The Stringbags – New Release

Dead Reckoning have released The Stringbags a graphic novel written by Garth Ennis; drawn by PJ Holden; colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick and; lettered by Rob Steen.

Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy began World War II with torpedo bombers that could devastate enemy warships and merchantmen at will. Britain’s Royal Navy squadrons went to war equipped with the Fairey Swordfish. A biplane torpedo bomber in an age of monoplanes, the Swordfish was underpowered and under-gunned; an obsolete museum piece, an embarrassment. Its crews fully expected to be shot from the skies. Instead, they flew the ancient “Stringbag” into legend.

Rob Williams, author of Judge Dredd and Unfollow noted:

A reserve crew in a hopelessly outdated biplane attacking the might of a battleship convoy in the early days of World War Two. The Stringbags is, like the best well-researched military history, delivered with genuine heart— something Garth Ennis excels at. A gripping underdog tale filled with spectacle and tragedy, featuring career-best art from PJ Holden.

If you do the incredible often enough, they’ll want you to do the impossible.

Writer Garth Ennis and artist PJ Holden present The Stringbags, an original graphic novel based on the true story of the Royal Navy’s Swordfish crews in early World War II.

A biplane torpedo bomber in an age of monoplanes, the Fairey Swordfish was underpowered and under-gunned; an obsolete museum piece, an embarrassment. Its crews fully expected to be shot from the skies. Instead, they flew the ancient “Stringbag” into legend. From their triumphs against the Italian Fleet at Taranto and the mighty German battleship Bismarck in the Atlantic, to the deadly challenge of the Channel Dash in the bleak winter waters of their homeland.

The Stringbags is an epic tale of young men facing death in an aircraft almost out of time. They lived as they flew, without a second to lose—and the greatest tributes to their courage would come from the enemy who strove to kill them.

Garth Ennis has been writing comics since 1989. Credits include Preacher, The Boys (both adapted for TV), Hitman and successful runs on The Punisher and Fury for Marvel Comics. He is particularly known for his war comics, including War Stories, Battlefields, Out of the Blue, Sara, and a recent revival of the classic British series Johnny Red. Originally from Northern Ireland, Ennis now lives in New York City with his wife, Ruth.

PJ Holden is a Belfast-based comic artist. Best known for his work for 2000AD on Judge Dredd, over the last twenty years he’s also drawn Rogue Trooper, Robocop/Terminator, James Bond: M, World of Tanks, and Battlefields. He is the co-creator of Dept. of Monsterology and Numbercruncher. He is married to Annette and has two children, Thomas and Nathan.

Kelly Fitzpatrick is a Hugo nominated comic book colorist and illustrator. She has worked on everything from Kickstarter and indie publications to DC graphic novels. Kelly spends all of her free time doting on her dog, Archie as well as training dogs, doing yoga and aerial acrobatics, and self-publishing her own books.

Rob Steen has lettered comics for all major comic book companies. He is also the illustrator of the children’s book series Flanimals, written by Ricky Gervais, and Erf, written by Garth Ennis.

The book is available from the US Naval Institute Press and is set for publication on 15 May, 2020. It’s ISBN is 9781682475034.

I for one am looking forward to this.

The Great Illyrian Revolt by Jason R. Abdale – Review

Jason R Abade’s previous work was Four Days in September: the Battle of Teutoburg (published by Pen and Sword). While researching and writing that, Abade came across references to the Illyrians and the interest that generated led to the writing of his current work, The Great Illyrian Revolt — Rome’s Forgotten War in the Balkans, AD 6–9. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military, is 268 pages long (ISBN: 9781526718174) and was published on 25 February 2019.

This book has sat on my desk waiting for me to read it for several months now. I regret not starting it sooner. It is a very interesting work.

The year 9 BCE was not a good year for Rome. Today we mostly remember that year for the efforts of the German warlord Arminius leadings a confederation of German tribes crushing three Roman Legions in the battle (or more correctly, series of battles, skirmishes and ambushes, that we know as Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The three years leading up to that event, however, had been tough for Rome as well as there was an uprising in the western Balkans, an area known as Illyria. This revolt tied down 15 Roman legions in the area around the Dinaric Mountains, a revolt that was not finally subjugated until 14 BCE.

I’m not sure why that revolt is not well known today, perhaps the events in Teutoburger Wald where the armies of Publius Quinctilius Varus and Marcus Caelius were crushed by the German tribes, leading to the withdrawal of Roman forces and control to the east of the river Rhine overshadows Rome’s difficult but ultimately successful controlling of Illyria.

