EXTRACTS: The Art of Commando (illustrators special) © 2019 The Book Palace (144 PAGES in Full edition)

96 Douglas Adams wrote that the cosmic success of the The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy could be attributed to the single fact it had ‘Don’t Panic!’ emblazoned on its front in large, friendly letters. Similarly, perhaps the success of Commando can be put down to the fact that each of the 3900-plus issues published over the last four decades has a big dagger drawn on its back. Commando launched late into a crowded market of war-themed pocket comics: DC Thomson’s first issue came out in 1961, almost three years after Fleetway’s War Picture Library pioneered the genre, aimed squarely at the generation of children who were growing up asking “What did you do in the war, Dad?” But kids knew what they were getting with Commando . While rival titles bought in their cover art from agencies and stuck in back-up stories as filler, each Commando issue was put together as a complete package—book-length tales of soldiering with a harder edge than the competition— with its lurid cover an integral element. Their titles also promised a lot more blood and guts. While War Picture Library started off with anodyne names like ‘Up Periscope’, ‘Action Stations’ or ‘Combined Operation’—movie versions might have been vehicles for Noel Coward, with John Mills in a supporting role— early Commando s were called things like ‘A Guy Needs Dispatches FromThe Front Line — Writing For Commando Sean Blair recounts his days of special operations as part of the elite squad of Commando scripters ABOVE: John Ridgway's cover to 'Ice Cold War', one of many that the artist produced for Sean Blair's scripts. ABOVE RIGHT: Writer Sean Blair ready for action. Caricature by Peter Richardson