On this day, 9 April 1977: Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant
On this day, 9 April 1977 … Battle – especially the Battle of the later 1970s – rivals 2000AD and Misty for the output of some truly lovely front covers, and this is a prime example. The artist – it looks like Carlos Ezquerra to me – has come up with a cracking design that’s unexpected, eye-catching and full of menace, and I wonder whether he really needed to. I mean, he probably could have produced something a little more conventional – a straight action scene from this week’s episode of Joe Two Beans, for example – and no one would have minded and the comic would still have sold. But he went for this – for beauty and excellence – making the comic more than a comic. It’s a piece of art, and a lovely historical artefact that makes collectors like myself feel that we do own something special and worth holding on to, celebrating even, today.
Inside, there’s the usual great Battle fare. Major Eazy teams up with the Rat Pack in what must have been a very exciting crossover event back in the day. Joe Colquhoun’s on duty on Johnny Red, Mike Western brings us a typically brutal yet strangely gorgeous Darkie’s Mob, and Pat Wright’s Operation Black Death is a truly chilling realisation of Hitler’s last days. There is a bonus thrill for me with a full-page ad for Weetabix’s 1977 Doctor Who promotion – quite possibly the most exciting cultural event of my childhood. Those figures were incredibly important to six-year-old me, to the extent that I still get goosebumps when I see stacks of Weetabix boxes on a grocer’s shelves.