Jason Abdale has produced an excellent study of the Great Illyrian Revolt. As you read the book, apart from the history and culture of the Illyrians being discussed and the lead up to Rome’s eventual involvement in this are, you can also feel the author’s love for his topic. I do not know of another history specifically covering just the Great Illyrian Revolt and Abdale has done an excellent job of pulling together various primary sources, secondary informatii  and archeological evidence to weave a coherent and readable history of the Illyrian Revolt.

The book is commences with a Chronology — from about 6,000 BCE to 37 CE — followed and Introduction. The meat of the work is broken up into the following chapters:

  1. The Illyrians
  2. Rome and the Balkans
  3. Outbreak
  4. The Tide Turns
  5. A Long Hard Slog
  6. The End of the Road
  7. The Aftermath

The book is then rounded out with an Epilogue, Endnotes, Bibliography and Index.

The Illyrians over the years fought the Romans, Greeks and Macedonians as well as themselves. They were famous pirates in the Adriatic Sea. On land, they may well have started as lightly armed and irregular tribesmen types but slowly acquired some of the fighting style of the Greeks they were exposed to, remembering that much of their terrain was mountainous.

I really enjoyed this book, sort of an everything you wanted to know about the Illyrians but were too afraid to ask. On a personal basis, I am considering the figures needed to build an Illyrian army to face off against my Romans.

As this is probably the only general work that I am aware of dealing exclusively with the Illyrians, and given that it is so well written, clear and easy to understand, I can see this on the bookshelves of anyone interested in the general, political or military history of the period of Augustus Caesar’s reign in particular. Recommended!

Inclusiveness in Wargaming – Women

Back in September this year I wrote a post about Inclusiveness in Wargaming and Tastelessness. This week the guys at Little Wars TV along with Jasper from Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy looked at one of the items from the Great Wargaming Survey, made more interesting as now there is five years data available for comparison.

This YouTube video looked at Women in Wargaming and less than perfect attitude of some male gamers. It is a short video and well worth the time to look at … and maybe if more folks see this, we may also see an increase in the umber of women involved in Wargaming.

I hope we have come further than the comment from H. G. Wells on wargames, in that they were “a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books,” and now, wargames are now a game for people who ust like to play with toy soldiers and all that entails. Do watch the clip below.

Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476 by Gabriele Esposito – Review

The other recent addition to the bookcase at home (memo to self, when moving next year, build bigger book shelves), is Gabriele Esposito’s Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476. As with the Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD, this covers the history, organization and equipment of the Late Roman Empire. This work was also published by Pen & Sword Military (ISBN: 9781526730374
and published on 12 December 2018) is a little longer than his Hellenistic book, running to 178 pages.

Esposito looks at the Late Roman Army over the period of its decline and fall with 476 being the watershed year that officially notes the end of the Western Roman Empire at least. This period is from the time of the accession of Diocletian in 284 C.E. to emperor through to the final defeat and then deposing Romulus Augustulus on 4 September 476 by Odoacer and his proclamation of being the ruler of Italy.

Throughout that period Rome faced many barbarian invasions, the various Goth tribes being particularly persistent. Throughout this period we invasions from the Sassanians in the east, Goths in the north followed by Visigoths, Vandals, Alans, Huns, Ostrogoths not to mention the all too frequents bouts between various Imperial contenders, seeing Romans plus allies squaring off against Romans plus allies.

Esposito discusses the Roman military machine and contends that it was an effective force until the last few years of the Western Empire. Throughout the book, the equipment and weapons of the troops are described, using various Re-eactors for the photographic illustrations as well as the reconstructed equipment. The groups used are Cohors V Baetica VexillatioCohors Prima GallicaContubernium PrimumFectienses Seniores Felices Seniores and; Septimani Seniores.

The organization and structure is also covered with charts of the high command as well a covering the different kinds of troops, such as the:

  • comitatenses (field armies)
  • limitanei (frontier units)
  • foederati (allied soldiers)
  • bucellarii (mercenaries)
  • scholae palatinae (mounted bodyguards)
  • protectores (personal guards) and so on

Apart from the photographs of various reenactors in uniform and bearing arms of the period, the book also includes the shield devices from the Notitia Dignitatum.

Apart from the Acknowledgements, Introduction and a fine Chronology, the book contains the following chapters:

  1. The Roman Army of the Principate
  2. The Transformation of the Third Century
  3. The Great Reforms of Diocletian and Constantine
  4. Clothing, Equipment and Weaponry

This is then rounded out with some Appendixes covering the Roman Army of the Notitia Dignitatum; Equipment and Weapons of the Late Roman Army; Bibliography and Index.

