Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cover of the Week War Picture Library 271 No Holds Barred

There's a lot to like here. Straight away I get the feeling that there are two closely intertwined stories behind the cover that are about to be told.
There's that line of commandos finding their way and getting ready to strike. Also there are those waiting Germans - and best of all is the one holding that grenade. I can't quite figure out if he's spotted the commandos sneaking up on him and his comrades and if he's about to ambush them or be ambushed himself.
The title  of War Picture Library 271 No Holds Barred with it's reference to an open fight adds to the significance of this issue.
Also the mixture of techniques used here show that this was done by a real master. Just look at how the white space, the deep etching, the colour and monochrome as well as the animation and posture of the figures all come together.
The drama just pours out of this cover.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Shameless Promotion

Interesting contrast to the world of Pocket War Comics. You know I get the feeling that Americans were fighting another war. After all...a Fleetway man uses his courage as a shield...

Having said that it looks like a good movie.

Click image to enlarge

Captain America Infographic

Via: Military VA Loan

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cover of the Week War Picture Library 220 The Atlantic Wall

Here they come! Or whatever it is in German. Well according to it should be Hier kommen sie!
Another great cover that is claustrophobic, desperate and dangerous. Having that desperate German shouting and looking right out of the picture and straight at the reader is just magic.
Another excellent use of title font matching the name of the comic and the situation it portrays Also the limited range of colours squeezed into the middle of the cover creates a deserved sense of excitement.
The cover of War Picture Library 220 The Atlantic Wall is promising a lot of frantic action. This is another one I've been wanting to read for a long time on the strength of the cover - I just love how expectations are made.
Easy to say. Easy to issue. 10/10.

Quote of the Week

"It would be Sergeant Dale! He's one of the old sweats who do everything according to King's regulations - and he hates me like poison!" Lieutenant Jim Renner in War Picture Library 271 No Holds Barred.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

War Picture Library 444 Blood on the Sand

There's more than enough blood shed in War Picture Library 444 Blood on the Sand. It's bound to happen when you have a Long Range Desert Group tooling around the desert giving it to the bad guys. And the bad guys are really bad in this one - they have fat commanders, SS, torture and a bed reputation as the narrative backs up their nastiness up at every turn. When the LRDG are sneaking up on the enemy and blowing them up they're portrayed as courageous. When the Germans are doing the same thing they are grim, greedy and sinister. The Germans lack morality - they are prepared to use torture to get what they want.

I think there might be a historical anomaly with having SS in the desert - however I'm not a historian. The Long Range Desert Group on the other hand have plenty of pluck and big bushy beards tucked under their turbans as they race around the desert in their trucks.

Story wise there's plenty of crash, bash (but no tash!) and things that go boom in the night.

Earning trust is at the heart of the story. An experienced Long Range Desert Group have their beloved officer killed in an ambush. Before he succumbs to his mortal wounds he saves his faithful sergeant and then with his last gasp and provides the covering fire that allows his compatriots to escape. If this isn't a hard enough act to follow then his replacement is also the unluckiest man alive. Eventually he proves himself to his new men and wins their trust.

Even though there's plenty of blood on the sand in War Picture Library 444 but the romance (if that's the right word) of the LRDG is not captured. Maybe it's a case of one mission too many. Having a sense that the desert is a big place would have helped. The LRDG just zip from panel to panel - there's no sense of 'long range' in any of the story. Finally, a few beards on the front cover would have nudged everything in the right direction.

That UGH! looks odd with part of the U missing, however it looks like it belongs with the rest of his outfit.

Understand this. We're playing Risk this evening. Don't even think of winning because I'm going cheat.

Shouldn't that hand pointing at the map be smaller?

Look at the size of the turret on that thing!

Muttering...sniggering...grim...smug Nazis!

Why are you going to burn it then idiot?

Don't see graves too often in a Fleetway comic.

These bad guys are really really BAD.

Echoes of Von Ryan's Express.

That must be a hit below the belt!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cover of the Week War Picture Library 221 H-Hour

This is the moment! This is the hour we've been waiting for! This is H-Hour! This cover is just so wonderfully dramatic and full of purpose.
These Brits are well on their way to victory and it looks like their going to make it theirs.
There's a nice sense of urgency and perspective in the cover for War Picture Library 221 H-Hour.
However I can't help wondering why the 2 guys with the automatic weapons are holding back. Do they know something the guys in front of them don't? Or am I reading too much into a simple picture? I can't wait to read it to find out!
I find the title font irresistible and it matches the action in the image below it perfectly.
Even though there's space for a subheading I think not having one adds to the feeling of the whole thing.
Very easily a 10/10.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Meanwhile, the brave Yugoslavian partisans had carried the fight right to the enemy's defences. Faced at close quarters by these muscular, savage mouthed peasants, the dismayed Germans began to give ground." Air Ace Picture Library 284 Traitor Unmasked.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Battle Picture Library 99 Battle Royal

There's this truck driver, see? But he's not really a truck driver, well he really is, he's really a king. Yeah! A real king. Except he doesn't have a kingdom - well he does, but it's not a patch of dirt or a castle - well there was one but that's under water now. It got flooded by the king to save his kingdom. Because a kingdom is about people and not crowns and things. That, boys and girls, is the story contained in Battle Picture Library 99 Battle Royal. And that's a Royal with cheese.

