No. 215 – True Grit

Uckpuck customs officer Rooster Cogburn in prog 467’s Ace Trucking Co. story The Doppelgarp (progs 451472, 1986), written by John Wagner and Alan Grant and drawn by Massimo Belardinelli (1938–2007) v US Deputy Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn played by John “Duke” Wayne (born Marion Robert Morrison, 1907–1979) in True Grit (1969)

True Grit is based on the novel of the same name (Simon & Schuster, 1968) by Charles McColl Portis, and the film was followed by a sequel, Rooster Cogburn[1] (Universal Pictures, 1975), also starring Wayne. True Grit was remade (Paramount Pictures) in 2010 by Joel and Ethan Coen with Jeff Bridges in the role of Cogburn. There was some minor controversy surrounding Bridges’ wearing of Cogburn’s eye patch over his right eye while Wayne’s Cogburn wore it over his left, with some right-wing savants entertaining the notion that it represented Bridges’ left-wing politics as opposed to Wayne’s conservative Republican politics. This was nonsense; the matter for Bridges was simply one of comfort; in Portis’ novel Cogburn has two functioning eyes and no patch.

Wayne’s portrayal of Cogburn earned him his only Academy Award for Best Actor[2]. As he accepted the award he memorably quipped, “If I’d known that, I’d have put that patch on 35 years earlier.”

Notes:

  1. Wayne’s penultimate film before The Shootist (Paramount Pictures, 1976), ending a 50 year-long career which included 169 feature-length films
  2. He was also nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Sgt. John M. Stryker in Sands of Iwo Jima (Republic Pictures, 1949), but lost to Sir Laurence Olivier OM [Ordre du Mérite] (1907–1989) for Hamlet (Rank Film Distributors Ltd./Universal-International, 1948)

No. 166 – The Meknificent Seven

Magnificent Seven British quad format poster ©United Artists

The A.B.C. Warriors [composed of Deadlock (top panel, top), and (top panel, left to right) Blackblood, Mongrol, Tubal Caine, Hammerstein, Joe Pineapples and Steelhorn], here depicted by Clint Langley from the story Fallout in prog 2061 (2017) v The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Designed to withstand atomic, bacterial and chemical warfare, the A.B.C. Warriors were built to take part in the Volgan War, which writer Pat Mills had described in several previous 2000 AD strips, including Invasion! and Ro-Busters.

Although at given points not limited to seven members, the primary characters include Mark III war droid leader Hammerstein, Khaos mystic Deadlock, marksman and former X-Terminator Joe Pineapples, the treacherous former Volgan war droid [General] Blackblood, the beast-like Mongrol, Happy Shrapnel (later known as Tubal Caine*) and Steelhorn/The Mess, an elite war droid reduced to a sentient, amoeboidal blob (later reconstituted).

The Magnificent Seven is based on Akira Kurosawa’s (1910–1998) classic Seven Samurai [七人の侍] (Toho, 1954), starring Takashi Shimura (1905–1982) and celebrated Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune (1920–1997).

*Referring to Tubal-cain [תּוּבַל קַיִן], a descendant of Cain mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, “forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” (Genesis 4:22)

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No. 159 – Shane

Johnny Alpha in the Strontium Dog story Incident on Mayger Minor (progs 490496 (1986)) written by Alan Grant and drawn by Carlos Ezquerra (1947–2018) v George Stevens’ Shane (1953), title character played by Alan Ladd (1913–1964)

Scroggy Froggett, every bit as annoying as Joey Starrett

The theme of the mysterious, benevolent stranger haunted by a violent past who returns to their old ways to save a threatened community has been employed by Hollywood on countless occasions since Shane, notably in Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider (Warner Bros., 1986), at the end of which Joey Starrett’s (Brandon De Wilde (1942–1972)) parting words to Shane are recited pretty much word-for-word by Megan Wheeler (Sydney Penny); and Logan (20th Century Fox, 2017) in which, at the end of the film, Shane’s farewell words to Joey are actually recited verbatim [spoiler alert!] over Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) grave by Laura (Dafne Keen).Home

No. 158 – The Angel Gang

Elder, Sylvus and Jimmy Hammond (right panel, top, left to right), and Henry Hammond with pet crow (right panel, bottom), images ©Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Angel Gang [– A Family Portrait futuregraph] from prog 196 (1981), created by John Wagner, pencilled by Mike McMahon and inked by Dave Gibbons v the Hammond brothers from Sam Peckinpah’s (1925–1984) Ride the High Country (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1962)

The villainous Hammond brothers correspond roughly to the following Angel Gang family members:

  • Elder Hammond (“the head of the clan”, played by John Anderson (1922 –1992)) to Pa Angel
  • Sylvus Hammond (L.Q. Jones) to Link Angel
  • Jimmy Hammond (“the baby of the family”, played by John Davis Chandler (1935–2010)) to Junior Angel
  • Henry Hammond (Warren Oates (1928–1982)) – who never bathes if he can help it, and has a pet crow that perches on his shoulder – to Fink Angel (and Ratty)

… and the main antagonist Billy Hammond (played by James Drury [not pictured]) to – well, there’s only Mean Machine Angel left, but you can’t win ’em all.

Keeping it in the family: Sylvus and Henry Hammond fixin’ on a weddin’ night rapin’ of their brother Billy’s new bride

Having detailed all that, Peckinpah’s works contain any number of similar bands of outlaws and miscreants, including the Shelton brothers (The Rifleman episode The Marshal (ABC, 1958)), the Gorch brothers, T.C. and Coffer (The Wild Bunch (Warner Bros./Seven Arts, 1969)), Taggart and Bowen (The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Warner Bros., 1970)), Hedden, Venner and Scutt (Straw Dogs (Cinerama Releasing Corporation/20th Century Fox, 1971)) – all prowling Peckinpah’s magnificent landscapes in search of victims, and any one or more of the villains could have been the inspiration for the Angel Gang and members thereof, but at any rate the proverbial cap has clearly been tipped in Peckinpah’s direction, and the Hammond brothers are a very comfortable fit.

Preacher Quint

It should be mentioned that while there is some overlap between Pa Angel and the character of Preacher Quint (played by Donald Pleasence (1919–1995)) and his cut-throat family in Will Penny (Paramount Pictures, 1967), which was co-authored [uncredited] by Peckinpah, Pa Angel displays none of Quint’s religious zealotry, although he does indeed share Quint’s predilection for torture, particularly skinning his victims.

 

Special thanks to Paul McCollum on this one, and a zarjaz New Year to all!

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. 66 – Pale Rider

Prog 1910’s Ichabod Azrael cover by Glenn Fabry and Adam Brown v Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider (1985)

The quote on the 2000 AD cover and the title of the Eastwood film are both references to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as described in the last book of the Bible’s New Testament; the rider of the pale horse being Death

warnerbros.com

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No. 49 – High Noon

Clint Langley’s Flesh cover for prog 2005 (2016) v High Noon (1952) Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD cover

High Noon won four Academy Awards (Actor, Editing, Music–Score, Music–Song) and four Golden Globe Awards (Actor, Supporting Actress, Music-Score, Cinematography – Black & White) and has been enormously influential since its release.

The composition of this DVD cover is based on one of several official poster variations for the film, and although “through-the-legs” is a common composition – to the point of being a cliché these days – we’re assuming that the poster for this classic western had considerable bearing on the composition’s popularity, eg. Bill Gold’s (1921–2018) For Your Eyes Only (Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, 1981) poster, featured in HoH here.

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