As with Gabriele Esposito’s other books, I really enjoy the way he has illustrated the arms, armour, dress and organization of the subject, so much so that I am looking forward to his next book, Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC to AD 106. I highly recommend Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476 to any with an interest in this period.

Thomo gets Dumped

This happened in Maui a few years ago. We were there attending a friend’s wedding and decided to head to the beach … where I learnt a new respect for the Hawaiian shorebreak. Interestingly, this video was also blocked by YouTube for breaching community standards. Took about two weeks to get it back up again. I am not sure whether to be annoyed or proud 🙂

Irsk Festuke – 1997 or 1998

It was St Patrick’s Day,  many  years  ago. A pub in Trondheim, Dirty Nelly’s (since gone) was advertising their Irsk festuke (or Irish party week).

I had been to Dirty Nelly’s St Patrick’s party the year before. Truth be known, I had been to Dirty Nelly’s pretty much every Friday and Saturday night for nigh on three years – some habits are difficult to break.

Anyway, this was the advertisement in the local press advertising the event. Yours truly is included in the advertisement … see if you can see Thomo the Lost!

Life in the Philippines – Ingat!

Leave the office to go home or from having dinner with local friends and you will almost always hear “ingat” or “ingat ikaw”. It is pronounced, as near as I can hear, as “ing-at”. Often your friends and colleagues will translate that to English, knowing how terrible your Tagalog is. In English you will hear “take care”.

“Ingat” literally means take care or be cautious and is the usual farewell between folks here. So, when a Filipino is leaving the office, give them a friendly “ingat”!

Success or two!

So, I had only just posted that I’ve got a spare Pikeman … or two! and what should turn up at Makati Central Post Office but a book! And what a book.

This is Volume 1, covering all our favourite diadochi, like Ptolemy, Antigonus, Seleucus and Lysimachus, to name but a few. Mithridates of Pontus even rates a mention.

Is this the start of a new project?

 

Life in the Philippines – Ano!

“Ano”! The universal Tagalog word, often heard in Taglish sentences as well, sentences such as, “You are so ano!” This means, “you are so ‘what is the word I am looking for?'” So ano could mean “cute”, “terrible”, “lovely”, “horrible” etc. Sometimes it could mean all of the preceding.

So, it is not unusual to hear someone say, “See how you are? You’re so ano!”

I’ve got a spare Pikeman … or two!

The re-purposed Romans … almost completed the basing. Figures by Baccus 6mm

I have been re-purposing some 6mm figures recently and had re-based and am in the process of decorating the bases of some Early Imperial Romans. I purchased them a few years ago to base for Polemos’ SPQR Ancients. I decided to move off SPQR Ancients and return to DBA and/or Basic Impetus for my Ancient Wargaming, partly on the basis of space. When I purchased the Romans, I also purchased Numidians and a Pontic Army. The Numidians have been hacked around providing filler for the some other forces I have and I had clean forgotten about the Pontic army.

I rediscovered those figures the other day when looking for some decals in a little accessed box. Goodness I have a few. In fact, the following (all Baccus 6mm):

  • 144 x Thureophoroi
  • 18 x Skythian Light Horse
  • 48 x Foot Archers
  • 6 x Generals
  • 18 x Tarantine (??) Cavalry
  • 18 x Cataphracts
  • 144 x Imitation Legionaries
  • 144 Phalangites with no Sarissa
  • 192 Pikemen (pikes forward and raised)
  • 192 Pikeman (pikes raised)
  • 16 x lights, chariot crew, don’t know what
Bags of 6mm successor figures, pikes, imitation legionnaires and the like – the Pontic Army in 6mm

Quite a mountain of figures so … a re-purposing is in order. I can make a Mithradatic Pontic force (DBA Book II/48) from this bunch and will likely have enough figures left over to build another DBA army, maybe of Successors. I will need to add a couple of things though:

  • Scythed Chariot (maybe 2)
  • some slingers
  • some Javelinmen (maybe I can get some leftovers from the Erik Bloodaxe project)
  • some Companions  (for guard)

Of course this will naturally segue into more forces as the enemies need to be built as well and Pontus managed to acquire quite a few over time:

  • Skythian
  • Kappadokian
  • Bithynian
  • Sarmatian
  • Galatian
  • Parthian
  • Marian Romans (although I can substitute the Camillan (Polybian) or Early Imperial Romans for these.

I am really enjoying the ancient period again and I can see my lead pile increasing in the near futures again!