The king of the story is a truck driving private by the name of Hazard who is given the kingship, and a tumble down castle in the middle of a swamp (but without huge tracts of land) as a bequest from a dying Dutchman. Not because he was nice guy but because Hazard is made of the right stuff to lead men and fight.

There's much direct reference in this story that you can't be made of the right stuff if you're only a truck driver - after all you're not a fighting man are you? That reminds me, I understand that Benny Hill was a truck driver in Europe after the D-Day landings. However, unlike Hazard he didn't start shooting Germans or become royalty.

The story becomes interesting when Hazard, in full possession of his castle in the swamp, goes feral and starts shooting at British Commandos, who want to destroy his kingdom by opening some sluice gates in order to flood the formidable German defences. However Hazard reminds himself of the big picture and realises that if losing his kingdom also means drowning a lot of Germans then he should do it.

The really stupid part of the story involves the location of seat of the kingdom - a ruined castle on an island swarming with resistance fighters that the Germans somehow missed in their planning for the defence of the area.

However there is a darker side to this pocket war comic. The enemy is not usually shown being refused mercy and there also are a fair few dead people to be seen lying around.
However despite the absurd story, Battle Picture Library 99 Battle Royal is a rolicking good read!

Shark Leader? These guys are full of it!
Sometimes you just have to fight back. Too bad about the Lieutenant and the Sarge.
 What a great expression on that officer's face.
 Squareheads! Why do they get in the way?
The double AAGH! Now there's a first.
 No mercy!
 ...and you'll never guess that's where our secret base is located!
Nice gun!
Just like in Portahouse Blue.
Thank you captain obvious.
 Sometimes the bad guys have a win.
Rare to see dead good guys.
 That oufit is a bit tight Hazard.
 You'd be saying more than himmel!

Is that a grenade in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cover of the Week. Battle Picture Library 99 Battle Royal

There's something just not right with the cover for Battle Picture Library 99 Battle Royal.
Shouldn't he be running at the tank? I know that's a counter intuitive act for a human being - but I'm not used to seeing my cover heroes running away.
However I suppose his truck is on fire. And there's only of him. And that tank looks positively invincible. Those dark figures don't look too friendly either. But still, running away?
Also, surely there had be another title font to choose from. This one is really just plain ugly.
The splash cut out sort of helps and then it sort of doesn't. It's sort of limp.
The background is doing all the work for this cover. That's where all the menace is sitting.The most I can award Battle Royal's cover is 5/10.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quote of the Week

'Aha, it is we who spring the surprise' German Major Steinhardt in Air Ace Picture Library 284 Traitor Unmasked.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

War Picture Library 135 The Big Arena

Shirts off and Australians. Why do the two always go together? Without fail Australian war picture comic troops are always keen to throw off their kit and show off their chests. The other typical traits of Australians in these stories are their disregard for authority and their fearless fighting ability and spirit.

War Picture Library 135 The Big Arena follows a pair of battle hardened and battle weary Aussie blokes who decide they need a rest from fighting and decide to go absent without leave. Even the officers understand and allow them to skip off for a short break. However  the spit and polish by the book just out from Australia provost sergeant major doesn't understand how things really work in the shooting war and he is determined to bring the two battle weary malingerers into line even if has to cross enemy lines to do it.

Naturally, through a series of adventures, the sergeant comes to fully understand the two heroes and it is only a matter of time before he is brought under the spell of the bromance. Finally he learns how things work in a shooting army.

Australians in pocket war comics never fail to impress. They're always smiling, always shooting and willing to give it a go. They also tend to be larger than mortal men and this is certainly true in The Big Arena where two of the main characters are easily breaking 6'6'' if not bigger.

This is a big story of men from a big country in another big country during a big war.

You're about to eat my cold steal you accursed Australier! And don't laugh at my skinny legs.

When most Spandau teams go out of business they usually have a sale first.

Ginger Meggs grows up and goes to war.
This is a great plan. I can see how this is going to work.

This tank crew looks like the right age for tank crew - a bunch of young punks.

You know you're a part of the Commonwealth because everybody has got different hats.

You don't see a lot of blokes from India in these things - but it's good to see two of them relaxing.

This sergeant is big enough to play lock for the Wallabies.

Passes? Passes? We don't need no stinkin' passes.

Oh the desperation.

Good degree of concern, dread and anticipation in this panel.

Australians will always create an opportunity to take off their shirts.

You think? I thought it was a lost tribe of Mongolians on their final stretch home. Boy did I get that one wrong.

The desert is a big place.

When things go bad...
...they go really bad.

Under the Southern Cross I stand. A sprig of wattle in my hand. 'Stralya! You Bloody Beauty!
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