Achtung! Achtung! All Big Kids!

How many of you out there barely got their basic German past “Achtung! Tommies!”, “Schnell”, “Niche Schiessen”, “Kamerad” and of course “Schweinhund”? (Apologies for any mispellings) Then it is time for a refresher course! The Sunday Times is doing a special offer on “The Dirty Dozen” , a collection of the 12 best Commando magazines.

  • pacman

    I remember them well: For you Tommy, ze war ist over.

  • TAFKABO

    As someone who never stopped reading comics I am fascinated by the way the medium is percieved. Here in France, as in most of Europe and places like Japan, it is viewed as simply another artistic medium, on a par with books or film. But in the UK and America it is seen as something kids do, then grow out of. I’ve never quite been able to work out why this is so, but it is a shame that so many miss out on some fantastic works of popular culture.
    I remember the Commando series well, and found them enjoyable, but my consciousness was raised by a weekly story in Battle Comic that went by the name of Charleys War, it was written by Pat Mills and dared to tell the true story of life in the trenches during the first world war.

    Oh and for all those non Brits reading this and thinking that they’ve been left out, I recommend a series by the great Italian writer Hugo Pratt and his best known character Corto Maltese. In one book entitled Corto Maltese-Les Celtiques, Corto travels to Ireland circa 1916 and joins the IRA in their fight against the British. The funniest thing is that when he arrives in Ireland he is given the nae of a contact within the IRA, and that man is called Pat Finucane (I’m not making this up).

  • GPJ

    What about “Warlord”, was that not an example of pulp fiction. completely white washing history and making the reader think that the good guys never committed war crimes.

    Someone should mock up a modern day version of comics like “Warlord”, probably would look no different to the sanitised red white and blue version of the world that Mr Bush lives in..

  • harpo

    ‘What about “Warlord”, was that not an example of pulp fiction. completely white washing history and making the reader think that the good guys never committed war crimes.’

    GPJ:

    Who mentioned war crimes? By either the bad guys or the good guys?

    Those comics were all about the heroic acts of soldiers in war, or the suffering of ordinary soldiers in war. In fact many of the comics had stories about Germans who fought heroically, yet cleanly. The honourable enemy was presented.

    So neither side was shown as committing war crimes. It was all more about the ‘fair fight’ aspects of the war. So no massacres of civilians, no abuse of prisoners, and no mention of Nazi death camps.

  • CombineHarvesterOfSorrow

    For those looking a modern spin on the WWII comic. You could do a lot worse than Holywood born Garth Ennis’ “War Stories” trade paperback, or his recently revived Nick Fury series “Peacemaker”. Qualitu war comics, and a hell of a lot of fun.

  • Patty

    GPJ:

    “What about “Warlord”, was that not an example of pulp fiction. completely white washing history and making the reader think that the good guys never committed war crimes.”

    Are you talking about “Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy” by Ilario Pantano? If you are, you really should tone down your rhetoric. The book is one man’s personal story; it doesn’t “completely whitewash history.” Did you even read it?

  • na

    FD,

    On another blog entry you raised the glorification of past violence leading youth towards a violent present. Do you see these war comics aimed at children as similar? (Though they no longer seem to exist in the for children format the reissues you highlight originally aimed for)

  • GPJ

    Harpo

    This comic was read by my a generation, who did not face national service or conscription in Britain.

    Your take on these comics as heroic examples of soldier’s stories is questionable, as they gave a sanitised and unrealistic view of what warfare was like. Whitewashing history, of course it did the comic gave a “saving private ryan” view of ww2, fought only by european soldiers ( white ).

    When I stopped reading these comics and actually looked at the history of ww2 I saw that the conflict was multi-layered and not so black and white as the pages of Commando and Warlord.

    Patty..you’re barking up the wrong comic..Warlord cica 1973-1983 a British comic

  • TAFKABO

    GPJ.

    A couple of people have pointed out that there were stories in the comics that gave a realistic view of war, and some stories from the German perspective.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    CombineHarvesterOfSorrow might be interested to know that, according to Wikipedia, Ennis began his comic-writing career in 1989 with the series Troubled Souls. Appearing in the short-lived but critically-acclaimed British anthology Crisis and illustrated by McCrea, it told the story of a young, apolitical Protestant man caught up by fate in the violence of the Irish ‘Troubles’. It spawned a sequel, For a Few Troubles More, a broad Belfast-based comedy featuring two supporting characters from Troubled Souls, Dougie and Ivor, who would later get their own American comics series, Dicks, from Caliber in 1997.

