Monday, January 15, 2007

DRAKE HOGESTYN, Living Comic Book Character

Recently CBR columnist Augie DeBlieck wrote an interesting post about the similarities and differences between monthly comic books and TV soap operas. Augie (who just wrote his 500th Pipeline column, congrats BTW) examines some of the things soap operas do right and what comic book companies could learn from them, and shares a little love for my favorite soap opera actor ever --
-- motherfuckin’ Drake Hogestyn.

I thought I was the only geek who even knew who Drake “John Black” Hogestyn was. In case you don’t know, Drake is a true superstar in the world of daytime dramas. A former baseball player, he’s been acting on NBC’s Days of Our Lives for over twenty years and is the male half of the “supercouple” John/Marlena (the other half is played by Deirdre Hall of ElectroWoman and DynaGirl fame).

Hogestyn is the William Shatner of soap operas. The undisputed master of the cocked eyebrow and the “I smell a fart” school of acting, there is no scene on Days that cannot be improved with the inclusion of Drake Hogestyn. Even the little character moments are painted in such broad strokes by Hogestyn that you cannot help but watching. He is truly mesmerizing.

Behold Brilliance:

Drake's character, John Black, has a more convoluted back story than Wolverine, and is every bit as bad ass. John Black has been possessed, hunted a serial rapist, escaped from dungeons, been presumed dead multiple times, and has kicked more ass than any soap opera character this side of General Hospital’s Robert Scorpio. And just like Wolverine, John Black has a poet’s soul and hides his pain behind a macho façade. We know you're hurting, John. We know.

Sure, he’s on a soap opera, but this cat could easily make the jump to the four color world. I would pay money to see a John Black: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. mini-series. I would PAY to write that. And why not? Recently The Guiding Light had a Marvel comics "crossover" where one of the actresses becomes a superhero - why not the other way around? A comic book about the World's #1 Bad Ass Soap Opera Star?

It would go something like this:

John Black (into phone): “MODOK, you scumbag. You better pray Marlena isn’t hurt or no force on Earth will save you from me. You read me, freak?”

MODOK: “Brave words, Agent John Black, but soon the city of Salem will belong to MODOK! If only Marlena had loved me when I was human, when I was a fragile psychiatric patient with no memory. Now it is too late for you both. Ha ha ha ha ha!”

John Black (trembling with rage): “MO-DAAAWK!”

John puts phone down, stares off at some point in middle background, frowning as if he's trying to remember where he parked his Jeep.

John Black (quiet): “I’m coming for you Marlene, and that’s a fact. Just hang on for me… Hang on…”


God, yes. Why can't this be real?

Every month or so the writers of Days of Our Lives gives John Black somebody to beat up in an awkward, live-televison way. For example, here's how Marlena and John Black meet, back in The Day:

Is that Doogie Howser, M.D. robbing that restaurant? Whoever the unnamed headbanded bandit is, he looks like a rough customer. Maybe he was on his way to a gig as a background dancer in a Michael Jackson video and decided to stop in for a quick robbery.

Not only is Drake Hogestyn a macho hombre on the small screen, but he cracks skulls in real life, too. Recently a deranged male fan got into Drake's Malibu mansion hoping to exorcise The Devil out of the actor. Crazy stalker pushed Drake's wife down... and it was ON.

Drake went into full Kill/Destroy mode and subdued the attacker. In the police report, Drake writes that he "grabbed [crazy man] by the hair, spun him around, delivered a right cross to the chin that sent him down the stairs." That's doin' it John Black style. Then Drake and his son duct-taped the guy's hands and feet together and waited for the cops to arrive.

THAT is what you get for fucking with Drake Hogestyn, the Toughest Sumbitch in Soap Operas. Join us, Drake. Join us in our comic book dreamworld and become the pulp culture superstar you were destined to be.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Dave, Dave, Dave.
As any Drake/Days fan would know, its "Marlena" not "Marlene"
Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Also, word verification:
jfkip - The sound Drake's fist makes as he lands a right cross with it.

David Campbell said...

Damn it! Thanks Jay, I'll fix it.

Anonymous said...

What I'm really curious to know is how many guys are gonna know who Drake is in the first place (Dave not withstanding). And Jay, is our fisrt, actually, with a correction. Hmmm.

You know, I have to say, with this soap opera post and the infamous Marching plaid, Dave is freakin' me out a little.

Word verification:
cxtzh - the demon that possesses Drake to this day. The dude that wanted to exorcize him was NOT off his rocker, merely a "GAWD WARRIOR."

