No. 223 – First Blood

“Slab” (Special Labour Auxiliary Bio-engineered) clone soldier (left panel, left) from The Ballad of Halo Jones Book 3 (progs 452466 (1986)), Chapter 9: The Gravity of the Situation (prog 460), written by Alan Moore and drawn by Ian GibsonJohn J. Rambo[1] portrayed by Sylvester Stallone

Rambo[2] first appeared on the silver screen in First Blood (Orion Pictures, 1982), based on the novel of the same name (M. Evans, 1972) by David Morrell, and subsequently in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (TriStar Pictures, 1988), Rambo (Lionsgate Films, 2008) and Rambo: Last Blood (Lionsgate Films, 2019).

Author Morrell was heavily influenced while writing First Blood by Geoffrey [Edward West] Household’s (1900–1988) thriller novel Rogue Male (Chatto & Windus, 1939), and the character of Rambo was based partly on US war hero First Lieutenant Audie [Leon] Murphy, one of the most decorated US soldiers of the Second World War (1939–1945).

First Blood is arguably the most thoughtful film of the series – it projects the most pathos and contains the least amount of violence – and it seems that Moore is here expressing his disdain for what he considers the sequel’s inevitable degeneration into a crass action film franchise.

Interestingly, the main concourse of Moab’s Mess Complex in prog 460’s Halo Jones is dominated by a statue of Lot’s wife [unnamed but called “Ado” or “Edith” in some Jewish traditions], who in the Bible (Genesis 19) disobeyed God by looking back at the city of Sodom,[3] having fled it with her husband, and was turned into a pillar of salt for her sin. Moab’s mineral wealth is a key strategic factor in Earth’s ongoing war with or in the Tarantula Nebula,[4] and presumably a principle founding tenet of the Moabite religion is “Never look back [to sinful Earth].” The historic Moabite culture (east of the Dead Sea in modern Jordan) was frequently in conflict with its Israelite neighbours; all this subtly hinting in Halo Jones at an eons-old struggle – possibly religious in origin – of dubious legality and morality, with a whiff of entitlement. Moore never actually spells it out, and neither shall we.

Notes:

  1. Rambo is named after the Rambo apple cultivar (a plant with desirable attributes produced by selective breeding and cultivation), a supply of which Morrell’s wife provided while he was brainstorming names for the character, who is given no first name in the novel
  2. It is never stated what rank Rambo holds, but judging from the crossed arrows (officer) insignia on the lapel of his army alpha dress green uniform – and given that he is based partly on 1st Lt. Murphy – he is probably a former First Lieutenant (or possibly Captain) with the United States Army Special Forces
  3. Probably once located near Mount Sodom (technically a hill) at the southwest end of the Dead Sea, Israel
  4. Located in the Dorado constellation, 159,800 light years from Earth

No. 193 – It’s Life, Jim…

Ian Gibson’s cover for prog 1232’s (2001) Judge Dredd story Star Drekk: A Space Fantasy, written by John Wagner and drawn by Anthony Williams, colours by Chris BlytheGene Roddenberry’s (1921–1991) Star Trek; pictured here the original series cast [left to right, back row]: Lieutenant Hikaru Kato Sulu (George Takei), Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Nichele Nichols), Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), Yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney (1930–2015)), Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelly (1920–1999)), Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doonan (1920–2005)), and [front row]: Captain James Tiberius “Jim” Kirk (William Shatner) and Commander* Spock (Leonard Nimoy (1931–2015))

