Swords Of A Thousand Men

After the huge hit rate my posts on Warlord have generated, it seems rather apt that I let you know about some of the feedback that I have received on social media about my project to go through each and every issue of Warlord.

First up we have feedback from Lew Stringer, who pointed out that Warlord was not the first single genre comic. Here is his comments from Comics UK.

I wasn’t a fan of war comics but Warlord’s importance in being a leader of a tougher, more dynamic breed of boys’ comic can’t be understated. However, it wasn’t the first UK comic based on one genre. Scorcher, for one, beat it to that in 1970 with its all-football theme. ~Lew Stringer

In case you have not heard of Lew, Lew has been a professional artist since the 1980s and a comics fan since the 1960s so any compliment from Lew is worthy of note.

Now Scorcher is a comic that I have very few copies of and it lasted from 1970 to 1974 so I can perhaps be forgiven for not reading it. But I never pass up a chance to improve my comic knowledge, so here is probably the most famous comic character to come from Scorcher and that is Billy Dane.  As I don’t have any Scorcher comics that I can find or that I know of having, I have cheated and nicked this picture from Lew’s article about issue 1 of Scorcher (Sorry Lew!)


Scorcher is a comic that I will look at one of these days but as it is a pure sports comic, it could be a long time before that day comes.

And the instigator of this road that I am now travelling down added this comment on Comics UK

Unfortunately, there are no names as regards script writers. From Battle, virtually every story is credited with a writer. Was DC Thomson so secretive in those days? It’s the same with Bullet and much of Victor, Hotspur and Wizard in the seventies. Did DC Thomson hire freelance writers or was it all “in-house” hence the lack of information when it comes to a breakdown of stories? Is that how Pat Mills and John Wagner broke the mould? Still, as you say, Warlord did push the boundaries more so than its contemporaries at that time. Where was the input for this? Must have come from somewhere other than the standard fare from Victor and Hotspur… or were there a few mischievous rebels, aching to do something different but never receiving the accolade for doing so? ~ Geoff

And that brought me up short as I realised that I know what I think is the reason for there being so few credits, but never thought about sharing that wealth. If you look at some of the text story annuals from the 1930s, you will see that some of the art is signed and that some of the text stories even have authors listed. However as we move onto the 1950s, the patriarchal company was outraged to find that their closed shop had a secret union member since 1939 and this caused the last strike at D C Thomson’s.

Now this may or may not be related to the disappearance of writer and artist credits but it certainly helped to firm up the company’s attitude about not crediting the contributors, which it only relaxed in 2008 after much lobbying by some of the editorial staff. Before that, only 2 artists were allowed to sign their work. One was the great Dudley D Watkins and the other was Ian Kennedy and that was only because you could not mistake Ian’s style for anyone else’s!  However, I do know of one writing credit for Warlord and that was the late great Alan C Hemus who wrote the wonderful Kampfgruppe Falken. I may have even written an article about it too.

Hopefully during this trawl through the issues, I may be able to discover more information about the writers, but until then we are all on a voyage of discovery. But the best and worst bit of feedback I have had has been a suggestion from John Freeman.  John has mentored my writing on Down The Tubes for years and it is thanks to his gentle guidance that I write right good like I do! And what John said was:

Colin, I suggest you keep a running count of Allies vs enemy deaths to see if it was true the comic was as jingoistic as claimed.

And that was like oh what a stupid idea that is as it is so much extra work to….hang on! And as an idea, it niggled at me as John is great at throwing out these little gems.  This now had me thinking how I could do this and it led me to mentally tag it as Allied deaths versus Axis deaths.  To abbreviate it, I thought AL for Allies and AX for Axis.  But as it was John’s idea, I would add his initials JF so that I got JFALAX which is going to be murder to say let alone type, so I wondered what word it was closest to and as I ignored the J and as I said Falax, Phalanx just fell out of my brain.

So thanks to John, I have invented what I think of as a new way of assessing comic stories so a Dennis The Menace story would have a code of 0C0C as no one dies and we can confirm this by reading the story.  The first Judge Dredd story would have a score of 1C2C as one Judge and two perps die in that story.  And any story about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima would come out as 0C146000E as it is estimated that up to 146,000 died in the first use of an atomic bomb. So, world, I give you the Phalanx Code.  But as with any really useful things, the best bit is that it can be applied to almost anything so the 2007 St Trinians movie would have a Phalanx Code of 1C0C as poor Mr D’Arcy gave his life for his school. Alien, the seminal horror would have a score of 6C1C as all but Ripley and the cat survived.

And just so you know that I am not ducking out, here is the Phalanx Code for issue 1 of Warlord.

Union Jack Jackson                         135E0C

Bomber Braddock                            0C0C

The Toffee Apple Tankbusters      6E0C30E4C

Fearless Fegen                                 186C0C

The Wingless Wonder                    0C20E6C

Codename Warlord                        2C0C (and I am counting the rabbit!)

The Wolf of Kabul                          0C0C

Spider Wells                                    0C0C (as I know that the stepfather did not die)

So the combined Phalanx Code for issue 1 is 143E186C50E10C.  In translation that adds up to 143 Estimated Allied deaths, 186 Confirmed with 50 Estimated Axis deaths with 10 Confirmed.

Just to finish off, John also suggested a best line from each issue. I don’t think that I will manage that, but I will add in any memorable ones that I think are worth highlighting to my readers. But in this case, I will let Lord Peter Flint have the last word if for no other reason than to show that the writers were aware of how jolly and huzzah for the Empire they sounded!


2 thoughts on “Swords Of A Thousand Men

  1. The Fleetway refugees – Bob Nixon, Tom Paterson, Terry Bave and Trevor Metcalfe – all signed their DCT work from the 1980s onwards. Bob was first in 1985 I think, with Ivy the Terrible, and Tom moved about a year later with Calamity James.

    I am under the impression that most Beano and Dandy strips were written in-house until the late 2000s.


  2. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for that. This is the problem of only really knowing the adventure stuff is that you don’t always know enough of the other genres. At least I know that Eagle and Battle went full credit from early issues.


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