More than one writer has compared Mustache Jones to Slappy Malloy.  In his 1998 book, Sam Force to GIJOE: Television in the Age of Reagan, Henry Sallow remarks, “For those aware of the players, the similarities between Stewart Malloy and Mustache Jones are manifold.”  Sallow goes on to suggest that the polemical argumentative nature of the show mirrors the interaction between Slappy and his Marxist roommate, Shelby Rodenburg.

Though initially quite good friends, the political divide became personal, and they pursued projects aimed at the other’s displeasure.  Sam Force promoted a Pro-Nuclear, “Peace through Strength” agenda with such ferocity that many networks feared a political backlash.  Had Malloy been less strident, Sam Force might have pre-empted the success of GIJOE.  Still without the training ground of Sam Force, GIJOE would have never found its voice.

While Slappy worked on his Sam Force proposal, Shelby Rodenburg found the perfect vehicle for his Marxist leanings in a Belgian comic called The Smurfs.  Released in 1981, The Smurf television show demonstrated a communal, currency-free society ruled by a benign, red-clad, Marx-bearded, Papa Smurf.  If that weren’t enough to annoy Slappy Malloy, Rodenburg emphasized Gargamel, a greedy capitalist villain who desperately wanted to commodify the Smurfs and turn them into gold.  It is possible that the audience for such a heavily Marxist allegory was not principally America’s children.  Rather, it is entirely feasible that Smurf preachiness was intended to provoke the free-market-loving, Milton-Friedman-worshipping, Slappy Malloy.

Not surprisingly the tension between the two roommates found its way into Slappy Malloy’s script.  Below is a page from the SamForce pilot where Mustache Jones (Malloy’s counterpart) dukes it out with Comrade Crimson (Rodenburg’s counterpart?).

One can only wonder what the show might have gone on to reveal had it been allowed to continue.  I think I can say without fear of contradiction that the show behind the show is far more interesting and had it been more widely known Sam Force might still be running today.


Published by Zach

I'm a writer and illustrator living in Creedmoor NC.

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