Easily surpassing in cult status even its closest rival** for fan zealotry, Star Trek has since 1966 become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, due at least in part to its uncharacteristically positive take on the future of humankind within the sci-fi genre; inspiring not only a host of films, television shows, comics, magazines, books, pop songs, merchandising, a language, and endless parodies, but also several documentary feature films such as Scott Colthorp’s Trek Nation (Paramount Pictures, 2011), William Shatner’s The Captains (Movie Central/The Movie Network/Epix/Corus Entertainment/Ballinran Entertainment, 2011), and also his TV film Chaos on the Bridge (CTD, 2014), For the Love of Spock (455 Films, 2016), among others; and even two documentary feature films about Star Trek fandom itself: Roger Nygard’s Trekkies† (Paramount Pictures, 1997) and Trekkies 2 (Paramount Pictures, 2004); not to mention inspiring non-canon films such as Galaxy Quest (DreamWorks Pictures, 1999) and Please Stand By (Magnolia Pictures, 2017), and the television series The Orville (20th Television, 2017– ).

And now we’re going to exhaustively list all the TV shows and films for the sake of completeness, because we like lists, and also so we have enough room to sprinkle this entry with amusing screen grabs from the Dredd story – so, television shows: Star Trek (CTD, 1966–1969), [sequels to the original series] Star Trek: The Animated Series (CTD, 1973–1975), Star Trek: The Next Generation (CTD, 1987–1994), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999), Star Trek: Voyager (CTD, 1995–2001), [prequels to the original series] Star Trek: Enterprise [or Enterprise] (CTD, 2001–2005) and Star Trek: Discovery (CTD, 2017– ); and [original series-based] films: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Paramount Pictures, 1979), Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount Pictures, 1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Paramount Pictures, 1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Paramount Pictures, 1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Paramount Pictures, 1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Paramount Pictures, 1991), [Next Generation films] Star Trek: Generations (Paramount Pictures, 1994), Star Trek: First Contact (Paramount Pictures, 1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (Paramount Pictures, 1998), Star Trek: Nemesis (Paramount Pictures, 2002), [original series reboot films] Star Trek (Paramount Pictures, 2009), Star Trek into Darkness (Paramount Pictures, 2013) and Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures, 2016). Phew.

*Not “Mr.” – he’s the Science Officer and First/Executive Officer, i.e. second-in-command
**Star Wars Or Star Trek, The Fans Have Spoken – Forbes 04 May 2017; ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars’: Which is the greater franchise? – The Tylt 2016
†Although elements within Star Trek fandom itself insist that the correct term for fans is “Trekkers”

No. 172 – Play It Again, Sam, Playlist

Prog 294’s (1982) Robo-Hunter cover [detail] drawn by Ian Gibson for the story Play It Again, Sam[1]: A Comic Opera (16 episodes: progs 292307 (1982–1983)) written by John Wagner and Alan Grant v pianist Sam (Dooley Wilson, 1886–1953) from Casablanca (1942) [but really he’s just a metaphor in this HoH entry for music in general]

Wagner and Grant’s magnum opus references the following songs – sung with adapted lyrics by various characters throughout – in order of their occurrence in the story:

