No. 202 – Ro-dgers and Hammerstein

Ro-Jaws [left panel, left; green] and Hammerstein [left panel, right; brown], created by Pat Mills and originally appearing in Starlord before its merger with 2000 AD in 1978, here drawn by Mike McMahon for the cover of prog 114’s (1979) Ro-Busters story The Fall and Rise of Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein (progs 103115) v Rodgers and Hammerstein, referring to [right panel, left] composer Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and [right panel, right] long-time collaborator, lyricist-dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960)

Star Pin-up by Boo Cook

While many musicals of the time were whimsical or farcical, Rodgers and Hammerstein entirely re-worked the genre, producing musicals that contained thought-provoking plots and mature themes, including the Broadway smash hits Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951) and The Sound of Music (1959).

“Knickers!” Star Pin-up by Kevin O’Neil

Ro-Jaws, a foul-mouthed, working class sewer droid with an irreverent attitude and Cockney patois, and the steadfast but obstinate war droid Hammerstein[1] are two of the most treasured characters ever to trundle through 2000 AD‘s pages and still appear frequently in the comic today. It’s slightly surprising how few fans get the Rodgers and Hammerstein pun here, but in fairness comics fans are not generally renowned for attending musicals.

Side By Side, the song sung by Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein at the end of The Fall and Rise was composed by Harry M. Woods[2] (1896–1970) and most famously recorded by Kay Starr [Katherine Laverne Starks] (1922–2016) in 1953.

The title of the Ro-Busters tale is probably a nod to the classic British comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin[3] (BBC1, 1976–1979), starring Leonard Rossiter (1926–1984), who also showed up – here’s the sci-fi connection – as Dr. Andrei Smyslov in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968). Yeah, now you see him.

Rodgers and Hammerstein also feature in HoH No. 172 – Play It Again, Sam Playlist.

Notes:

  1. Manufactured by British automotive marque Rover (1904–2005), currently owned by Jaguar Land Rover
  2. Despite having been born with no fingers on his left hand
  3. Itself a reference to The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Strahan & Cadell, 1776–1789), a six-volume work by the English historian Edward Gibbon (1737–1794), and for several centuries the last word in Roman history

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. 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. 18 – Charlie: Hero of Northpool

Dave Gibbons’ Star Pin-up of Charlie from Ro-Busters from prog 111 vs. Chris Foss’ cover for Isaac Asimov’s (1919/1920–1992) Bicentennial Man (Ballantine Books, 1976)

asimovonline.com (fan site and comprehensive repository of Asimov information)
ballantine.atrandom.com

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