No. 218 – The Yellow Peril

Left panel: Torquemada possesses Mr. Manchu in prog 393 (1984); right panel: Re-Enter Fu Manchu (1957) cover by Baryé Phillips (1924–1969)

Goth Chinese governor Mr. Manchu (possessed by the spirit of Grand Master Torquemada) in Nemesis the Warlock Book Four: The Gothic Empire (progs 387406 (1984–85)), written by Pat Mills and drawn by Bryan Talbot v Chinese criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu, created by English novelist Sax Rohmer (born Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, 1883–1959)

The term “Yellow Peril” upon which Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels capitalise was first coined in 1897 by the francophone Russian sociologist Jacques Novikow (1849–1912) in his essay Le Péril jaune, but the idea can be traced at least as far back as the Greco-Persian wars (499–449 BC) – arguably the origin of the notion of East v West – and in the Middle Ages (5th–15th centuries) the threat posed to Europe by the Mongolian hordes of Genghis Khan (c. 1162–1227). In more recent times the idea was exacerbated by Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859–1941) of Germany, who deliberately misrepresented to the European powers the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05) as a racialist alliance between Japan and China, the supposed purpose of which was to invade and subjugate the western [white] world[1].

Fear or distrust of China and Chinese culture is known as “sinophobia,” which according to sinologist Dr. Wing-Fai Leung of King’s College London, “blends Western anxieties about sex, racist fears of the alien other, and the Spenglerian[2] belief that the West will become outnumbered and enslaved by the East.”[3]

Most honourable mention…

Aside from the delicious farce of the above-mentioned instance of the arch-racist Torquemada having to possess the body of a despised alien whose very appearance is a caricature of human xenophobia, The Gothic Empire is notably a pioneering example in comics of the steampunk[4] genre; one later explored further by Nemesis the Warlock‘s original artist, Kevin O’Neill, in collaboration with long-time 2000 AD contributor Alan Moore, in the popular League of Extraordinary Gentlemen[5] (ABC/WildStorm/DC Comics (1999–2007), Top Shelf/Knockabout Comics (2009–2019)) series, in which Fu Manchu featured early on as a villain.

As well as 16 Rohmer-penned Fu Manchu stories, at least 14 films featuring Fu Manchu have been produced since he made his cinematic debut played by Swedish actor Warner Oland (born Johan Verner Ölund, 1879–1938) in The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (Paramount Pictures, 1929).

Torquemada also features in HoH No. 72 – Torquemada.

  1. Germans, eh? Eh? You’re reading these, right?
  2. Named for [ahem] German historian and philosopher Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (1880–1936), whose book The Decline of the West [or Occident] (German: Der Untergang des Abendlandes, 1918 (Vol.I), 1922 (Vol.II)), postulates that any culture is a superorganism with a limited and predictable lifespan
  3. The population of the People’s Republic of China stood at 1,403,500,365 in 2016. It is the world’s largest trading power, with a total international trade value of £2.93 trillion ($3.87 trillion) in 2012, and foreign exchange reserves reaching £2.15 trillion ($2.85 trillion) by the end of 2010, making its reserves by far the world’s largest
  4. An idealised retro-futuristic take on 19th century – particularly Victorian era (1837–1901) British – industrialised steam-powered culture; inspired by the works of Jules Verne (1828–1905) and H.G. Wells (1866–1946); popularised in the late 1990s and largely assimilated into goth subculture, thereby spoiling it for everyone else
  5. The title The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen refers to the novel The League of Gentlemen (T.V. Boardman & Co., 1958) by John Boland (born Bertram John Boland, 1913–1976), filmed in 1960 (British Lion Films); the plot of which concerns the recruitment by one Lt. Col. Hyde of several British army officers, all in poor standing with the military, for a bank robbery, based on their respective qualities and talents

No. 211 – Den (& Conan)

Den 2: Muvovum image ©Richard Corben

Sláine: The Horned God Vol. II Part 9 written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Simon Bisley from prog 663 (1990) v Den [represented left panel, centre], created by Richard Corben, and Conan the Barbarian [represented left panel, right], created in 1931 by Robert E. [Ervin] Howard (1906–1936), most famously illustrated by Frank Frazetta (1928–2010)[1]

Den (an acronym of the character’s Earth alter-ego David Ellis Norman) began life as an award-winning animated short in 1969, but made his comics debut in Grim Wit No. 2 (1973), then appearing in first Métal Hurlant (Les Humanoïdes Associés, 1975–1976), Heavy Metal (HM Communications, Inc., 1977–1978, 1981–1983) and thereafter published by Corben’s own Fantagor Press. The Den series is composed of Neverwhere (1978), Muvovum (1984), Children of Fire [a prequel to the events of Neverwhere] (Fantagor, 1992), Dreams (Fantagor, 1992) and Elements (Fantagor, 1992).

Generally wandering around completely in the buff and – despite having built himself an inter-dimensional portal – considerably dimmer (but better endowed) than pretty much any other life-form he encounters in the fantasy universe of Neverwhere, Den is nonetheless sincere to the point of outright innocence, even if the stories are a little chauvinistic by today’s standards. Den reappeared in animation in 1981 in a much-abridged version of the events of Neverwhere [the comic] in the segment Den in Heavy Metal (Columbia Pictures)[2]. The beautifully illustrated Den series is also one of the earliest fully painted, long-running strips on the comics scene, and thus richly deserving of Bisley’s homage.

Richard Corben is the winner of the 2009 Spectrum Grand Master Award and the 2018 Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. He was elected to the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2012.

