No. 216 – The Blob

The Blob written by Alan Grant and drawn by John Higgins from the Judge Dredd Mega-Special 1988 v cult classic B-movie The Blob (1958) starring Steve McQueen (1930–1980) in his feature film debut

The film The Blob also bears a striking resemblance to a story in the Judge Dredd Annual 1982 called The Vampire Effect, written by John Wagner and drawn by Mike McMahon, wherein an alien entity that is composed of and gorges on energy, is physically diminished by liquid xenon (-244ºC), lured through the streets of Mega-City One with gunfire while the power along its path is cut off in stages, lead to and ultimately trapped inside a spacecraft launch silo where it overindulges on rocket fuel to the point of combustion. Slightly on the wrong side of cost-effective but considerably easier than flying it all the way to the arctic ice deserts to be buried in stasis.

The Blob was remade in 1988 (TriStar Pictures), performing poorly but acquiring a modest cult following; and a third remake is in the pipeline with Jack H. Harris, the producer of the original, as executive producer.

No. 205 – The Platinum Horde

Left: prog 217 cover art by Mike McMahon; right: Yuan dynasty (14th century) Genghis Khan portrait (artificially coloured) courtesy National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

His Supreme Bloodthirstyness [sic] King Gargantua the Diminutive of the Karbongian Empire and his Platinum Horde, from prog 217’s (1981) Tharg’s Future Shocks: The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde, written by Alan Moore and drawn by John Higgins v Genghis Khan [Mongolian: “Universal Leader”; pronounced “jengis H’aan”], born Temüjin [Mongolian: “iron”] Borjigin (c. 1162–1227), founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, the largest – if somewhat short-lived – empire in history until the British Empire[1]

The Platinum Horde is a reference to The Golden Horde[2], a vast Mongolian khanate (chiefdom or principality) established by Genghis’ grandson Batu (c. 1207–1255) in the 13th century, originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire and at its height encompassing most of Eastern Europe from the Urals to the Danube River, extending east deep into Siberia, and in the south bordering the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.


If a “last rumble” could be historically attributed to anyone’s horde, however, it really deserves to go to that at the head of which sat mighty Amir[3] Timur (1336–1405) – the lesser-known (these days, at any rate) but nonetheless extraordinary last of the great Mongol conquerors – also known as Tamerlane[4] (more pointedly referred to in Europe as “Tamerlane the Great” or “Tamerlane the Destroyer”), a Turco-Mongol warlord proclaiming himself heir to the Mongol Empire (though only tenuously related to the Borjigin line), and carving out his own empire comprising modern-day Iran, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, much of Central Asia, as well as parts of contemporary India (where he founded the Mughal – a Persian/Arabic corruption of the word “Mongol” – Dynasty (1526–1540, 1555–1857)), Pakistan, Syria and Turkey.


  1. Mongol Empire: 24 million km² (9.27 million mi²), ruling 110 million people; British Empire: 35.5 million km² (13.71 million mi²), ruling 533 million people
  2. Not to be confused with the celebrated Irish band of the same name (1982–1994), as well one might
  3. Amir (or “emir”) meaning “commander”, “general”, or “king” – aristocratic, noble and military title used in Arab countries and Afghanistan
  4. A composite of “Timur”, his given name, Uzbek Chaghatay also meaning “iron”, and the Persian  “-i-leng”, meaning “the lame”, combined to form “Timur-i-leng”, or “Timur the Lame”, anglicised as “Tamerlane”; referring to the result of a battlefield arrow wound


No. 113 – Johnny’ll Fix It

Jimmy Savile image ©BBC

Johnny Sahib from prog 2043’s Greysuit by John Higgins vs. Sir Jimmy Savile OBE*, KCSG** (1926–2011), television and radio personality

Highly respected during his lifetime for his charity work, claims were widely publicised in 2012 that Savile had committed numerous acts of child sex abuse (although allegations of child abuse against him date back to 1963), the scale of which was described as being “unprecedented” (BBC), and the number of potential victims as “staggering” (The Daily Telegraph). By the end of a formal criminal investigation the Metropolitan Police stated that the total number of Savile’s alleged victims was 450.

*British chivalric order: Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (apparently Savile cannot be posthumously stripped of his knighthood)
**Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great (an Order of Knighthood of the Holy See)


No. 112 – You Might Very Well Think That…

Sir Giles from prog 2041’s Greysuit drawn by John Higgins vs. Francis Ewan Urquhart (played by Ian Richardson (1934–2007)) from BBC’s House of Cards (1990)

The BBC miniseries has since been adapted into a popular American political drama of the same name by Netflix, starring Kevin Spacey as the ruthless Francis J. Underwood, with Michael Dobbs (author of the novels upon which the shows are based) as an executive producer.

BBC’s House of Cards was the first of a trilogy which continued with To Play the King (1993) and The Final Cut (1995). The drama introduced and popularised the phrase, “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.” The phrase doesn’t work quite as well in an American accent and was used only once by Francis Underwood in the US adaptation, in the final episode of season one.


No. 46 – Extreme Prejudice

Prog 1617’s Greysuit cover by John Higgins vs. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) international teaser poster

The security intranet at Frankfurt am Main airport is called Skynet. Only me and a guy from Arizona cracked up at that while they were briefing us. Not cool (us or them)


No. 9 – Ten Zarjaz Years!

Prog 520’s wraparound character montage cover by John HigginsE.L.O.’s 1977 Out of the Blue (Jet/United Artists (1977)/Columbia Records (1978)) album cover by Shusei Nagaoka (1936–2015)