Three comic book covers, Toy Soldiers and a storm …
Storm Eunice hit our part of the West Country / South West of the UK yesterday (Friday 18th February 2022) with 80+ mile an hour winds, lots of trees down and travel disruption ongoing into Saturday. It’s still blowy and gusting as I write.
General government and police advice was: Don’t travel or go out unless absolutely necessary and no storm watching on the cliffs or beaches. Work or study from Home. Stay away from the coast – storm surge and Spring tides expected.
Then the power went off about 7.30 a.m. in the morning, thankfully just after the first morning cuppa.
Estimated repair time was by 6pm today. We should prepare to be over 36 hours without power.
Luckily, being semi rural, we are well stocked with candles, torches, tinned food and a tiny primus camping gas stove (no mains gas). I last used this stove a few years back for melting casting metal for Prince August moulds (odd Storm Eunice / Toy soldier link).
It’s amazing how reliant we are on electricity. No lights, no heating, no cooking. Freezers and fridges not working. Landline phone batteries go dead quickly. WiFi down, internet access down, emails down.
The only messaging out or internet access being by mobile phone, with no chance to recharge the battery. Hello airplane mode!
Checking in on local radio (via old battery phone / radio) every couple of hours on the hour to pick up local news and travel, then switching straight off again to save the battery.
I hear preppers and readers from the gritty Frozen North chortling …
Fortunately the power returned overnight Friday going into Saturday (14+ hours in) and hopefully should stay on as thousands of other households in the Southwest / West Country are slowly reconnected.
Obviously we all owe our thanks to the utility and emergency workers working in dangerous and difficult conditions to keep “the electric” and the transport flowing. I did my bit to help, as suggested, by staying safely home!
On the positive side, we played family board games like Carcassone by candlelight – how suitably Medieval. Card games by head torch.
It was a ping free day, an ‘aeroplane’ day, free of beeps expecting your instant attention.
With limited battery left, I picked up the odd email / text from Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland in the snowy north asking how things were. Thanks Alan! The Manof TIN telegraphy service tapped out a brief reply, then switched off again to save battery.
Not a good day for settled figure painting, especially without a good light source.
Instead, when all else was prepared and I had nothing else that I could do in daylight, with no electric or electronic distractions, what could I do?
I read comic books*, at least whilst the light was good (*otherwise known as graphic novels, if you are a proper grown up.)
I read a surprisingly toy soldier rich selection.
Firstly, several Tintin books by Herge – The Broken Ear (1945) with its Chaco War influences, the Bond movie like Flight 714 to Sydney (1968) and especially King Ottakar’s Sceptre (1947), with all the tensions of late 1940s Eastern European border nations of Borduria and Syldavia.
This last Tintin book / novel is much appreciated by those of an ImagiNations persuasion, for its mix of 1940s / 50s uniforms and equipment and Prisoner of Zenda uniforms amidst striking Balkan style landscapes.
Without spoiling the plot device, I spotted these delightful toy soldiers in a comic page frame of a toy store:
Spring-loaded cannons, monoplane on string, nice looking castle with Syldavian flags, stylish toy soldiers …
I really like these dynamic running poses amongst toy soldiers and have blogged about this in the past:
Spring loaded cannon? It’s Tintin’s Little Wars!
The toy soldiers shown seem to be 1930s to 1940s khaki ones with Polish / Russian / US style helmets, backpacks, puttees or boots. Rifles rather than machine guns?
Interestingly https://www.tintin.com/en/essentials lists King Ottakar’s Sceptre as a 1939 publication, although my copy lists the artwork copyright as 1947.
Puzzled? The interesting page on the book on Tintin.com notes that it was created in 1938/1939: “Created in 1939, this book is most impressive and has its sights on Germany. Tintin finds a brief-case on a park bench and this leads him to Prague, then to Syldavia. He will save the Kingdom from being overthrown by a fascist “coup d’état”.”
An interesting discussion of its newspaper serial origins in 1938-August 1939 and the political background can be read on the Wikipedia entry:
The Tintin.com page also shows 1939 and 1942 artwork along with the redrawn 1947 front cover that I am familiar with https://www.tintin.com/en/albums/king-ottokar-s-sceptre#
Different comic book covers by Herge for King Ottakar’s Sceptre …
Great alternative uniforms on the 1942 cover ‘beefeater’ style uniforms for the Ottakar’s palace guards.
These almost fantastic Renaissance uniforms of the beefeaters in fantasy 1904/1984 Edwardian London of G.K. Chesterton’s Napoleon Of Notting Hill. Cue the link to another graphic novel / illustrator Miyazaki https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/17/miyakazi-illustrates-chestertons-1984-the-napoleon-of-notting-hill-1904-and-at-last-a-use-for-toy-beefeaters/
Likewise looking at the Tintin toy shop window in Syldavia again, there looks to be a similar 1930s date for the big heavy field gun in Khaki (spring-loaded!), a 1930s style racing car and stylish 1930s monoplane with open cockpit.
