Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Boy Commandos

Can you believe it's been 40 years since The Steranko History of Comics was published? And it still is as informative and entertaining as ever.

Steranko has a section called The Kid Players, showcasing informative bits about Simon and Kirby's 'kids'. He quotes Kirby, "I spent all my early life drawing on the sidewalks of the lower East Side. In my kid strips I was only duplicating the atmosphere I knew. . . I knew all the kids in my comics; I'd grown up with them. I wore the baggy pants and the turtle neck sweaters myself." He applied that knowledge to The Newsboy Legion in April of 42, 'initiating the real sidewalk and slum genre in the comics.'

Quoting Steranko extensively from this point:

Exactly 3 months after the Newsboy Legion appeared, DC premiered their second kid gang series in Detective 64. Created for the sole purpose of battling the fascist menace, THE BOY COMMANDOS sprang like juggernauts into the enemy's midst. Under the watchful eye of Captain Rip Carter, the young freedom fighters cut a violent swath through spies, enemy soldiers, subversives and SS men like a gang of international street brawlers, which indeed they were.

By some phenomenal coincidence each member of the group personally represented one of America's wartime allies. Alfy Twidget came from Great Britain, Andre from France, Jan from Holland. And who chould typify America better than the irascible Brookly, decked out in his green turtle-neck sweater and rakish crimson derby in the style set by Wallace Beery.

In an early adventure,

'Marshall Goering has arrived to inspect a Nazi tank factory in occupied France. The machinists deplore his presence. "If the British knew of Goering's visit, they'd come over in swarms! But no chance of that! The Gestapo conceals everything only too well!"

'Suddenly, "Listen! Do you hear that? It sounds cannot—it is! Planes!"'

'The main body of their troops guarding the beaches, the resistance of the Nazi force at the factory is rapidly broken as the Commandos sweep onward...wreaking death and destruction!'

In another early classic, Nostradamus, 16th century prophet has been summoned by Catherine, Queen of France, to learn the fate of her country. Amidst a dramatic monologue Nostradamus states: "There will be child warriors among them, innocents of great courage, who, led by a soldier from the new world across the sea, will write a glorious chapter in the annals of free men!

"They will come to France in armored ships...they will land in monstrous, fire-spewing machines...yea, even drop from the skies!" the prophet declares, robe fluttering in the wind, arms upraised like the man in the first panel. Sweeping across the sky from a point on the horizon are great silhouettes in the shape of bombers, reinforcing Nostradamus' vision of the future. The deafening roar of planes blots out his voice. CUT!!

'The next wordless panel is drawn from behind the engine of a bomber with Commandos parachuting into space from the open hatchway, undoubtedly one of the greatest transitions in comic history.'
That is what I read as text when I first bought Steranko's History, and 40 years later I finally get to see it all in context in glorious color.

And, if you haven't, now you do too. IF most of you are inclined to want to see these adventures. The next post is their first adventure, and you must let me know if I should continue with others.

And I must be emphatic for clarity: I will still continue posting eclectic treasured images of ALL SORTS—illustration, graphics, photography and such that I have been guilty of collecting and foisting. I just want to know if there is enough interest to include even more golden age comics amidst my haphazard meanderings.

In any event, for the next post: THE COMMANDOS ARE HERE!!

A reminder that all images and characters of The Boy Commandos are copyrighted by DC Comics and their respective affiliates, and I am showcasing them here for educational and informative purposes only.


joe ackerman said...

hell, yes! great idea!

Steve Scott said...

Oh yes! Please Post!