Monday, 26 January 2015


All images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

When you think about it, it at first seems strange that one of the
staple features of British comics for boys in the 1960s and '70s were
stories about the Second World War.  However, to many of the writers
who penned these adventures and who'd experienced the conflict first-
hand, that period must've seemed like fairly recent history.  After all,
it was closer in time to them than my own teenage years are to
me - and that feels like only yesterday.

THE CRUNCH included a story called HITLER LIVES, but
that was set in the present day (after recapping events at war's end
in early episodes) and wasn't really a war story in the traditional sense.
I suppose kids of the time enjoyed war stories 'though, otherwise, despite
the predilections of the writers, they wouldn't have appeared for as long
as they did.  Neither would comics like THE HOTSPUR, WARLORD
or BATTLE have had such long runs - unless, of course, it was
mainly World War II veterans who were buying them.

So, full marks to The Crunch for trying something at least slightly
different.  Not that the difference was radical, because, whatever the
setting, most adventure stories are either war, sport or cowboy stories
at heart - even science-fiction ones.  Think I'm talking nonsense?  Well,
consider - 2000 A.D.'s HARLEM'S HEROES was a sports story,
bounty-hunter STRONTIUM DOG (first seen in STARLORD) was
a cowboy story, and ROGUE TROOPER was a war story.

It's a bit like STAR TREK.  My father could never get into the
programme because of its SF trappings, but, essentially, Star Trek is
not too dissimilar to a war story set in a submarine.  KLINGONS and
ROMULANS are the Nazis, KIRK, SPOCK and the rest of the crew
are the good guys, and the ENTERPRISE is a submarine, but travel-
ling up in outer space instead of down in the depths of the sea.  You'd
be surprised (or maybe not) at how many Star Trek plots could
be transferred directly into a Second World War setting.

However, that's enough padding from me.  Now you can get
on with what you came here for.  Namely, ogle these fantastic front
and back covers from The Crunch - a comic that surely deserved
a longer life than it had.     


Raven said...

Now I'd say Star Trek was more of a cowboy story than a war story. Pitched as "Wagon Train to the stars", space, the final frontier and all that ...

Kid said...

Only in the sense of travelling from one planet or galaxy to another every week, as Wagon Train travelled from one town or settlement to another. But some of the plots fitted right into a basic war scenario, although I suppose that would include a war between Cowboys and Indians.

John Pitt said...

Now then, "MAXIMUM THRILL POWER" - who had it first - The Crunch or 2000 AD?

Kid said...

I suspect that 2000 A.D. used the term first, JP. Maybe even in their first ish.

Anonymous said...

I've heard more than one critic point out that the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror" was a remake of "The Enemy Below" (a destroyer-vs.-submarine drama set in WWII). I'm sure there were other episodes that borrowed from old westerns and war movies, although not always so obviously.

IIRC, there was an episode of the original Battlestar Galactica that was basically a combination of "The Guns of Navarone" and "The Dirty Dozen."

And the premise of "Enemy Mine" was suspiciously similar to "Hell in the Pacific."

Genres can overlap, so, for example, "Them" and "The Thing from Another World" are both horror movies as well as science fiction movies. And a cavalry-vs.-Indians movie (Fort Apache, A Thunder of Drums, Major Dundee) is both a Western and a war story. (IMHO, anyway.)

Harlan Ellison once said that Star Trek was really a "cop show," with Kirk & Co. patrolling the galaxy and defeating villains. That may be an exaggeration, but he may have had a point.


Kid said...

I suppose that nothing's mutually exclusive, TC, so you can see reflections of all kinds of genres in ST. I always felt 'though, generic similarities aside, that Rodenberry's description of ST as 'Wagon Train in space' (or whatever his exact words were) was, firstly, a superficial comparison to the 'travelling' format of the show, and, secondly, designed to cash in on the popularity of Wagon Train when pitching the concept of ST to studio bosses. After all, WT was a massive ratings winner, so the comparison wouldn't hurt when trying to sell the idea.

Raven said...

As well as the travelling and the space = the new frontier concept, there were also elements like finding individuals and groups of people in isolation well away from our civilisation, which was also a staple of the western genre. But, yes, western shows were still a big thing at the time, and genres overlap.

Kid said...

And, of course, there were the episodes that were just out and out war scenarios. Some of the plots could've been used in Voyage to the bottom of the Sea, even - craft that were called 'ships' in both cases, and firing torpedoes, etc. If ST had come first, no doubt Wagon Train would've been pitched as 'Star Trek in the Old West'. Yup, genres do overlap.

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