In our continual quest to discover exactly what is it about military history that stimulates us we decided to widen the net and ask a few others. So we talked to Osprey authors and artists, the great and the good of military history and anyone we could find really. We asked them a set of carefully crafted questions, a mix of the serious, stupid and bizarre and this is what they came back with. First to go: Garth Ennis.
Garth Ennis has been writing comics for almost twenty years, including Preacher, The Punisher, Hitman, War Stories, Battler Britton, Adventures In The Rifle Brigade, The Pro, Fury, Wormwood, 303, The Boys, and, most recently, Dan Dare. Originally from Belfast, now lives in New York with his wife, Ruth.
What are you doing at the moment?
The Punisher and The Boys, both ongoing series. My western, Streets of Glory, and a new Wormwood special, both for Avatar Press. A revival of Dan Dare for Virgin Comics, with artist Gary Erskine. And slightly further off, an old WW1 aviator character called the Phantom Eagle, for Marvel.
When did you get hooked on history and why?
Probably as a kid, reading war comics like Battle and the various Picture Libraries, which led to further reading of my own. This would have been reinforced a little later when I started learning history at school, where I was lucky to have some excellent teachers.
If you were any warrior from history who would you be?
Anyone who could run like hell.
What is your favourite war film?
Why do you think Military History is important?
Partly it's the opportunity to learn from the past, and, not to sound too cliched, to avoid repeating old mistakes (though that notion's wearing a little thin, these days). Partly it's a chance to examine different cultures and societies by looking at the military forces they produce.
What is your favourite quote from history/historical quote?
I think it's probably Wing Cdr. Bob Doe's follow-up to Churchill's "Never in the field of human conflict" quote about the Few, something along the lines of "It wasn't until I heard that that I realised we might have done something unusual"- which has to be the most magnificent piece of understatement of all time.
If you could fly any plane or drive any tank from history, which would it be?
Probably a Hawker Hurricane, but there are only a dozen currently flying, and the thought of someone as ham-fisted as me piling one into a mountain or something is just tragic.
Best military cock-up in history?
Hitler turning on Russia. And thank God he did.
Who is your military hero?
Anyone in Fighter Command, summer-autumn 1940.
If you could pit two armies from history against each other, which two would you pick, and why?
The cowardliest two possible. Nice and peaceful, quick no-score draw, then back to the clubhouse for gin.
Elephants or horses? Discuss the pros and cons…
I'll say tanks. I don't approve of animals in war, unless it's a plucky carrier pigeon or something like that.
Favourite Michael Caine quote?
So many to choose from... "Blowing the bloody doors off" is great but obvious, and I do like all that stuff from The Man Who Would Be King: meeting a man at Marwah junction, Old Peachy crucified between two pine trees, etc etc. There's a short but well-delivered line in A Bridge Too Far, when Edward Fox cheerfully announces that he's putting Caine's mob in the vanguard of the advance, and our hero mutters, "Christ, not us again." And I'm very fond of that one from The Battle Of Britain where he's complaining about his squadron having to operate from the shitty little flying club, and someone points out that at least the Germans won't be dropping by. "I don't blame them." is the acid reply.
What is your favourite war comic?
Spartan or Roman?
Ancient Rome looked to have been considerably more fun.
What is your favourite Osprey book?
Hard to pick a favourite. In the Aircraft of the Aces series, I think the three Spitfire volumes are particularly well-written. Also like Andrew Thomas' stuff. The Blenheim and Halifax books in Combat Aircraft also stand out in my memory.