I picked these war stories up in a small store that sold a few different kinds of oddities. These booklets were really cheap so I bought a very small handful of them.
I found them fairly interesting, both as comic books and as historical artifacts. Though not, actually, historical artifacts from the wars they portray. These are from the mid-’70s, and as such are more pop-culture-historical than propaganda/history-historical.
The stories are sometimes relatively complex in their morals though — relative, that is to say, to the modern action film, where a half-German dude would almost certainly be the villain, rather than a conflicted hero torn between duty and personal crisis.
Here are some of what I consider to be the most fascinating pages of the books.
If anyone’s not happy with me uploading these here for reasons of copyright, I can take them down again. However, I have uploaded these as a useful resource & for commentary, and will not make any money from them being here, so there is a pretty strong Fair Use case.
If you’d like to use the images, I’d appreciate a link back or a credit! I won’t get too upset if you don’t though.
The D-Day landings. Not sure about the face there. Can faces peel half away from the skull and scream at you? If so, why hasn’t there been an album about that yet?
Now who needs more pylons.
This is the inside front cover of Hell’s Gates and the title page.
I like that you could just buy 192 pages of pictures of things exploding back then and no-one would look at you askance. Although I suppose Michael Bay Esq. scratches the same itch today.
A shiny penny to anyone who can tell me which one is the hero in this image.
I’m not sure whether I’m bothered by the fact they just shoot the German soldier who had refrained from shooting them or not.
I guess not.
More to the point, why did he give them the chance? Why didn’t he shoot the guy with the trusty service revolver as soon as he reached for it? Why was he not even pointing the gun at them at any point despite clearly seeing them and having time to shout at them to stop?
I think these questions will likely remain unanswered.
And now, what some guy thinks the marine-navy rivalry started as.
This comic purports to tell the origin of the rivalry between marines and navy. It’s supposed to explain why Cain, the Unfairly Treated Private Who Ends Up A War Hero of this little escapade, is victimised for being called Cain.
I don’t know why I was expecting it to be something to do with Cain from the Bible, but I was. I also assumed some Rime Of The Ancient Mariner would be thrown in there. I think I attended too many English Literature classes to see things properly.
He actually has a fair bit to lose, or we wouldn’t really care about him as readers. His life is the first thing that springs to mind but that might be being facetious.
This comic has the most sophisticated artwork, certainly in terms of cover art, out of all the comics I picked up.
On the inside, too, there was a marked increase in quality over some of the earlier examples. More detail, more realistic facial expressions, motion and emotion captured better.
“The yellow flood…” – acceptable in January 1942 in Britain, probably. Acceptable in mid-1970s Britain? Really?
I can’t read the actual story without flinching a bit. I understand that it makes sense in context, but the narrative is still one of Allied good, “Japs”, “yellow swarm” bad, and it’s not particularly edifying.
It only gets worse from there, too, I just couldn’t really bring myself to fill my blog with anti-Japanese tirades from the seventies. It’s not really what I want people to find on my personal blog.
The following is from “CUT OFF!”, yet another little booklet.
As far as I want to know, this was what the entire war was about.
Plucky squaddies blowing shit up and shouting things like “Sock-O!” and “Bally good show!”.
Good clean fun, and everyone’s back in time for tiffin cake at great-aunt Marjorie’s.
Just a machine gunner, crumping.
This was the only book out of the ones I bought that I genuinely enjoyed for reasons other than (a) interest in retro curios and (b) a mind about as complex as a hammer.
With a xenophobic authority figure and a genuinely suspenseful, tight plot, plus a slightly complicated lead character who you could actually empathise with at times, and who dealt with (gasp) emotional issues, this was the only comic that engaged me, and which I would read again.
The others are fascinating examples of cheap comic book art of the time, and I will keep them as long as possible, but the story in Runaway Glory is actually quite well-written. It reminds me of some of the Golden Age superhero comic books in how tightly, simply, and coherently it is plotted.
Now I have written in depth about heavy metal, games, comic books and my favourite search engine. Ahem. I have cool interests too. That involve people. Death matches count as human interaction, right?
I might have used Bolt Thrower before, but damn if it ain’t appropriate here!