Publication Dates: July 1961 – Present
Number of Issues Published: 4790 (#1 – #4790)
Color: Colour cover; Black and white interior
Paper Stock: glossy cover; newsprint interior
Publishing Format: Ongoing
Bi-weekly (#1-24), tri-monthly (#25-30), weekly (#31-262), six times a month (#263-538), four issues every other week (#539 onwards). Current (2013) issues come out four every month, in one batch.
Commando For Action and Adventure, formerly known as Commando War Stories in Pictures, and colloquially known as Commando Comics, are a series of British comic books that primarily draw their themes and backdrops from the various incidents of the World Wars I and II. The comic, still in print today, is noted for its distinctive 7 × 5½ inch, 68 page format that became a standard for these kinds of stories. It has remained more popular than many other British war comics, and some would say British comics in general, despite its simplistic stories and simply sketched black and white artwork, with only the covers in colour.
The stories contain certain characteristic motifs; to mention a few – courage, cowardice, patriotism, dying for the sake of one’s country, noble actions, and making a cup of refreshing tea while in the face of danger, enmity turning into friendship when the going gets tough, and so on. Apart from portraying these universal qualities, Commando Comics also show soldiers in national stereotypes, glorifying Allied soldiers, but showing soldiers as a mixture of good and evil. There was usually no continuity between books; each book was a complete story with start and finish, though recently series (2 or 3 stories) of books following the same character have been published.
The comic series, then going by the title Commando War Stories in Pictures, was launched by D.C. Thomson of Dundee, Scotland, in July 1961. It was an addition to the company’s already high profile comics, such as The Beano and The Dandy. During its launch year two issues were published per month, but due to the comic’s increasing popularity this rose to four a month. Since 1971 there have been eight issues published per month. As of issue 539, certain stories have been reprinted. In September 1993 the comic title changed to Commando For Action and Adventure. The last issue to feature the former title was issue 2690, Password to Freedom, published in August. The first comic to feature the new title was issue 2691, A Race Against Time, published the following month.
As well as the comics, annuals were also produced in 1989 and 1990, each containing seven new stories. The annuals were in full colour and illustrated in the style of the time, not in the original style of the comics.
At its peak in terms of sales, in one month during the 1970s, Commando comics circulation figures reached 750,000 according to George Low, who began working with Commando in 1963 and retired as editor in 2007. Current circulation is 9,600 copies a month per issue. The current editor is Calum Laird.
Landmark Issue no 4000 of Commando- ‘Aces All!’- was released in April 2007. If issues continue to be printed at the current rate, Commando No 5000 will be released in 2017. In 2011, Commando Comics celebrated their 50th anniversary of publication, having begun in 1961. They issued reprints of several of the early Commando stories from the 1960s. Commando in 2011 re-printed (in reverse order) all of the first twelve issues from 1961. Since 2007, half of Commando issues released have been re-prints of earlier stories but the remainder are new and original stories & artwork. A book celebrating the best of Commando comics cover art was released in October 2011. In 2011, new editions of Commando became available via digital download.
In June 2013, it was announced that Commando Comics, whilst still owned by D C Thomson based in Dundee, would now be printed by GGP Media in Germany.
Artists & Writers
Commando in its 50-year history has employed 140 writers, over 100 cover artists & 120 interior artists. These artists & writers have been based in a variety of locations including the UK, Italy & Argentina. Notable artists who have worked on Commando include:-
Gordon Livingston who was one of the very first artists employed by Commando when it began in 1961. His first issue was Commando No 4-Mercy for None first printed in July 1961. Livingston produced the interior story art for over 360 issues of Commando, his last work being issue no 3293-Sweeney’s Island, released in December 1999, the same year he retired.
Ken Barr who has produced the cover art for over 200 issues, including the earliest ones printed in 1961.
John Ridgway, whose work with Commando began in 1971 with issue no 546 Mustang Ace and who has drawn the interior art for over 120 issues and for half of those, he also did the cover-art.
Denis McLoughlin came to Commando relatively late in his career. Having worked as an illustrator since the 1940s, he drew the interior art for his first Commando (no 1623 Fight Back) in 1982. McLoughlin drew the interior art for over 170 issues prior to his death in 2002 at the age of 84.
Ian Kennedy who, since 1970, has produced the cover-art for over 1200 issues of Commando and has also done the interior story art for a number of them (he also worked for Battle, Air Ace & War Picture Libraries).
Jose Maria Jorge was an Argentinian artist who had a distinctive and precise drawing style and who produced the interior art for 163 issues, mostly aviation and naval-themed stories. His work with Commando began in 1969 with issue no 384-Flying Fury and he had the honour of illustrating Commando No 4000 in 2007. His final issue was No 4329-Divided Aces printed shortly before his death at the age of 69 in 2010.
Keith Page began in 1996 with issue 2941 Odd Man Out and has since drawn the interior art for over 200 issues.
Themes & Stories
In the early years, all of Commando stories were devoted to the Second World War but in more recent decades, the comic has extended its range to a variety of conflicts including the First World War, the Cold War, Spanish Civil War, the Falklands, Korea, Vietnam and even Ancient & Medieval conflicts. A handful of issues have also dealt with fictional conflicts such as civil wars fought between imaginary states and there have even been a small number of Western & Science Fiction stories released by Commando. One example was issue no 4139-Rebel Army, set in immediate aftermath of the US Civil War in the 1860s. Another was issue no 2774-Space Watch, a science-fiction adventure about spaceship battles. In more recent decades, Commando have been also willing to portray conflicts through the viewpoint of soldiers on the opposite side. Issues such as #2598-Let Me Fly & #2713-The Flying Musketeers portrayed WW2 from the experiences of German combatants whilst #2574-Giant Duel was a story about Italian air-force bomber crews in WW2. Issue No 2445-Iron Cross Yank featured a German ex-Luftwaffe pilot who is allowed to join the US air-force and fight in the Korean War. Issue No 1168-Thunderbolt was notable for including a sympathetic portrayal of a Japanese pilot.
Despite the emphasis placed on action & adventure, the creators of Commando have placed great importance on achieving historical and technical accuracy as much as possible. The second editor of Commando, Ian Forbes, served in the British Army during the Second World War. George Low remarked that Forbes always had a great respect for the Germans and that it was important that distinctions be made between fanatical Nazis and the ordinary German soldiers.
Appearance and format
The Commando comic differs from the more widely known American comic book in that it is published in a 7 × 5½ inch, 68 page format, with some 135 panels per story, which is roughly similar to a standard 22 page US comic. Most panels have both captions and dialogue to further the plot. Sound effects are rarely if ever used. The intention is to make a Commando story easy to read and follow.
The artwork is in black and white except for the covers, with the lettering done in typewriter font. Until recently writers and artists went uncredited as usual for D.C Thomson comics, though now a small grenade icon appears on the first panel, crediting individuals with story, art and cover.
When issue 1716 is corrupt you can download the individual issue.