One thing you notice if you collect enough comics is that certain themes will repeat themselves over and over again. And it’s not only the themes that will repeat themselves, but the stories and the imagery will also.
In some cases, it is the composition of the picture that will repeat itself. After all, there are only so many angles that two opposing sides can approach each other on either land, sea or air. But in other cases, the reason for the repetition is the multiple uses that a company can make of imagery that they purchase.
In this case, what started me going down this particular rabbit hole was buying the 2013 set of Battle postcards from Lawrie Grant at Moniaive. The postcards set was part of an attempt by Egmont to try and make some money out of their extensive back catalogue. I am not sure how successful it was, but there was a Girls’ comics version produced at the same time.
But I digress. Going back to the presentation box, you can see that there is a beautifully drawn representation of a British soldier issuing a challenge. This turns out to have been drawn by Jordi Penalva. And again, I digress, but whenever I see anything by Jordi Penalva, you can put money on the fact that I will be distracted!
Now I had seen this picture before and it bugged me that I could not place it. So off I went to the land of the internet search and it quickly turned up the cover to the Best of Battle Volume 1 where this image of a soldier had been used before.
Unfortunately, the sense of deja-vu was even worse now as I saw the cover and knew that I had seen that before. Thankfully a check of the cover pictures over at Comics UK showed me that I was not losing the plot and let me identify the cover of the Best of Battle as a straight lift from the 1979 Battle annual. That saved me as I knew that I had seen this image at some point during my childhood and seeing the “original” annual cover brought back some memories for me.
But I have learned a lot about comics since 1978 when this was first available and that image seemed distinctly at odds with how most montage covers are made up. However, I was unlikely to resolve the issue at any point soon so I had mentally filed it under “look into when I get more clues”. And fast forward it to a week or so later when I am discussing picture libraries with a friend. During this chat, we were comparing covers with story titles and up pops the title Checkpoint which is Battle Picture Library issue 101 from 1963. This is a rather mundane title and I pull it up to see what the cover looks like and voila! I find the source of this sentry picture. I am sure that more searching will eventually reveal that the other three pictures in this montage cover are probably sourced from other Fleetway Picture Library covers.
A bit more searching shows that this story was reprinted as issue 1014 in 1976 and that the cover was re-jigged slightly with a new font of the title and the pictures being re-sited.
So that is at least five times this image has been re-used by Egmont / Fleetway over the past 54 years. Now I wonder if D C Thomson has done so well with any of the art that they have commissioned over the years?