Our Man in Edinburgh

If I said that I don’t get over-excited about comics too often, then I would be lying. But I have just made a purchase that I am truly excited about and I believe that many other comics fans would be as excited by it as I am if they were in my position.

This purchase began life as my usual trawl through social media and my review of the  Comic Books For Sale UK posts on Facebook. Most of the comics offered for sale on there are Marvel, DC, Vertigo or Dark Horse, so it is slim pickings for me as a rule, but then one post intrigued me as someone said that their father wanted to sell some old Commandos.

From my experience on social media, most people equate anything before the Berlin Wall coming down as being old, but I still thought it was worth expressing my interest as I am missing a load of Commandos from every decade and it might fill some gaps. So I got to chat with the lovely young lady from Edinburgh who was acting on her father’s behalf. She was honest and told me that she knew they were old but not exactly how old but her father would have a list and he could send me a list with a description of their condition.

So the next day an email dropped into my junk mail filter and I had to rescue it. When I opened it and I looked at the listing of comics that I was sent then my jaw nearly hit the floor. I was stunned as they were not just old, they were a collection of Commandos from the first four years of its’ publication. This collection ranged from issue 5 published in 1961 to issue 165 published in 1965. They were what I would class as old comics for two simple reasons. One they were published before I made my appearance on this green and pleasant land. And two the reprints of these had already been published before I had begun to learn to read in 1973.

To give you an idea of the condition of these comics, let’s first look at how the paper has aged compared to a recent issue.

5 to 99 ends

The gleaming white one at the top is issue 4740 from September 2014 and you can seen that while these comics have aged, they are in that state which is euphemistically called good for their age! However, if they were to be graded properly, I have a mix of ranges that vary from Fair to Very Good. As you can see from the increasing angle on the left hand side, there is a touch of curl to these comics. This usually indicate that a comic has not been stored completely flat and many of us collectors are as guilty of this as any comic owner. However, when I point out that these are all sub-100 issues of Commando, I am sure that many of us would be more than happy with that little evidence of age. There is an upside to this evidence of ageing. It proves that these comics are the real deal as anyone trying to pull a fast one would not even think of faking this as they would be too busy trying to convince us that they are selling comics in either Mint or Near Mint condition!

Now anyone who is a Commando collector is already drooling at the fact that I have declared that these are sub-100 issues, but I can’t keep being evil and not showing anything of what these comics are like, so here is a bit of a grand reveal.

5 to 10 covers

26 to 47 covers

77 to 99 covers

Now that you can see the covers, you can see why I have gone a little ga-ga over them. The most stunning thing for me is that these covers still have what I class as “shine”. This is the ability of the glossy paper, used by D C Thomson for the covers, to reflect light.  This is why when I have used the flash on my camera, you get a certain amount of flare as evidenced by the covers for issues 8, 46 and 96.

Another exciting part for me is that I have always enjoyed the reprints and the one issue I have always wanted to get since 1988, which was when the current staff of Commando were kind enough to send me a list of issues, was either issue 72 or 539 as I discovered that Sniper’s Island was the first Commando story that was reprinted. Now this could have been either at the direction of Ian Forbes (Commando Editor 1971 to 1988)  or George Low (Commando Editor 1988 to 2007) but either way, I am going to say thanks to both. However, to find that I had eventually managed to pick up an original copy of that very first reprint was a collecting goal that I never expected to achieve, but taking almost 30 years to pick up a copy of that story does feel like a major collecting achievement.

72 Snipers Island Front

72 Snipers Island Back

Again, you can see how well the covers of these issues have survived the ravages of times with the flare that you get off the front and back cover. I have issues that are half the age of these issues and they have almost no flare from any picture taken.

Now have I said how impressed I am with the condition of these Commandos? I think I may have, but in case I have not made it clear how good the condition of these issues are, I have used issue 4740 again and photographed it beside the original issue 120.

120 Portrait of Death

I am merely adequate with a camera so I hope that you can see how much brighter the colours are on the original cover. Now when you consider that D C Thomson are reprinting from original artwork and have the ability to clean it up digitally, it only goes to show how well this collection has been looked after over the decades.

120 Portrait of Death Back cover

Another thing that I love from early Commando issues is the bonus illustration that you would get on the back cover which is part of the reason that I have included so many pictures of the back covers.

To complete how stunning this collection is, I have one last picture for you and that is the back covers for the latest six in this collection which cover issues 126 to 165.

126 to 165 Back covers

To sum up, I got a great bargain and I have yet to read a single issue of this collection, but I am already getting so much enjoyment from these comics. Now excuse me as I am sure that at least one of these issues has early Victor de la Fuente art!



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