Are these soldiers based on real semi round or round figures? I don’t know what the Belgian or European toy soldier figure industry was like postwar c.1939
Herge the author and illustrator did extensive drawings of real cars, planes, objects so Herge could have based his delightful pen sketch drawing on real toys and forts from a toy shop window or catalogues is quite possible.
Note: Obviously I don’t own the copyright for these Herge images. I reprint these frames purely for toy soldier research.
The Tintin contribution to my ImagiNations gaming have been mentioned here on my 2016 and 2018 posts: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/tintin-and-imagi-nations-games/
Bob Cordery of the Wargaming Miscellany Blog also variously notes the Mukden incident in The Blue Lotus, the Interbellum / ‘Chapo’ or Chaco War connections of The Broken Ear and the accurately drawn 1930s-1940s airplanes and vehicles such as:
My interest in Tintin goes back to my childhood toy soldier days and indeed some of my most bashed Tintin books date from my childhood branch library days, being ones I read as a child and bought when they were sold off in the Nineties and Noughties. Very well thumbed, even before I bought them!
Second round of comics – Star Wars comics, in keeping with my Close Little Space Wars rules / games and recent painting of the bizarre 54mm Airfix Space Warriors (1981):
Star Wars comics numbers 1 to 3 (2020) by Marvel – I read the original black and white strip cartoon comic books (sorry, graphic novels) in the 1970s.
More striking comic book cover art by R.B. Silva …
These three Star Wars that I read yesterday during the storm were 2020 full colour comic book size, exploring the “inbetween” of events between the second Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) and the third film Return of the Jedi (Episode VI), the one with the overly cute forest teddy bear Ewoks.
The plot of the comic series centres around what happened after the young hero Luke Skywalker lost his hand and his lightsaber (laser sword) in a duel on the Cloud City of Bespin with the villain who claims to be his father Darth Vader.
The plot of the comics centres around: Where did his Jedi lightsaber end up?
No one seems that fussed about what happened to his real hand: he gets a new robotic hand as a replacement.
Full page frame by artist Jesus Saiz and colourist Arif Prianto
The scene I liked in the Star Wars comic No. 3 (drawn and created by Soule / Saiz / Prianto) occurred during Luke’s secret and dangerous return to Imperial Stormtrooper-occupied Bespin (Cloud City) to look in this heap of techno junk at the space station trash collection point for his missing lightsaber.
This idea is almost as original as Eddie Izzard’s sketch on Darth Vader getting foul mouthed and stroppy with the service in the Death Star canteen, which became a YouTube stop motion Lego animation .
The idea of grungy space junk in Star Wars is a long way from the slick and shiny futuristic worlds on screen of Star Trek and Flash Gordon.
In 1977/8 watching Star Wars in the cinema as a child, you noticed that things looked worn out and patched, where tiny Jawas scavenge battered droids and old dead tech on a gritty sand blasted planet. A curious fantastic SciFi realism?
Even better was the heroes escaping through the bowels and service ducts of the deadly planet-killing space station the Death Star. They ended up near crushed in the slushy bilge tanks full of broken scrap in the famous “trash compactor” scene, complete with resident strange alien python like monster.
This was trashy underbelly science fiction, not shiny blinking lights on the bridge.
In my 1977 junior novelisation book with its precious colour photo pages or my bubble gum cards, I thought this was a great scene.
In my childhood card board Death Star playset, the shute into the trash compactor, glimpse of a trash monster and moving card “steel walls” were memorable features. Many a Star Wars figure was near crushed in there, as I re-enacted the film in miniature. Thankfully I still have this cardboard gem and those childhood figures.
Later Star Wars films had important characters who were humble sanitary engineers and cleaners, whose knowledge of the soft underbelly of space stations, the all important flaw, weak point or “back door”, proves vital. Another Storm Eunice big up for the utility workers of the world?
Finally, our third comic book, a Stranger Things graphic novel / comic book from Dark Horse about the Netflix series retro childhood 1980s, set in small town America https://dnd.wizards.com/products/fiction/comicsgraphic-novels/stranger-things-dnd
This focusses on the early Dungeons and Dragons set. I had this RPG as a youngster, still have most of it and have never made much sense of it.
Anyway the toy soldier connection glimpsed whilst reading this during Storm Eunice? Two of the boy characters Mike and Lucas escape school bullies by running into an old rundown building where they find …
… the battle of Waterloo and a bearded wargamer in a tie and a tank top …
playing with ‘historical’ miniatures (versus ‘fantasy’ miniatures)
“They’re not Toys, they’re Miniatures”.
