The final part of the equation that made Chick Checkley's particular brand of 64 page war comic so distinctive was his choice of artist, ironically the scripts which again tended to echo the idea of individual against the system, dysfunctionality being a given for many of the characters that inhabited the pages of the early Commandos, were provided by writers from both Thomson's and Fleetway, retired Major Eric Hebden being a case in point.
But the second conduit and by far Checkley's preferred route was via D.C. Thomson's own in house talent. And in the case of D.C. Thomson's we are talking literally in-house, as being patriarchal and money conscious Scots, they needed to know that their artists were at their desks and not at the golf course. The system worked well insofar as it provided an in-house training for a lot of the younger artists who would often be guided and mentored by their older colleagues, and there were plan chests just brimming with artwork which provided an added inspirational boost.
Livingstone set to his task with gusto, despite having absolutely zero awareness of pocket war libraries. It was this complete lack of knowledge about what had preceded Commando which enabled Livingstone to undertake the task free from any preconceptions about the genre. He was in effect working on a blank slate.
All images © DC Thomson 2010
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Comic Cuts – 23 February 2024
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