FOR YOU TOMMY, THE WAR IS CHANG­ING

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Ste­vie Gal­lacher sgal­[email protected]

Acom­bat dag­ger con­tin­ues to pierce the mast­head, the draw­ings are just as pow­er­ful, the writ­ing just as re­lent­less and the oc­ca­sional shout of “Ach­tung” can still be heard from Nazi troops, un­aware their day is about to take a turn for the worse.

For 57 years, Com­mando comics have been thrilling fans, young and old, with an un­mis­tak­able blend of wartime ad­ven­ture and der­ring-do.

Now for the first time, af­ter more than 5,000 is­sues, Com­mando fans can en­joy a full-colour graphic novel.

But the team be­hind the best­selling comics say there are other changes on the front­line, al­though the time­less fight of good against evil will con­tinue.

Ram­sey’s Raiders is a 136-page spe­cial, and it has proven so pop­u­lar pre-or­ders sold out be­fore launch.

It tells, for the first time in colour, the story of the epony­mous Raiders led by Cap­tain James Ram­sey, a group of mav­er­ick, multi­na­tional Sec­ond World War troops fight­ing the Nazis be­hind en­emy lines.

Al­though Com­mando sto­ries can be set in con­flicts rang­ing from the 1800s to the present day, it’s the war against Hitler and the Axis where Com­mando comics most of­ten re­turns.

For Com­mando edi­tor, Gor­don Tait, it’s the same thing that draws TV writ­ers and movie di­rec­tors such as Steven Spiel­berg and Christo­pher Nolan to the set­ting time and again.

“We do Napoleonic wars or mod­ern war­fare, but the Sec­ond World War is the main thing,” he said.

“It’s be­come syn­ony­mous with the brand.

“If you dis­til it into very sim­ple terms, it is a good ver­sus evil con­flict. If you re­ally dig into the Sec­ond World War there’s more to it than that, but it seems to be a time­less thing.

“It’s not just Com­mando, the war has lent it­self to other gen­res, like movies and tele­vi­sion.

“Peo­ple are re­ally in­ter­ested in that pe­riod, there’s just some­thing about it.

“But it’s not glam­orous – we’re do­ing en­ter­tain­ment, but there is a re­al­ity of how dif­fi­cult the war ac­tu­ally was.”

The Ram­sey’s Raiders graphic novel was writ­ten by Ferg Han­d­ley, who has penned more than 300 Com­mando sto­ries as well as Spec­tac­u­lar Spi­der-Man comics for Mar­vel.

For him the bat­tle of good against evil is in­ter­est­ing, but it’s the more dif­fi­cult ar­eas of the war he thinks Com­mando cap­tures so well.

“There was a strug­gle against Nazism, and for me that’s the strug­gle against pure evil,” he ex­plained.

“There were fewer grey ar­eas but fun­nily enough it’s find­ing the grey ar­eas in the Sec­ond World War which is for me where the in­ter­est­ing things can hap­pen.

“Your char­ac­ter may beat the Nazis but, you know what, he has to live with his choices af­ter­wards…”

De­spite main­tain­ing much the same im­age over the years, Com­mando has moved with the times, ac­cord­ing to Gor­don.

“Over the years the style has changed, and a few new writ­ers have joined,” he ex­plained.

“We’ve widened it out to other con­flicts, to the Falk­lands War, and the Napoleonic Wars. There’s a whole world of his­tory out there.

“More re­cently, we have fea­tured strong fe­male lead. It’s a rea­son­ably new thing – but the team is two men and three women.

“We did a story re­cently called The Red Devil, which was one of our high­est-sell­ing is­sues.

“We brought in a new artist to do the cover and there was no doubt it starred a strong fe­male char­ac­ter.

“We’ve had a lot of pos­i­tive re­ac­tions to that on so­cial me­dia.”

Clas­sic Com­mando comics were known for their au­then­tic­ity – al­though the team some­times has to be care­ful not to be too au­then­tic.

“You wouldn’t get away with some of the lan­guage these days,” ex­plained Ferg. “We’re very care­ful now.

“You’ve got cap­tions and word bal­loons, and we don’t want the cap­tions to say things that might not have raised an eye­brow decades ago but would be ques­tion­able now.

“But in the word bal­loons we try to por­tray how the sol­diers might speak.

“We do tone it down a bit though. We err on the side of cau­tion these days.”

The Red Devil is­sue fea­tures a fe­male sniper

MAUS: A SUR­VIVOR’S TALEAn au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal tale of the son of a Pol­ish Jew, liv­ing and sur­viv­ing in Hitler’s Europe. In this1980 comic, theNazis are por­trayed as cats and Jewish vic­tims as mice. It won a Pulitzer Prize.SAB­RINA Re­leased ear­lier this year, Sab­rina ex­plores the chilling ef­fect of 24-hour news af­ter a girl dis­ap­pears.Writ­ten by NickDr­naso, it’s the first graphic novel to be nom­i­nated for theMan Booker Prize.ARKHAM ASY­LUMWrit­ten in 1989 by a Scot, Grant Mor­ri­son, this is the Caped Cru­sader as you’ve never seen him be­fore. It’s more like the hor­ror of HP Love­craft thanAdam West’s camp ad­ven­tures.

Ram­sey’s Raiders is the first graphic novel from Com­mando stu­dios. Here are three of the most in­flu­en­tial long-form comics:

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