I don’t recall saying these classic lines about my Airfix figures as a child in the 1970s and 80s.
Line art by Diego Galindo, colours Msassyk, script Jody Hoiser and Jim Zub.
Eventually the unnamed bearded wargamer who runs some kind of second hand bookshop gives them a basic set of this new game called Dungeons and Dragons …
More striking comic book cover artwork, this one by Kyle Lambert …
The graphic novel spin off from the series by Netflix is endorsed by the makers of Dungeons and Dragons. A Stranger Things themed set of Dungeons and Dragons exists and a YouTube video of the cast actors learning to play a D and D game.
So there you are, three colourful comic book covers, some storm reading and some surprise appearances by toy soldiers and space junk!
How was Storm Eunice for you?
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on his ManofTIN Blog Two, 19 February 2022
16 thoughts on “Storm Eunice power cuts, Comic Books, Space Wars and Toy Soldiers”
Luckily we missed the worst of it in the North , it’s shocking how we depend so much on electricty and don’t notice it until it’s not there .
Good to hear you missed Storm Eunice. It reminds you a bit to prepare for the next / worst and then take whatever “ping free” / different pleasure or interest that you can take in the disruption.
The quick and easily kettle brewed coffee has tasted extra good today!
It was wet and very windy but the power stayed on
Anything to do with Tintin is good!!
Glad your power stayed on!
Tintin is often my reading refuge when ill, hanging around waiting, disrupted times etc … you can read them slow and look at the beautiful detail, you can read them fast. Asterix also but I find the Asterix lettering style irritating.
Glad you stayed connected and dry.
Tintin has often been my “go to” or “no brainer” on many difficult occasions (ill health, power cuts) even more so than Asterix. According to the seductive https://thetintinshop.uk.com/ there are still one or two early ones I have yet to read.
Great blog. What a wonderful way to spend a day even without the storm aspect. I trust there was no damage and everything worked out OK. Loved the gaming/graphic novel link! Will re-read Tintin in a new light.
Thankfully little damage except a wonky fence panel. Reading comics created some enjoyable calm when there was no electronic entertainment.
Reading about Tintin creator Herge’s life as well, the difficult wartime period, the clunky Belgian Colonial Congo and anti soviet stuff, puts these comic books in a new light too.
Been fine here in the Duchy. Has made me think that I ought to get a Primus stove or we would be completely scuppered. A few tins of essentials might be worth getting too not to mention a graphic novel or two. I wish I hadn’t got rid of my Slaine and Judge Dread ones from my youth…
Primus stoves and a kettle, cooking pot and billy cans all very useful. Primus gas camping stoves can be used to melt toy soldier metal too! Although I now use a one ring cooker plate (electric) …
A very interesting and mixed blog post. Glad your power came back without too much delay and of course that you had no real damage. Up in Shropshire we had a bit of a breezy day but no damage or power outages I am glad to report. The impact of loss of power does make you think however. We have a gas fire in the lounge so would not freeze but other than that we would starve once all the crisps were gone and have no light or hot drinks. Of course I do have a chimera and lots of wood !!!!!!! Regards.
Sounds like you have a snack based survival plan in place!
An enjoyable read. My daughter reads the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books and the dad in that paints and wargames model soldiers (US Civil War). There’s many a reference to them in the large series of books which she always shares with me. Sharing the same interest, the dad appears like an avatar of me in the stories.
It’s been windy alright, it even broke one of my larger plant pots blowing some of my garden furniture, but otherwise not too bad. No candlelit board games needed. Hope there’s no damage to your homestead.
Apart from a wonky fence panel on the homestead, we seem to have survived intact so far but it’s still gusting impressively – it’s not over yet.
I have read one or two Jeff Kinney “Wimpy Kid” Books but oddly didn’t pick up the ACW gamer dad. How great to kind of be an avatar!
Often Wargamers in film and fiction / literature are a character metaphor for evil / sad / weird / scheming adults.
Scott Clarke, the likeable (but cool or weird?) and highly enthusiastic Science teacher in Stranger Things is revealed at home as a horror movie loving, model railroader, painting fantasy miniatures. I think that’s some form of ‘cool or weird’ character framing …
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My impression of the dad in those books is of a geeky and uptight but ultimately positive figure. I recall he was using an entire roll of bubble wrap for each figure in a house move to avoid damage (yes, I did that too last year).
Very stormy here too still with Storm Franklin to arrive soon. I thought we were supposed to have the calm before the storm, not the storm before the storm!
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When we lived in Wales, back in the old times, we had regular power cuts and learned to keep a stock of tinned foods, candles, blankets and logs. The open fire was a godsend and we boiled many a saucepan of water on it to keep the tea flowing.
Not having easy quick tea and coffee was one of the most irksome parts of the strange Storm Eunice day. Always a good plan to have alternatives and back up supplies.