Collector Dave Dustin has uncovered a version of “Commando Comics” unconnected with the better known, long-running title of the same name published by DC Thomson – so rare, in fact that it apparently has never featured online, and, as yet, doesn’t appear to feature in any database or book.
This rare British comic, with a superhero theme, was published by Glasgow-based Cartoon Art Productions, sometime between 1947-50. It was one of a number of titles the company released, which also include Acromaid, Burt Steele, Marsman Comics, Speed Gale and Garry, Super-Duper Comic, and Whizzer Comics.
For anyone interested in a closer look at the just-discovered to exist “Commando Comics” Dave, who has managed to track down some 50 comics published by Cartoon Art Productions, has now made a Youtube video about it. “It’s probably the first foreign comic character to ever have a story featured in Toronto, Canada!” he notes
The video is the latest from Dave covering rare vintage comics, and his is a YouTube channel you may like to subscribe to, as he discusses and uncovers further gems of yesteryear.
Cartoon Art Productions started life as International Comics and then became Transatlantic Comics, and then finally Cartoon Art Productions, and, notes Professor Chris Murray, seems to have operated out of several locations in Glasgow from the mid-1940s until at least 1950.
“Glasgow was a natural home for such an outfit,” he comments, “as there was a significant American naval base nearby and American comics often found their way into the hands of children on the West coast of Scotland via that route. The company reprinted American material, but also produced some original material that attempted to mimic the American style.
“These comics were smaller that standard British comics, looking more like American comic books, but they were often quite slim, sometimes running to just eight pages. Cartoon Art Productions also had a very clever but slightly dishonest marketing strategy, putting an American price on the cover (usually five cents) in order to give readers the impression that this was an authentic American comic, or that the company traded on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Chris Murray revealed the largely unknown and rather surprising history of the British superhero in his book, The British Superhero, released in paperback in 2019 by University Press of Mississippi.
It’s often thought that Britain did not have its own superheroes, yet Murray demonstrates that there were a great many in Britain and that they were often used as a way to comment on the relationship between Britain and America. Sometimes they emulated the style of American comics, but they also frequently became sites of resistance to perceived American political and cultural hegemony, drawing upon satire and parody as a means of critique.