Anonymous said...

Oh, Dave. I worry.

Anonymous said...

Wow -- James Bond and now Days of Our Lives. You share ALL my strange guilty pleasure interests.

Though, honestly, I kinda hate John Black. The dude just squints one eye and tilts his head 30 degrees to the right in order to express absolutely any emotion. He's like George Clooney in reverse.

And no WAY is he as badass as Wolverine! He doesn't even have six retractable adamantium claws housed in his forearms, for pete's sake!

Anonymous said...


You're just asking for me to drive down, get Chris Sims, and drive up for delivering a few Wildcat-style bolo punches, aren't you?

What brand of crack are you smoking, and where do I get some? I mean, he's in a frickin' soap opera, and you consider him a badass?

Gotta agree with starshot - there's something to be concerned about, dude.

Your pal,

David Campbell said...

I'm sorry, but did you watch the video of him taking out that Bruce Springsteen looking motherfucker? John Black is HARDCORE, soap opera or not. What about that picture of him getting his gun on? Dude is in full-on MERCENARY MODE! You people have to come around to my way of thinking.

McGone said...

Actually I think that was former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon robbing ElectroWoman. His crime spree apparently started by robbing Corey Haim's closet.

Anonymous said...

- at least we were spared McMahon's "SuperBowl Shuffle."

Anonymous said...

Drake Hog-Stain is a much cooler name than John Black.

Anonymous said...

was he or was he not Roman for a while in the late 80's? Now you're telling me his name was John Black? What the hell?!?

Anonymous said...

They thought he was Roman, but then found out he wasn't when the real Roman came back. So he went back to being John Black, even after it was discovered that he was actually the presumed-dead-in-childhood Forrest Alemain.

And the guy playing the bar owner, Chris Kositcheck? *That* actor is now playing Roman.

Anonymous said...

The Jack Black bio is genuinely confusing. As a soap and comics fan, I'd say it goes beyond Wolverine level into Hawkman/Power Girl territory for sheer confusion and the high presence of retcons. Basically, everyone thought he was Roman, but he was actually John Black, a brainwashed priest/agent of his evil stepfather Stefano.

To make matters more confusing, the blond man who helps Marlena at the end of Drake's first scene with her is now playing the real Roman. But at that time, the actor was playing another character.

That said, I love Drake, John, and the John/Marlena pairing. Dave's mocking but afffectionate comments are right on.

Anonymous said...

I know my man-points are gonna take a major decrease here, but personally I think the John Black/Logan comparison fits extremely well. I haven't watched Days in a couple of years so this may have changed in the interim depending on whether or not Bendis writes for them now, but in addition to being a trained killer John also has no idea about anything having to do with his past because of constant brainwashing and false memories, ala Logan.

Also, randomly I remember him wielding a katana to fight an escaped tiger a while back during the Salem Stalker storyline. You can't tell me that doesn't have badass written all over it. I'm with you on this one, Dave.

Anonymous said...

Okay, raise your hand if you actually saw that original appearance back during your college days? (Raises hand) Actually I was always more a fan of the original Roman. Anyway, I just went to the official "Days" website, to see what's happened, what I've missed, in the last 23-24 years and the answer is... apparently nothing. Still the same characters doing the same things. Seriously. How can that be? I don't know. But tell me that Steve/Patch has secretly replaced Nick Fury as head of SHIELD and that Stefano and Tony have teamed up with Doctor Doom, who is secretly the father of both Bo and Hope, to rule eastern Europe while bringing America to its knees by creating untold havoc in Salem by secretly manipulating Victor Kiriakis into luring Bruce Banner there with the promise of a cure that was found by Roman in the secret underground labyrinth of tunnels under Salem General, where he turns into the Hulk and holds Marlena, Kayla, and Billie hostage until the REAL Avengers show up, I'll personally buy two of your fine, fine comic book.

missbhavens said...

See, now I was a diehard DOOL fan back in 7th-8th grade and remember the Original (and eventually returned) Roman and was very, very bitter about the cast change when Roman/Jack showed up.

That being said, John Black kicked SO much more ass than the old curly-topped sensitive Roaman! Curly Romans was merely a small town cop! John Black was a freakin' world spy-ninja-beast!And his back story? Soap Opera Gold. Multi-layered, convoluted, brilliant. Too good to keep him trapped in the guise of Roman Brady. I was so glad he broke loose of the moniker and became his own man.

The new Roman change to yet another way-back DOOL actor is surreal.

