The latest 2000AD Thrillcast offers a recording of the war comics panel from New York Comic Con – and writers Alex de Campi and Garth Ennis have both revealed they have written strips for a new Battle Special from Rebellion out next year, Garth writing a new “Rat Pack” story.
From Captain America punching Hitler to the horrors of the Somme in “Charley’s War”, war stories have been an enduring genre of comic books since their earliest days.
At New York Comic Con, Rebellion came together with new US publisher Dead Reckoning, part of the US Naval Institute, for a panel in which experienced creators discuss bringing tales of conflict to the page.
Writer Garth Ennis, whose first experience of war comics was Battle, Alex De Campi, who read Commando Comics as a youngster, and Katusha and The Nam artist Wayne Vansant, whose early war comics reading included Sgt Rock and Combat from Dell Comics, were joined by Gary Thompson from Dead Reckoning, for the panel which was hosted by Michael Molcher from Rebellion.
The panel discussed their own experience of reading war comics before moving on to a variety of topics such as how they portray conflict, the part personal testimonies of war can play, treading the line between reality and entertainment, and much more.
The discussion is wide ranging and fascinating, Garth Ennis citing “Charley’s War” as one of the most influential war strips on him as a writer, teasing the audience with a brief mention of a new “Rat Pack” story for the upcoming Battle Special, with Alex de Campi revealing she’s written a Vietnam War story for it, too.
Both Garth and Alex de Campi offer some terrific reference points for prospective war comics writers; Wayne Vansant also has some gripping stories based on his experience of meeting combat veterans.
The opening page of the very first “Rat Pack” story, published in Battle Picture Weekly in March 1974 (With thanks to Lew Stringer)”Rat Pack” ran in Battle, a long-running strip set in World War Two, which ran over six series between 1975 and 1980. War is a dirty business… so who better than criminals to fight it? When Major Taggart breaks four military convicts out of jail, they think they’re headed for Easy Street… but they couldn’t be more wrong. Before, they were scum — now, they’re the Rat Pack!
Titan Books released a collection on “Rat Pack” stories back in 2012 and the team recently made a reappearance in Rebellion’s Sniper Elite: Resistance mini-series written by Keith Richardson, drawn by Patrick Goddard.
There’s a plug from Michael Molcher, too, for the new War Picture Library collections featuring the strips drawn by Hugo Pratt.
Dead Reckoning is a publisher of graphic novels and an imprint of the Naval Institute Press located in Annapolis, Maryland, publishing nonfiction and fiction with a special focus on military and naval history, military and naval biography, history, and stories of the high seas. The company is committed to publishing new and established talents from the worlds of both independent and traditional comics while bringing the rich complexities of history and military service to an enthusiastic, sophisticated readership.
The 2000 AD Thrill-Cast is the award-winning podcast that takes you behind-the-scenes at the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. As well as interviewing top creators and famous fans, the team bring you announcements, competitions, and much more.
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Listen to the Thrillcast episode “NYCC: When Comics Went To War” right here
With thanks to Luke Williams for highlighting Garth Ennis mention of “Rat Pack”