Sunday, August 15, 2010

Battle Picture Library 73 The Digger Breed

Australians! A pretty good story even though the artwork is a bit bumpy at times.
Take our friend to the left here. Despite the fact that he doesn't appear in the story and he's the only shirtless Australian to be found in The Digger Breed - look at his slouch hat! What the hell is going on there? That hat is an abomination. Now that I've got that off my chest - here's the plot.

The Digger Breed starts off with Australia's baptism of fire at Gallipoli. A young soldier (who we only get to know as "Rusty") is facing battle for the first time doubts his own courage. He survives his first encounter with the enemy and through the guiding hands of his comrades he manages to find his place. However he panics while out on patrol causing all his comrades to be killed.

Fast forward to World War Two. Three Australian veterans are disembarking in North Africa. One of them is "Rusty" - but which one? Is it Lieutenant-Colonel Bradbury or Sergeant Shaw or Private "Croc" Wheeler? There's a hint given early in the story and then followed up with a red herring or two.  I found myself saying "of course!" when his identity is revealed. But that is only my ego compensating for the fact that I didn't figure it out for myself. 

The Italians in North Africa receive a favourable treatment from the author. But the Australian slouch hats don't deserve the treatment they receive from the illustrator. They are just awful. There are also some very odd looking German tanks. Some of the panels appear incomplete and the composition at times is messy. However at the same time there is also some truly outstanding artwork. The illustrator obviously feels really comfortable when he (sorry for the assumption) gets to leave the ink in the well and sets out to convey the action in as few lines as possible.

The Digger Breed is a well written story and shows that a good drama can be achieved in 64 pages.

My oath sergeant what is wrong with that man's hat?

Why are those boots in the air?

A bad hat again. That really makes me mad!

Now this is a great panel. Feel the white space.

An unusual panel for a pocket war library comic. Having said that it looks unfinished.

This is a good one. Gives you an appreciation for the vastness of the desert.

Now that's an AAAGH!

Here's one for the good guys handbook. If you're out on patrol with a guy called Jimmy odds are you'll be coming back alone.

Feel the fear.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! How wrong are those slouch hats?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Air Ace Picture Library 297 Dogfight Dixon and the Traitor Pilot

Could this be the worst Air Ace Picture Library ever written? But don’t let me just shoot down Dogfight Dixon and the Traitor Pilot in flames. Allow the story to do it for you.

The story goes something like this…

Dogfight Dixon and his chums are having a jolly good time shooting down Huns, dashing around in their Sopwith Camels and looking rather splendid in their flying leathers. Then one day a damn natty Frenchy turns up with his Spad and starts telling the lads how much better it all is in the French Air Service.

Dogfight accepts a challenge from the Frenchman to see who has the better mount. However during the challenge Dogfight discovers a flight of Gothas making their way towards London. He then runs into a spot of bother while pursuing the enemy flight. Running low on fuel and lost in the sea mist Dogfight is forced to land on an island where there is a secret German radio base. Fortunately for Dogfight the keys are left in the door of the secure petrol store and he is able to make good his escape.

On his return Dogfight and his good chum Bumps Bradshaw take off in a DH4 to bomb the secret radio station not twenty minutes flying time from their own airbase. They are ambushed by a flight of enemy aircraft led by the crack killer German ace Baron Von Schroefer. Was it a trap? But how did the Germans know? Is there a traitor in the allied camp and who could it possibly be? STOP!!!!

Aaagh!! How could 58 pages be so bad? The writing, story line, characterisation as well as most of the artwork are just plain terrible. Great to see a story with biplanes but when one of the key characteristics of the Gotha is missed (it had a gap in it’s own fuselage allowing the rear gunner to engage enemy aircraft in what is usually a blind spot for all other aircraft of the period) it is disappointing.

On the plus side it is World War One story, with Camels, Spads, Gothas, Albatrosses and a DH4. And the cover artwork is outstanding.

But the bad far outweighs the good. There’s an old chateau (within walking distance of the squadron that Dogfight hasn’t really noticed before) where the French pilot’s uncle lives, The uncle wears a smoking jacket and keeps a vicious, but obedient, guard dog. The uncle also likes to keep carrier pigeons and declare his loyalty to the Fatherland with his nephew. Oh my goodness! The Frenchman is the traitor after all! There’s more but it’s all too dashing, square jawed and floppy fringed painful to go on.

I bet you Henri sounds like John Cleese doing an impersonation of a French speaking person. 

Here I am flying right to left. What do you think of my manly profile? Well turn the page...

...and you get to see it again. But this time the struts on my Camel are bending back at a different angle.

Boy! That was lucky!

OK. I want you to try this at home. Fling the remains of the contents of a  petrol canister on the ground and then in one swift and effortless movement light a match to ignite the spill while you're about to be set upon by some angry men with guns.

What does he mean by again?

Well idiot - you just came back in Von Schroefer's plane without Von Schroefer in it. Maybe Henri made a wild guess based on those facts.

Oh no! He really IS the spy after all.

This is just too silly.

I wish the person who wrote this would take a flying leap.
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