John Black: A one-eyebrow raising asskicking soap opera superhero.

(You are so very manlysexy for posting this post!)

West said...

John Black is hilarious as hell.

I've heard no better description of the character or the actor who plays him than "Hogestyn is the William Shatner of soap operas."

Truer words, my friend... Truer words.
*stares off-camera dramatically... as they take too long to fade to commercial*

I have a love/hate relationship with "Days..." I got hooked in college, creating a lifelong interest in Salem goings-on, yet I resent this fact, now that I know Days to be one of the worst soaps of all-time.

After having seen Passions, which may have taken Days' throne during its brief tenure, I blame it all on NBC.

AWFUL stuff. Luckily, "Miguel" jumped ship and landed safely on Desperate Housewives, even turning that into a bit o' big screen love. [/formersoapgeek]

Anonymous said...

How can you forget John Black's greatest moment? Saving Marlena when she was possessed by the devil. Now that's some high quality TVing!

Anonymous said...

Okay, let rephrase then. I think that soap operas can get away with more of the outlandish storytelling that you see in comic books. I completely agree with that. BUT, taking a character and comparing them to Wolverine...oh, wait. It's a non-genre comparison. I mean, I can see it. It just seems odd when discussing soap operas and comic books. Well, then Carly from General Hospital is Jean Grey.


Anonymous said...

What, no evil twin brother? No alien abduction? No accidentally marrying his fiancee's evil alien twin brother?

What kind of soap opera character does he think he is?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Dave, you must be my long lost brother. (How's that for soap opera?) Your comic collection is very similar to my own.

And I've been justify my watching Days "Because it's like watching a comic book" for years.

Wow. Maybe like Alec and Scott Summers, our powers can't hurt the other, but would only make us each stronger.

Anonymous said...

My favorite John Black moment is from a few years back when he broke into the DiMera mansion and proceeded to superkick Rolf in the face. God that was great, it was like something drawn by Jim Aparo.

John is also substantially more cool than Roman Brady, whom I have dubbed "3 Steps Behind Man" for his latent superpower of announcing things people already know.

Jeff said...

Personally, I thought the robber looked more like Kevin MacDonald.

Anonymous said...

I knew exactly who you were talking about the second I saw the name up there. As the only member of the family who refuses to watch that show. Seeing two girls fight it out with light sabers in a garden was the first time I realized comics could be way smarter then TV. Of course even I realize John Black is a bad ass and that news story is one that makes me glad I was watching that one episode where I found out he used to be a special ops guy for Stefano.

Anonymous said...

YES! I totally agree with you on Drake's level of badassness. He's the toughest special-ops priest I know.

Now who can we talk to about casting him in a remake of 'The Stabilizer'?

Anonymous said...

I dunno man, I don't think this crossover would work. Just can't see Stefano teaming up with Modok.

John said...

You so have to watch "Passions" sometime, too.

Oh yeah, you're cordially invited to Club Value Stamp. Give the bouncer my name.

Anonymous said...

How can you forget John Black's greatest moment? Saving Marlena when she was possessed by the devil. Now that's some high quality TVing!

I don't watch soaps, but I totally saw that when I was younger and it was awesome! Unfortunately, I tried to watch the show after that, and moments like that didn't come fast enough so I gave up on it. Still a great cheesy as hell scene.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone here seen a DOOL saga where "Austin" and his girlfriend are trasnported to "The Garden of Eden", which is just astroturf with a blue-screen projection of stars behind it? While enjoying the Garden's myriad fruits, they are attacked by "Satan", who is a portly bearded man with hooves. Austin then engages in a gravity-defying martial-arts fight with Satan, which culminates with his girlfriend spinning head-over-heels while in mid-air and KICKING SATAN IN THE FACE.

Can anyone confirm to me just what the hell was going on in that saga? Or was it some fever dream?

Evan said...

Oh yeah about the whole John Black/Roman thing, isn't John Black like 6 inches taller than Roman. You would have thought Marlena being married to the guy would have noticed that.

Anonymous said...

Gott in Himmel! I never knew...we've all shared this DOOL experience. I feel liberated, like I'm in therapy!!

I thought it was wrong for me to dig DOOL in high school, but there was something so rad about Roman/John being trapped on that island with Connie Francis vying against some megalomaniac and every time he saw a freakin' PAGODA he'd go into some murderous trance!

WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? I watched Street Hawk with Rex Smith for crying out loud! I adored Knight Rider! How could I walk away from THIS?!?

Word Ver - calaca, the name of the country Stephano was from.

