Stories with World War II settings were major drawcards in the British comics from the 1950s onward. When the Amalgamated Press, of the Fleetway House, London, issued its first strip-dominated boys' paper, Lion, as "The King of Picture Story Papers" in 1952, its cover strip was Captain Condor, a space pilot to rival Eagle's Dan Dare. But Lion also had a war strip, about a pair of lone commandos, which was scripted by veteran boys' paper writer Edward R. Home-Gall. And just a few years later Captain Condor's prime cover spot had been taken over by Paddy Payne, a wartime fighter pilot.
Wartime airmen became popular fixtures in several British comics. D.
C. Thomson, of Dundee, had Sergeant Matt Braddock, whose stories had
begun in the text story paper The Rover in 1952, several years
before the company finally launched into boys' adventure comics with
The New Hotspur, The Victor (which took over Braddock), Warlord, and
Back at Fleetway House, Battler Britton made his entrance in The Sun
in 1956 and went on a couple of years later to become a regular
attraction in the monthly 64-page Thriller Picture Library pocket
books alongside Robin Hood, Dick Daring of the Mounties, and Spy 13.
The Thriller comic-books were identical in format to War Picture
Library, which was originated by the Amalgamated Press in September
1958 and gave rise to many companion series like Battle Picture
Library and Air Ace Picture Library.
A David-size rival to the Goliath Fleetway libraries was quick to
emerge in March 1959 in the form of G. M. Smith/Micron's Combat
Picture Library. And in 1961 D. C. Thomson commenced its almost
identical Commando comics, which is the only line of the war-action
breed still being published today.
Over at Long Acre, Odhams pitched in with another airman with an
alliterative name, Raff Regan, which sounded very similar to
Rockfist Rogan –
a boxer/RAF pilot whose career had been started before the war, in
1938, by writer Frank S. Pepper in The Champion, an AP text story
paper. Pepper used the pen-name Hal Wilton when creating his daddy
of the alliteratively named pilots, but his comics work continued to
appear under his own name, other names, or anonymously (as was the
fashion) for years after the war. He wrote the Captain Condor
scripts for Lion and was the first writer of Roy of the Rovers for
Tiger in 1954. The footballer was closely based on Pepper's earlier
text story series Danny of the Dazzlers for The Champion.
Raff Regan starred, serial style, in the Odhams Boys' World comic
of 1963-64. Keith Chapman (today known as western novelist Chap
O'Keefe) remembers writing two scripts, each complete in four pages,
for the later Boys' World annuals: Raff Regan and the Glory Hunter
and Raff Regan and the Spit that Flew Itself.
Keith says, "Scripting war stories never appealed to me quite as
much as boys' stories in other genres. But war dominated the market
at the time and like most of the writers I needed the cheques. I
wrote several scripts for Combat Picture Library in 1962 and became
its editor, though I was also –
editor until July 1964 of Micron's Western Adventure Library, Cowboy
Adventure Library, Paul Temple Library and the Edgar Wallace Mystery
Magazine ... all within a few years of leaving school in 1961. They
were busy days but ones I enjoyed."
Here is the Raff Regan and the Glory Hunter strip from Boys' World