Saturday 3 September 2011

Major Eazy

I managed lunch at the Supreme Being & Templar today, Q’s ever changing shifts as a monster-hunting-tank-grrrl such that I was able to sneak out for a pint and a best-not-ask pie. But you know how it is sometimes when you’re alone in the bar with a book and a half hour only, there’s always someone without the first and a lot more of the second that wants you to know his opinion. Scruffier even than I and old enough to claim his children’s pensions this old soldier launched into his war stories whilst I still had my pulled glass up and still checking for small fish within. I listened because you have to, until coming to his story about making a German Obert shave him in Italy I began to recognise who this must be.
“Major Eazy?”
He didn’t deny it. It was there when I looked closely, a sort of shrivelled In Like Flint and still in the same mountain cap. Back in the 70s and the Battle comic alongside Action (and to a lesser extent Warlord) was what we read. This was before Starlord, 2000AD and the very last gasp of war comics on rough newsprint. If you know of whom I speak then like me your parents were either born around, picked over the rubble in or in a few cases served during WWII. It was deep in the psyche of every young boy. We had Airfix kits and a bucket of tiny plastic soldiers. We had to one degree or another, Action Man. And we had Major Eazy.
Major Eazy rather typifies Battle. Somewhat left-field these stories weren’t just Sgt. Pluck, the Hun To Fuck but included stories involving German characters too (albeit honourable, Sharpe-style heroes who would be hated by the SS whilst they saved cor-blimey Tommies or beat up the French). Rat Pack was the only serious rival to Major Eazy, who would sleep when he wasn’t fighting, wore a leather jacket and looked like James Coburn. Carlos Ezquerra drew every central character in any strip he illustrated to look like James Coburn, and since he designed Dredd I don’t see what the mystery is regarding who it is beneath the helmet.
So I listened with respect because this then was Major Eazy, and where Major Eazy went the nasty SS would be bound to follow. Although never Panzer G Man, who was an honourable sort wrongly accused and who had to fight to clear his name, as well as an awful lot of Russians.
No one English though.


  1. Despite being an obsessive comic collector, Battle was a title I never collected. Not through any lack of interest (I was buying Warlord, Action and Bullet at the time, so the style of comic was definitely on my radar) but because the limitations of pocket money could only go so far, and I was investing heavily in American Marvel and DC titles as well as the British weeklies. I keep meaning to buy them as back issues, but ironically finding comic dealers that stock old British comics from the sixties to the seventies is a lot harder than finding dealers that sell the equivalent US ones, even though the US ones should in theory be rarer over here.

  2. I was reliant on my Dad paying for comics back then, and I had one a week that came every Saturday. I was the only kid in the world that liked it when comics amalgamated, so that Battle and Action became Battle Action. Starlord and 2000AD bacame briefly 2000AD and Starlord. No idea what Tornado was all about though.

    I was a bit miffed when they dropped the Starlord rocker from the 2000AD title as the best stories still came from the former, the Ro-Busters (and by consequence the ABC Warriors) and of course Strontium Dog. That Johnny Alpha goes to hell story was a big influence on a young boy in junior school at the time.

    My Dad just assumed it was like the Eagle with space-vicars, and important engineering cutaways.

  3. As everything in comics (as opposed to everything in books) seems to get reprinted these days I thought I'd check whether the Major Easy strips from Battle are available in a smart coffee table volume. According to Amazon one such edition is on its way. Unfortunately the release date is down as 1st January 2019...

    I'm hoping that date is a typo...

  4. I've got a bulky collected-Battle with a few episodes of a number of strips within, as well as one or two of the bulky reprints of 2000AD stuff. I was please the Johnny Alpha in hell stood up to memory but nostalgic as it was to revisit old Battle stories, they're really without the tinted spectacles rather dreadful. But dreadful now, as of course they were never aimed at 40somethings harbouring the expectations of their childhood. Still Battle took the admirable plunge to go beyond hordes of huns screaming "Aghhhhh Liebfraumilch" as they are mown down by grizzled Sgt. Grizzle. Well, apart from in stories such as 'The Sarge' obviously...

    Rather annoyingly Charlie's War is being reprinted in much slimmer collections rather than the hundred-issue mega bricks enjoyed for other stories.

    Halo Jones was just as good as I remembered it to be, but that was more from young-teen than single figure memory.

    Back on Battle and I also like the way that you can pretty much tell what films Pat Mills and co had seen before having someone knock up the next strip. Something they certainly made no bones about in the notes in the Battle collection I mentioned at the top.