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Battle picture weekly - Terror Behind the Bamboo curtain 
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geoff42 wrote:
Hi, Tammyfan, I'm afraid my Battle collection only leads up to the end of 1981 but, from memory, I'm pretty certain that Adam Eterno has a complete collection... so, if you're out there, Adam...


davidandrewsimpson has it sorted!


Last edited by Adam Eterno on 03 Mar 2019, 08:47, edited 1 time in total.



14 Jun 2018, 21:03
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Thank you for the information! :D


14 Jun 2018, 21:33
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Between Battle's cover-dated issues of October 27th & November 17th 1979, John Wagner (writer) decided to give Nightshade and her crew a deserved break for four episodes on the coast of South Africa, Freetown. While engaging with patrol duties, the crew indulged in a couple of off-the-wall leisurely activities: a cockroach championship race and a mismatched boxing duel that would both involve a new recruit - "Muscles" Thomson who quickly earned the tag "Crusher" in view of his on-board, extra curricular duty on crushing cockroaches. And Crusher was also blessed with "unusual muscle development" as he liked to inform everybody. But, another new character, Tubby Grover, countered these light-hearted ventures when his nerves shattered and spurred him to desert the ship. Despite the bleak ramifications of the latter storyline, Wagner had seemingly blessed the series with a breath of fresh air wherein Crusher stamped on Herman Goering (Jock's cockroach) after it had lost a race against the champion cockroach from Nightshade's sister-ship "Lupin". An aggrieved Jock then hastily arranged a boxing match between Crusher and Lupin's amateur champion boxer - Tizer Johnson. Jock's attempt to take Crusher down a peg or two backfired when Nightshade's incensed skipper insisted on his ship's pride and assigned Jock as Crusher's coach with a warning: "Crusher had better not lose... or else!" And Jock knew all too well that no amount of "unusual muscle development" could outpoint a boxer. The ensuing outcome provided much hilarity when a battered Crusher swung one last "haymaker" in desperation and accidentally clashed the referee's head against Tizer's, knocking them both out cold and claiming a technical draw. The day was saved for Nightshade's dignity but, for Tubby Grover on capture, there was a sobering stain: admitting to cowardice, he was sentenced to seven year's imprisonment and boarded Nightshade's return journey in shame and chains. Throughout this mirth and sobriety within these four episodes, there was an integral problem - the latter day Geordie Dunn, who was relaying his adventures to his grandson and had stamped a quirky, pivotal step on the series from the beginning, was largely non-existent. With regard to Crusher's exploits, the younger Geordie was basically a bystander and although he featured to a degree in his bid to save Tubby from his fate, he simply wasn't granting Nightshade with an erstwhile protagonist. As mentioned in earlier commentaries, Nightshade yielded a complex narrative with a colourful ensemble cast; it was on the cusp of something that was magical. Yet, without a rudder, a ship is open to wayward direction. Something was amiss... and Wagner had neither the energy nor the inclination to resolve his "classic-in-the-making" strip. Of course, at this juncture, 2000 AD was whistling a fine tune to which he had more affinity... to be continued.