Richard Corben also features in our very first HoH entry, No. 1 – Bat Out of Hell

Notes:

  1. Howard’s (and Frazetta’s) Conan the Barbarian appears HoH No. 79 – Sláine the Barbarian
  2. The idea of the malevolent Loc-Nar used to link the segments in Heavy Metal originated in the Den stories

No. 191 – The Valley of Gwangi

The Valley Of Gwangi image ©Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc.

Flesh from prog 1 (1977) written by Pat Mills and drawn by Joan Boix Solà-Segalés v The Valley Of Gwangi* (1969)

Gwangi was originally conceived by special effects and stop-motion animation pioneer Willis O’Brien (1886–1962), responsible for King Kong (RKO Radio Pictures, 1933), and the shelved production was revived by his acolyte Ray Harryhausen (1920–2013). It was to be Harryhausen’s last dinosaur-themed film, and was released with little studio promotion or fanfare at a time when audiences’ interest in monster movies was on the wane; and while not exactly a classic, it does pop up in cultural references from time-to-time; Steven Spielberg notably paying it homage in a scene in Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures, 1993) where the tyrannosaur appears suddenly and snatches up a fleeing ornithomimus.

The design of the infamous Fleshdozer appearing in the 2000 AD story – a nightmarish robotic contraption employed by Trans-Time Corp. to covert** dinosaurs into meat for transport to the future – is often thought to be a swipe, but as Angus McKie, the artist who painted a similar robot for the cover of Harry Harrison’s† (1925–2012) War with the Robots (Pyramid Books, 1962, [1976 ed.]), worked as a colourist on 2000 AD anyway, it’s really only been borrowed with permission.

*Poster by Frank McCarthy (1924–2002)
**Having first “humanely” stunned them
†Of Stainless Steel Rat fame, featured in HoH No.59

No. 184 – Doctor Feeley Good

Beelte image ©Time

Dr. Feeley Good* from prog 108’s (1979) cover by Mike McMahon for the Ro-Busters story The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein (progs 103115), written by Pat Mills v the [GE] Beetle, appearing here in Life magazine, 4 May 1962

The Beetle on display

The now defunct Beetle was the nickname of a large, pilot-operated mobile manipulator created by Jered Industries (now part of PaR Systems) in Detroit for General Electric, built to order by the USAF Special Weapons Center, designed to handle volatile material for nuclear bombers. Work on the Beetle began in 1959 and was completed in 1961. Built on a chassis from the M42 40 mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun, [or “Duster” – basicly a tank], the Beetle was 5.8 metres (19 feet) long, 3.7 metres (12 feet) wide, 3.4 (11 feet) high and weighed 77 tons, with a top speed of 13 km (8 miles) per hour. The manipulator’s pilot was protected by cockpit that included a 58 cm (23 inch) nuclear blastproof glass shield.

When the atomic aircraft project was cancelled in 1961, the Beetle was earmarked by the US military for a role in cleaning up nuclear explosion debris, but discontinued due to its size, speed and unwieldiness, eg. the pilot required several minutes to enter and exit the vehicle.

*The name refers either to British punk band Dr. Feelgood, formed in 1971 (and still going); or Doctor Feelgood, the alternative stage name of American blues musician Piano Red [Willie Lee Perryman] (1911–1985)

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No. 181 – General Blood ‘N’ Nuts

Patton photo courtesy Associated Press

Zombie film reference here? Let us know!

Leader of the Legion of the Damned, General Blood ‘N’ Nuts, drawn by Mike McMahon from prog 83’s (1978) Judge Dredd story The Cursed Earth (progs 6185) written by Pat Mills [this episode] v U.S. General George S. Patton (1885–1945)

General George Smith Patton Jr. commanded the U.S. Seventh Army of the U.S. Army in the Mediterranean and European theatres of the Second World War (1939–1945), but is best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

It was around this time that the US press began calling Patton “General Blood and Guts,” having heard him claim in a speech that it took “blood and brains” to win a war, and the nickname would follow him for the rest of his life. Although Patton was widely admired by the soldiers under his charge, some were known to quip bitterly, “our blood, his guts.”

Gen. Patton was immortalised in the eponymous 1970 film Patton (20th Century Fox, 1970), which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for George C. Scott (1927–1999).

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No. 168 – Throne of Guns

Throne of Guns from prog 2067’s (2018) A.B.C. Warriors’ story Fallout written by Pat Mills and drawn by Clint Langley v The Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011–2019)

Simonetti’s “correct” Iron Throne

The Iron Throne is the literal and figurative seat of power of the fictional monarchy of Westeros in the Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, upon which the kings [their hands*, and one queen**, Cersei Lannister (played by Lena Headey in the show)] of the Andals and the First Men sit, and is allegedly forged from 1,000† swords surrendered to Aegon Targaryen (aka Aegon the Conqueror) during the War of Conquest, and fused together by dragon’s fire.

Martin has rarely been satisfied with representations of the Iron Throne in books, games or even the wildly successful HBO TV series, and maintains that only its depiction by French concept artist/illustrator Marc Simonetti in the Song of Ice and Fire companion book The World of Ice and Fire (Bantam Books, 2014) is “absolutely right”.

*Closest appointed advisor, and in absentia, proxy to the ruling monarch
**Rhaenyra Targaryen also had a stint on the Iron Throne before being deposed and executed by her half-brother Aegon II, who then declared her brief and unpopular rule unofficial
†Actual number of the swords contained in structure is less than two hundred (Game of Thrones season 3, episode 6, The Climb)


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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