  1. Whistle While You Work (1937) by Frank Churchill (1901–1942) and lyrics written by Larry Morey (1905–1971) from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (RKO Pictures, 1937)
  2. Mexican Hat Dance [Jarabe Tapatío] 18th century Mexican traditional
  3. Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ (1943) by Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960) [Rodgers and Hammerstein] from the Broadway musical Oklahoma!
  4. My Favourite Things (1959) by Rodgers and Hammerstein from the Broadway musical The Sound of Music
  5. The Toreador Song [Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre] (1875) from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet (1838–1875) to a libretto by Henri Meilhac (1830–1897) and Ludovic Halévy (1834–1908)
  6. The Lambeth Walk (1937) from the musical Me and My Girl, lyrics by Douglas Furber (1885–1961) and L. Arthur Rose and music by Noel Gay (1898–1954)
  7. The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (1907) melody by John Walter Bratton (1867–1947), lyrics added in 1932 by James Kennedy OBE[2] (1902–1984)
  8. Cousin Kevin from Tommy (Decca/MCA, 1969) by The Who
  9. Barbara Ann (1961) written by Fred Fassert, first recorded by The Regents as Barbara-Ann (1961)
  10. Onward, Christian Soldiers 19th-century English hymn, lyrics written by Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834–1924) in 1865, and the music composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan MVO[3] (1842–1900) in 1871
  11. Sh-Boom [also known as Life Could Be a Dream] (Cat Records, 1954) by The Chords
  12. The Wanderer (1961) written by Ernie Maresca (1938–2015) and originally recorded by Dion [Dion Francis DiMucci]
  13. Roll Out the Barrel [also known as Beer Barrel Polka or The Barrel Polka, from the original Czech tune Modřanská polka (Polka of Modřany)] (1927) by Jaromír Vejvoda (1902–1988) and Eduard Ingriš (1905–1991), lyrics added in 1934 by Václav Zeman with the title Škoda lásky (Wasted Love), but perhaps the best known in English is the version recorded by Bobby Vinton in 1975
  14. Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941) written by Mack Gordon (1904–1959) and composed by Harry Warren (1893– 1981), recorded by Glenn Miller (1904–missing in action 1944) and His Orchestra and featured in the film Sun Valley Serenade (20th Century Fox, 1941)
  15. Hello, Dolly! (1964) written by Jerry Herman from the musical of the same name, famously recorded by Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong (1901–1971) but originally sung by Carol Channing
  16. We Ain’t Got the Dames (1949) probably referring to the song There Is Nothing Like a Dame by Rodgers and Hammerstein from the Broadway musical South Pacific
  17. Delilah (December 1967) written by Leslie Reed with lyrics by Barry Mason and Sylvan Whittingham, and famously recorded by Tom Jones OBE [originally recorded by P. J. Proby – who hated it – in November, 1967]
  18. Hokey Cokey British folk dance and music hall song. One-hit-wonders The Snowmen recorded a version that reached No. 18 in the UK charts in 1981, and Slade released a version of the song called Okey Cokey as a single in 1979
  19. Save the Last Dance For Me by Doc Pomus (Jerome Solon Felder, 1925–1991) and Mort Shuman (1938–1991) and first recorded in 1960 by The Drifters with Ben E. King (1938–2015) on lead vocals
  20. Bye Bye Blackbird (1926) by Ray Henderson (1896–1970) and lyricist Mort Dixon (1892–1956) and first recorded by Sam Lanin’s (1891–1977) Dance Orchestra
  21. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp) (1963) by Allan Sherman (1924–1973) and Lou Busch (1910–1979)
  22. Land of Hope and Glory (1902) by Sir Edward Elgar OM, GCVO[4] (1857–1934) and lyrics by A. C. Benson (1862–1925)
  23. House of the Rising Sun [or Rising Sun Blues] traditional New Orleans folk song, made famous by The Animals in 1964
  24. Summer Holiday (1963) by Cliff Richard and The Shadows, from the film of the same name (ABPC/AIP, 1963)
  25. I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside (1907) British music hall song written by John A. Glover-Kind (†1918) and made famous by music hall singer Mark Sheridan (1864–1918) who first recorded it in 1909
  26. When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1863)[5] American Civil War (1861–1865) song, lyrics by Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (1829–1892)
  27. We Gotta Get Out of This Place (1965) written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and recorded as a 1965 hit single by The Animals
  28. The Green Door (1956) by Bob “Hutch” Davie and lyrics written by Marvin Moore, first performed by Jim Lowe (1923–2016); the most popular British version was by rock ‘n’ roll revivalist Shakin’ Stevens in 1981
  29. Just an Old-Fashioned Girl (1956) by Marve A. Fisher (1916–1993), its best known recording by Eartha Kitt (1927–2008)

“Next prog” references:

Also referenced in Play It Again, Sam: New Romantic group The Human League (pictured here in 2012, left to right: Susan Ann Sulley, Joanne Catherall and Philip Oakey OBE) image ©The Daily Telegraph

Rodgers and Hammerstein also feature in HoH No. 202 – Ro-dgers and Hammerstein, and Bogie features in No. 148 – That’s S-P-A-D-E to You and No. 217 – The Big Sleep.