28 Jun 2018, 00:30
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Upon its 48th and final episode, Nightshade ground to an abrupt and unsatisfying end. With Darkie's Mob, John Wagner systematically killed off cast members one by one and an inevitable climax was all but signposted but, nevertheless, the end was appreciative. Conversely, Wagner treated Nightshade's crew with more consideration but, with hindsight, a shadow was cast on the series a month or so before its watery grave. Shunted to the latter pages from its long time supporting role behind lead strip "Charley's War", Nightshade was also to lose a page from its nominal four, which at least benefited Mike Western's art. Despite the issues with art, Wagner's scripts had woven an epic-feel to Nightshade and an engaging cast that could even afford to relegate the supposed protagonist (Geordie Dunn) to the role of an occasional onlooker. The main protagonist was Nightshade. Wagner had determined from the beginning that his ship wouldn't simply serve as a prop to navigate a sprawling narrative whose weight of riveting drama was sufficient to capsize most ships - but not Nightshade. Even though Wagner was naturally derailed to focus on the crew and its internal conflict as well as the combative action, he triumphed in magnifying Nightshade the ship. In a couple of episodes when aerial attacks in daylight, torpedo strikes in the night, and the ever present arctic conditions that threatened to inflict a "top-heavy" deck all combined to usher away the crew on to the periphery and personify a hunk of metal whose isolated vulnerability was starkly depicted, the readers could actually identify with and embrace Nightshade the ship with a great dose of empathy. But, as with Pat Mills on Charley's War, Wagner couldn't languish on either the subtext or the semantics of what he truly desired to relay; there was a war strip with which to proceed. Yet, Wagner faltered. Had he lost interest in warfare and decided to throw in his "lot" with 2000 AD and it more enticing sci-fi premise? Had the departure of Battle's former editor, Dave Hunt, impacted on his morale? Whatever the reasons, Wagner was certainly allowing no opportunity for any other writer to mess with his ship. Perhaps he had taken note of how the contemporary strip "The Sarge" had declined after losing its initial creators. In the end, Wagner ensured that Nightshade would literally sink. But there was more than a niggling sour taste to this sudden denouement - essentially the final two episodes wherein the series was wrapped up in a hasty fashion as if Wagner no longer cared about what he had created. The death-throes of Smiffy who was still lamenting the death of his recently-wedded wife and Jock who had provided much hilarity in the previous episodes were short of scandalous; a panel or two at most to mourn these well-established characters. For heaven's sake, Parsons - the bully - was afforded two episodes to die in a heroic fashion! Crusher and his "unusual muscle development" wasn't even mentioned. Something was amiss... as if Wagner were suddenly a petulant child who, five minutes before the end of a great, enduring game of football with his pals, picked up his football and declared: "I've had enough and I'm going home - it's game over and I don't care how you feel about that." He certainly didn't care about the readers who had followed Nightshade every week and regaled in the rich drama that was inexplicably fostered to a sense of flippant disregard. Even Nightshade, the protagonist that Wagner had always wished to depict, was summarily washed away with little remorse. And here's the clinch - the ending should have engendered a great remorse but, in its impetuous need to "finish", it undoubtedly would have left the reader to feel that he or she was robbed and rock with shock rather than with tears. Why spend so much time and sublime skill in setting up an intricate story to suddenly kill it without much compassion? Nightshade and her crew deserved far better... and Wagner sold this series very short in the end. Why am I scathing? Simple - I cared about the series and the characters and, in the end, Wagner didn't.


02 Jul 2018, 00:29
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A new year and decade dawned on Battle's January 5th 1980 cover-dated issue. After nearly five years of service and, despite the recent loss of its flagship editor (Dave Hunt), Battle was still relatively in good shape with regard to its content and financial viability. During Battle's early-mid thrust on the newsagent's shelf, IPC had spawned and waved goodbye to a number of titles: Monster Fun, Lindy, Vulcan, The Wonderful World of Disney, Donald Duck, Toby, Action, Starlord, Tornado and Krazy. DC Thomson were more robust and had fewer failed titles: Spellbound, Bullet, Magic (Vol. 2), Plug and Emma. Marvel UK had bombed with Savage Sword of Conan, The Super-Heroes, The Titans, Rampage Weekly and The Complete Fantastic Four. With so many titles that had nosedived in Battle's early years, 1980 didn't seem too unkind considering that Thomson's long established The Hornet and The Wizard had bitten the dust along with Marvel UK's The Avengers, Planet of the Apes and Dracula Lives! More pertinently for IPC, Disneyland and Valiant had also fallen. Polystyles' Target and Byblos' Tarzan had also both lived a short life. At the beginning of 1980, Battle could have perused the shot landscape of doomed publications and nodded in self-satisfaction and thought: "We're still here and primed for action." Battle's golden period was just about still shining but then consider its newest offerings for this new year - Kommando King, War Dog and Cooley's Gun as opposed to the previous year when Charley's War and HMS Nightshade debuted. Though not far removed from a comfort zone, Battle had coped admirably after Dave Hunt's departure... yet, time was running against any great counterattack. Terry Magee had assumed control after Dave Hunt but his hands were to be tied in the near future. Battle would slip into the control of a newly-formed department within IPC and eventually suffer. For now, however, Battle was still bristling while Thomson's The Crunch and Marvel UK's The Hulk were squirming in their death roes. Battle's Charley's War and Johnny Red were still shaking their hips with irreverence that, while fading against 2000 AD's enterprise, was still sufficient to gain a belated recognition to extend Battle's legacy.


