The comic adventures of one of Britain’s great heroes- translated from French

I just read Biggles Vol.1: Spitfire Parade, a comic adaptation of one of W.E. Johns’ tales of his pilot hero, adapted and drawn by a leading proponent of aviation comics.

This is the first of Cinebook’s reprints of Berg├Ęse’s Biggles comics. Their next release will be 666 Fighter Squadron, but there are also some copies still available on Amazon of earlier Red Fox translations- Biggles and the Battle of Britain and Biggles: Flying Detective. Biggles and the Pirates of the South Pole is currently unavailable as are Biggles: Le cygne jaune, Biggles: Le dernier Zeppelin and Biggles De Vlucht Van De Wallenstein. This page gives a list of some of the other comic book incarnations of James Bigglesworth. None of which I knew of before now.

The comic is large format and printed on quality paper with highly detailed ligne claire artwork complemented by fine colouring. I did find, as you can with this style, the figures occasionally lack animation- appearing to be holding uncomfortable “running” poses rather than expressing the motion- but there is no such problem with the machinery. It helps that Biggles and his squadron are flying one of the most beautiful machines ever built, but it’s not just the Spitfires that swoop around the panels.

Thankfully the translation is good, or Cinebook went back to the original novel for the dialogue. Either way, this comic is lacking the poor English that afflicts some other translated strips. It still reads as slightly stiff, but in the way you’d expect lines from a different era to.

I want to dig out my old Biggles books (handed down from my father), but I think I may have finally said goodbye to them a couple of years ago and sent them off to a charity shop. I want to read the Red Fox editions of the comics, but I also know that Cinebook should be supported in bringing them back to market so I should wait for their version. Blimey, I’m just a little frustrated chaps.

I think I want a flying hydrofoil

The X-Planes tumbleblog has been doing a special feature on the Schneider trophy. The race was for flying boats and the floats they needed slowed the planes down. In 1929 the Italians came up with a typically gorgeous but mad design that tried to get around this. The Piaggio-Pegna PC.7 had a fuselage that doubled as a hull, two little hydrofoils instead of floats and a screw and rudder that would power and control the aircraft whilst the propeller was submerged. When it reached a sufficient speed the hydrofoils would lift the body, and propeller, clear of the water and the drive could be switched over. The one seated plane had too many controls that neede attention at once for one man to be able to operate it.

It’s completely mad, and it looks like the sort of thing you’d see in an anime or propellerpunk alternate history. It never flew.