426 (as of September 2011)
Collected editions
The Dirty Dozen ISBN 1-84442-307-7
True Brit ISBN 1-84442-121-X
ANZACs At War ISBN 1-84442-059-0
All Guns Blazing ISBN 1-84442-284-4
Rumble in the Jungle ISBN 1-84442-002-7
Bandits at 12 O'Clock ISBN 1-84732-128-3
D-Day - Fight or Die! ISBN 1-84732-372-3
Rogue Raiders ISBN 1-84732-791-5

Commando For Action and Adventure, formerly known as Commando War Stories in Pictures, and colloquially known as Commando Comics, are a series of British comic books that primarily draw their themes and backdrops from the various incidents of the World Wars I and II. The comic, still in print today, is noted for its distinctive 7 × 5½ inch, 68 page format that became a standard for these kinds of stories. It has remained more popular than many other British war comics, and some would say British comics in general, despite its simplistic stories and simply sketched black and white artwork, with only the covers in colour.

The stories contain certain characteristic motifs; to mention a few - courage, cowardice, patriotism, dying for the sake of one's country, noble actions, and making a cup of refreshing tea while in the face of danger, enmity turning into friendship when the going gets tough, and so on. Apart from portraying these universal qualities, Commando Comics also show soldiers in national stereotypes, glorifying Allied soldiers, but showing soldiers as a mixture of good and evil.[1] There was usually no continuity between books; each book was a complete story with start and finish, though recently series (2 or 3 stories) of books following the same character have been published.


Publication history

The comic series, then going by the title Commando War Stories in Pictures, was launched by D.C. Thomson of Dundee, Scotland, in July 1961. It was an addition to the company's already high profile comics, such as The Beano and The Dandy. During its launch year two issues were published per month, but due to the comic's increasing popularity this rose to four a month. Since 1971 there have been eight issues published per month. As of issue 539, certain stories have been reprinted. In September 1993 the comic title changed to Commando For Action and Adventure. The last issue to feature the former title was issue 2690, Password to Freedom, published in August. The first comic to feature the new title was issue 2691, A Race Against Time, published the following month.[2]

As well as the comics, annuals were also produced in 1989 and 1990, each containing seven new stories. The annuals were in full colour and illustrated in the style of the time, not in the original style of the comics.

At its peak in terms of sales, in one month during the 1970s, Commando comics circulation figures reached 750,000 according to George Low, the editor. [3] Landmark Issue no 4000 of Commando- 'Aces All!'- was released in April 2007.[4] If issues continue to be printed at the current rate, Commando No 4500 will be issued in July 2012.[5] In 2011, Commando Comics are celebrating their 50th anniversary of publication, having begun in 1961. They have issued reprints of several of the early Commando stories from the 1960s. [6] Commando in 2011 are currently re-printing (in reverse order) all of the first twelve issues from 1961.[7] Since 2007, half of Commando issues released have been re-prints of earlier stories but the remainder are new and original stories & artwork.[8] A book celebrating the best of Commando comics cover art is planned for release in October 2011. [9]

There have been a large number of writers and artists who have produced the stories in Commando, based in a variety of locations including the UK, Italy & Argentina. One of the earliest artists was Gordon Livingston who was one of the very first artists employed by Commando when it began in 1961. His first issue was Commando No 4-'Mercy for None' first printed in July 1961. Livingston produced the interior story art for over 360 issues of Commando, his last work being issue no 3293-'Sweeney's Island', released in December 1999, the same year he retired.[10] Another early artist was Ken Barr who has produced the cover art for over 200 issues, including the earliest ones printed in 1961.[11] Another notable cover artist was Ian Kennedy who, since 1970, has produced the cover-art for over 1200 issues of Commando and has also done the interior story art for a number of them (he also worked for Battle, Air Ace & War Picture Libraries). [12] Another popular artist was Argentinian Jose Marie Jorge who had a distinctive and precise drawing style and who produced the interior art for 163 issues, mostly aviation-themed stories. His work with Commando began in 1969 with issue no 384-'Flying Fury' and he had the honour of illustrating Commando No 4000 in 2007. His final issue was No 4329-'Divided Aces' printed shortly before his death at the age of 69 in October 2010.[13] Commando in its 50-year history has employed 140 writers, over 100 cover artists & 120 interior artists.[14] In February 2011, new editions of Commando became available via digital download. [15]

In the early years, all of Commando stories were devoted to the Second World War but in more recent decades, the comic has extended its range to a variety of conflicts including the First World War, the Cold War, Spanish Civil War, the Falklands, Korea, Vietnam and even Ancient & Medieval conflicts. A handful of issues have also dealt with fictional conflicts such as civil wars fought between imaginary states and there have even been a small number of Western & Science Fiction stories released by Commando.[16]
One example was issue no 4139-'Rebel Army', set in immediate aftermath of the US Civil War in the 1860s. Another was issue no 2774-'Space Watch', a science-fiction adventure about spaceship battles. In more recent decades, Commando have been also willing to portray conflicts through the viewpoint of soldiers on the opposite side. Issues such as #2598-'Let Me Fly' & #2713-'The Flying Musketeers' portrayed WW2 from the experiences of German combatants whilst #2574-'Giant Duel' was a story about Italian air-force bomber crews in WW2. Issue No 2445-'Iron Cross Yank' featured a German ex-Luftwaffe pilot who is allowed to join the US air-force and fight in the Korean War. Issue No 1168-'Thunderbolt' was notable for including a sympathetic portrayal of a Japanese pilot.

Appearance and format

The Commando comic differs from more widely known US comics in that it is published in a 7 × 5½ inch, 68 page format, with some 135 panels per story, which is roughly similar to a standard 22 page US comic. Most panels have both captions and dialogue to further the plot. Sound effects are rarely if ever used. The intention is to make a Commando story easy to read and follow.