13 Jul 2018, 01:20
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Charley's War has always attained a glorious legacy since its original run in Battle and has, deservedly, received many accolades. Yet, there are particular episodes that are largely forgotten within Charley's epic framework, which cry out for recognition. One such early episode involved Charley who selflessly ran out into no-man's land to support a dying soldier during which Charley engaged with a sing-along while exhibiting a family photograph. While a fleeting moment in the tragedy of war, this episode served up a chunk of pathos that would remain with the reader long after Charley's march into the Battle of the Somme. Many escapades followed thereafter and then, suddenly, Pat Mills (writer) assailed the readers and delivered another sublime "hit" that impacted with an unnerving thud. Essentially an incidental prologue for a larger narrative, this episode (within Battle's February 23rd 1980 cover-dated issue) not only commanded the readers' attention but also presided over a sense of futility that existed in the World War I trenches. Within four pages, Mills employed his magic pen to blend a pervading irony that met with a shocking and resounding denouement. Private Prunes, previously unknown in Charley's War was hit with shrapnel from an exploding shell and Charley endeavoured to take Prunes to the attending doctor - Doctor "No" as he was known for his reluctance to grant any soldier leave from the frontline whatever his ailment. Only a soldier with missing limbs might have escaped the dreaded "Number Nine Pill" that the doctor insisted on prescribing his malingerers - as he perceived them to be. Prunes told Charley that he was feeling better only to avoid this horrible pill of which he had heard, but Charley insisted that Prunes should wait for attention. During the wait, several "malingerers" were summarily dismissed with the "Number Nine Pill" and then Doctor "No" finally and smugly addressed Prunes: "So! Another scrimshanker who doesn't want to fight. What's his excuse for getting out of the trenches?" But Prunes, despite Charley's urgings, wasn't responding. In the final panel, a grimacing Charley announces: "He's dead... sir." There was nothing else to add. Pat Mills had succinctly hammered in a poignant nail; Prunes would not only avoid the "Number Nine Pill" but he would also leave the frontline... in a box. After reading that last panel, I almost heard a pin drop. I then took a draught from my can of cider to succour the lump in my throat... then I wrote this.


02 Aug 2018, 23:16
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For IPC, the first half year of 1980 was dire - through industrial disputes, Battle lost eight issues. No sooner had the new year bells faded, Battle went AWOL from the newsagent's shelf between January 19th and February 9th. There was a time that were a publication to miss just one week's deadline... there would be hell to pay! But then, the "union" presented a far more demonic entity that tore up IPC's ledger books. Battle lost four weeks and then, between May 10th and June 14th, was denied a further four weeks of glory. In a climate of dwindling sales and a desperation to cling on to every reader on which they could rely, IPC was in turmoil. This disaster not only affected Battle but also every other title that IPC ran. The loss of revenue amid these two periods of inactivity must have reduced IPC's bursars to tears. In addition, there were more crippling consequences: in general, a youngster's attention span is stunted at best; take away a title from the newsagent's shelf for a month... well, a kid all too easily forgets that it ever existed. The boy's newest title "Speed" was most definitely a victim of the second "strike"; thereafter, it folded within weeks. In the meantime, DC Thomson (who shrewdly countered any industrial unrest with an iron fist) continued to produce their titles with diligence and would have compensated for IPC's sudden void. And one series in particular from Battle suffered horrendously during these turbulent times... more on this later.


