Friday, 24 April 2009
FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN BOOKS - Battle Picture Weekly
Not strictly a forgotten book but with a little bending of the rules, I'm looking at a British comic book - Battle Picture Weekly was a high point of my younger days. I never missed an issue but my mum threw my vast collection out many year ago. However with the help of Ebay I've been able to build up a decent collection (pictured) for when I want to revisit those days - the amazing thing is the comic reads just as well today as an adult as it ever did.
The comic was first published in 1975 and went on all the way upto 1988 - it merged other titles into it from time to time and was known as Battle/Valiant, Battle/Action and even at a low point Battle/Action Force. It was eventually merged itself into Eagle and eventually disappeared from the shelves.
Most of the comics stories were World War II based though there were some notable exceptions such as Pat Mills' excellent Charley's War which was set during the first world war and is often called the best comic strip in history.
An early classic was D-Day Dawson - which featured a sergeant who took a bullet during the D-Day landings. He survived but the bullet was too close to his heart to be removed and would eventually kill him. He fought on with reckless abandon until he eventually fell. The last story is pictured below (click on image for readable version).
Other early faves were Panzer G-Man and what was unusual for a UK Comic of the time was that it looked at the war from the German POV. The comic would later repeat this with the excellent Hellman of Hammer Force.
Titan Books have a graphic novel planned Best of Battle for June 2009 but this title has been put back several times so I won't get too excited until I actually see it in the shops.
The thing that was different about Battle was that it was less "gung ho" than other titles of the period and often showed warfare with a grim and gritty realism. Charley's War was especially known for this and often showed men being shot for being cowards when these days they would be treated for trauma.
Rat Pack, based very heavily on the movie The Dirty Dozen was another early favourite. You guessed it - it featured a pack of convict soldiers who had no choice but to fight the Germans in order to save themselves from prison or the firing squad.
So that's it Battle Picture Weekly.