When I was a boy I avidly read Battle Picture Weekly, a British war comic that astonishingly enough, turned up in my local newsagent every week. I would await each instalment with barely-constrained eagerness, desperate to find out what would happen to Major Eazy and Tewfik his Bedouin sidekick, D-Day Dawson, Johnny Red, the Rat Pack, and dozens of other characters who came and went from the black-and-white pages with each week.
I’ve never attempted a comic, I admit it’s a genuine challenge because not only do you have to create an entire short story in just a few pages, but you really only have a few hundred words at most to play with, nearly all of it dialogue. Granted, a picture tells a thousand words, but by comparison, your average word limit for something like a magazine article is War and Peace.
The men who wrote these stories, like Pat Mills (who created both Battle and 2000AD), Gerry Finley-Day and Tom Tully certainly knew how to appeal to the mindset of a teenage boy: a continuous series of violent escapades in which characters were clearly defined by their actions as honourable or dishonourable and dealt with accordingly, usually ruthlessly. How they ever managed to come up with so many stories week-in week-out is beyond me.
Best of all though, Titan Books have compiled several hardcover volumes of the comics, so we can re-live them all over again as adults.
“Donner und Blitzen!”
Posted in: News