In our storage unit I have a small collection of Classic’s Illustrated that somehow survived after 50 years. What has not survived was my collection of war comics from the 60’s.
Back in the day every time dad went to a drugstore or some other outlet that had comic books I got one. I remember 12c for a copy just as shown below on the cover. Favorites would have been Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, The Haunted Tank and Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandoes. I suspect that as I got older dad directed me to the Classic’s Illustrated rather than the pseudo history in the war comics. Frankly, I’m glad that he did because dad gave me a love for history that have to this day. (We also went to the public library frequently where I’d pick up various books on history. I distinctly remember reading books on the Battle of Britain, the Alamo, and Hernando Cortez.)
My war comics disappeared so when I have an opportunity to get some of them back at flea markets, rummage sales or antique shops I’ll buy a few if the price is right. As it is I now have a small collection of Sgt. Rock and Sgt. Fury and some odds and ends that I do not recall owning as a child.
One comic that I just picked up at a flea market for $2.00 is Battlefield Action by Charlton Comics Group. Charlton was big in the comic book industry in the comic book “silver age” as illustrated by this quote from WikiPedia:
“During the Silver Age, Charlton, like Marvel and DC, published war comics. Notable titles included the “Fightin'” line of Fightin’ Air Force, Fightin’ Army, Fightin’ Marines, and Fightin’ Navy; the “Attack” line of Army Attack and Submarine Attack; Battlefield Action; D-Day, U.S. Air Force Comics, and War Heroes. Though primarily anthologies of stories about 20th-century warfare, they included a small number of recurring characters and features, including “The American Eagle”, “Shotgun Harker and the Chicken“, “The Devil’s Brigade“, “The Iron Corporal” and “The Lonely War of Capt. Willy Schultz“. Army War Heroes and Marine War Heroesdepicted stories based on actual Medal of Honor recipients.” Charlton Comics WikiPedia
The issue I found is from the Battlefield Action line, Volume Two, Number 56, January 1965. It sold for 12 cents and a year subscription of 6 issues was 70 cents
Charlton headed each page wit the words, “Charlton Comics Give You More.” In those days competition with the other comic book producers was fierce so Charlton tried to have more features than their competitiors and judging from my issue of Battlefield Action I’d say they suceeded.
The main feature was always the cover story-in this issue Tushari’s Gun. Here’s the first page of the story.
The story line is a Marine patrol comes upon a lone Japanese marching gunner. In 60’s comics the Japanese are often referred to you as “Nips” or “Japs” illustrating the still racially charged jargon from WW2. The enemy whether German or Japanese were usually portrayed as sinister or sneaky.
The date on this particular issue is January, 1965 and I would have been 12 years-old. In addition to the long feature there is a story set in the Korean War and another against the Germans.
Charlton advertised on every page that “Charlton Comics Give You More” and they did. Included in every issue was a number of historical pages including at least one with no art work and just text. In this case the main historical article was titled “Cheesebox on a Raft” a description of the USS Monitor as it encountered the CSA Merrimac (Virginia) off Hampton Roads, March 9th, 1862. It was the first encounter between armored warships and it made wooden warships obsolete. The author refers to a lithograph of the Monitor and I’m guessing this is it below:
By the mid-seventies and aftermath of Vietnam war comics began to disappear and I suppose it was inevitable given the anti-war sentiment of the times. My neighborhood chums and I didn’t have video games but we did have comic books and I fondly remember reading them on hot summer days when we took a break from sandlot baseball or bike riding.
I can not imagine people not keeping these!! History needs to be saved and remembered – even more so now with so many insisting we erase everything from the Civil War.
I’m the last of my family and I’ve made preparations already for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans to get everything I collect and my father’s collection.
What a great thing to do GP.I’d like the visit that museum some day.
I mention it often in hopes that anyone with these treasures and no one to leave them to will try the same or similar idea.