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I figured with all of the attention Dr. Venom is getting on the site this week, it would be neat for me to spend a few minutes talking to one of the most influential folks behind the character of Dr. Venom.  Mike Vosberg was the artist on the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic way back in those days, and the look was the immortal Cobra scientist was born from his hands.  But trust me, you know Mike Vosberg from a lot of other things beyond just G.I. Joe.  He was the man who drew the comic pages for the Tales from the Crypt TV series, and he has also done storyboarding for countless Hollywood projects.
For these few minutes, though, I talked to him about G.I. Joe, and about Dr. Venom specifically.  Some of his answers are interesting…and for anyone who thinks Grand Moff Tarkin is a good head for a Venom custom, turns out there’s a reason for that!  Click the “Read the rest of this Entry” link below to read the full interview, and a huge thanks to Larry Hama and Mike Vosberg for setting up this interview!

1 – How did you get started with the G.I. Joe comic book series?

I had just finished up work on the ‘She-hulk series and since I was under contract to Marvel, they had to find something to keep me busy. So I wound up on GI Joe.  I doubt that it would have been my choice.

2 – When you first started work on G.I. Joe, as a licensed title, what were the expectations of you or the book in general?

When I started work, it was just another comic book…not a high profile.

3 – As a licensed book, what was the reputation that surrounded the Joe book at the beginning?

It sold really well, so you got a nice royalty check as a bonus.

4 – By the time your work on the book was done, had its reputation changed at all, and were there any renewed expectations?

To be honest, I was completely removed from whatever business/political/merchandising machinations that were going on at the time. I realized

that it was a very popular book with younger boy readers. I was very popular with my nephew because every new toy and GI doll was sent to me
for reference.

5 – Your time on the title happened during some fairly influential moments in the beginning of the comic’s history.  Did you have any inclination that the universe you were involved with would still carry such a devoted fan following twenty-five years later?

Had I know then…. I had no idea that the books would prove to be probably the most popular comic feature I worked on. All I knew was that I was very

disappointed in the finished product: I wasn’t a fan of the inker. consequently, I either gave all the returned art away to kids or sold it very cheaply.

6 – Who was your favorite character to draw?  Why?

The Baroness and Destro. I was never too inspired by the “uniforms” on the regular characters.

7 – When drawing/designing the characters, how much leeway did you have for “artistic influence”?  Were they laid out bit-by-bit, or did you have any input at all into the character’s look?

Larry hama suggested when I first started drawing the feature that I could “cast” my characters, and simply pick out a “celebrity/personality” for each one.  I probably did that for a few of the Joes.

8 – One of the characters who made his debut during your time on the book was Dr. Venom, and as a Larry Hama creation (instead of Hasbro) did you have any input into his look or appearance?

I don’t remember if Larry sent me a character design sketch for Dr. Venom, but I do remember distinctly basing him on the great English character actor Peter Cushing…though I don’t know how much of that was evident after the inking process.

9 – Dr. Venom had many very unique facial expressions.  Were any of those based on people you had contact with?  Would you admit it if they were?

Again, I was looking at a lot of Peter Cushing. You’ve probably seen those same expressions in any number of Hammer films.

10 – You drew Dr. Venom’s first appearance in the Marvel series (Issue #10) as well as his last (Issue #19).  Did you have any particular affinity for the character?  Did you feel any kind of “ownership”?

I certainly never felt any ownership, but I definitely enjoyed drawing the character, and his rivalry with Quinn [sic].

11 – Do you have a favorite scene or sequence that you worked on during your time on G.I. Joe?

I do remember the sequence where the Lancaster crash lands on the beach and an elderly couple are nonchalantly watching the

whole process. I based the couple on my parents, so they got a kick out of seeing themselves in a comic.

12 – What projects are you working on currently?

The third Narnia film, Voyage of the Dawntreader, I worked on as a storyboard artist. I just finished inking a graphic novel called RIP,MD about a little boy

who is a doctor for monsters; it’s pencilled by Mitch Shauer and colored by Mike Lessa and it was a project that was just a joy to work on. I’m also currently
doing storyboards on the Marvel’s new animated Avengers series. And there is my own personal graphic novel called “Retrowood” which is in the last
stages of production.

13 – Out of all different mediums, film, television, or comics, which do you prefer to work on?

I prefer storyboarding for live action films and doing my own comics.

14 – What are some similarities and unique aspects of each?

You’re always telling stories using a series of pictures. How those pictures are presented, differ from form to form- whether they are arranged on a printed

page, shown on an animatic, or used a source to set up film shots.
Once again, I really want to thank Mr. Vosberg for taking some time out of his very busy schedule to answer some questions and talk about twenty-five year old comic books!