Notes:

  1. “Play it again, Sam” is a line mistakenly believed to have been delivered by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart (1899–1957)) to his pianist Sam in Casablanca. The oft-misremembered line is based either on Ilsa Lund’s (Ingrid Bergman, 1915–1982) request to pianist Sam to “Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake” – to which Rick vehemently objects – or the following exchange between Rick and Sam later in the film:
    Rick: “You know what I want to hear.”
    Sam: “No, I don’t.”
    Rick: “You played it for her, you can play it for me!”
    Sam: “Well, I don’t think I can remember…”
    Rick: “If she can stand it, I can! Play it!”
    The song is, of course, Herman Hupfeld’s (1894–1951) As Time Goes By (1931)
  2. OBE: Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  3. MVO: Member of the Royal Victorian Order
  4. OM: Order of Merit; GCVO: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
  5. Date on which the first sheet music publication was deposited at the US Library of Congress, with words and music credited to “Louis Lambert”, a pseudonym; copyright was retained by the publisher, Henry Tolman & Co. (Boston, U.S.). Gilmore admitted in an article in the Musical Herald that it was “a musical waif which I happened to hear somebody humming in the early days of the rebellion, and taking a fancy to it, wrote it down, dressed it up, gave it a name, and rhymed it into usefulness for a special purpose suited to the times.”

No. 148 – That’s S-P-A-D-E to You

Robo-Hunter’s Sam Slade from prog 76 (1978) drawn by José Luis Ferrér Rozalen (1946–2012) and Ian GibsonHumphrey Bogart (1899–1957) as private investigator Samuel “Sam” Spade in John Huston’s (1906–1987) The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Aside from the pun on Sam’s name, Robo-Hunter is an homage to Hollywood film noir, a cinematic term used primarily to describe the stylish crime dramas of the early 1940s to late 1950s, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes, and associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (Warner Bros., 1982), for example – particularly the version with Deckard’s voice-over – would be regarded as a contemporary example of sci-fi film noir (or “tech noir”).

Bogie also features in HoH No. 172 – Play It Again, Sam, Playlist and No. 217 – The Big Sleep.

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No. 132 – Football Crazy

Bottom row, left to right: Sir Elton John (image ©BBC), Don Revie (image ©Evening Telegraph), Jimmy Hill (image ©BBC), Brian Clough (image ©Daily Mirror)

Presenter and panel of three commentating Brians from prog 288’s (1982) Robo-Hunter story Football Crazy drawn by Ian Gibson vs. Sir Elton John CBE*, Don Revie OBE* (1927–1989), Jimmy Hill OBE (1928–2015) and Brian Clough OBE (1935–2004)

To those who know Elton John primarily as a singer/songwriter, he may seem out-of-place in this line-up, but he did in fact own Watford Football Club from 1976–1987 and 1997–2002, and is an honorary Life President of the club.

The footballers Kev, [Bev,] Trev and Trev mentioned by the presenter refer to Kevin Keegan OBE, Trevor Francis and Sir Trevor Brooking CBE. We have no idea to whom “Bev” refers – drop us a line if you know.

*British chivalric order: Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

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No. 129 – Geek Wars

Survival Geeks: Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind graphic novel cover by Neil Googe (colours by Gary Caldwell) vs. Tom Jung’s poster for Star Wars (1977)

 

So why two near-identical posters from two different sources for the same film? Quite simply Lucasfilm panicked at the last minute and, approving of Tom Jung’s composition but considering it too dark, gave the job of brightening it up to Greg & Tim (1939–2006) Hildebrandt to be completed within the following 36 hours (C-3P0 and R2-D2 were added prior to printing).

The title Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind is an homage to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Columbia Pictures, 1977) [although there was also an episode of Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven entitled Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind].

Art director Tom Jung also features in HoH No. 31

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