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Battle picture weekly - Terror Behind the Bamboo curtain 
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Mr Valeera
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geoff42 wrote:
Hi, Col, Phoenix was right with respect me not naming Cadman's artist as I really didn't know. I'm aware that Mike Dorey drew the later Cadman strips but did he draw the first serial in 1976? I originally thought Cadman started in 1977, of which I have the issues. But, on checking, I find that Cadman preceded Soldier Sharp in 1976 and I don't have any Victors from that year; so, I can't verify whether or not Mike Dorey drew them. On a personal note, Dorey's style was more gritty but Colquohoun added a helluva a lot detail in his art that kind of wings it for me. But, of course, art is subjective. Sorry for the earlier misunderstanding, anyway. In addition to Dorey's art, from Steve Macmanus' book "My Life in the Nerve Centre", I recall Steve reflecting on Dorey along the lines of: He should have done a lot better than he did which, I imagine, suggests that he didn't follow the likes of Bolland and his contemporaries across the pond to America. That isn't a criticism on my part, just an observation from what Steve implied.
Hi Geoff, I know what you mean about doubting that Mike did all the Cadman series but he has stated that he was the only artist on that run (which reminds me, I must do a Comic Creator Spotlight on him). His style developed in quantum leaps between 1975 and 1980 so it is difficult to believe it is the same guy.

With Mike's earlier style, I would agree that Joe Colquhoun's work is far superior but when you look at Mike's work on Invasion and anything after that, they are both at the top of their game and it is a case of you pays your money and make your choice. Joe's work on Charley's War cannot be disputed as being a pinnacle of comic art but I think that Mike is woefully under-rated when you look at his work on Wolverine and Rayker for Warlord and is certainly the equal of what Joe was producing.

When I read Steve MacManus' book, that was also my take on it but there are many artists that never get the break they deserve. For me, Pat Wright is another one of those that stands out as his work was amazing but he never got picked up by those across the pond and when you look at how technically adept he was, he could have easily been another Bolland, but he never got the break and now he does political cartoons whereas Mike does commercial art and the last comic work that I saw of Mike's was a Commando cover.

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Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:09 am
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Blimey, I was way off as regards Cadman's debut. On checking the Victorhornet website's index, Cadman debuted in "The Coward of the Fighting 43rd" in Victor issue 625, which is dated as 10/2/73. While later serials denote Mike Dorey as the artist, this first series omits the name of the artist. Nevertheless, before Soldier Sharp came along in Feb. 1976, Cadman had already completed three series with Dorey drawing by this time. Anyway, Col, I do share your admiration over Dorey's art.


Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:23 am
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Mr Valeera
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geoff42 wrote:
Blimey, I was way off as regards Cadman's debut. On checking the Victorhornet website's index, Cadman debuted in "The Coward of the Fighting 43rd" in Victor issue 625, which is dated as 10/2/73. While later serials denote Mike Dorey as the artist, this first series omits the name of the artist. Nevertheless, before Soldier Sharp came along in Feb. 1976, Cadman had already completed three series with Dorey drawing by this time. Anyway, Col, I do share your admiration over Dorey's art.

I am glad to see that I am not the only one using Adrian's site as a crib sheet! :lol:

For me, it was 1977 when I started to become a big fan of Mike's work as that was when he started on his comic noir style. Before then it was adequate to the task but did not capture your eye stylistically. However, when he adopted that comic noir style, that was when his work started to become notable and did not look out of place no matter where you found it.

His work on Invasion caught the eye and then we saw his work on MACH One, MACH Zero, Hammerstein's War Memoirs and he even sneaked in a couple of episodes on Rogue Trooper. Then you add in what he was creating for the D C Thomson's stable and Eagle and we had an artist whose work would fit almost any comic going. I still think that it was unfortunate that Mike was not part of the British Invasion in the 1980s as he had the ability to have done well. Can you imagine what his work would have been like on The Punisher? Ooh, I may have to go lie down for a while now! :lol:

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Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:38 am
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Aye, Col, a good style for Night Raven, Marvel UK, too back in 1979/80.


