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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Creator Credits in Commando!

It's a sight that would once have been considered impossible. D.C. Thomson's long running Commando comics have added credit boxes to the stories!

Launched in 1961, the Commando "war books" were 68 page digest-size comics featuring one long complete story and a dramatic painted full colour glossy cover. The format is exactly the same today, except that half of the eight titles issued per month are now reprint.

Originally the comics focused solely on stories of World War 2, but several years ago broadened the scope to include tales of war from any era. This has given the comic a welcome unpredictability and stories of pirates, Vikings, the American Civil War or any other battle scenario are now possible. World War 2 stories are still the most likely though.

Commando's latest tweak, credit boxes, appear on the first page of the story. They list writer, artist, and cover artist. In the case or reprinted stories, the original publication year is also given.

Years ago D.C. Thomson were notorious for cloaking their creators in anonymity. The reasons were assumed to be that Thomsons were fearful of losing artists and writers to their rivals. (Only Dudley Watkins was allowed to sign his name, - and then only for a decade or so. Alan Morely was allowed to initial his strips. Everyone else was anonymous.)

Several years ago things began to improve when Beano and Dandy artists were allowed to sign their pages if they wished, - a practice that continues today. However, the new credit boxes in Commando represent the first time that writers have also been credited in Thomson comics, to my knowledge. It's a move that should have been implemented decades ago.

It also benefits the company. If readers know who the artists and writers are it adds another dimension to buying the comics. It "connects" the reader with the comic and gives them another incentive to collect, as Marvel Comics discovered many years ago when Stan Lee added credit boxes to their comics.

Commando also has a website these days, regularly updated to show the latest issues and news. You can even buy Commando merchandise such as T-shirts or mugs!

I've never been keen on war comics personally (except for Charley's War). However, in an era where "busy covers", photo features and bagged free gifts are the norm for British comics it's good to see that Commando has stood there like a rock for 47 years, fads washing over it, with the only concession to modern times being changes for the better. Long may it continue.

From the top: Cover art to Commando No.4068 by Ian Kennedy.
Cover art to Commando No.4067 by Carlos Pino.
Opening page to Sentenced to Death (Commando 4068) showing the credit box in the shape of a grenade (similar to how Fleetway's Battle did it a few decades ago.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great news about the credits, but I'm amazed that this is still being sold. Does anyone have sales figures for Commando? Come to that, does a league table of best-selling British comics exist?

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