Psyche-Out design by Rudat

I’ve always had a soft spot for Psyche-Out, subtly 1987’s weirdest G.I. Joe action figure. Here’s mine, missing his two shoulder clips. (Sorry, there’s 25% of his weirdness gone right off the bat.)

And here’s Ron Rudat’s pencil final for the character. This would get turned into painted presentation art, then a sculpt input drawing (aka a “turnaround”), and then a wax sculpture.

My favorite thing about this drawing is Rudat’s nebulous notation for “Electronics of some sort” on Psyche-Out’s chest piece. My favorite aspect of this character in general comes from his action figure’s dossier, written by Larry Hama. It reads, in part, that “Psyche-Out got his degree in psychology from Berkeley and worked on various research projects involving the inducement of paranoia by means of low frequency radio waves.” And then explaining what “Deceptive Warfare” is, Psyche-Out’s specialty, the dossier continues: “…you see a commercial on TV ten times a day for a particular brand of cookies. One day at the supermarket, you’ve overcome by a sudden craving for cookies. Confronted by an array of unknown brands, you choose the one that you saw advertised. They’ve won… And you’ve lost.”

The day I bought this toy my brother and I then went to our local video store, which was called Video Cassette Rentals. We must have just been to Lowen’s, an extraordinary mom and pop toy shop and just a few blocks over. I was so struck by that cookie reference that I read it aloud to my brother, us sitting there in the back seat. Kevin probably thought that Psyche-Out’s neon green jacket and wacky satellite dishes made for an unrealistic and unappealing Joe, but A) I thought they were cool and always gravitated more towards the sci-fi in Joe, and B) I think I also identified with clean shaven blondes on the G.I. Joe team since I looked like them. But this was the first time I had an inkling that the back-of-package dossiers were unusually written.

But returning to Rudat’s wonderful design and drawing (that’s two different skills! Design being one and drawing being another), I’m impressed by those six solar cells on his arms. It makes sense that his gear wouldn’t just be battery powered. (Insert joke here about Night Force Psyche-Out’s ineffectiveness.) I like that Rudat is thinking through what such a soldier would need in the field, and yet if I didn’t know what these do-dads did, they offered just enough of an impression to be an addition to this costume without being confusing or distracting. Also great in this art is Rudat’s handling of Psyche-Out’s quilted jacket.

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Livestream! Also: Podcasts

*** Links for the last two months below the fold! ***

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Barbeque colors by Rudat

G.I. Joe fans are probably familiar with this guy:

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A Real American Book! 2020 in Review

It’s after mid-February, so it’s past time time for my annual “what did I do for the last 12 months” post. Rather than running January 1st to December 31st, my book year runs from about the end of January to the start of February because I teach and traditionally the winter break is a productive time.

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Cobrember 2020 part 3

I invented a G.I. Joe internet meme wherein one draws a Cobra character and posts it each day in December.

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Now Co-Hosting Talking Joe podcast

After my big interview with Mark “Funky Bunch” for a special episode of Talking Joe (between episodes 103 and 104, December 2020), Mark told me that the podcast was at a crossroads. After two years of hard work, founder Chief Stride was retiring, and Mark was considering a change in format or was a looking for a new co-host. And would I be interested? I’ll go into this more in a week or two in my big A Real American Book! year-in-review post, but the answer turned out to be yes.

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Cobrember 2020 part 2

I drew a Cobra agent or soldier every day in December.

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Rampart by Payette

James A. Payette made an important but limited contribution to G.I. Joe.

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Cobrember 2020 part 1

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Sgt. Slaughter by Woodbridge

In the development process at Hasbro, every G.I. Joe figure that made it to retail (and some that didn’t!) got a fancy drawing or painting whereby the higher-ups could see the character as a bold, dramatic illustration. This wasn’t the package art that we all saw on toy store shelves, but rather, internal only to Hasbro. A pencil turnaround of the figure from front, side, and rear views didn’t offer enough punch, nor did a sculpt or a casting. George Woodbridge, better known for military history books and Mad Magazine, was one of the eight or so artists who created these. (He also delineated most of the 1988 turnarounds.)

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