A guest post by Skinny
It is a word that you don’t hear used a lot any more. That is because they just don’t happen too much any more. Our lives today are fast, We don’t follow Ferris Bueller’s advice to stop and look around. We also don’t put our hair in a mohawk in the shower. What I mean is, life is even faster and we can only take things in chunks. Anything long lasting is intimidating. G.I.Joe from day one continues to be something that was built to last. An exception.
It all began in 1982 when Hasbro visited the Marvel Offices and sought out a creator to bring their re-envisioned version of G.I.Joe to life. Chosen by elimination, Larry Hama took what could have been a side project and infused it with real storytelling.
The late Herb Trimpe, a veteran at Marvel comics, brought his art to the table. Jim Shooter, Todd McFarlane, Rod Whigham, Ron Wagner, Andrew Wildman, Michael Goldman, Mike Zeck, Mike Vosburg and most recently S.L. Gallant, Brian Shearer, J. Brown and Netho Diaz among countless others all contributed to the success and look of G.I.Joe.
250 issues. It has run from 1982 to 1994 and then again in 2010 picking up exactly where they left off in 1994. There were a few half issues in there expanding the stories from the sidelines, but the official 250th issue comes out today.
We have seen new characters, beloved comic only characters, the deaths of characters, the rebirths of characters, minds reprogrammed, cat fights, towns taken over, civil war, alien robots, disguises, close calls, patriotism, imposters, flashbacks, characters seeing the light, ninjas, detailed locales based on reality, a little bit of advice, military jargon, comical moments, and even one issue used as the basis for a movie about a giant asteroid hurtling toward Earth. It is the golden boy and Mom’s apple pie vs Orson Welles in a hood. It is the many faces of diversity both physical and of character.
The characters as Larry has admitted in several interviews are based on the people he knows so he can keep track of them. This provides a wonderful consistency and is the main reason no one can ever really nail down the character’s essences like he can. It would be like you trying to write about someone else’s uncle. You could get some things right but there would be something missing. I would love to meet the practical joker Airtight is based on he/she must be a wild one.
G.I.Joe is centered around the life of a stand out main character, who cannot talk. Imagine creating this tragic tale of a man who expresses himself in other ways besides speech. It is indeed a tragic tale. G.I. Joe, says Hama, is Junior woodchucks with guns. G.I. Joe takes us all around the world and back in time. G.I.Joe is different things to different people. Hama himself says it best however.
“They don’t understand the intrinsic fantasy. G.I.Joe isn’t a military fantasy, it’s not a war book, it’s a fantasy about loyalty and camaraderie. Which to a ten year old kid is an extremely powerful fantasy because every ten year old kid has been betrayed. Obviously. The idea of best friends that never let you down and will stand up for you; if you are in trouble they will come and get you. That’s a powerful fantasy and its also a fantasy of doing the right thing and having integrity without looking for the reward and about duty, and old fashioned things like that… that to a kid represents order and it’s very comforting.” (Larry Hama YoutubeInterview by Roy Turner 2018)
To center a comic around that theme, and not just make it a toy comic, pushed it into the pantheon of comics that last into the hundreds of issues. Iconic comics.