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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Commando Webbing: Ian Kennedy, Ken Barr and More Reprint Books

It has been a while since we did a Commando Webbing and there is rather a lot to get through...

Two weeks ago DC Thomson's Dundee Courier ran an interview with Commando cover artist Ian Kennedy on his long career in UK comics. The article, entitled "The Art Of The Illustrator", took a full page of the Courier's broadsheet Weekend section with photos of Kennedy and six unlettered versions of his Commando covers. The interview is now online both on the Courier website and the Commando website with different illustrations on each site.

Despite having done some 1200 Commando covers Kennedy did not start on the title until it was in its ninth year of publication. Before that time Ken Barr was the pre-eminent Commando cover artist with covers just as action packed as Kennedy's, albeit not as accurate. Peter Richardson has been choosing some of his favourite Commando covers by Barr and now has a string of articles showing them off over on the Cloud 109 blog - here, here and here.

From old covers to new books and the set of new Commando reprint books from Carlton that editor Calum Laird mentioned when he was interviewed on downthetubes at the start of January have made an appearance on Amazon UK. Unlike the previous Commando reprint books which were true doorstops with 10 or 12 stories each and which retailed around the £15 price point, these new books will have three stories in each and a £4.99 price point. They will also be published the same size as Commando as opposed to the 125% size of the thicker tomes. Each of the four books has a theme - Action Stations! will be naval warfare, Tally Ho! will be aerial warfare, Achtung! will pit British troops against the Germans while Banzai! unsurprisingly will set them against the Japanese. All four books will include an introduction by Calum Laird and will feature a Commando 50th anniversary logo. With 208 pages each, Amazon lists their publishing date as 7 July 2011.

The next of the new big Commando reprint books from Carlton is Rogue Raiders priced at £15.99 and due on 12 May 2011. Before that however is a reissue of D-Day: Fight or Die! originally published with 12 stories in 2009 and boasting a D-Day 65th anniversary logo. The new edition due on 5 May 2011 will not just loose the 65th anniversary logo but two stories as well - the 2011 edition will have 10 stories for the same £15.99 price as the 12 stories of 2009 edition.

Better value can be found in The Works bargain book shops with the reappearance of the SevenOaks versions of the big Commando books. When Carlton originally started publishing the big books they also did bargain versions of the first few under their SevenOaks imprint. These versions were the same size and had the same contents as the Carlton versions but used different covers and normally dropped the main title using instead the subtitle of the Carlton books. While they had the full Carlton price on the back cover they were normally discounted to around £7. There were at least five Carlton Commando titles given the Sevenoaks treatment some of which are mentioned over on Bear Alley. The second of the Carlton books to be published was Commando: True Brit with a cover of a marine firing a 20mm Oerlikon cannon which became The 12 Toughest Commando Stories Ever when SevenOaks published it with an Ian Kennedy cover of a paratrooper firing a PIAT. Just to confuse matters even further True Brit has now been re-released as a 10 story SevenOaks version with the original Oerlikon cover but the title has now become True Grit.

After all that we must have earned our compo rations for the day.

There is more information on Commando at the official Commando website.

There are more details of the Carlton Commando books on the Carlton website.

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