2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, July 13, 2007

Prog 164

Please don't think that because I haven't mentioned the return of Robo Hunter yet, which is well into its run of Day of the Droids right now, that I am indifferent to it. I just got distracted by a compulsion to cover shorter run strips, that's all. You know, despite Day of the Droids being considered a classic from this period of 2000 AD, I don't think I ever got to read the thrill in its entirety before. I feel shame, great shame at this realisation.

Two great reoccurring characters make their first appearances in this story; Slade's idiot assistant, Hoagy, and his robot cigar, Stogie. Apparently, Stogie came about because publishers, IPC, had a clamp down on smoking in all of their comics. John Wagner's inspired solution was to turn his cigar into a robot, a talking Nicorette inhaler with a Cuban accent. Despite owning tiny arms and legs, for much of Day of the Droids, Stogie is drawn by art robot Ian Gibson inside Slade's mouth, emitting smoke much like a real cigar and basically defying the orders from those even mightier than Tharg himself. Aye Caramba!

Hoagy is the type of character that Wagner (here using his pseudonym of TB Grover) writes so well; the idiot. Usually, Wagner's idiots are run over by trucks or shot through the head but occasionally some survive to frustrate the protagonist. In Day of the Droids, Hoagy places an ad in a newspaper for a job he wants but doesn't exist, Robo Hunter Assistant, and then applies for it. The first Slade knows of this is when his office fills up with angry applicants. I've always loved Wagner's sense of farce, even when I was twelve years old and believed that TB Grover and John Howard were two different people. Yup.

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