It seems everybody who goes to Japan for long enough goes native, buys a fancy camera and loads of lenses and starts spouting photographic jargon. If I ever get like that once I’ve gone to Japan can somebody just smack me around the head and say “The amount your’e spending on this snapper could buy you a Hindustan Ambassador!”. Ta.
Anyway, having discovered that “ISO” means “How much it can take pictures of dark stuff” I decided to try and capture the glow of a distant town last night. Until recently some houses being built over the back were left lit up at night, which would have made a good photo. However they abruptly started work on them again and now turn all the lights off at night.
Only resized, no contrast fiddlin’
Also I took a pic of some nearby houses, didn’t work as well.
Anyway, After that I went to sleep and woke up fairly late. It was time to see the Commando exhibtion!
Captain Darkie commands it!
I drove down to Ely and got the train into London, which cost £25.50! And that was the “non peak time” one. I bet travelling the same distance from out of Tokyo (well Tokyo proper, you’d probably still be in greater Tokyo) to see the Yasukuni Shrine would be no more than ¥1000, which is currently all of £8.07!
That place that caught fire on the day of one comic convention and made me late!
Anyway I got to London and through the tube OK (another £5 -_- going a few stops around the Yamanote line would be about ¥300 at the most) then came out among some very fancy and pretty streets.
With hazy dust from one being-worked-on house.
Then walked a long way past the Royal Chelsea Hospital (presumably where the Queen goes when she’s ill and that) and finally saw this:
The museum doesn’t really look much from the outside but is deceptively huge inside! Also the “round the side” entrance seen in the Commando issue “The Mystery and the Museum” (which is also on sale in the museum’s shop!) is present and correct.
There’s also a cannon for kids to jump around screaming “FIRE!”
The Commando exhibition itself is, ahem, not very big. After you clamber up the stairs past Cavaliers, Roundheads, Boer war soldiers and National Servicemen you arrive outside it. I began to snap a few pictures while there was nobody around…
The first issue with it’s original cover art! DC Thomson keep their original art so that any reprints can be top-quality. AP/IPC/Fleetway/Egmont threw almost all of theirs away, even Dan Dare and other legendary stories!
Commando’s main competitors from IPC. If you ask me the earlier issues of War Picture Library were as well-written as the best Commandos, But at it’s height WPL was producing 12 issues a month, all in a samey “house style” and with poor printing, the quality really suffered!
An oddly-chosen competitor to DCT’s Victor. Battle started as an awesome comic, but this version was a shitty toy catalogue with stories. The explanations around the exhibition actually mentioned that sales plummeted when that happened! DCT gloating?
Some Commando gear, a silenced Sten gun and the famous knife!
A painting of the Saint Nazaire raid, the finest hour of the Commandos, which crippled the German navy’s most powerful ships without even going near them! The story is told in the newest Victor compliation book.
Anyway, after that some tiny guy told me not to take photos. Oops. That blue light on the painting above couldn’t be seen normally, I suppose it’s something that only shows up on CCD’s. They could have made it into big “DON’T TAKE PHOTOS!” writing right across the painting XD.
Anyway the rest of the exhibition (which is not actually that big) was mainly several exciting original paintings for covers old and new. The artwork is beautiful close up, and there’s also descriptions of what happens in the stories. I’ll be re-reading a few! Disappointingly there’s almost no original interior art on display, I’d love to see some Jose Maria Jorge work close-up.
There’s a few other things, though, including the transparencies with the Commando logo on, or else story titles for covers (these are all now done with computers, of course). There’s also the transparency for the famous Commando knife that separates the “partial wraparound” artwork from the story description on the back covers.
Anyway after seeing that I looked at a few other sections around the museum. There’s one for various wars Britain has been involved in since the end of the empire, including the Falklands (the British and Argentine soldiers had almost the same rifle!) and the Troubles in Northern Ireland (some horrifying footage of vicious rioting on display – it looks like Israel! But was happening in my own country, some of it during my lifetime!).
On the floor below is WW1 up to the Indian Partition (featured in my own comic strip Tigers of Punjab), with National Service on the stairs and Korea in another room. In the World War 2 section I found some Japanese guns and took a reference picture for Tigers of Punjab (why do they have Japanese weapons? Wait for part 5!). Then the same guy from before came and told me not to take pictures of anything! I had thought it was just in case flashes damaged the Commando artwork. Oh well, he looked like he could have been a Gurkha, and I didn’t want a Kukri where the sun don’t shine, so I stopped XD
The “tatami” floor is a nice touch. Oh well I can use Darkie’s Mob and Commando comics for my references!
In the museum shop there’s a GIANT book on sale (apparently coming to normal shops in October) about the history of Commando.
There’s a mix of information about the history of Commando, the artists and writers and other stuff. There’s also six reprinted stories, printed two pages on every one page of book at around the original Commando size. The covers are also included, in colour!
Jay em Gee
The feature pages are also accompanied by montages of elements from famous covers, which look fantastic
And also the reprinted stories are introduced with spectacular blow-ups of the cover art, all on glorious thick matte paper!
I have this story from when it was reprinted in 2008 or so, but It’s great so I’ll read it again!