Wednesday, September 21, 2011

War Picture Library 220 The Atlantic Wall

There's a breath of honesty in The Atlantic Wall that is missing in most other pocket war comics. Victory is paid in blood. The toll of British dead is extraordinarily high. At the risk of sounding morbid it is this aspect of the story that makes it a good read. Not all the characters who are introduced survive.
The pivot of the story is Brigadier "Blood and Thunder" "Big Jumbo"  JMB Oliphant - an inspiration to his men as well as a perfectly eccentric English officer. He prefers to go into battle wearing his monocle and a black jumper with his two hunting dogs by his side and a sten gun in his hands. He's quick to praise and promote initiative. He is interested in results! Also (and perhaps alarming to our modern sensibilities) he has little time for sentimentality, for example the Brigadier sees a dead British soldier clutching a piat as a wasted firing opportunity. The tears can come later.
This is where the honesty can be found. Of course there are the typical extreme comic book moments. There can be no other way. However minor characters are given a chance to evolve. After that they are unlucky and buy it or lucky and survive. Which is interesting to find a War Picture Library story that openly says that luck sometimes has a part to play in success. But as we learn in The Atlantic Wall luck is only created by making things happen and things only happen as a result of strong leadership.

 Now that's how you wage war!
You might be smug now...

Sergeant Goldfinger (bottom right hand corner) survives the battle only to meet his fate several years later at the hands of another Englishman.
 You do the right things and this is what happens...
Psycho old dude with dogs wastes two bad guys.
Karl and Ernst have their final lesson.
If there wasn't a war on I'd let them eat you.
Thems big Nazis.
 Our weird little guys are better than your little weird guys.
 Outstanding lack of sentimentality. I love it.
 What? Daring do not enough? Luck had no part to play in it.
 The old I got you but you got me Aggghhh!
 What! Remorse? Where did this nonsense come from?
For you windowhead the war is over.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Published on this day 20 September

Air Ace Picture Library 258 Paratroop Pilot 20/09/1965
Air Ace Picture Library 259 Achtung Mosquito! 20/09/1965
Air Ace Picture Library 260 Hunted Bomber 20/09/1965
Air Ace Picture Library 261 Pacific Invasion 20/09/1965

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Published on this day 18 September

Air Ace Picture Library 354 Lightning Flash 18/09/1967
Air Ace Picture Library 355 Delayed Action 18/09/1967
Battle Picture Library 25 Brotherhood of Blood 18/09/1961
Battle Picture Library 26 To the Last Man 18/09/1961
Battle Picture Library 27 Death-and Glory 18/09/1961
Battle Picture Library 28 Proud Heritage 18/09/1961

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Published on this day 16 September

Battle Picture Library 361 The Iron General 16/09/1968
Battle Picture Library  362 Hoodlum Patrol 16/09/1968
Battle Picture Library  363 The Dead Keep Faith 16/09/1968
Battle Picture Library  364 Road From Tobruk 16/09/1968

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cover of the Week War Picture Library 270 At Bayonet Point

I feel a gruesome interpretation of the title would have been more apt. However given the times it may not have been appropriate or warranted. Still the cover of War Picture Library 270 At Bayonet Point proves that it is always more sensible and favourable to give rather than to receive.

I love the tight palette of colours used for this cover and the use of highlights behind the lead figure. Even though he doesn't look overly driven by blood lust he remains equally menacing - but strangely not overly threatening. However he should be terrifying given his actions and the situation in which he is plying his trade - but he lacks character. In fact the more I look at him the more I find him to be a little bit bland.
The best I can give is 7/10.

Published on this day 6 September

War Picture Library 304 Battle Drill 6/09/1965
War Picture Library 305 Thunder Island 6/09/1965
War Picture Library 306 At the Kill 6/09/1965
War Picture Library 307 Born Leader 6/09/1965

Monday, September 5, 2011

Quote of the Week

"AAAGH! I'm hit...but I'm not giving up..." Second-Lieutenant John Carter, Royal Flying Corp in Air Ace Picture Library 470 Double Image.