02 Feb 2019, 00:34
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Three months after the end of Crazy Keller, Alan Hebden returned to Battle and penned his next series: War Dog which ran from Dec. 29th 1979 to July 7th 1980 cover-dated issues. A good, healthy run on the face of these dates; yet, War Dog had but a modest tally of 16 episodes. With hindsight, the series struggled to make an impact in view of its stuttering appearances and an artist change that provided another problem with continuity. This literal dog's dinner is a testament to Hebden's prowess in that he was able to craft a decent, engaging story when read as a whole. The series was actually collected and printed in Garth Ennis Presents Battle Classics Volume 2 along with Fighting Mann also from Hebden/Cam Kennedy.

The tale of a German Alsatian dog "Kazan", released into the ravaged landscape of war to ally himself with various, temporary minders from Russia, Britain, America, Australia and Italy, simply wasn't allowed to flow. After but two episodes, the series took a break which then incorporated a subsequent four-week industrial dispute. Upon return and after three more episodes, War Dog bade its original artist, Mike Western, farewell. Cam Kennedy appeared the following week to begin his first ongoing series for Battle having produced several complete stories earlier. Then, War Dog was halted again for a two-week break. Though enjoying its longest, consecutive run of five weeks thereafter, the series was crippled with not only another week's rest but also a second four-week industrial dispute.

Overall, the 16 episodes of War Dog were scattered over a period of 28 weeks - a ratio of 4 episodes per 7 weeks! War Dog was seriously hampered. Of course, the industrial disputes were beyond the editor's control but, still, the series was afforded little help; it was poorly managed. Thankfully, Garth Ennis rescued it years later to showcase a respectable offering.


09 Feb 2019, 13:55
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Mike Western (celebrated "Battle" artist between 1976 and 1980) and his departure from the bullet-riddled doors was somewhat understated as if he were slipping out the back door while no one was looking. After completing the first five episodes of "War Dog", Western signed off his last piece of original work for Battle within its March 1st 1980 cover-dated issue, having barely been missing in action for the last four years. A popular artist for Fleetway/IPC during the Sixties and Seventies in particular, Western's arrival in Battle's very first issue was quite insignificant - a single illustration for "Head First Hero" a short lived series (Boys at War) that didn't shake any trees. Almost a year later, Western returned to draw "The Team that went to War" a series that, curiously, he was not to finish. Jim Watson inherited the latter stages while Western accommodated the first two episodes of "Operation Shark" before he truly stamped his presence on John Wagner's classic "Darkie's Mob".

At this juncture, Battle was emerging from a difficult transition which had occurred after Battle's Godfathers (Pat Mills and John Wagner) had stepped down to allow Dave Hunt (editor) and Steve MacManus (sub-editor) full control. Now, along with Carlos Ezquerra's talents over the mercurial exploits of Major Eazy and Jim Watson's erstwhile handling of various series, Western helped to establish a further solidity with regard to Battle's art which had previously suffered. Before linking back up with Wagner on "H.M.S. Nightshade", Western engaged with another long running hero "The Sarge." By and large, Western was involved with lengthy, "fan-favourite" serials for Battle; The Team that went to War was reprinted in Roy of the Rovers while Darkie's Mob, Sarge and Nightshade were all reprinted in Battle's later years and maintained Western's identity with the war comic long after his departure.