Mon Oct 17, 2016 7:33 pm
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Within Battle's issue 27/11/76, it's D-Day Dawson's turn to hold centre colour pages, which were normally reserved for the "Rat Pack". On turning the page to read the third and last page of Dawson, I was struck by the way that Jim Watson's art engaged me. The heavy shades and grim undercurrent of texture was suddenly back. I arrived to the conclusion that colour didn't do Jim's work any justice. But then, a reader of that period could be forgiven for believing that Battle didn't do Jim any justice. There were a couple of occasions when Jim was brought in as a filler - to finish off the last two episodes of "The Team That Went To War" when Mike Western was taken off to start "Darkie's Mob"; also, the last two issues of "Yellow Jack" when Geoff Campion went on to draw "Panzer G-Man". Then, there were a couple of one-off stories that Jim drew.
Of course, Jim was given a whole run on various serials. "Destroyer!" was the first, focusing on a British naval captain and his ship, and ran for thirteen issues after which, the very next week, "Ryan's Revenge" followed. Another 13 part serial that followed an underage teenager who blagged his way into the RAF to fight the Battle of Britain and avenge his father. "Hold Hill 101" came next of which Jim penned the last two scripts. This was a short story, only 7 issues, but a story, nevertheless, that far complemented Jim's style of drawing; the story centred around a small unit, desperately defending a strategic pass until the main army arrived. Then, there was "The Unknown Soldier" that ran for ten issues. However, these stories were all short-lived and were never going to threaten the poll favourites such as "Major Eazy", "Rat Pack" and "Eagle". True, Jim was finally given a regular run on D-Day Dawson but this series was about to be wrapped up within the next couple of months. One can't help but wonder: why wasn't Jim given "Rat Pack"? His art would definitely have suited this strip far more than that of Massimo Belardinelli who, contrary to popular belief, was the most regular artist for the strip and not Carlos Ezquerra. From the strip's initial two runs, a total of 63 issues, Belardinelli drew 24 issues to Ezquerra's 8. Was Jim accomplished enough to draw six pages a week - a tall order for any artist. But looking at the statistics of the last 49 issues of Battle, Jim was missing in action no more than 7 issues which suggests that he was no slow coach and could have drawn at least half of the Rat Pack stories. Perhaps he wasn't interested. Perhaps he took whatever came his way and just kept his head down. Still, there is a sense that Jim's talents could have been utilised more in Battle.


Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:15 pm
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Mr Valeera
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Geoff, you really are pushing the right buttons this week! :lol:

I absolutely love Jim Watson's work and think it a crying shame that he never got more attention than he did. He is another who is now in his 80s and not available for interviews due to health issues.

I agree that his was an engaging style as you are stunned when you look at the breadth of work that he did. My own meagre attempt to praise him is here on Down The Tubes

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Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:45 pm
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Hi, col, just to know that one person agrees with my sentiments from last post is invaluable; I'm not p***ing in the wind, so to speak. I did read your "down the tubes" review on Jim Watson of which I wasn't aware of beforehand. And, unknowingly, that's why I promoted Jim's stories as regards Battle because they are not so well known because, as you say, he is so underrated. Colony Earth on 2000 ad is well known but the likes of Destroyer, Ryan's Revenge, and his short stint on D-Day Dawson aren't. I feel so frustrated because, with hindsight, he could have been thee artist on Rat Pack if Dave Hunt could have told Belardinelli to f**k off. Belardinelli was a great artist with sci-fi but not on real humans. In my opinion, Jim could have been much more appreciated had he been given Rat Pack. D-Day Dawson came too late in the day. Ezquerra had Major Eazy, so Jim wouldn't have stepped on his shoes so to speak. Another nail in my shoe, so to speak, is that Jim's art far exceeded the likes of Geoff Campion and Colin Page and he should have had the first nod over them. It's such a shame.


Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:19 am
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On re-reading my earlier post, I've now had to correct myself. Jim Watson drew "Hold Hill 109" not 101 :headbash: Still, this extra post gives me an opportunity to comment on a half page advertisement that appeared in Battle around this time - it promoted the game of Subbuteo and featured a comic strip. At first, I barely gave it a glance and then I looked again and Damn! I recognized the art; none other than Paul Trevillion who did the "Pete is our sports reporter" from Tiger. Now, is that a nugget of information?


Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:33 am
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Mr Valeera
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And this is the reason I enjoy Comics UK. To be able to discuss the merits of artists that I enjoyed with like minded people is just an unalloyed pleasure.

I forgot to mention in the article that Jim did one cover for Commando (issue 990 "Rogue Sub") and there are a bucket load of stories in Victor and Hotspur that feature his work like Prince of Tigers in Victor and Plum Duff in the Hotspur that have not been given a mention.

As to Bellardinelli, I agree that his work is better suited to sci-fi and fantasy as his style was perfect for it. But that flowing style was not a good fit on the war stories, but I think you are the one of the first to agree with me on that!

I don't kid myself and think that I am a professional critic. I know what I like and what sets me on fire, but there are times when I look and wonder what a certain editor was doing with a certain artist on a certain comic strip.

However, there are times when I eventually see what the editor could see and I couldn't. A perfect example is when I first saw Alcatena's art on Arena in Crunch and the first issue was not making me feel any love for it. However, by issue 10, I was hooked on his art and would look for that story as one of the first to read.

Regarding Paul Trevillion and Subbuteo adverts, that makes perfect sense as Paul also did the art for the "You are the referee" articles and the style is so obvious when you point it out now! Just been reading up on Paul and he is now 82 and he has done loads more comic work!

