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Illustrators Special #5: The Art Of Commando (book review).

December 5, 2019 | By | Reply More

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) 2019 The Book Palace

As ‘Commando’ magazine’s editor-in-chief/general Alexandria Turner points out in the introduction, people don’t realise that this A5 war magazine is still going strong after 58 years with over 4,000 issues and in several other formats as well. Although this is slightly different to our normal remit, you can’t deny the art is interesting and publisher The Book Palace explores art wherever it can be found and that should be applauded. If anything, ‘Commando’, like any of the A5 war mags have been around forever and I suspect many boys in the UK over the years have peaked between the covers as well as buy them.

art: Gordon Livingstone.
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) 2019 The Book Palace

As a product of Scottish publishing company DC Thompson, there is a preference for employees from Scotland, although that appears to have changed a little over the years. If you’re aware of the Scottish accent, the interviews with artists Ken Barr (1933-2016), Gordon Livingstone (1934-2017) and Ian Kennedy (1932- ) with that in mind will get the right mood. By the way, you aren’t mistaken, Ian Kennedy is the same chap who works on ‘2000AD’, so if you’re looking for all of his art you might have missed this.

You also get insights into life in Scotland. Livingstone points out that he worked in a heated shed outside of his bungalow but even he had to give in when it got so cold and work inside when the ink froze in its bottle. Editor Callum Laird points out how good Ian Kennedy is by pointing out mistakes in the inside pages that he does the cover for,

art: Ian Kennedy
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) 2019 The Book Palace

Writer Sean Blair explains what makes a good ‘Commando’ story before we seen a sampling of the interior black and white pages. Generally, there are two panels to a page and the work show is from English and Spanish artists. Just so you don’t think all of this is in the past, we have a look at three new cover artists who work for them in the shape of Neil Roberts, Keith Burns and Graeme Neil Reid. It’s also interesting reading how these people get awards with this community.

If you want to break into this field, don’t treat ‘Commando’ as the way to break in. Graeme Neil Reid took four times over the years as he improved his craft. He also does a demonstration of how he created his first cover.

artL Graeme Neil Reid.
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) 2019 The Book Palace

The art shows how it is before and after in print. There’s a subtle darkening of the shades between the two things although I think that is down to printing process than any additional tweaking.

A rather unusual choice of material but as I can’t recall it being done before about the magazine also makes it unique. The art for a war magazine is actually tastefully done and not overtly bloody violent as you might think based on the samples I’ve seen here. With their desire to portray war as it really is, they don’t glamorise it.

GF Willmetts

December 2019

(pub: The Book Palace, 2019. 143 page illustrated squarebound magazine. Price: £25.00 (UK) (US). ISBN: 978-1-907081-83-8. ISSN: 2052-6520)

check out websites: www.bookpalace.com and www.commandocomics.com

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Category: Books, Illustration

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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