Incidentally, Western would draw another war story (Baker's Half Dozen) in 1980 for "Speed" which, ironically, was edited by Dave Hunt who had left Battle in the Autumn of 1979 for a doomed football magazine. Western would draw further stories for Speed and Tiger but would give Battle a wide berth from hereon. The unspoken difficulties with Battle were highlighted in Western's final work for Battle - War Dog, a painful, protracted series that mirrored his uneasy, premature exit; it certainly wasn't planned. Still, Western clocked up a phenomenal total of 635 art pages which, by March 1980, only John Cooper was chasing hard with 610.5 pages. In third place, Joe Colquhoun was paddling with 511 pages. Such statistics bear out Western's dominance during Battle's early-golden years and will forever more enshrine his legacy with Battle's history.


23 Feb 2019, 02:05
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Just to add to this. Steve had left Battle in 1978 when he was literally left holiding the baby over on 2000AD. Steve would steer 2000AD away from almost being cancelled to become the Galaxy's Greatest comic over the next 10 years until he left in 1988.

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23 Feb 2019, 09:02
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Cover-dated: July 12th 1980, this issue of Battle heralded a momentous turnaround for artists, writers and even letterers - their names were now in lights or, rather, in print and credited with the strips to which they had contributed. 2000 AD had promoted this practice since its launch back in 1977. Still, for Battle; better late than never. Two new stories also accompanied this new-look Battle: Fighting Mann and Deathsquad, both written by Alan Hebden. Curiously, Hebden forwarded an alias for the latter. Around this period, the mesmerising partnership of John Wagner and Alan Grant were running amok and threatening to eclipse 2000 AD in its entirety. While the chief (John Sanders) had no qualms over this splurge of productivity, he certainly had no intentions of broadcasting the existence of any creative monopoly. Consequently, Messrs Wagner & Grant were advised to dream up various alternative monikers for certain serials. Was Hebden's pseudonym a voluntary exercise?

Battle's new-look also boasted a retro signature with regard to its masthead that had first burst on to the scene five and a half years ago upon its debut. Sadly, the sub-masthead "Action" was not only reduced significantly in size but also offset and isolated. The focus on highlighting Battle's individual identity suddenly conflicted with a long-associated coupling of two powerful nouns that had the audacity to shirk any notion of either a conjunction or a hyphen to link them. The last "Action" strip (Spinball Wars) had ended eight months earlier and now Action's impact as an accompanying title was on the wane. Whether or not the decision to demote "Action" was contentious, Battle certainly erred in gracing its front page with story content. Charley's War opened the proceedings and, thereafter, would alternate with Johnny Red. 2000 AD had employed this jarring theme for a short while during its second year, which proved unpopular and hastily kicked into the stars. Tiger & Scorcher had long employed this strategy along with Roy of the Rovers and later, towards the end of its short life, Speed adopted likewise. DC Thomson's The Victor enjoyed an enduring run in showcasing its "True Stories of Men at War" upon its front and rear covers for many years. For various titles, this format seemed to work well... for Battle, as with 2000 AD, it was a terrible choice to make. Previous explosive covers from the likes of Carlos Ezquerra, Mike Mahon, Geoff Campion and so many more would always far outweigh story content in terms of an issue, threatening to leap out from the newsstand.


There were positives, however, to this issue. Carlos Ezquerra made another guest appearance on a complete story "The Orphan Boy", an engrossing and amusing tale from Brian Burwell. This was actually Ezquerra's third return since his last "Major Eazy" stint. In addition, the line-up of artists for this issue was cast in gold: Joe Colquhoun - Charley's War, John Cooper - Johnny Red, Cam Kennedy - Fighting Mann, Eric Bradbury - Deathsquad, Carlos Ezquerra - The Orphan Boy, Geoff Campion - Cooley's Gun, and Phil Gascoine - The Sarge. Battle was definitely pitching a tenacious rearguard fight; it needed to in light of recent and dubious editorial changes that would prove challenging.


