Commando Goes Digital

Published:
Thu 01 Sep 2011
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Taking the action off the page!

Commando on iPhone and iPad

Since 1961, over 4400 issues of "Commando" have gone into print. That's more than 299000 printed pages! A complete collection would require a whole lot of storage space... once upon a time. As the popularity of smartphones and digital readers make it easier to read electronic versions of books and comics, we're now a step closer to the day where a "Commando" collector could browse every issue on something small enough to slip into a briefcase or pocket! (Though, of course, with so many back issues to be digitised and added to those already available, this is still a goal to be worked towards.)

iPad Commando

The issues available with a digital subscription have identical contents to the printed copies, but with the first attempts at an online version it was a different story. On 5th December 2007, the very first online "Commando" comic appeared on an earlier version of this site. This was a serialised adaptation of "Wall of Death", taken from issue 221, originally scripted by Redbridge, and drawn by Cortes.

For the adaptation, changes were made to suit the way the strip appeared on the site - readers clicked through a sequence of around 12 single panels in each chapter. The story had to be broken down, creating cliffhangers that left readers anticipating the next instalment, so some of the dialogue and captions in the final panel of each chapter was punched up to emphasise the peril and excitement. The captions and speech balloons were completely redrawn, which also meant that new artwork had to be drawn to fit the gaps left by the removal of the original balloons.

Online Comic

The serial was warmly welcomed by visitors to the site, and a second, "They Flew By Night", followed the same process. But, as well as being time consuming to produce, it was felt that readers weren't being given the chance to see these classic adventures as they had originally appeared. As of the third story selected for serialisation - following the army and airforce themes of the first two, it was time for a naval tale with "Buccaneer Bob R.N." - these pages could be seen onscreen in their original format, with the original wording securely in place.

iPhone Commando

The one drawback to these web-strips was that they could only be viewed on a PC or Mac which was connected up to the "Commando" website at the time, making them even less portable than the original comics. All of this was to change with a new-look site which came online in time for the comic's 50th anniversary. Through the digital subscriptions on offer, readers armed with iPhones and iPads can now access their "Commando" collections wherever and whenever they want!

(This article originally appeared as a tie-in to the National Army Museum exhibition Draw Your Weapons: The Art of Commando Comics - September 2011-April 2012.)

Have your say 5 comments so far…

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  1. CommandoCO
    CommandoCO15 January at 3:42PM

    As yet there is no facility to purchase single copies from the back catalogue. However, this year we'll be re-issuing stories from 1963 and 1988 as part of our production run so a subscription would cover that as well as the new titles. Commando CO

  2. CommandoCO
    CommandoCO15 January at 3:40PM

    We are looking at other platforms right now but no decision has been made as yet. We'd like to be on both your suggestions. Commando CO

  3. ak615
    ak61515 January at 12:44PM

    Will the electronic version be availble on Andriod or kindle,this is the only sticking point for me signing up at the moment.

  4. DAGGER
    DAGGER12 January at 7:40AM

    I AM AN OLD READER OF COMMANDO COMICS AS A KID (51 NOW) GOING DIGITAL I OK ,BUT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A CHANCE TO READ/ PURCHASE WHATEVER TITLE I WANT FROM THE BACK ISSUES , THE VERY OLD ONES..CORRECT ME IF IM WRONG AND THIS FEATURE IS ONLINE

  5. Peter Richardson
    Peter Richardson20 March at 6:38AM

    Having just acquired an iPad, I must say that the way these comics come across is nothing short of astonishing.

    My only frustration is that it seems impossible to purchase the downloads of the earlier stories you have already digitised, which seems like an opportunity lost.

    Perhaps this facility might be added in the future???

    [From Commando HQ. Glad you're enjoying the iPad Commandos, Peter. You're right about there being no means of purchasing digital back issues at the moment. It is however something we are looking into so you may well hear more about it in the future.]

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