Garth Ennis presents Battle Classics

"I read Battle from mid-1978 to the beginning of 1985. It remains a huge influence on my own work, most obviously on the war comics I’ve written, such as War Story and Battlefields. The research reflected in the weekly’s better serials not only taught me the value of reading widely before putting pen to paper, but also gave me an interest in military history that survives to this day. So I got some great stories to enjoy, a head-start in a fair-sized chunk of my career, and many hours of fascinating reading."

Garth provides background and intros for some classic Battle strips, mostly reprinted for the first time.

Collected within are John Wagner and Mike Western’s HMS Nightshade, a belting little tale of a battle-hardened Corvette crew waging war from the extremes of the frozen Barent’s Sea to the tropics of Sierra Leone. The art is slightly marred by inking from Ron Tiner, which sits in horrible contrast to Western’s own inks on half of the weekly pages. Luckily, John Wagner’s usual high-action yet character-driven work carries the strip which reunites the Darkie’s Mob creators.

The General Dies at Dawn is another brilliant strip from Alan Hebden and John Cooper. Partially reprinted in Titan’s Best of Battle a few years ago, this time the full tale of General Otto Von Margen unravels over 10 episodes, each ticking down an hour until his execution for crimes against the Third Reich.

Also included are three short stories illustrated by favourite Battle and 2000AD artist Cam Kennedy. Clash by Night, Hot Wheels and Private Loser feature some sterling early work from the Scot, the final short being of particular quality, boasting a script from veteran Battle editor David Hunt.

I’ve just finished work on this, although it’s uncomfortable territory for me as I’m leaving the full restoration of the art to the design department at Titan Books, rather than doing it myself.

Needs must, I have tight deadlines on another couple of Battle Picture Weekly related projects, so I’ve been forced to farm it out, but whenever I look at Charley’s War volume 5, I’m reminded of why I took over the job in the first place - very poor scans, printed in the wrong order. On the upside, CW5 has always provided me with a stick to beat Titan with whenever there are quibbles about deadlines, restoration quality and price.

One of my next tasks is to restore CW5 from the extant original art of Joe Colquhoun, right after I complete the Battle Card Box set for Egmont, the current owners of IPC’s legacy titles.

Garth Ennis presents Battle Classics will be available from Titan Books in the autumn.

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