22 Mar 2019, 14:49
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Along with its 72nd showing within Battle's July 26th 1980 cover-dated issue, Charley's War completed its longest story arc to date which was far from a classic. Largely engaged with Colonel Zeiss and his Judgement Troopers over the Somme trenches, the series underwent a subtle shift in narrative and certainly ushered Charley into a less than accommodating corner. While the horrors of trench warfare had always plagued the early episodes, a welcome offering of dark humour counterbalanced Pat Mills' (writer) bleak landscape. Mills was mindful to sprinkle this latest storyline with moments of downbeat laughter and irony, but the former richness was desperately squawking in the shadows and allowed more emphasis on the action with which to grip the reader. Of course, Charley no longer had his perfect foil in Ginger who was earlier killed off. In the short term, the series faltered over Ginger's absence. Yet, there were other factors over which Charley suffered a temporary shortfall: the lacking of an ensemble cast of familiar oddballs that had woven a neat tapestry within Charley's former stories - Mills had killed most of them off. In addition, Charley's letters had noticeably ceased, letters which had provided endearing touches to many an episode. Mills actually addressed the letters in one episode when Charley was asked why he no longer wrote. Charley had matured enormously in the few months in which he had fought - he simply wasn't prepared to gloss over a harrowing war and say to his family that everything was just "fine and dandy" anymore.

Still, there were elements of Charley's narrative that Mills always strived to highlight: the cruel and absurd practices that the British hierarchy implemented back in those grim years. Oh, Mills wished to apprise the readers of how badly our young solders were treated. After dozing off on sentry duty, Charley was faced with immediate execution from a commanding officer. Thankfully, circumstances denied such a fate. Then, in the latter episodes after stumbling in retreat from an overwhelming German offensive, Charley and his comrades were met with their own "punishment squad" who insisted that every soldier should turn back and fight no matter the odds. A refusal would be met with an automatic bullet for desertion of duty or, rather, cowardice. But, as mentioned previously, Mills was able to shore up a little relief against his deeper stacking against the establishment. Smith '70 and Young Albert returned while Dr No and his dreaded pills made a reappearance to deny Charley a ticket home to "Blighty" after suffering a head wound. Sergeant 'Ole Bill Tozer (a legend that not even Mills would ever kill off) provided a weighty anchor of mirth in many a scene. His "What you can't cure, you must endure," message to his men was a classic, especially when the reader considered the Catch 22 situation with which Charley and his comrades were forced to confront.

If the narrative of Charley's War were to slip the readers' attention, then the increase of four pages from three, which launched around the beginning of this latest storyline, would have raised a few eyebrows. Then, later, the series alternated with Johnny Red on Battle's front cover. Unquestionably, as a result, Joe Colquhoun (artist) struggled to maintain his great intricacies with regard to his art. Consider the pages of Joe's "Soldier Sharp", "Johnny Red" and the early episodes of Charley - the panels were smaller and highly detailed. Joe was forced to play a canny game against which to deflect a humbling loss of quality in his work. The panels were larger and, while the focus on the nearer objects were still as sharp as ever, the background pencils were economic at best. Depth of field was applied, a great blurred effect in photography but not, necessarily, in art. But Joe pulled it off in view of his meticulous attention to the "meat" that was thrust in the foreground, which would have reeled in readers' eyes.

Despite a drop in quality in both art and narrative, Charley's War still excelled over its contemporary strips. Mills must have also sensed a dip in the series at this juncture but, thankfully, was determined to persevere rather than just dump it in the same fashion that John Wagner literally torpedoed all his fine work in "HMS Nightshdade". Charley had a legacy to fulfill come what may!


14 Apr 2019, 21:59
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From Battle's launch back in March 1975 to August 2nd 1980, I have compiled a wealth of reference notes with regard to serials, features, complete stories, artists and writers. Within the aforementioned dates, I could quote not only the number of episodes (171) but also the amount of art pages (584.5) where Johnny Red is concerned. I could tell you the exact episode and date when Johnny first met his female equal in Nina Petova (episode 20 - 22/07/77... by which time Johnny and Joe Colquhoun had delivered 60 pages of art... within a minute of reaching for my big, black book. And yet, upon reading Battle's August 9th 1980 cover date issue, some opportunist could have pulled the rug from under my feet had I switched off my focus over one page. Before now, had someone declared that Ron Smith had devoted a full page of art to Battle, I would have frowned and protested: NO WAY! Thankfully, I was alert: Ron Smith drew a full page advert for "The Great 1980 Action Man Spacer Ranger" drawing contest. I was about to flip over the page and then - bang! I know those strokes, I cried! So there you have it, Ron Smith did indeed grace the pages of Battle. Puts me in my place - there's always something to learn that you never dreamt of even when you believe you have every angle covered - oh, what fun in unearthing little treasures in British comics.


