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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I received an email from Amazon on Sunday that prompted an idea for a blog. I did a quick search on the blog and found I had used the idea before..... on the 25th November. Exactly a year before!!

The email told me that Prion Books had released two Anthologies of comic books. One was of War Picture Libraries and the other Battle Picture Libraries comics. When I was a kid I used to frequent a market stall in Harlow that used to sell secondhand back isses of these, made the pocket money go further. Apparently the anthologies feature early stories when they were "less politically correct".

The war comics came in a smaller size than the British Weeklies and the American Imports, War Comics told an unrelated story every issue. There was no biff baff bosh they told a story, ok they were fairly one dimensional like 1940's war films. Early stories were written by men who had fought in WWII and in todays politically correct times they are a bit stereotypical, especially of how the ememy was depicted. Still as my folks would say, they told a darn good story. War Picture Libary was published by IPC and first appeared in 1958 (IPC was soon to publish Battle Picture Libary and Air Picture Library) the other big publisher DC Thomson published Commando from 1961. At one time these sold in spades but today Commando is all that's left.

A bit of nostalgia is fun, and I thought the coincidence must mean something, so I added them to the shopping basket.

Earlier this year BBC 4 had a series called Comics Britannica. At the time I discovered comics as a kid the British Comic was moribund, so I gravitated to the the Fantastic Four, Spiderman etc. It helped that in 1972 Marvel started publishing a weekly comic the Mighty World of Marvel reprinting stories from the 60's. The British Comics for boys were much less exciting.

It was sad therefore that I missed out on the new wave of British Comics like Battle Picture Weekly, 2000AD, Starlord, Tornado and Action. Many of these were shortlived but they feature early work of some of the greats of the Comic Book industry. Action in particular was controversial for its time (it was attacked on TV and by Mary Whitehouse and would you believe in the House of Commons)and was a precursor to the excellent 2000 AD. 2000AD also appealed to a more adult audience and introduced to the world Judge Dredd, Zenith, Strontium Dogs (originally from Starlord), Durham Red and the excellent Halo Jones. I got into 2000AD thanks to a colleague at work some years later. It's still going I believe.

A bit after my time was Warrior which published V for Vendetta and Marvelman and the horror comic scream.

Battle Picture Weekly published one of the most praised Briish comic book stories, Charley's War which was set in World War I and I added an anthology of this and the complete Halo Jones to the basket.

Right stop waxing lyrical about my youth.


Kate said...

Boys had much more exciting comics than girls! All we got was Twinkle and Bunty. I remember liking the Beano though, I think that appealed to both.

Pete said...

I was never a big fan of Beano and the Dandy.

You'll be amazed to know I never read any girls comics.

I do think its more acceptable for adults to read comics in the US than it is here.

I've always enjoyed comics. Still do infact.

st said...

AD 2000 one of my old chums has the first edition in mint condition(bought as a child) and nearly a complete collection. I remember him getting into them.
Must be worth a few bob now.
As for the others, I remember comando. I used to get the victor and beano,having brothers meant a larger selection was always available.

Pete said...

ST - does he have the free gift?