The artwork is in black and white except for the covers, with the lettering done in typewriter font. Until recently writers and artists went uncredited as usual for D.C Thomson comics, though now a small grenade icon appears on the first panel, crediting individuals with story, art and cover.

Collected editions

In 2005, Carlton Books Ltd released an anthology of twelve Commando stories selected by George Low, who has edited the series since 1963. Since then, there were other collections, some of which were themed. So far these collections are:

Containing 12 issues: Inland Navy, Rileys Rifle, Aces Wild, Trouble Spot, Mustang Patrol, Death Patrol, The Ship Busters, Battle Wagon, Three...Two...One...Zero!, March of the Monsters, Man of Iron, Glider Ace. (This book was also published in two other editions, one called 'The 12 Best Commando Stories ever' (with different cover art also) and the other entitled 'Call of Battle', published by Seven-Oaks in 2009 which had identical cover-art to 'Dirty Dozen' but contained 10 of the above 12 stories).
Containing 12 issues: Guns on the Peak, The Fighting Few, Bright Blade of Courage, The Haunted Jungle, Tiger in the Tail, The Specialists, VLR-Very Long Range, The Mighty Midget, Flak Fever, Fight or Die!, Fearless Freddy, Another Tight Spot. (This book has been also published in two other editions- one in 2009 with the same cover-art and same title- 'True Grit' -but with 10 of the above 12 stories, and the other in 2007 with all 12 stories but with different cover-art and title-'The 12 Toughest Commando Stories Ever').
  • ANZACs At War (783 pages, August 2007, ISBN 1-84442-059-0) This anthology contains a rare issue set in the Vietnam War. This was also published in another edition by Seven-Oaks which featured the same 12 stories but with different cover-art and a different title:-'Commando: The Best 12 Aussie and Kiwi War Stories Ever'.
Containing 12 issues: Maori Challenge, The Forgotten Five, War in the Wet, Test By Battle, Regan's Raiders, Killing Zone, Outback Army, Sub-Chaser, Secret in the Sand, Island of Fear, Outlaw from the Outback, The Warlord
Containing 12 issues: Fire Over England, Desert Fox, Danger in the Deep, The Desert of Death, The Savage Sky, The Death or Glory Mob, Zero Smasher, Island of Death, Sea Strike, Assassin!, They Flew by Night, Colonel Scarface.
Containing 12 issues: Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor, Jungle Madness, Mighty Maguire, Leave Him Behind!, Jungle Patrol, Grudge Fight, Into the Jungle, Jungle Sniper, The Black Pagoda, Jungle Express, Halt-Or Die!, Danger Everywhere!
Containing 12 issues: Battle Squadron, Son of a Traitor, Death of a Wimpey, The Silver Spitfire, Sailor with Wings, Lone Eagle, Sea Blitz, A Stirling called Satan, Low-Level Lanc, Black Zero, Mosquito Ace, Jet Blitz.
Containing 12 issues: Ambush at Dawn, The Strongpoint, Normandy Drop, Wrong Time-Wrong Place, Big Joe, Blood of Heroes, D-Day Drop, Operation Bulldog, Wolf Pack, Man of Iron, Big Guy, The Footsloggers
Containing 10 issues: The Flying Avengers, Upside-Down Ace, Battle of the Boffins, Winged Wolves, Danger Below, Czech Mate, Squadron Scramble, No Mercy, Spitfire Spirit, Death of a Cobra.
Containing 10 issues: Operation Firebrand!, Half-Pint Commando, Terror Team, The Iron Sergeant, Time of Terror, The Mad Major, Spring the Trap, A Born Leader, Marked Man, Ten Tough Paratroopers.

Two box sets have also been published:

  • Commando: Ammo Box (2420 pages, October 2008, ISBN 1-84732-087-2) - contains The Dirty Dozen, True Brit, All Guns Blazing and the very first issue of Commando - Walk or Die!
  • Commando: High Explosive (2420 pages, October 2010, ISBN 1-84732-703-6 ) - contains Bandits at 12 O'Clock, Rumble in the Jungle, D-Day: Fight or Die! and the second issue of Commando - 'They Called Him Coward!'

In July 2011, Carlton Books Ltd began releasing smaller, 'pocket-sized' collections of Commando Comics edited by Calum Laird, each edition featuring three stories published in the original size, a similar format to the original 'Holiday Specials' released by Battle & Air Ace Picture Libraries.

  •  :Commando-Tally Ho! (Aerial action)- Carlton Books, July 2011. ISBN-1847328202
contains 3 issues- Whirlwind!, O for Orange, Hurri to the Rescue.
  •  :Commando-Banzai! (Pacific War)- Carlton Books, July 2011. ISBN-1847328199
contains 3 issues- Fight to the Finish, Where the Action is!, The Curse of Nanga-Jevi.
  •  : Commando-Action Stations! (Naval War)- Carlton Books, July 2011. ISBN-1847328229
contains 3 issues- Buccaneer Bob RN, Identity Unknown, Rogue Sub.
  •  : Commando-Achtung!(War in Europe)- Carlton Books, July 2011. ISBN-1847328212
contains 3 issues- Danger Mountain, Destroy by Fire!, Spearhead.

In other languages

The comics are popular in Finland, where they are known by the name "Korkeajännitys", meaning "high tension". Special issues of Korkeajännitys based on Finnish themes have been published by Egmont Publishing since 1998. These themes include Finnish Civil War, Finnish War as well as Winter War and Continuation War.

These comics have also been published in India in Hindi, under the title Commando - Sachitra Yudh Kathayein by Gowarsons Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

See also


External links

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