Hey kids! We've mentioned Sgt Mike Battle a few times on SPBM (I believe we described it as "absolutely fuckin' hilarious!") so we heartily recommend read the following press release and then buy the book, unless you're some kind of commie what bombed Pearl Harbor and that!
The first ever SGT MIKE BATTLE Trade Paperback!!!
For the first time ever, a trade paperback of Graham Pearce’s cult small-press comic SGT MIKE BATTLE has been released and collects the first 7 issues of Sgt. Mike Battle: The Greatest American Hero!
SGT MIKE BATTLE Volume 1 is a US-sized, black & white trade paperback featuring 280 pages of freedom-loving fun and is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers (and is the perfect excuse for existing readers to buy the collection that can go alongside their other TPBs on the bookshelf).
For those who don’t already know, Sgt. Mike Battle is an All-American comic book hero with a fictional publication history. “Even though I created him in 2000” explains writer/artist Graham Pearce “the premise is that Sgt. Mike Battle has been around since 1916 and has appeared in his own monthly comic book ever since. As the world of comic books, pop culture and politics has evolved and changed over the years, Sgt Mike Battle has rode those changes and continued to defend America from whoever was the biggest threat of the time”
The fictional history gives Pearce an almost endless range of storytelling possibilities, which is best described by the fact that in SGT MIKE BATTLE Volume 1 the Sarge goes from WW2 to the Cuban Missile Crisis to Vietnam to the Gulf War (issue #1), from 1920s Chicago to the launch of Sputnik (issue #2), from the trenches of WW1 to behind the locked doors of Clinton’s Oval office (issue #3), from the 1980s Animal-themed terrorist groups (issue #4 and 6) to the image-obsessed superheroes of the early 1990s (issue #7).
The inspiration behind Sgt. Mike Battle was the film U-571 which rewrote a crucial moment of World War 2 and it prompted Pearce to satirize Hollywood’s disregard for historical accuracy. “The first ever Sgt. Mike Battle story was World War 2 inaccurately condensed into 6 pages showing how a single American soldier liberated Europe, defeated the Nazis and killed Hitler on the same day!”
Looking back at the earlier issues, Pearce explains how the book evolved. “In issue #1 of SMB:GAH there was an over-riding storyline which ended up parodying a big Marvel story several years before it actually happened. The next couple of issues were like an anthology with several unconnected short stories. As I became more confident in my writing, the stories started to get longer from #4 onwards. The other aspect of the book is that my artistic skills and overall story-telling craft have improved with every single page and I find it quite refreshing, and slightly cringe-worthy, to see how I have grown and developed over the years”.
For those readers who have mistakenly dismissed Sgt Mike Battle as a war book or a Captain America/Nick Fury knock-off, Pearce is quick to correct them. “The book works on several levels. It is a parody of every genre and every type of comic character, is crammed with references to other comic books both new and old, has tonnes of references to Hollywood movies and has loads of satirical political and historical references as well. I forget most of the jokes in the older issues which is why it is still so much fun to go back and read them again.”
Pearce openly challenges potential readers to pickup any issue of SMB:GAH, turn to any page and try to read it without laughing. “I issue the challenge at every convention to anyone who will accept it. It’s a pretty good way to lure in new readers. 40% of people laugh at the covers, 30% notice something amusing as they flick through to a random page and 29% chuckle as the read the dialogue on their chosen page. The remaining 1% of people either find a page with no jokes on it or they just don’t have a sense of humour. I want everyone reading this news item to come by at the next UK convention to take on the challenge, if they dare!”