Published on this day 5 September

War Picture Library 352 Beam Attack 5/09/1966
War Picture Library 353 War Without End 5/09/1966
War Picture Library 354 The Executioners 5/09/1966
War Picture Library 355 The Lost Platoon 5/09/1966
Lion Picture Library 71 The Slow Death 5/09/1966
Lion Picture Library 72 The Scent of Danger 5/09/1966
Lion Picture Library 73 Red Beach 5/09/1966
Lion Picture Library 74 Last of the Gladiators 5/09/1966
War Picture Library 64 Breaking Point 5/09/1960
War Picture Library 65 Danger Dives Deep 5/09/1960
War Picture Library 66 Task Force 5/09/1960
War Picture Library 67 Battle Drop 5/09/1960

Air Ace Picture Library 248 The Missing Bombers

The Japanese are so reasonable in this story they could be confused for Germans. When Air Ace Picture Library 248 The Missing Bombers turns to the Japanese they're not getting ready to die for the Emperor, nor are they calling anybody a dog, nor do they get a lot of chances to let out a final AIEEEE! The lack of stereotyping is a little bit disturbing. In fact the Japanese are portrayed as an organised enemy who just happen to make the mistake of fighting against the Allies. The artwork also doesn't have that agro guy looking though his extra thick spectacles as you would expect in one of these comic books.

All the racism is a part of the story and not in the story - if you know what I mean.

At the centre of The Missing Bombers is Kenaka Cooper, a flying chappy, who has a Japanese mother and an English father. His posting to a Wellington squadron raises a few eyebrows as well as a few hackles. Not only are the allies hard up against it now they have to contend with having a traitor in their midst. Kenaka is of course no traitor.

I like seeing Wellington bombers in pocket war comics and I was a little disappointed not to see more of them. However for some reason there a lots and lots of panels with blokes just standing around  - this issue should win a prize for the most small crowd scenes seen in a war comic book. Needless to say the narrative device of getting the Wellingtons to fly through the secret canyon is just silly.

In its own way The Missing Bombers is a sensitive story as the men around Cooper have to come grips with his ethnicity.

Well if you look really closely only 3 of them are really flying. Two of them are sort of crashing and the last one is missing.

Three disjointed panels of action on the same page. I think the artist was standing a bit close to the ink fumes.

That almost sounds reasonable. Are you sure you're the bad guys?

It's a message from your wife. She says don't forget to go past the supermarket on the way home and pick up some bread and milk.

Who else knows about this?

So that's way he's shorter than everyone else!

Well say it out loud man! You're about to get in an aircraft with him.

Nice panel.

Hey! Why go over it when you can go through it.

Interesting perspective.

Why would you have to do that? Also that guy on the radio looks like he's just lost a bet.

Can I move if I surrender?

Check out the cool gun the Japanese marine is holding.

I don't know if holding hands with another man would be considered manly back in 1963.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Published on this day 4 September

War Picture Library 401 Brush with Death 4/09/1967
War Picture Library 112 Ceiling Zero 4/09/1961
War Picture Library113 Attack 4/09/1961
War Picture Library114 Cry Defiance 4/09/1961
War Picture Library 115 The Ranks of the Damned 4/09/1961

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Published on this day 3 September

War Picture Library 160 Sniper 3/09/1962
War Picture Library 161 Open Sights 3/09/1962
War Picture Library 162 Snarl of Battle 3/09/1962
War Picture Library 163 Hell's Heroes 3/09/1962

Friday, September 2, 2011

Published on this day 2 September

War Picture Library 208 Taken by Storm 2/09/1963
War Picture Library 209 Desert Duel 2/09/1963
War Picture Library 210 To the Victor 2/09/1963
War Picture Library 211 Comrades in Arms 2/09/1963
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