Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quote of the Week

'Two Germans come here. They ask if we have information about Tommies. We say no. One call us dirty liars. I kill him - other escapes. Now we much afraid. Maybe more Germans not far off.' A scared-looking Arab. War Picture Library 270 At Bayonet Point.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cover of the Week. War at Sea 16 Destroyer

Sea dogs are tough. I guess they have to be because there's no where to run or hide on a boat. Surrounded by dead and dying comrades the gun crew of the destroyer stick to their grim task - what choice do they have?

There's more than enough information here to tell me what I should expect when I start reading the story behind the cover.

If you can see through the hard life my issue has been through  - this would have been a prized issue in some young lads hands.
For me the detail in the folds in all the sailors clothes, the bomb just falling away from the Stuka and the pitch of the deck just keep me wanting to look at this picture over and over again.

This is one occasion where I would like to have a good copy of this issue.
I'm surprised that the publishers didn't feel compelled to add an exclamation mark to the title.

However there is a lack of composition and animation to Destroyer. Also the quad mounted gun isn't very convincing. I want to give Destroyer a better score but I just can't give it more than 7/10. Is that being too harsh?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Air Ace Picture Library - Original Covers at Cloud 109

Meanwhile... over at Cloud 109 there are some great scans of original Air Ace Picture Library Covers.

Seeing this artwork without their titles takes a bit of adjusting. Also Cloud 109 provides a brief history of the artists who created these works of art.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cover of the Week. Air Ace Picture Library 235 Bomber's Vengeance

This deserves 10/10!

Why does this cover just scream 1960s? Combination of colour palette and type face?
The sub head does lifts the story and adds the necessary narrative - without it would look like just another lucky shot from British bomber over the skys of Germany. The very title itself if giving away the idea that the bombers must have suffered in the past and now they're getting their own back - oh sweet vengeance!
Everything in this cover just works perfectly.
Straight up 10/10.

Quote of the Week.

"Out of my way Squareheads!" Private Hazard (soon to be King Hazard) truck driver R.A.S.C. in Battle Picture Library 99 Battle Royal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cover of the Week. Battle Picture Library 317 Gilroy Was Here!

Something's going wrong. The sergeant appears none too pleased that that Tommy behind has managed to blow himself up and that the other trooper seems somewhat disinterested. Oh I get it...they're pulling mines up! It's just that some are better at it than others. Despite the intent I don't think this cover delivers. However who can say? Battle Picture Library 317 Gilroy Was Here might be an absolute cracker of a story.

The more I look at Battle Picture Libraries I form the opinion that Fleetway were trying to create a publication with more of an 'edge' to compete against Commando.

For those not familiar with it the pen marks on the front are GST 55. In other words the price including the Goods and Services Tax (of 10%) is 55 cents. When the GST was introduced in Australia a number of second hand book dealers and thrift store owners believed they had to label everything with a boldly placed GST price label or suffer the wrath of the federal government. The marks of that misplaced paranoia live on to this very day.

If this cover was in a perfect state I would have given it a score of 5/10 - however as it looks like it has stood on a mine to end up up in my collection it deserves 6/10.

Quote of the Week

'Die you accursed Australier!' Unnamed German soldier in North Africa whose next words are 'Ugh!' War Picture Library 133 The Big Arena.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

War Picture Library Advertising

If I've understood this correctly all I have to do to receive one of these great gifts is to address a letter (I assume) to the Bridgnorth Stamp Co, C/- (M), Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
I will then receive in return one offer (from the six listed options) absolutely free.
I've told my mum and dad.
I've enclosed a 3d stamp for the return postage.
I'm even going to cough up some extra from my hard earned lolly for some extra items.
I have an envelope.
And a pen.
I'm very excited.
I'm really looking forward to those 9 triangular stamps and making sure that those 133 all different stamps are indeed all different. However should I request a stamp album or the 10 Olympic and sports stamps? Decisions decisions.
This stamp advertisement is on the back cover of War Picture Library 136 Last Ditch, published 1962.
In any event Bridgnorth looks like a nice place to visit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Air Ace Picture Library 470 Double Image

Spanning both world wars, Double Image is the classic pocket war comic story of parental disgrace reaching across generations. John Carter is wrongly accused (and very wrongly accused I must add) of being a coward. As he is dead at the time of the accusation he is denied the opportunity to defend himself. He is dead as a result of attacking a Zeppelin during a raid over England. The direct cause of his death is from a pistol flung at him and hitting him in the head. Usually pistols are used to fire bullets - but in this instance the pistol was thrown as the weapon of last choice - as all other options failed in dissuading John Carter in pressing home his attack. The flung gun becomes the very obvious link to later in the story.
Anyway Carter's accuser survives the mission, destroys the Zeppelin (or so he thinks) and ends up commanding a squadron in WW2 where, you guessed it, the son of John Carter turns up.
Look we all know where this Air Ace Picture Library story is going. As stupid as it sounds this one actually works out OK. There are several reasons why Double Image escapes from being just plain horrible. To start with your expectations aren't set very high from the beginning. Next, more than a third of the action is set during the First World War. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it's all in the artwork. Look at the panel below with the officer calling in the Zeppelin raid or the one with the spitfire pilots scrambling to their aircraft. These panels are beautifully drawn and it is their animation, detail and style that get this story off the ground.