I am more than happy to keep adding to this thread as you post as it can sometimes feel like you are micturating windward when you post and no-one replies! :lol:

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Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:47 am
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In my opinion Watson's best work for Battle was the documentary style 'Fight For The Falklands' series he produced with John Wagner during the 1980s.


Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:32 am
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Hi, Phil, there are original Jim Watson art pages from "True War" that are going at £95 a pop. There is more than a few as well; just hope a percentage of those sales go directly to Jim.


Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:09 pm
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Hi, Col, the only reason I can fathom why Dave Hunt allowed Belardinelli to continuously draw Rat Pack is because, quite simply, he could. Like I said earlier, six pages in one week for any artist is a tall order. And, as you stated in your last post as regards being an editor, how can I protest? I have no idea what it takes. Steve Macmanus was sub-editor at this point; shame he didn't extrapolate on the services of Jim in his book.


Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:18 pm
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The title "Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant" officially ended with its cover date of 1/10/77. Thereafter, briefly before it embraced Action, it reverted to the original "Battle Picture Weekly". Technically, the "Valiant" banner could have been dropped after One-Eyed Jack bowed out of the 28/5/77 issue. The other Valiant strips - Black Crow and Soldier Sharp both ended in 22/1/77 to make way for new stories primed for the 100th issue. None of the Valiant strips were to return in Battle's future, not even in the guise of reprints. Still, the fourteen week period of consistent strips since the merger was arguably Battle's strongest line-up during its initial 99 issues.
By this time, Major Eazy was well oiled and slick to glide effortlessly across every page upon which he graced. Alan Hebden could even haul the major's adventures back a few years from his Italian exploits to his current North African jaunt without any glitch in the transition whatsoever apart from his sidekick, Tewfick, a bloodthirsty Arab who's hell-bent on sticking it to the "Infidels" as he refers to the Germans - a rollicking addition in comparison to the dour, ponderous Sergeant Daley of the major's earlier (or is that later?) stories. There's plenty of mileage left in Darkie's Mob although, at this time, half of the mob have bitten the dust. The Bootneck Boy continues to improve after the slump in his Russian campaign. Panzer G-Man pursues a solid story board upon which Jim Watson has commandeered the art while also having time to draw the very last episode of D-Day Dawson. The bullet, lodged close to the sergeant's heart for 88 issues, had finally hit home. Once the flagship story, Dawson had grown tired, not to mention repetitive.
The Valiant strips more than held their own. While his seventies setting shed an incongruous light into a war-themed comic, One-Eyed Jack more than compensated with his brand of violence. The Black Crow viewed the war well from the perspective of resistance fighters. Finally, I would like to have read more of Soldier Sharp whose stories were quickly reduced to two pages but, nonetheless, pages that I eagerly awaited more than most of the others. Perhaps his short stay was cemented when Joe Colquhoun was given Johnny Red (literally waiting in the wings) to draw. Still, I am aware that there is a run of around eight months where Soldier Sharp is concerned before he merged with Battle. I've already penned this fact in my ever-burgeoning "wants list". All in all, at this stage of its early life, Battle was in a healthy position as regards sales and content and it had yet to hit its purple patch.


Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:44 pm
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Along with the habitual free gifts, the first three offerings of a title were generally numbered. Thereafter, many elected to shed the "art of numerology" and present just a cover date with which to identify that week's particular issue. Up until now, I hadn't considered the reasons for not numbering a title. Was this decision left to the editor's discretion or was the preference left for higher management? One justifiable reason that leaps to mind is that without numbers, a title's age is indeterminable and, essentially, its covers spring eternal. I guess, in the end, some comics are averse to showing that they're getting on a bit.

Marvel UK religiously numbered its titles whereas D C Thomson, with regard to the boys' department in 1976, had no qualms about telling everyone the age of their titles: Warlord, Victor, Hotspur & Bullet. Wizard was the exception. IPC was quite the opposite with the same genre of that year: Action, Valiant, Tiger, Roy of the Rovers and Battle were all unnumbered.

Still, Battle did accept a temporary armistice to broadcast its 100th issue, cover dated 29/1/77. Beyond the cover, Johnny Red made his debut whereas John Wagner, one of the main architects of Battle and responsible for vision and scripts of early stories, was penning his second ongoing serial only for the title - Joe Two Beans, now in tandem with his first - Darkie's Mob. Mike Nelson, secret agent "Eagle", returned for another run with more alarmingly-realistic art from Pat Wright. It is noted that this was the longest "layoff" that the Eage had endured - 14 weeks without a peep. And, for the first time ever, Bootneck Boy took a break - albeit for one week only. As evidenced with D-Day Dawson's demise in the previous issue, the pioneering characters (or now the "old guard") were on the wane. Another "old guard" strip - the Rat Pack also resumed but with a difference. Their adventures with a certain major deserve an altogether separate post... as soon as I've read them.


Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:51 pm
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Well done Geoff, you've just convinced me to part with my hard earned pennies to buy the first 43 issues!


Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:39 pm
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