    I met Ennis and McCrea when I was about 16 in Dark Horizons on Chichester St (anyone remember it?!) for a signing. I still have most of the Crisis comics (including issue 1) that contains Ennis’ early work, as well as True Faith, a religious satire inspired by his schooldays, this time drawn by Warren Pleece. Like the two Troubles stories it was collected as a graphic novel in 1990, but religious protests led to it being quickly withdrawn from sale, apparently on the orders of publisher Robert Maxwell. It was later republished in 1997 by Vertigo.

    I’ve kinda lost interest in comics, but when I dug out the old Crisi comics a while back, I was impressed at how ahead of its time it really was back then, dealing with issues like globalisation long before it was widely known about.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garth_Ennis

  • CombineHarvesterOfSorrow

    I know, Gonzo, I know.

    Crisis was fantastic, and, while I only met Garth for the briefest of brief periods,, he seemed like a hell of a fella.

    Shame he’s never matched “Hitman” in his body of work.

  • na

    BG,

    Make you jealous, I drank with Neil Gaiman twice(he looked bewildered, increasingly). He enjoyed it less than me. That man is genius, a gent and a fruitloop.

    I’m now inspired to dig those ‘graphic novels’ out from the garage.

  • darth rumsfeld

    FD
    will the stories include the one which illustrated the exploits of avuncular Ulster Unionist Sir John Gorman, who attacked a Tiger Tank with his much smaller tank to the war cry -not often heard among Ulster Unionists, even today- of “Up the Micks!”

  • Dualta

    Darth

    I read these comics religiously when I was a kid, buying them out of The Casket newsagents on Cavendish Street on the Falls Road.

    I especially remember the one about John Gorman’s exploits and I was flabbergasted when I heard that the story was about John Gorman when I first heard about him due to his position as Deputy Speaker.

    I think he caught a King Tiger crew out of their tank and rammed them in a US Sherman, crippling both tanks.

    One part of the story which warms me, (I can’t remember if it was in the comic) was when both crews run for cover a confused German jumped into a ditch with the Gorman’s crew.

    When they realised that the German was standing beside them they pointed him in the right direction and let him rejoin his comrades. Gorman then went and got another tank and came back and destroyed the King Tiger.

  • fair_deal

    na

    “you raised the glorification of past violence leading youth towards a violent present. Do you see these war comics aimed at children as similar?”

    That had crossed my mind when I was writing this entry. No form automatically falls into it but certainly individual representations can.

  • Combine – ‘War Stories’ is fun? Have tried reading ‘D-Day Dodgers’ heaps of times without being reduced to a quivering wreck. Without success.
    Brilliant stuff though. Agree with you on that!

  • Greenflag

    Memories indeed . We used to ‘swap’ these Commando comics as kids along with Superman , Blackhawks, Captain America etc etc . I remember being fascinated the usual portrayal of the evil bad Germans (sixteen of them ) being singlehandedly twirled around over a Tommy’s head and then flung off into the distance with cries of gott in himmel etc etc .

    And then one day the German exchange student came to stay for a month . The Da (former Irish Army) saw me perusing my ‘war comics ‘ and told me that they were now ‘verboten’. He did not want the young German to be embarassed by the ‘content’. Even worse a war film can’t recall which one I was looking forward to on TV was also discreetly ‘verboten’ with a shrug of the shoulders from the old soldier . When our German friend had gone the ‘comics’ were restored but somehow they were no longer as enjoyable . Perhaps I’d grown up or having met a ‘real’ Fritz I realised that they were just the same as us more or less -Gott in Himmel 🙂

    ‘Fritz’ also got to meet a real live POW . Our next door neighbour a Corkman (ex RAF) had spent 4 years in a German prisoner of war camp and had been well treated and even learnt some of the language.

    Thanks for the link-I’m almost tempted to buy .

  • circles

    Crisis was excellent. I was a regular reader during its much to short run and it was of course well ahead of its day.
    Another local comic writer is Malachy Coney (used to work in the Talisman in smithfield http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachy_Coney) One series he did was rather presciently called Holy Cross.
    Not bad for a local lad.
    Think the shop has now been gobbled up by forbidden planet.