You can see why he is an admiral.

You keep your hands on your own butt. By the way good work on the facial hair, Herr Oberleutnant.
The only way to provide advance warning - with a nice mug of tea and a cucumber sandwich.
I really like this panel. Must be the flying goggles and the scarf.
Let's put things in context here. Von Zarnoff is standing a Zeppelin...

Sticks and stones may break my bones...oh and guns thrown at my head.

That's not a nice thing to say.
Here we go! Here we go! Here we go!
Besides being a great panel...makes you think why didn't he begin a career as a brick layer so he wouldn't have to put up with the cross generational embarrassment?
Another day at the office.
Zum timz zey speak English, ozzer timz zey zro in foreign verds.
So that explains everything...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cover of the Week. Air Ace Picture Library 248 The Missing Bombers

Where are my 3D glasses? Now there's a cover worth viewing. A missing flight of Wellingtons weaving their way through a canyon fighting back against an unseen enemy. A very Star Wars esque image if there ever was one.
Now somewhere out there will be many issues of Air Ace Picture Library 248 The Missing Bombers in perfect registration - however my issue is not one of those.
Despite the overall image being a bit hard to swallow the finish of the lead Wellington is sight to behold. I just love green engine cowlings and the red propeller bosses - no doubt whoever is on the receiving end of those twin brownings is feeling considerably worse for the attention.
The fuzzy text in the middle reads 'They were thought to have been lost in action-but they were on a secret mission'.
Another good looking cover for a pocket war comic - but it doesn't have the punch of others. Easily 7/10. Do you agree - what would you give score give this cover? By all means ignore the 3D effect of my issue.

Monday, June 6, 2011

War Picture Library 136 Last Ditch

Last Ditch just hits all the wrong buttons. It means well but just doesn't translate well once it's made the long hard transition from 1962 to 2011. Let's start with the bad guys - not only are they hopeless, stupid, arrogant and lousy shots they also happen to be foreigners with either limited or poor English language skills.
The four good guys have a better time of it. One is a hopeless drunk. You know he's on the highway to redemption - so that means he won't be walking off page 64 at the end. His nemesis is the conservative unimaginative captain who has every opportunity to change his way of thinking and finally does so. There's the young go getter, who realises that in order to make things happen he has to go against authority, as embodied by his captain. Finally there's the sergeant who is good at hitting his Japanese opponents with the heavy end of his rifle/Bren gun/hand.
In Last Ditch the British escape, not surprisingly, from the clutches of the Japanese through a series of lucky scrapes in an old river boat. The interior of the river boat takes on Tardis like proportions anytime the Englishman find themselves below deck.
Despite these flaws it does have some clever charm in the blinding conservatism of Captain Winchester. Even though it hinders him from accepting that the Japanese have the capability to wage war on equal footing with Commonwealth troops it also allows him to 'do what's best' for the drunk and throw all the booze overboard.
Also I find the cover mesmerising. Perhaps it's that early 60s paint palette? In particular have a look at the light shine on that helmet - just perfect!
So there you have it, War Picture Library 136 Last Ditch - plenty of flaws, predictable ending, outrageously racist with plentiful gratuitous action. Some would say almost the perfect pocket war comic!

Could you stop them?

The officers' mess looks like the place to be.

I bet you desert head has been waiting his entire military career to say that.

Even the good guys get blown up every now and again. Aaagh! indeed!!

What are the odds? The Japanese, despite outnumbering the British about 5 to 1 and having the element of total surprise, lose this one.

The Japanese Sam I Am buys one.

No let him stay...we could use a fit dripping wet native boy for something around here.

A Japanese anything with no bottom in it isn't going to be any good to anybody.

There's a lot of unusual things going on on page 34 of Last Ditch. First the head only drawing of Chindwin Charlie delivering his confession. Second not only is the Sergeant's arm casually draped outside the panel, his burly elbow reaches into the panel below.

I'd have more credibility if I didn't look like a nonce.

We're better off without that demon booze.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cover of the Week. Air Ace Picture Library 67 Silent Wings

This is good looking cover! Just look at how the title and image come together perfectly to create an introduction for the action inside.
Everything about the cover, from the way the troops are rushing out of glider 316 to the way the lead figure is standing in the forefront with his Sten gun, just spell drama and action!  The expression and stance of the man with the Sten are particularly well animated and provide every indication that challenges lie ahead. 'The hell of Arnhem...' described by the slightly ill-worded splash cut out in the bottom left hand corner goes to highlight the drama that's sure to unfold in this Air Ace Picture Library.

Silent Wings has come to me with only a slight bit of damage - the long lost previous owner applying a thin strip of sticky tape that was then coloured in with black pen.

This is not a bad thing.

I've never been one for collecting only pristine pocket war comics. My collection includes a number of comics that have led just as hard a life as some of the characters contained with them.

I'm yet to review Silent Wings but already the cover, with it's wonderful sense of urgency has my mind racing on what's going to happen on the pages that follow.

This cover deserves a high score. Easily 9/10!

Please leave a comment if you agree or disagree with my score.
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