No. 202 – Ro-dgers and Hammerstein

Ro-Jaws [left panel, left; green] and Hammerstein [left panel, right; brown], created by Pat Mills and originally appearing in Starlord before its merger with 2000 AD in 1978, here drawn by Mike McMahon for the cover of prog 114’s (1979) Ro-Busters story The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein (progs 103115) v Rodgers and Hammerstein, referring to [right panel, left] composer Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and [right panel, right] long-time collaborator, lyricist-dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960)

Star Pin-up by Boo Cook

While many musicals of the time were whimsical or farcical, Rodgers and Hammerstein entirely re-worked the genre, producing musicals that contained thought-provoking plots and mature themes, including the Broadway smash hits Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951) and The Sound of Music (1959).

“Knickers!” Star Pin-up by Kevin O’Neil

Ro-Jaws, a foul-mouthed, working class sewer droid with an irreverent attitude and Cockney patois, and the steadfast but obstinate war droid Hammerstein[1] are two of the most treasured characters ever to trundle through 2000 AD‘s pages and still appear frequently in the comic today. It’s slightly surprising how few fans get the Rodgers and Hammerstein pun here, but in fairness comics fans are not generally renowned for attending musicals.

Side By Side, the song sung by Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein at the end of The Fall and Rise was composed by Harry M. Woods[2] (1896–1970) and most famously recorded by Kay Starr [Katherine Laverne Starks] (1922–2016) in 1953.

The title of the Ro-Busters tale is probably a nod to the classic British comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin[3] (BBC1, 1976–1979), starring Leonard Rossiter (1926–1984), who also showed up – here’s the sci-fi connection – as Dr. Andrei Smyslov in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968). Yeah, now you see him.

Rodgers and Hammerstein also feature in HoH No. 172 – Play It Again, Sam Playlist.

Notes:

  1. Manufactured by British automotive marque Rover (1904–2005), currently owned by Jaguar Land Rover
  2. Despite having been born with no fingers on his left hand
  3. Itself a reference to The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Strahan & Cadell, 1776–1789), a six-volume work by the English historian Edward Gibbon (1737–1794), and for several centuries the last word in Roman history

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