No. 169 – Chronocops

Mad magazine image ©DC Comics (Time Warner)

Chronocops written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons from prog 310’s (1983) Tharg’s Time Twisters v Dragged Net! from Mad magazine Vol. 33 No. 22 (1953) written by Harvey Kurtzman (1924 –1993) and drawn by Will Elder (1921–2008)

Mad magazine was created by Kurtzman and William Maxwell “Bill” Gaines (1922–1992) in 1952, and is the last surviving title from the EC [Entertainment] Comics line. The “E” in “EC” originally stood for “Educational” and was created and privately owned by Maxwell Charles Gaines (1894–1947) and specialized in educational and child-oriented stories. Following Maxwell’s death, his son Bill took over and began specialising in horror fiction, crime fiction, satire, military fiction and science fiction from the 1940s–50s, eventually concentrating on satire due to censorship pressures in the U.S. in 1954–55.

Although Dragged Net! is a spoof of NBC’s popular Dragnet (1951–1959), Moore and Gibbons’ story is not only an homage to Kurtzman and Elder but also to the classic show created, written and starring [John Randolph] Jack Webb (1920–1982) as Detective Sergeant Joseph “Joe” Friday [promoted to Lieutenant during the 1958–59 season], caricatured as Joe Saturday in the strip, delivering variants on Sgt. Friday’s trademark lines: “This is the city: Los Angeles, California. I work here. I’m a cop,” and “All we know are the facts, ma’am.”

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No. 165 – Spacesuits You, Monsieur!

Dave Gibbons’ one-off cover for prog 196 (1981) v spacesuit design by Jean Giraud “Moebius” (1938–2012) for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979)

Alien co-writer [along with Ronald Shusett] Dan O’Bannon (1946–2009) was introduced during a six month stint in Paris to European artists Chris Foss, H. R. Giger, and Jean Giraud while working on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill-fated adaptation* of Frank Herbert’s (1920–1986) Dune (Chilton Books, 1965), and, after Jodorowsky’s project fell through, co-opted Foss, Giger and Giraud to work respectively on the spacecraft design, the now-legendary creature design, and the costume design for his upcoming Alien project**.

*Frank Pavich’s fascinating feature-length documentary of what might have been, Jodorowsky’s Dune (Sony Pictures Classics, 2013), relating Jodorowsky’s ultimately doomed efforts to bring Dune to the silver screen, is well worth a watch, not least for Jodorowski’s audacious casting wish-list, all of whom he managed to sign up to the project
**Although cartoonist and concept artist Ron Cobb is largely credited with the finalisation of the human elements of the film

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. 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).

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No. 85 – Killerbowl

Prog 1’s Harlem Heroes* written by Pat Mills and Tom Tully and drawn by Dave Gibbons, specifically the uniforms of their opponents the Greek City Gladiators vs. Killerbowl by Gary K. Wolf cover (Doubleday, 1975) by Stephen Marchesi

Variant cover with grille facemask

Gary K. Wolf also wrote Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (St. Martin’s Press, 1981), which was the basis of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, 1988).

Killerbowl was also almost certainly the inspiration for 2000 AD‘s The Mean Arena which debuted in prog 178, also scripted by Tully.

*Harlem Heroes was loosely based on the film Rollerball (United Artists, 1975), based on the short story Roller Ball Murder (William Morrow & Co., 1974) by the film’s screenplay writer William Harrison (1933–2013)


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No. 57 – The Day the Hairstyle Died

Judge Caligula from Judge Dredd: The Day the Law Died, prog 87 by Brian Bolland (pencils) and Dave Gibbons (inks) vs. Pat Mills (pictured here in the late 70s with Kevin O’Neill, right)

Judge Cal’s look was indeed originally based on Mills as he saw fit to present himself to the world, shortly before Mike McMahon administered a much-needed haircut

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No. 54 – Harlem Heroes

Harlem Globetrotters image ©Lennox McLendon/Associated Press

Harlem Heroes written by Pat Mills and Tom Tully and drawn by Dave Gibbons for prog 1 vs. Harlem Globetrotters (pictured here in a 1970’s lineup)

Founded in 1926 as the Chicago GlobeTrotters [sic] and renamed in 1929, the Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team combining athleticism, theater and comedy. Over the years they have played more than 26,000 exhibition games in 122 countries and territories.

The idea for Harlem Heroes was loosely based on the film Rollerball (United Artists, 1975), based on the short story Roller Ball Murder (William Morrow & Co., 1974) by the film’s screenplay writer William Harrison (1933–2013).

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