Scott's Classic Comics Corner: Dell's 'Little 5' War Books

DC’s 'Big 5' war books are legendary. Somewhat less well known are the war books published by Dell in the 1960s. While none of Dell’s Little 5 series had much staying power, they should prove to be of interest to fans of the genre, so let’s take a look:

Combat is really the Big Daddy of the Dell war books. While most of the stories focus on World War Two, it also features some shorter tales of ancient battles. This series features some fantastic painted covers, many by the great George Wilson. The fourth issue (reprinted in the thirtieth issue) features a 27-page adaptation of JFK’s PT-109 adventures. The bulk of the art for the series was provided by Sam Glanzman, who was the Dell equivalent to Joe Kubert at this time. While the series lasted 40 issues, the final 13 were all reprints. It was finally cancelled in October of 1973, and was one of the last books put out by Dell. Good luck finding that one!

Air War Stories was launched in 1964 and ran quartlerly for eight issues. As the title suggests, its focus is on aerial battles from both World Wars. This one is really a Sam Glanzman tour de force, as I believe he provided all of the art for the series. I’ve only owned a couple of these (issues #4 and #7), but I can state that these books feature very entertaining stories, are relatively easy to track down and are a real bargain as compared to other Silver Age war books.

We move from the skies to the deep, dark jungle with Jungle War Stories. This series is of particular significance, as it features some of the earliest stories set in Vietnam. It ran for 11 issues, and continued for an additional 4 issues as . Some good artists contributed to this series including Dick Giordano and George Tuska.

World War Stories was a very short-lived title, lasting only three issues. Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this focused exclusively on World War One stories. Lots of Glanzman art here too, but at least one story was drawn by Frank Springer. WW1 buffs may enjoy this title, and issue #2 features a retelling of the Gallipoli story. The cover to the first issue was painted by Vic Prezio, a man responsible for many terrific painted covers in the 60s for Dell, Gold Key and Warren.

Finally, let’s take a look at Tales of the Green Beret, which was launched in 1967 and lasted 5 issues, although the final issue reprinted #1. It was, in essence, a spin-off of the Tales of the Green Berets (noticed the ‘s’) newspaper strip. Rather than reprint the newspaper strip, this was a licensed property and features new stories and art by Sam Glanzman.

I haven’t included any of the myriad of Film and TV adaptations Dell did for properties with a war theme. They covered a lot of ground during this period from everything to None But the Brave to Rat Patrol, but that's an entry for another day.

For more comic book talk - stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent

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