Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Night Patrol

Well, the election is over, hope you had a chance to get out and take part in our democratic experiment. Enough about politics, let us move on to important matters (e.g. comic books.)

Today I would like to talk about a Charlton Comics title "Fightin' Army." Over the years there have been many so called fighting titles, but "Fightin' Army" will always be near and dear to my heart. The camp factor in this title is nearly over the top, the bad guys lose, the good guys always come together in the end, insurmountable odds are, well...surmounted.

Originally published as "Soldier and Marine Comics", in January of 1956 (issue #16) the title was changed to "Fightin' Army."(1) Each issue contains multiple short war stories, invariably with a pat Allied victory ending. Most of the stories are uncredited as far as writer or artist with some occasional exceptions.(2) Having said that, I encourage the reader not to discount the worth of this comic. Yes at times the stories seemed generic, or the art is less than exceptional, but there is often hidden value lying within what may seem otherwise.

As an example I offer up issue #128, from September of 1977. The cover, inside art and story writing are all uncredited. Sandwiched in between the expected World War 2 stories is a one page historical vignette on Hannibal, Carthage and his War Elephants. While brief this little educational piece is to me one of the best reasons to read "Fightin' Army." An attempt however small is made to bring the reader not just fiction, but something actually informative. While easily dismissed as blurb or fluff, as a child I found this to be fascinating. I knew the stories to be fiction, but looked forward to finding another issue (whether in a yard sale, flea market or on the news stand) for these little pieces of fact mixed in with the yarns.

The final issue of "Fightin' Army" #172 was released in November of 1984. I hope you will look into a back issue or two at your local comic retailer.

1. Also see issues 76-77 "Captain Willie Schultz" with artwork by Sam Glanzman.

2. While generally uncredited some major names in the comic industry did work on "Fightin' Army", like Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spiderman), and Sam Glanzman (of Charlton's "Hercules" fame.)

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