Into Battle: The Art of British War Comics exhibition to open next month

Into Battle: The Art of British War Comics will open to visitors at Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock, from 1st October 2023 until 30th April 2024. We’ve got two images of some cover art to be included, painted by Graham Coton.

Into Battle: The Art of British War Comics - Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock, from 1st October 2023 until 30th April 2024

The county’s military history museum is collaborating with Oxford-based Rebellion Publishing on the new exhibition, which will offer visitors a chance to explore the history of British war comics through the archives of classic comic titles such as War Picture Library and Battle Action.

Still popular today, Britain has been publishing comics continuously for over 130 years. During that time, conflict has remained a staple of comic book storytelling and by the 1960s and 1970s war stories were the most popular genre.

The exhibition, featuring original comic artwork on public display for the first time, tells the story of war comics decade by decade. From satirical comic strips and patriotic illustrated story papers of 19th Century and early 20th Century, to the revolutionary comics of the 1970s, which presented much more gritty, authentic and emotionally-charged stories.

Long-time readers of comics will be given a nostalgic look back at some of their favourites, while younger and more recent fans will gain an insight into how their favourite medium has developed over the years.

Drawing on Rebellion’s extensive archives, the exhibition features artwork from the very best of British comics – taking in spectacular covers and action-packed panels from the War Picture Library, Battle Picture Weekly and Battle Action.

Battle Action, which Rebellion have recently revived with the work of renowned comic writers and artists such as Garth Ennis (PreacherThe Boys), Keith Burns (Commando Comics, Johnny Red) and Dan Abnett (Warhammer 40k, Marvel Comics) features heavily throughout.

As regular downthetubes readers know, the comic, which was known as Battle Picture Weekly before merging with Action comic in 1977, notably featured the series Charley’s War” by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun – regarded as one of the greatest war comics of all time.

Following its working-class hero from underage recruit in 1914 through almost every major event of the war, the strip sees Charley lose friends in battle, portraying the human cost of war through the eyes of an ordinary soldier.

The incredible artwork on display will include original 1983 “Charley’s War” panels drawn by Colquhoun, alongside full colour original artwork from Jordi Penalva (Bulldog Breed, 1965), Giorgio de Gaspari (Spy 13, 1959) and Graham Coton (Evasive Action, and Gun Duel).

Air Ace Picture Library 33 Cover art by Graham Coton - and comic
Air Ace Picture Library 33 Cover art by Graham Coton – and comic
Battle Picture Library 284 Cover art by Graham Coton - and comic
Battle Picture Library 284 Cover art by Graham Coton – and comic

Alongside much to capture the interest and imagination of adults, the exhibition will offer younger visitors the chance to discover how comics are made and have a go at creating comics themselves.

Into Battle – The Art of British War Comics has been proudly sponsored by Ridge, multidisciplinary property and construction consultants.

“Ridge is delighted to support the local community near its Oxford office with a new exhibition showcasing the best British war comics,” commented Mark Richards of Ridge. “Supporting this exhibition on British war comics celebrates the rich history and honours the bravery and sacrifices of soldiers while promoting cultural engagement and education in our community.

“This exhibition will showcase the best of British war comics, providing a platform to appreciate the storytelling, artwork, and historical significance they offer, which Ridge is proud to be a part of.”

Founded in 1992, Rebellion is one of Europe’s biggest independent studios. Its flagship Sniper Elite series is renowned for its authentic stealth and sniping gameplay with more than 20 million players worldwide. 2000AD is synonymous with the absolute finest in British comic book art. With the acquisition of a $100m film studio and the world’s largest archive of English language comics, Rebellion continues to grow from strength to strength.

Rebellion now operates across books, comics, TV and film, but at its core it’s still a leading developer and publisher of games. Whether it’s the breathtaking intensity of Sniper Elite 4, the face-hugging terror of Aliens vs. Predator or the grindhouse frenzy of the Zombie Army series, the Oxford-based studio is revered for creating stand-out games designed to thrill.

Rebellion Publishing was founded in 2000 by Rebellion owners Chris and Jason Kingsley with acquisition of legendary UK comic 2000AD, and has expanded over the last 15 years with the creation of cult imprint Abaddon Books in 2006, acquisition of SFF powerhouse Solaris Books in 2010.

The Soldiers of Oxfordshire (SOFO) Museum first opened during the summer of 2014, tucked away in the beautiful gardens in the grounds of The Oxfordshire Museum and Woodstock Library, and just on the doorstep of Blenheim Palace.

A new take on the classic military museum, SOFO shares stories of heroism, combat and peace from across the globe and throughout time. We also tell stories of how conflict has affected the county and its people, from soldiers serving on the front lines to ordinary people living on the Home Front.

As well as a range of ever-changing displays and events, our permanent exhibits explore topics that you’ll find surprising and moving in equal measure, such as raw accounts of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen from both camp survivors and Oxfordshire soldiers.

Battles of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry puts you on-board a Horsa Glider as it prepares to land in Normandy in the early hours of D-Day 1944, while Secret Agents, Secret Armies explores the world of spies and espionage through the lens of Ian Fleming and his creation, James Bond.

SOFO holds a collection of over 3,500 objects and 7,500 archive items from two county regiments, the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH) and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. These are our starting point for reflecting on the county’s rich and diverse military heritage.

Into Battle: The Art of British War Comics, 1st October 2023 – 30th April 2024 Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Park Street, Woodstock, OX20 1SN | Registered Charity No. 1145408 | Web:

Categories: Art and Illustration, British Comics, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Other Worlds

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