On sale now in all good bookshops is the simply gorgeous The Art of War by David Roach, featuring almost 1000 fabulous full-colour artworks created for the covers of Fleetway/IPC’s classic War, Battle, Air Ace and War at Sea Picture Libraries published from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The beautifully illustrated book comes with a foreword by Top Gear presenter and war comic book aficionado James May.
From the 1950s to the 1970s Fleetway and its successor, IPC, was the world's biggest comic-book publisher and its line of digest-sized Picture Libraries was the jewel in their crown. The most popular and longest lasting titles were War, Battle, Air Ace and War at Sea, which ran for a combined total of over four and a half thousand issues. This is a collection of over 400 of the finest covers, digitally remastered from the original archived artwork in a lavish format with the finest quality reproduction.
Over on the Today's Inspiration blog, David - an artist, illustrator, writer and historian with 20 years experience in the comics industry whose credits include Doctor Who, Batman and Star Wars - has written a series of posts (listed below) tying in with the launch of the book, and this post, "A warehouse full of art - dear God!" by blog owner Lief Peng outlines how, back in 2005, David and Rufus Dayglo uncovered a treasure trove of some 26,000 comic book pages from British girls and boys comics published by IPC, as well as about 10,000 Nursery pages, which they proceeded to catalogue*. Around 1400 war covers had survived, the best of which are in David's books.
"Rufus... has said on several occasions that it was the best summer of his life," David told Lief, "and you can bet the same goes for me - I was in heaven."
David's first post outlines the history of the comic and the art of Giorgio DeGaspari (already a legend in Italy by the time he started work for the UK market), with subsequent posts featuring the work of different artists: Pino Dell’orco, Allessandro Biffignandi, Jordi Penalva (who also drew covers for US titles such as Eerie), and, finally a round up of other artists who worked on the books such as Nino Caroseli, Graham Coton and Ian Kennedy.
• Buy The Art of War from amazon.co.uk
Art of War Features on Today's Inspiration - Direct Links:
• A Warehouse Full of Art
• The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 1 (Overview)
• The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 2 (the art of Pino Dell’orco)
• The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 3 (the art of Allessandro Biffignandi)
• The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 4 (the art of Jordi Penalva)
• The Cover Art of British War Comics Day 5 (the art of various artists)
* Unfortunately, in my opinion, while these war covers have been scanned for posterity, IPC made the decision to sell off the archive before digitally scanning much of it, meaning many of the pages are now scattered across the globe. Given the huge interest in these comics, this seems unwise as it would have made for much higher quality collections of archive Fleetway and IPC comics material and reduced the need for extensive digital restoration work on pages scanned from printed comics.