No. 156 – Whaam!

Prog 400’s (1985) Stainless Steel Rat wraparound cover by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) v Roy Lichtenstein’s (1923–1997) pop art masterpiece Whaam! (1969, acrylic and oil on canvas)

Whaam! is based on an image by Irv Novick (1916–2004) from a story called Star Jockey appearing in All-American Men of War #89 (DC Comics, 1962). Throughout the 1960s Lichtenstein frequently drew on commercial art sources such as comic images or advertisements, presenting powerful, emotionally charged scenes in an impersonal manner, frequently depicting aerial combat between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Pop art’s visual aesthetic is still frequently utilised in modern advertising and editorial imagery, and was also originally intended – but overruled and abandoned before being employed – as the overall cover style for 2000 AD itself by creator Pat Mills, as a tongue-in-cheek statement about the paper quality used for the comic; and was subsequently employed on the cover of Mills’ autobiography Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000 AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History (Millsverse, 2017).

Home

No. 149 – Papa Por-ka

Idi Amin image ©Getty Images

Papa Por-ka from Starlord #4’s* (1978) Strontium Dog written by John Wagner and drawn by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) v Idi Amin Dada (c.1923-28–2003), former President of Uganda (1971–1979)

When the UK broke off diplomatic relations with Amin’s regime in 1977 (the first time it had broken ties with a Commonwealth nation), Amin declared he had defeated the British, and conferred upon himself the decoration of CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire); his full self-bestowed title ultimately becoming: “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hajji** Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC†, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”, in addition to his officially stated claim of being the uncrowned King of Scotland.

Amin eventually fled to, lived the remainder of his life in isolated luxury, and died in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

*Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000 AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History (Millsverse, 2017) by Pat Mills. Not technically 2000 AD but in this instance we just plain don’t care
**Title given to Muslims who have completed the pilgrimage (or “Hajj”) to Mecca, Saudi Arabia
†VC: Victoria Cross (UK), DSO: Distinguished Service Order (UK), MC: Military Cross (UK)

Home

No. 144 – Dennis Mennis

The Beano No. 1694 (1975) image ©DC Thomson

Dennis Mennis (aka Big Den) drawn by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) for prog 797’s Judge Dredd story Judgement Day v Dennis the Menace drawn by David Sutherland* for The Beano comic [not necessarily this particular image]

Dennis the Menace (accompanied by and his Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound, Gnasher) is the longest running strip** in Scotland’s longest-running children’s comic (first published 30 July 1938).

The name of the character comes from an old British music hall song with the chorus:
I’m Dennis the Menace from Venice.

*David Sutherland drew the strip from 1970–1998, although the strip was originally developed by David “Davey” Law (1908–1971)
**First appearing in issue 452, dated 17 March 1951, but actually on sale 12 March 1951 – coincidentally, the exact same date Hank Ketcham’s (1920–2001) Dennis the Menace debuted in the US

Home

No. 126 – Mega-City One

Mega-City 1 futuregraph by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) from prog 3 (1977) vs. Robert Crumb’s City of the Future from Zap Comix #0 (Apex Oddities, 1967)

As much an excuse to celebrate the mega-city* concept in Judge Dredd as an excuse to feature the work of Robert Crumb – and in no way casting aspersions on the originality of Señor Ezquerra’s conception** – we’ll quote John Newsinger, professor of history at Bath Spa University, UK, from his scholarly work The Dredd Phenomenon: Comics and Contemporary Society (Libertarian Education, 1999; p.17-18), on Dredd’s stomping ground:

“Crucial to the success of the Dredd strip is Mega City [sic] One, the vast, towering urban jungle where 800 million people are crowded in together. Here the problems of our own cities exist but in magnified, exaggerated form. There is 87 per cent unemployment, with most people never having had a job, and 95 per cent of the population live within mile-high tower blocks, each housing 60,000 people. The tedium of this life of claustrophobic boredom and idleness drives many people mad: citizens go “futsie”, attacking and killing innocent bystanders without reason or warning. Outbreaks of mass suicide are common enough to be known as “the Lemming Syndrome” (prog 445 [1985]). Wars between the great tower blocks are not uncommon with often thousands of casualties, and, on one occasion, there was even an attempt by one block, the Sonny Bono, to declare itself independent (prog 208 [1981]).”

And while we’re here: one of the earliest visions of a futuristic mega-city form Fritz Lang (1890–1976):

*Hyphenated, definitely hyphenated
**Mega-City One was initially intended to be a futuristic New York city

Home

No. 125 – Death Race 2000 AD

Death Race 2000 image ©20th Century Fox, 1975

Judge Dredd concept design by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) v Frankenstein played by David Carradine (1936–2009) in Death Race 2000 (1975)

“Wagner gave Ezquerra an advertisement for the film Death Race 2000, featuring the character Frankenstein (played by David Carradine) clad in black leather on a motorbike, as a suggestion of Dredd’s appearance. Ezquerra added body-armour, zips, and chains, which Wagner initially objected to.” – Judge Dredd: The Mega-History by Colin M.Jarman and Peter Acton (Lennard Publishing, 1995)

Death Race 2000 quad poster variant

Home

No. 115 – Spaghetti Stix

The Stix brothers[1] from prog 363’s (1984) Strontium Dog story Outlaw (progs 363385), written by Alan Grant and drawn by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) v Lee van Cleef (1925–1989)[2]

Of Dutch ancestry, Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr. achieved fame portraying alternately villains and anti-heroes in Sergio Leone’s (1929–1989) Spaghetti Western [Italian produced] Dollars Trilogy: Per un pugno di dollari [A Fistful of Dollars] (Unidis/United Artists, 1964), Per qualche dollaro in più [For a Few Dollars More] (Produzioni Europee Associati/United Artists, 1965) and his masterpiece Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo[3] [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly] (Produzioni Europee Associati/United Artists, 1966).

Strontium Dog’s gritty storylines featuring wanton greed, treachery, double-crossings and the wages thereof owe much to the Spaghetti Western genre (as distinct from the conventional Western, to which a debt is also due).

Notes:

  1. Presumably named after the river (and deity) Styx [Attic Greek: Στύξin] that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld in Greek mythology
  2. Lee Van Cleef tribute blog
  3. Italian (lit.) “The Good, the Ugly and the Bad” – and indeed in the Italian version Van Cleef (Sentenza/Angel Eyes) represents the “ugly” and Eli Wallach (1915–2014) (Tuco) the “bad”

No. 102 – The Hills Are Alive!

Prog 309’s (1983) Judge Dredd: The Starborn Thing by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) v The Sound of Music (1965), based on the musical by Rodgers (1902–1979) and Hammerstein (1895–1960)

In 1966 The Sound of Music became the highest-grossing film of all-time and remained so for the next five years; adjusted for inflation it remains No. 5 while Gone with the Wind (Loew’s Inc., 1939) holds the top spot above Avatar (20th Century Fox, 2009), Star Wars (20th Century Fox, 1977) and Titanic (Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox, 1997)*.

*Wikipedia’s List of Highest-Grossing Films (adjusted for inflation)

Home