Thinking of hitting the beach this summer? Why not go Commando?
Nearly 50 years after it first invaded British news-stands, DC Thomson's pocket digest title Commando celebrates the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June 2009 with the publication of eight action-packed stories that take readers straight into the heart of the battle.
Offering "thrilling stories of heroism on land, sea and air," including Fight Fire With Fire, Terror On The Battlefield and D-Day Plus, the issues follow the fortunes of ordinary Allied soldiers as they bravely take to the Normandy beaches and fight to defeat their German foes.
“D-Day was without doubt the most important 24 hours in the history of the Western World,” explains Commando editor, Calum Laird.
“Had we not had the benefit of the selfless efforts of the huge number of soldiers, sailors and airmen involved on that day, history would have been much blacker. Our eight stories, though fictional, are our way of saluting that generation while spreading the story of what they did. And what we owe them.”
Launched by Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson & Co Ltd in June 1961, Commando's very first issue was Walk – Or Die!, illustrated by Amador Garcia. It sported the first of many garish, exciting covers by artist Ken Barr, one amongst many early artists who set the visual tone for the ensuing five decades of comic strips, many with hard-hitting titles like Blood River and Cold Steel.
These pocket-sized books − their dynamic covers adorned with an iconic dagger logo – were filled with tales of wartime valour, honour, treachery and revenge. In their heyday, Commando was a publishing phenomenon. Circulation figures were huge: peaking at an amazing 750,000 copies one month during the 1970s.
To begin with, Commando almost always carried stories about the Second World War. Now, though, the reader can expect tales from almost any conflict, from Roman times to the first Gulf War. As long as there is an exciting action yarn with a morally-minded hero at its core, any time period will be considered. In the age of Blu-Ray, Playstation and iPod, Commando survives, stubbornly refusing to surrender in the dwindling comics market place.
Calum Laird also notes that this much-loved, comic institution has avid readers amongst members of the Armed Forces. Apparently, they are the ideal size for combat trouser pockets.
“I'm pleased to say that we send our regular bundles of Commandos to the men of Operation Herrick in Afghanistan,” says Laird. “If the professionals like to read our tales, it's good enough for me.”
In 2005, Carlton Books released The Dirty Dozen: The 12 Best Commando Books Ever!. This large format compilation book was a big hit, and more followed. The seventh volume, Fight Or Die!, a hand-picked collection of classic D-Day tales is due out very soon.
“Commando may have been at the heart of many a battle for 48 years, a veteran by anyone's standards, but it's not ready to throw in the towel just yet,” concludes Laird.
“Readers can expect more action and adventure every month for a long time to come.”
• Commando’s D-Day stories are Issues 4203-4206, published on 11th June − followed by Issues 4207-4210, out on 25th June 25. Visit www.commandomag.com for features, cover galleries, wallpapers, exclusive merchandise and subscription information.
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