The touching story of a young boy and his dream of having his very own Nazi helmet

Or: On the Verge…

As you can see, we’re almost at a big life-changing moment for Jack and the comic. Stay tuned!


Nuggets of truth


My friends never did this to me – especially not John S. (you know who you are!) But there was certainly a different style of imaginative play for boys before – and after Star Wars. I was actually in the vanguard when it came to enthusing wildly over Star Wars – which irritated most people – but got others like John S. hooked! At least, that’s the way I saw it at the time. One day we were running around yelling ‘rat-a-tat-tat’, the next day it was ‘p-choo – p-choo – p-choo!’ Or ‘pew-pew-pew’ depending on your preference. What was yours?

I wonder if there was a similar switch-over from Cowboys and Indians to soldiers around 1939? Last year, when I told my pal, the very funny and talented Neil Baker, that I was going to make this comic, one of the very first ideas he had was basically this one! I had already wanted to show the switch from WW2 to Star Wars, but Neil painted his own variation of the kid going round to his pal’s house and finding that their world had changed. So thanks Neil, for the continued encouragement and inspiration!


The Helmet

The other nugget of truth here is that I did actually see a helmet at Dublin’s old Dandelion Market around 1977 or ’78, which I assumed was a German one. At a cost of 5 or 10 pounds it was beyond my meagre pocket money savings. It was such a thrilling sight to behold. How I would have loved to have had it. It was my Warlord comics come to life! Or so I thought… But thinking about it now, it was probably really an old Irish Free State Army one. Niall F. and I loved the photo below which was in one of our Irish History schoolbooks. And we didn’t have to try very hard to imagine that they were really German soldiers – in their cool uniforms. When I saw the helmet at the market I probably just inwardly denied this evidence for the more exciting supposition.


Irish free-state army checkpoint photo

Not German – but Irish! Niall and I loved this picture in our schoolbook.
[photo from Cork heritage]


In the 1930s the Irish government needed helmets for their army. They didn’t fancy sticking with the British-style – understandably – but the French samples which they tried just weren’t up to scratch. What they did like was the very practical German design of WWI and discovered that Vickers in England still had the machinery to make them. Over 10,000 were supplied by Vickers to the Irish but for some reason the quality of materials was very poor. They shattered easily. You really wouldn’t want to wear one in combat.


m1927 helmet front view

The Irish Free State Army Helmet of the 1930s


The Naive Innocence of Youth

When we were kids, around 7, 8 or even 10, the baddies were much more exciting. Darth Vader anyone? Dracula? The version of warfare that we’d grown up on, was in comic-book form and in films, and even the popular and charming British sit-com Dad’s Army. We were just too young to fully comprehend the full horror of war. It was all fun and thrills. The young allied men (and boys) who signed-up with their pals to go to War in 1916 would have felt some of that naive and misplaced thrill of anticipation of action and heroism too. Until they got to the front.


darth vader helmet

The new Nazis of 1977




** Stay Groovy, all you 1970s kids! **

– John White