Jeop­ardy or jin­go­ism?

Comic Heroes - - Interview -

There was a time when the Bri­tish news­stands were stuffed full of war comics: War­lord, Bat­tle Pic­ture Weekly and, briefly, Fury from Marvel UK. Now only Com­mando Pic­ture Li­brary re­mains. At the time of writ­ing, it had just pub­lished is­sue #4714 (ad­mit­tedly, some have been reprints) and a size­able num­ber of its sto­ries have been set dur­ing the First World War, which seems to be pop­u­lar with both cre­ators and read­ers.

“The First World War is a good set­ting for sto­ries be­cause, par­tic­u­larly from a Bri­tish point of view, the range is huge,” says Calum Laird of Com­mando. “Char­ac­ters can be picked up and popped down al­most any­where, tak­ing them out of Bolton, say, and putting them in Brussels or even Bagh­dad. You don’t even have to ex­plain – you can just say the unit was sent there. That al­lows an au­thor a huge amount of lat­i­tude, par­tic­u­larly if they’re de­vel­op­ing a long sto­ry­line.”

Old Bri­tish war comics could some­times be ac­cused of jin­go­ism, though. Cap­tain Hur­ri­cane, whose epony­mous strip was set dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, was ca­su­ally, one might say flip­pantly, racist and had an alarm­ing ten­dency to re­fer to ‘the Huns’ and ‘the Nips’. Ac­cord­ing to Laird, Com­mando has, for the most part, man­aged to avoid go­ing down that road.

“We’ve been reprint­ing 50-year-old strips and in a lot of the older sto­ries, the ad­ver­saries are ac­tu­ally given a fair crack of the whip,” he says.

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