Tuesday 22 May 2012

Achtung Alonso!

As in Matias Alonso. Having just received the latest list of Commando comics from the ever pro-active team, located in their sand bagged bunker in deepest Dundee, I am pleased to report that their inspired decision to reprint their earliest stories is delivering up some real classics, which have up until now been locked away in the vaults of DC Thomson for over fifty years.

Here's the cover of their most recent reprint of these golden age stories and as you can see by the Ken Barr cover, this one promises action and suspense aplenty. The contents really live up to the brooding dynamism of Barr's cover art. In fact if anything, the artwork actually eclipses Barr's painting in terms of sheer over the top, jaw clenching, all out manic in-your-face seismic action drawing. The only artist that was capable of outdoing Barr in this department was Matias Alonso and as mentioned in previous postings Alonso's primary influence was Burne Hogarth and not that of Milton Caniff, which so many of his colleagues appeared to be in thrall to.

Alonso's work has been conspicuous by it's absence from Commando's recent reprint roster save for the relatively anodyne Johnny the Jinx and D Day Plus, which isn't 100% Alonso as it features Luis Bermejo's pencils, which when combined with Alonso's lush and inventive inking made for one of the finest jobs either of these two artists produced for Commando.

However both of these stories lack the sheer visceral fury of Alonso's earlier Commando output, his work made even Hogarth's beetling brow'd, muscle tensed and mascara rimmed Tarzan look fairly supine. Night Raider, then is a pleasant surprise and distinguished not just by the fact that it is Alonso's debut story for the title but also by the fact that there are women in the story, one of whom is a very fetching French resistance fighter, so go over to Commando's website and check out the new releases and if you have an iPad you can start reading it now, if you want to subscribe.

OK that's it for the moment and back to working on issue 2 of Illustrators. More on this shortly...

Here in the meantime is the rest of the current crop of Commandos courtesy of Commando editor Calum Laird, who is doing such an incredible job with this title:

Commando No 4499

Hunting Mussolini

The Convict Commandos — Jelly Jakes, Titch Mooney, Smiler Dawson — and their commander Guy Tenby had been given another job. This time they were to hunt down Mussolini in his hide-out. Easier said than done when they weren’t the only ones doing the same.
   Guy, as usual, had a plan…but it wasn’t supposed to include Jelly hanging from the undercarriage of an airborne Fieseler Storch!

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

Commando No 4500

Lightning Strike

The war in the Far East was almost over. Japan’s armed forces had been ground down and the country was on its knees. The Japanese hadn’t given in though, they hoped super-fighters like the Kyushu Shinden — Magnificent Lightning — could stem the flow of US bombers ravaging their country.
   They could never have guessed that the Shinden’s finest moment would come protecting the very enemies it had been designed to destroy.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: John Ridgway
Cover: John Ridgway

Commando No 4505

Night Raider

Out of the night sky he came – a man with no mercy in his heart and a blazing tommy-gun in his hands, whose one ambition was to wreak destruction on all things Nazi. He became the Scarlet Pimpernel of German-occupied Europe.

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Women in Commando are a rare sighting but, like buses, when they do turn up there’s more than one. I counted at least three in here, and a bit of romance.
   Don’t think that it means that Stainton’s story isn’t an all guns blazing story as it is, running from the beaches of Dunkirk to a full-on Commando raid in France, and with barely time to reload along the way. His touch means that the espionage, beautifully pointed up by Ken Barr’s dramatic night drop cover, manages to be action-packed, not tension-filled.
   Add to that Alonso’s 100mph inside art and you have a solid gold winner. Makes you proud to be part of the Commando Team.

Night Raider originally Commando No35 (April 1962)

Story: Stainton
Art: Alonso
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando No 4502

Battle Flag

The Second Battalion, Daleshire Light Infantry, had something to be proud of — their very own “battle flag”, a standard given to them after their heroic triumph over Napoleon’s finest troops. Carried into action, it would inspire the men to further brave deeds.
   So when one young officer’s courage failed him and the flag was captured, the thought of it in enemy hands made him vow to keep it safe — even after his death!

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Commando Deputy Editor

Gritty action is undoubtedly what Commando does best. However, over the decades there have also been comedies, capers, historical epics, science-fiction and…ghost stories. Battle Flag is a good example of the latter. After a detailed framing sequence, veteran writer Cyril Walker cleverly weaves a tale with an eerie thread that runs throughout but does not overwhelm the action and adventure. Interestingly, the working title for this story was “The Flintshire Phantom”. That’s a good one and, had it been pitched today, I’m sure that it would have been used! Enjoy.   

Battle Flag, originally Commando No 2063 (February 1987) Commando 4502

Story: Cyril G. Walker
Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: Jeff Bevan


  1. I love the splash page for Man-Trap. There's a surprising lack of detail and yet you get the idea that the jungle is lush and inpenetrable.

    Great art!

  2. I love all of Man-Trap Jim, and I have petitioned Calum at Commando HQ to add it to the reprints list it even has a stunning Jordi Penalva cover. The only stumbling block I can see is Alonso's portrayal of the Japanese soldiers which is so OTT that in these much more PC times may well be the reason it hasn't appeared yet.

  3. It's starting to seem like "2012" was too optimistic of a date for HEROS THE SPARTAN...

    Any news on that front?

  4. Hi Tony,

    Work is well and truly underway on Heros, the restorations are well underway and we have a fabulous into by Norman Boyd who has devoted years and years into researching and interviewing, friends, family and colleagues of Bellamy as well as some very insightful pieces written by artists and writers who cite Bellamy and Heros as major influences on their career.

    So breathe easy ... the book will happen.