  • TAFKABO

    Talisman has relocated to one off the streets off Cornmarket.Mal still works there, and his Holy Cross comics were excellent.

  • TAFKABO

    oops.

    Yes, the shop is now renamed Forbidden planet, but it’s still Talisman to me.

  • circles

    Funny that TAF – our eyes may well have already met across the tops of old Silver Surfers.
    I used to be a real reguler there back in the day.

  • TAFKABO

    I started going when they had a little outlet in Smithfield. Before that there was a comic shop in Banbridge that we had to travel to in order to get our weekly fix.

  • Now you’ve got me started

    The best war story ever (bar none!) was Bad Company in 2000ad. For anybody thats interested that is.

  • CombineHarvesterOfSorrow

    Malachy Coney does seem like a good Chap, alright, and some, though far from all the stuff in his Good Craic Comics Publication “Small Axe” is golden.

    I wonder if he’d take on a writer? I’ve had an idea kicking around for years now I’d love to put onto paper…

  • CombineHarvesterOfSorrow

    Sorry, that last post was bobbins.

    i always get that mixed up. Malachy is behind good Craic comics, and they have little or nowt to do with “Small Axe”

  • Moochin photoman

    Malachy is working for a corporate org now(forbidden planet) but fear not…plans are a foot.
    He’s a good man and we havent heard the last of him yet by any stretch of the imagiination

  • Lafcadio

    tafkabo – where in france do you live, in paris perchance? if so what comic shops do you frequent??

    when I lived here a couple of years ago, I lived off bvd st germain, just across the street from ‘album’ (where I had to just browse, due to my lack of sous) and not too far from ‘gibert joseph’ (where I occasionally bought – always ‘occasion’ rather than ‘neuf’..)

    I have now got full largo winch and XIII collections – do you have any recommendations?

  • TAFKABO

    Lafcadio

    I’m in a suburb of Paris, but that very Album shop you mentioned is one I frequent often. As well as Gilbert Joseph (their CD shop is my favourite in Paris), I aslo find Fnac a great place to shop. I’m currently trying to work my way through Alan Moores V for Vendetta in French. French comics I’d recommend would be the aforementioned Corto Maltese (Strictly speaking it’s Italian, but forget that for a moment) and one by an Iranian born, but now living in Paris writer called Marjane Satrapi who has written a series of biographical novels from her time as a fourteen year old punk girl living in Tehran at the time of the deposing of the Shah, great stuff, highly recommended.

  • Lafcadio

    funny enough i was never in the cd shop in gibert joseph, is it in the one on st michel?

    i’d seen the corto maltese books before, i’ll look out for the others.. and i’ll listen out for NI-accented French in Album!

    rgds..

  • CombineHarvesterOfSorrow

    French Living/speaking folks.

    Is XIII, the comic and cop at all? I remeber playing the videogame a while back, and I’ve always meant to get back to it…

  • TAFKABO

    Well the comic is a darn sight better than the video game, that’s for sure.

  • Lafcadio

    XIII is quite decent hokum, didn’t know there was a video game.. about the lookalike guy who supposedly shot the president and the “bourne identity”-style memory loss etc?

    On Commando comics, does anyone remember certain stock events – one thing I remember is that in any RAF story, involving a Britsh ace and a German ace, at some stage the plot would involve both pilots basically playing chicken, flying their planes directly at each other – inevitably it would finish with the German’s nerve failing, pulling away to offer the plucky Brit an easy kill..

    {Given the respective performances in penalty shootouts ever since, I’m not sure that this outcome was in fact likely..)

  • circles

    TAFKABO:
    Yeah me too – when they were in the market itself, before they moved to the premises just outside the market with the big upstairs and lots of merchandising.
    The merchandising killed the place off for me. You’d go in to hunt down an old or new copy of Concrete and be suffocated by the half-life size Pinhead and models of the USS Enterprise. Lot of oul nonsense – all I wanted was a new Sin City, or even a battered copy of V for Vendetta.
    And my monthly comic bill was starting to cripple my account.
    Mais bon, maintenant on se trouve tous dans les pays francophone et les histoires du Marché du Smithfield ne sont que les histoires….