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Lothar Zogg is a name that has been reused several times in different contexts over the past eighty years. I love the way it sounds, partly because it's a deliciously evil space emperor-sounding name, and partly because it has such a nice rhythm.

Lothar (without the Zogg) was originally Mandrake the Magician's assistant. Mandrake came from a comic strip created in 1934 by Lee Falk. Mandrake was travelling through Africa when he met Lothar, who was at that time a prince, heir to an alliance of different tribes. He forsook his birthright to join Mandrake and fight crime.

Lothar was enormously strong, sometimes referred to as the world's strongest man. He was togged in a leopard skin and a fez. For a long time, his character spoke poor English and was basically Mandrake's manservant. Eventually (about thirty years later) he learned better English and found some new clothes, but even in his original role, he was a milestone in the racial integration of comics, fighting alongside Mandrake and commanding respect from other characters.

The second Lothar Zogg emerged right around the time of the modernization of the original. He was James Earl Jones' character in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A lieutenant under Major "King" Kong (Slim Pickens), Zogg is described in the script when he first appears as "a short, bull-necked man in his early thirties, smoking and dunking a cake. He reads 'Nitelife' magazine." Kong calls him "a damned good bombardier. In fact, [he's] the best damned bombardier in 843rd Wing."

Lothar attempts to talk Kong down when the pilot decides to continue on the mission after receiving an order to turn back, saying that there is no way the enemy would know the correct code to countermand orders; he's argued down because the order did not come in over the secure equipment, which was damaged beyond repair by a missile attack. He also stays on the plane with Kong when the rest of the crew bails and parachutes.

Again, Lothar, despite the fact that he is referred to as a "colored man" throughout the script, represents a step forward as a strong black character in a thoroughly white movie made during a more racist era than today. He's one of the strongest characters in the movie, perhaps the only important character who isn't deeply flawed in some way.

(One interesting side note is that there is a Group Captain Lionel Mandrake in the film (played by Pete Sellers), assistant to Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), paralleling the Lothar/Mandrake duo of the comic.)

The final occurrence of the name Lothar Zogg comes in the form of the villain's sidekick in Sean McNamara's glorious 1998 movie, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, fourth in the 3 Ninjas canon. Zogg, played here by the inimitable Jim Varney, is the right hand of the evil Medusa, played by Loni Anderson. Medusa and Lothar Zogg have a ninja force that has taken control of Mega Mountain, a theme park. The 3 Ninjas have no choice but to kick ass and take the park back with the help of Dave Dragon, played by Hulk Hogan (who else?). The movie is not quite up to the par of Dr. Strangelove; in fact, it's the 35th worst movie on all of the Internet Movie Database.


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