Colin Noble reports on the second Commando Swapmeet organised by Andy Yates, which took place last weekend.
These events focus entirely aimed on British comics and the emphasis is on DC Thomson’s war title, Commando, the longest running picture library comic on the planet…
When I go to conventions or comic marts in the UK these days, I usually expect to walk away with one or two British comics – if I’m lucky. Sadly, despite the proliferation of comics events across the country in recent years, for any event to have more than two boxes of British comics is something that I consider a miracle.
Speaking personally, I have only found one trader that sells Commando comics at all the cons that I have been to since 2013.
However, the second Commando Comics Swapmeet far exceeded my expectations. I had desperately wanted to go to the first one, back in September 2017, but was unable to attend for various reasons. When it was announced that there was going to be a second in March 2018, wild horses could not stop me.
As I was travelling down, I teamed up with two more of the Scottish Commando comic fan contingent and shared a rather enjoyable trip down from Glasgow to Newcastle-under-Lyme with Stephen Hume and David McDermott.
(If you’re a Jerome K Jerome fan, we were three men in a people carrier with the M74 and M6 replacing the River Thames and rather than discussing the local history, the conversation ranged far and wide until they started talking a foreign language called sport!)
Once we got to deepest, darkest Staffordshire, we were greeted at the event venue by co-ordinator Andy Yates, who enabled us to decant our vehicle and begin the set up on the night before.
Once our vehicle was empty, our fellow compatriot, Bruce Scott, made his appearance as he had braved the horrors of the M25 and M1 to get to Newcastle-under-Lyme from Watford. We helped him to empty his vehicle and do a rough set up.
As this swap meet is more for those of us who were after issues rather than increases in our bank balance, we began to get distracted by the various boxes of comics already on display.
Rather than lose the rest of the night in checking what was on display, we retired to our abodes for the evening, with Bruce joining us in the Premier Inn where we ate, drank and were merry into the wee small hours.
Come Saturday morning, the rest of our few, our happy few made their appearance and the majority of us were in the hall by 9.00 am and boxes were being checked.
The endurance award for those attending this event has to go Andrew Mitchell, who drove from Grangemouth to the swap and return in the one day. This meant that he had left his home at the ungodly hour of 4.30 am!
Other collectors that arrived included Colin Henson, Roger Berry, Ian Miller, Daz Munnerly and our sole dealer Kip Wise, but given the number of Commandos brought by Kip, I can forgive him for being a dealer.
The rest of the day passed in a haze for me, as I had so many comic boxes to check and so little time in which to do so! I was stunned when I was told that it was almost 1.30pm as I could have sworn that we had only been there about 90 minutes. My own collection took a huge leap as I managed to clear over 20 per cent of the remaining gaps in my collection.
I’m also immensely grateful to Colin Henson, for enabling we to acquire an issue from the first 50 of Commando.
Now those of you that frequent some of the comic groups on social media will already be aware that I asked the question, when was the last time that you had 10,000 British comics at any one event?
The consensus seems to be that it was at the comics marts of Camden and Westminster in the late 1990s / early 2000s and that would have included a whole raft of 2000AD progs, related issues, reprints, Marvel UK and other cool comics.
Well, we don’t mix with the cool kids and we had a total of two, I repeat two 2000AD items at this meet – and that was only because I had two annuals that were doubles!
However, we did have over 10,000 issues of Commando alone and about another 3,000 plus comics including over 500 annuals, 1,000 other picture libraries, 300 plus issues of Victor and Warlord respectively. A significant achievement – if only other British events gave our industry’s back issues such prominence!
The next Commando Swapmeet event is being planned for the end of September 2018 and will be the first to take place in Scotland. As I have a few friends who have a connection or three with the actual creation of Commando, I hope that I can impose on one or two to pop along to our event in the Kingdom of Fife.
If anyone knows of friends or family members that are into Commando, do let them know about these event. It might help to boost numbers of those that want to buy some nostalgia but find that they are not into US comics.
Photos by Andy Yates and Colin Noble