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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Commando comic goes digital for 50th anniversary

Commando - now available on iPad and iPhone

Along with the latest issues of Commando – which includes a reprint of an issue from 1970 drawn by now top 2000AD artist Cam Kennedy - comes news from DC Thomson that their digital editions of the war edition comic are now available for iPhone and iPad. Check out the information on this development below, after we give you the rundown on the new print editions.

There’s much more to come from Britain’s only surviving war/action adventure comic in its Golden Jubilee year with a full programme planned to mark the title's 50th anniversary. Favourite characters are due to make returns alongside new heroes specially created for the anniversary year along with delving deep into Commando's past to dust off classic stories like "Walk or Die"” that haven't seen the light of day for many years.

With subscriptions up 15 per cent over the past year, helped no doubt by editor Calum Laird and his team's determination to get the message out about the comic, Commando is one war veteran that isn’t done fighting yet.

Commando 4367: Pirate Breed
Story: Spence
Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: Lopez Espi
Originally No 234 from 1966

“Hey, Bluey!” -- The length and breadth of the China Seas that’s all he was called -- Bluey. Gold-smuggling, gun-running, he was a tough guy who took all kinds of chances in his fast old converted MTB to make a quick dollar.

When the Australian Navy had a tough job to do and needed a guy who knew the China Seas backwards, had smuggling contacts on nearly every island, could handle a gun and take a chance in a thousand — did they look among their own officers? Did they blazes!

"Hey, Bluey!”

Commando 4368: Mighty Mike
Story: Cyril Walker
Art: Cam Kennedy
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally No 417 from 1970, re-issued as No 1355 in 1979

Mighty Mike Mansell, top fighter ace, was the guy chosen as test pilot for the fastest aircraft produced for the RAF. The plane was so top secret that it didn’t even have a name as Mike put it through its paces over the remote north of Scotland.

Yet, despite all the security, the Nazis believed they could get their hands on the plane…and no wonder they were confident. Flying for the Luftwaffe was Mike’s identical twin brother...

Commando 4369: Swastika Squadron
Story: Norman Adams
Art and Cover: Keith Page

A bunch of RAF men fighting in planes with swastikas? Traitors, surely, flying German kites?

Well, no. they were a group of Blenheim crews for whom a ferry flight turned into a fight for survival in planes carrying the sign of the crooked cross.

Commando 4370: Mongrel Crew
Story: Mac Macdonald
Art and Cover: Carlos Pino

They were a mongrel crew all right. Half-a-dozen men lumped together in a Mitchell bomber for the wrong reason — a propaganda stunt. Though each had a score to settle with the enemy, they were not really expected to fight.

But, when push came to shove, the mongrels would show they had a bite to match any pedigree hound.

Commando Goes Digital

While these new issues feature cracking art and tales from some legends of Commando’s past and present, the big news this month is the official release of our apps and digital subscription which will DC Thomson hopes will secure Commando’s future.

Commando, which has now surpassed 4300 stories since its inception in July 1961, started its 50th anniversary year in 2011 with a bang, courtesy of a brand new website, http://www.commandocomics.com/. Now its digital subscriptions service using iPhone and iPad apps has gone live, a first from DC Thomson’s stable of publications.

DC Thomson says the new service ensures that Commando adventures, famed for their accuracy and authenticity, are now available in digital form as well as print.

iPad interface for the new Commando app
The new Commando website, created by DC Thomson’s Digital team in partnership with Edinburgh-based digital agency, Storm ID, has a range of new features which ensures that Commando is well positioned for the digital future.

Users can explore the stories, including new issues, using the free interactive viewer as well as obtain information on the military hardware featured throughout. There’s also the chance to enjoy various story features and the reminiscences of both the current editorial team and contributors from throughout Commando’s 50 years.

Visitors will also have the ability to purchase a digital subscription directly from the website or buy a print subscription for delivery. Also, for the first time, users can get their hands on some famous Commando cover posters (in A1 size format) exclusively through Commandocomics.com, for the introductory price of £19.99.

Both iPad and iPhone apps, the other aspect of the title's latest digital push, are free, and come with the option to download four free issues of Commando from the title's archive, to tempt you into buying a full subscription.

The iPhone App has an instinctive interface that's simple to use and Commando's printed format – usually two landscape panels per page – means the stories transfers easily to the small screen.

Download speeds from the archive will vary with your connection, but you can carry on exploring the library while you're waiting for that to happen, which has been catalogued thematically.

iPhone interface for the new
Commando app
At present, there doesn't appear to be a search facility - comic fans will almost certainly like to search by artist or writer as well as by theme - but there is an in-app link to the Commando web site (which opens in Safari), so there are options there for DC Thomson to develop direct to its readers.

Annoyingly, while there's clearly been a huge effort to make Commando an enjoyable reading experience on the small screen (although some readers may need to use the 'zoom' feature to read the story text), it's a bit odd that the new Commando web site doesn't detect you're viewing it on an iPhone, and offer a mobile version of the site. But this is a minor niggle - the whole launch of these new Apps and the new web site is a huge step into new territory for DC Thomson and they've done a good job - and I'm sure there are more developments in the pipeline.

“Being the first DC Thomson title to offer a downloadable digital comic via a web-based subscription service is quite a responsibility but one we are delighted to take on," says Commando Editor Calum Laird. Commando is a unique product in the UK marketplace and now, it can be made available worldwide at the click of a mouse, or the tap of a screen for iPhone and iPad.

"These devices are almost tailor-made for the unique presentation of Commando," feels Calum. "Backing up the subscription service with a fully-loaded website giving access to our timeless story archive will be welcomed with open arms by Commando fans.”

• The iPad and iPhone apps are free to download through the Apple iTunes App Store and a digital subscription is priced at £4.99 per month, compared to a £99 annual print subscription. For those not sure there are four free issues to download prior to making a purchase.

Commando Comics iPhone App on iTunes

Commando Comics iPad App on iTunes

• Official Commando web site: http://www.commandocomics.com/

• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846

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