Monday, January 14, 2008

The Carter Family's Commandos?

On a trip to Liverpool last week, I bought just one comic in Worlds Apart: Brave and the Bold #9, in which (among other things) the Blackhawks, wartime aviators, team up with the Boy Commandos - "an elite commando squad of orphaned children, led by grown-up Captain Rip Carter" who "fought on all fronts of the Second World War" (Wikipedia entry), originally created just after Pearl Harbour.

The idea of children actively fighting in a fantasy war is a little hard to swallow. Even their victories are somewhat unpalatable - blazing away at the Nazis - but then I can remember family films such as 'Hannibal Brooks' not so long ago with Germans being knocked over like ninepins; it didn't used to seem very odd.

The reality of child soldiers is a grim consequence of poverty, hatred and the economics of war - Save the Children offer a sobering overview.

But back to the world of inconsequential nonsense and comfortable imaginings...

30 years or so after Simon and Kirby created the Boy Commandos, shoe manufacturer Clarks ran a series of comic-strip ads featuring a gang of paramilitary children led by a Kit Carter, who is either a large youth or else an adult, in adventures which involve sole-gripping qualities saving the day.

(Re-presented on Steve Holland's excellent blog Bear Alley.)

Two juvenile military gangs, led by older males named Carter. Manly three-letter names: Rip and Kit. Surely related. The world's worst childcare practitioners. A subgenre seldom explored...

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