Anonymous said...

Now that they've dropped the "Forrest Alamain" thing and have actually made John the biological son of his archenemy Stefano di Mera (at least, I think they have), I think we can truly say that John's origin and history is now more convoluted than any Wolverine...hell, more than Jean Grey.

spacekicker said...

That was pretty much what I needed in my day. lol

notintheface said...

Did John Black use the patented "Aparo backhand" to take down that robber?

Anonymous said...

My wife and daughter are rabid Days fans. Drake Hogestyn and his Eyebrow of Death are the stuff of legend in our household.

When Drake raises the Eyebrow of Death, Chuck Norris wets his pants and bawls like a Catholic schoolgirl in trouble.

Anonymous said...

No one strikes fear in Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks those stupid eyebrows right off.

Soap Operas are just dumb. I mean, it's not like comics are any high art (oh don't flame, you know I'm right), but I can't watch five minutes of any of them without feeling my IQ drop.

Anonymous said...

The best John Black moment I was fortunate enough to witness was when Sammy shot him with a gun and he dodged the bullet. Matrix style. No shit. Rather than stepping aside, the guy actually bent backwards. The special effects, as you can well imagine, were breathtaking. I actually have the clip on a DVD. I am now compelled to go rip it in and post in on YouTube.

Oh, and just a quick note of defense (even though I'm an anonymous poster). I used to work at a television station that ran DOOL, and part of my job was monitoring the satellite feed for the show.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, I've missed a lot by not visiting this blog in the last week (or two?!?) Sorry about that, Dave, but thanks for the notice.

If John doesn't wake up from this coma soon, I'm going to go mad. The man is transfixing. I wish someone would post a YouTube video of him dressed as a nun from last summer, when I was first introduced to him.

But, wait, this is the best:

How could you miss posting THAT ONE?!? That man can act!

Anonymous said...

You totally saved yourself by brining Robert Scorpio into the equation. Without Robert or Luke as measuring stick I have a difficult time figuring out how tough/smart arse guys on other shows are.

Anonymous said...

As a long time Scorpio/Spencer fan, I can appreciate your love of Black.
The soap haters out there don't realize the James Bond aspect the male characters can bring to a show. You can bet I'd read a comic book with my daytime heroes in it!

Anonymous said...

I used to watch DOOL when I would visit my grandmom - it was her favorite daytime show. The house came to a halt when her stories came on.

You're right, Dave, John's backstory is wonderfully cracktastic enough to make for a comicbook hero's.

Anonymous said...

This might be the greatest thing I've read on a blog.

I can't stop laughing at how perfect it is. About five years back, I was having dinner with some friends at El Cholo in Santa Monica and Drake and his family were seated right next to us. I've seen everyone out here - I've done bong rips with a regular from Buffy, pounded booze with Kiefer Sutherland and Vince Vaughn, and been handed religious propaganda by Prince, and the Drake sighting is far and away my personal #1. That dude is supreme.

EDC said...

i remember when john was held captive
on an island, and the john that had been in salem was a clone, then a few years later he was a cop,
then a priest, then marlena got possessed by a cat-monster,
now i think hes a cop again..
i wasted my childhood staying home
watching this catastrophuck.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY someone else noticed the resemblance between Hogestyn and Shatner. Have you ever noticed how Drake's hair looks scarily like the Shatner mask the psycho wears in the movie Halloween?

Anonymous said...

"Oh yeah about the whole John Black/Roman thing, isn't John Black like 6 inches taller than Roman. You would have thought Marlena being married to the guy would have noticed that."

So true, but my all time favorite was when Marlena was in bed with Roman one day and John later in the week, and I realized John had LOTS of chest hair, while Roman had none. This was following Roman's return, when Marlena was confused about which man she really loved.

But, for God's sake, did the woman not notice that little detail when Roman/John returned from captivity? Apparently not.

Nevertheless, the possession storyline notwithstanding, I've watched the show since 1966, and I'm in mourning. Drake has been fired...end of an era.

Unknown said...

Drake Hogestyn is back and chewing up the scenery. Now John Black has had his memory erased and he is again the assassin he was programmed to be. He failed to kill his prey when he discovered that it was his mother (John Black has always had amnesia). He is half-Brady and half-DiMera. He is in fact the half-brother of his archenemy Stefano DiMera. It's wonderful. In his current assassin mentality he is funny and even gets to smoke big cigars. The show would not be the same without him.
I am thrilled that you have honored him with an entry in your blog.

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