Please note: Some of the content in the comic book might be deemed unsuitable for children and a younger audience
A British Army Trooper’s real-life story is immortalised in a comic book to put him on a par with The First Avenger Captain America and the once-popular WW1 cartoon strip Charley’s War - after he was turned into a character of graphic art.
In stunningly dramatic artwork, Fantastic Forces – The Longest Road, tells the story of Desert Rat Corporal William ‘Bill’ Livingston’s war in a visually-inspiring and stunningly creative artwork.
The project was part of a project to mark Remembrance in 2018 - created by artists known for their earlier work with comic legends Marvel and DC Thomson - but can be read here by clicking the link below that takes you into a graphic world to tell the story.
Cpl Livingston’s story, originally created in a project by BFBS to help build public awareness of the fantastic work and sacrifices of those serving in the Armed Forces over the last century, was unveiled on forces.net/stories as part of a Remembrance project.
Now it can be viewed in stunning graphic detail by opening the link to the graphic work.
BFBS, which provides media services to the UK armed forces worldwide, invited people around the globe to share their stories of past or present British military figures who have inspired them.
The competition to find the winner was judged by an expert panel.
There were some hugely moving entries of real-life superheroes, but one story shone out above all the rest, put forward by Phillip Livingstone about his father William who served in the Second World War.
Fictional superheroes have been the focus of comic books for decades, with military-related characters such as Captain America, whose character took to the big screen in the films Captain America: Civil War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, plus military-themed comics such as the series of Charley's War becoming favourites for many graphic art fans over the years.
But here, in a first, British Army Corporal, William Livingston, had his story embedded into the iconic pages of graphic art.
His story has been researched and told by renowned writer Ferg Handley, who has been writing military-related comics for 20 years - including more than 300 scripts for DC Thomson’s Commando.
The pages were illustrated by Mike Collins who has been drawing strips for Marvel Comics since the 1980s, with titles including Spider-Man, Transformers and Doctor Who. He also worked with DC Comics on key titles including Batman and Superman.
The 24-page Fantastic Forces comic tells the story of a young man William ‘Bill’ Livingston, who, In the summer of 1939, with Britain on the verge of war, enlisted in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment.
He was underage at the time, but this went unnoticed until he was posted to North Africa, where the regiment joined the 7th Armoured Division, better known as the ‘Desert Rats’.
After the defeat of the Afrika Korps, he served in Italy before taking part in the liberation of France and the Low Countries, followed by the invasion of Germany.
Bill, a lorry driver, lost many friends during the war, and narrowly escaped death on several occasions.
Present at the liberation of Belsen, he soldiered on until the final Allied victory in 1945.
This unique, inspiring and often gripping real-life comic story perfectly captures the experience of an unsung hero, who bravely endured the war, side by side with his regiment. Never giving up, despite all the horrors surrounding him.
His son Phillip Livingstone, whose surname has a slightly different spelling to that of his father in a family tradition, put his father’s compelling story forward for the competition. Speaking after the competition result was announced, he said:
“I am thrilled that my dad’s story has been chosen by BFBS to be made into a comic book, he was such a strong man and I find his story very inspiring.
“He was so young when he joined the army and I am still amazed that he continued to fight despite everything that was thrown at him. Now told as a comic book, I hope his story is able to motivate other young people to push forward when the going gets tough.”
Simon Bucks, CEO of BFBS, at the time, said: “I am immensely proud to be behind this innovative way of telling a remarkable story about a real-life soldier. It’s a testament to the courage and heroism of all our service men and women, past, present and future and a brilliant way of underlining why the Forces continues to be a matchless career.”