25 Apr 2019, 22:24
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Approximately twelve months ago before the end of August 1980, Dave Hunt (Battle's pioneering and, arguably its greatest editor) was, essentially, delivered a football with which to kick straight out of Battle's bullet-riddled doors and follow its trajectory. The trajectory bounced into: Top Soccer - a new IPC weekly football magazine that was to be launched with its 15/09/79 cover-dated issue. A dedicated fan of the sport and a fervent supporter of his local team, Hunt must have found this new venture very appealing, enough to lure him away from Battle. Yet, had he taken a step back and assessed the minefield on which he unwittingly stepped, perhaps he night have reconsidered his position.

The politics, the compromises, and the fallout of this new magazine certainly undervalued Hunt's standing within the offices of IPC. A game of chess certainly springs to mind but... why on earth render Hunt (who had successfully guided Battle to a position whereby it's closest rival - DC Thomson's "Warlord" was trailing in both content and sales) as a simple pawn? Nothing in this transition made sense. At the time, Barry Tomlinson - editor of both Tiger & Scorcher and Roy of the Rovers must have been gnashing his teeth and tearing his hair out... for it was he who had not only conceived the idea of Top Soccer but also expected to literally manage! The rug was pulled from under his feet... while Dave Hunt blindly chased after the football that he had been given and kicked with glee... these turn of events were heading for an ending that HMS Nightshade had exacted with such a resounding flop! I know I'm giving John Wagner a hard time over the aforementioned series but... along with the deserved accolades over his past and present work, we can still take him to task over his failings. As for Dave Hunt... that damn football!


16 May 2019, 23:13
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Continuing from the previous post, Dave Hunt's "damned football" was kicked on to the newsagent's shelf in the shape of "Top Soccer" alongside long-running, weekly stablemate "Shoot" with its 15/09/79 cover-dated issue. On the "Soccerbilia" website, which provides a hive of information with regard to past UK football magazines and comics, the opening description to "Top Soccer" says everything: "Not sure why IPC was launching this when "Shoot" was still operating..." In addition, IPC's "Soccer Monthly", launched a year earlier in September 1978, further blurred the lines of rationale. Had Hunt stepped back and considered: "Not sure why IPC is launching this when..." Perhaps, he had considered the situation over which IPC could have genuinely reasoned their strange bid to over saturate the market.

In a climate, particularly in the mid-late Seventies, where IPC and D C Thomson were always eager to out manoeuvre each other with new, invigorating titles, the London-based group definitely held the cards where football was concerned. Other than delivering the impressive (in terms of style and size) "Scoop" in January 1978, Thomson seemed inclined to allow IPC a monopoly on the genre - not forgetting that IPC also boasted its then big-seller "Roy of the Rovers" alongside a generous dollop of football strips within "Tiger & Scorcher".

However, where football was concerned, IPC wasn't preoccupied with Thomson; it was braced for an "independent" charge. "Football Weekly News" hit the stands with its 22/08/79 cover-dated issued and then... there was "Match" - unleashed 06/09/79 over a week before the release of Hunt's "damned football". "Match" was the delineated and most serious threat to IPC's "Shoot". Suddenly, the query: "Not sure why IPC launched this..." becomes all too apparent. Hunt's "damned football" was damned even before it was kicked!

Third and final post on Hunt's "damned football" to follow...


17 May 2019, 22:24
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