Blazing Battle Action – the story of one of Britain’s best-loved war comics recounted

Blazing Battle Action - Cover

In 2003, David Bishop, co-author of the newly-updated Thrill-Power Overload (and more) wrote a behind the scenes account of how trail-blazing British war comic Battle was created and nurtured, as told by those who were there. Commissioned for the Judge Dredd Megazine by then-editor Alan Barnes, it was published as four articles. And there the story remained, trapped inside back issues, in danger of being forgotten all over again – until now.

David, a former 2000AD editor and now a TV screen writer and author, has just published an ebook of Blazing Battle Action, available exclusively via Amazon.

“It’s a self-published, text-only ebook as I don’t hold the image rights,” he tells us. “It’s only 19,000 words long – more a novella than a book – so I doubted Rebellion would be interested in releasing it. But it seemed a shame not to make the story available.

“The original articles were commissioned in 2003 by then-Megazine editor Alan Barnes, following the success of my 2000AD history features, Thrill-Power Overload.

“Even in 2003, quite a few of the key creators who worked on Battle had already died,” he notes, “so it was seemed to get the story from those who were there at the time. Thankfully, people like artists Joe Colquhoun and Mike Western had been interviewed by fanzines back in the day, so I could still present their stories too.

“I didn’t read Battle growing up in New Zealand so everything was new for me,” David, whose credits include The Complete Inspector Morse and audio dramas for Big Finish, continues “but I did know how well regarded Charley’s War was in the 2000AD office. Reading back issues of Battle was certainly a fascinating journey into the past.

The Airfix Modellers Club launched in Battle cover dated 23rd October 1976, after its merger with Valiant.

The Airfix Modellers Club launched in Battle cover dated 23rd October 1976, after its merger with Valiant.

“Two particular discoveries stand out from my research for Blazing Battle Action,” he reveals. The first was the Airfix Modellers’ Club Page hosted by comedian Dick Emery, which got transferred in when Valiant was merged into Battle.

“From this distance it seems such a bizarre inclusion! Can you imagine Mrs Brown from Mrs Brown’s Boys appearing every week in a boy’s war comic?

Battle's documentary-styled re-telling of the Fight for the Falklands was written by John (Judge Dredd) Wagner, with art by Jim Watson

Battle‘s documentary-styled re-telling of the “Fight for the Falklands” was written by John Wagner, with art by Jim Watson

“The other discovery came during a long and fascinating interview with John Wagner about his work on Battle. IPC found itself publishing a war comic as Britain went to war for the first time in decades – the Falklands War. Battle waited until the conflict was over, then Wagner write a series called “Fight For the Falklands” that was drawn by Jim Watson. John said he feels kind of ashamed at that strip, looking back.”

(Jeremy Briggs recalled “Fight For The Falklands” and “The Falklands File”, which appeared in DC Thomson’s Warlord title back in 2007, marking the 25th anniversary of the conflict – you can read his article here)

The Blazing Battle Action ebook is available on Amazon for £1.99 – or free to read for those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

“I don’t expect to make much money, as it’s a niche topic, and I’ll be happy if this edition eventually covers its costs,” says David. “But I believed the story deserves to be readily available.” 

If you loved reading Battle back in the day, or enjoyed the history of 2000AD David co-wrote (Thrill-Power Overload, now available in a hefty new hardback edition), try Blazing Battle Action

• For more about David’s projects, check out his Vicious Imagery blog. Along with his writing work, he’s one of the tutors on theCreative Writing MA at Napier University – applications details for the full-time one year course, which starts again in September 2017 are here and the two-year- part time course here and the project’s blog is here

Buy books by David Bishop from amazon.co.uk (using this link helps support downthetubes)

If you want to know more about Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s acclaimed “Charley’s War” strip for Battle, visit our micro site

• Memories of the Airfix Modellers’ Club in Battle are discussed here on the Airfix Collecting Forum

BATTLE PICTURE WEEKLY, BATTLE © REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Comics By Country, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, War Comics

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