Ho boy. It’s difficult to discuss the 1989-1991 G.I. Joe animated series without stirring up strong emotions. Pop culture recognizes the fun of the 1983-1987 series, whether it be Cobra Commander’s voice, the Public Service Announcements, or all the property damage. And dig a little deeper, and you get superb voice acting, smart writing, and strong characterization. And of course, action! But these are not as present in the later episodes. Artist extraordinaire Russ Heath, who designed the animation character models for the Marvel/Sunbow episodes, did come back for most of that second round, but the change in tone and lower production budget didn’t treat his design work as well. The DIC run is hard to watch.
Case in point: Cubby. Winter Operations Specialist Sub-Zero has a polar bear cub named Cubby. He wears clothes, stands upright, and he gives Sgt. Slaughter a hard time. Man, I’m just going to have to do an episode review next post, it’s just too replete with weird and crazy. Anyway, here’s Russ Heath’s awesome drawing:
If you want a whole book of awesome Russ Heath G.I. Joe drawings, go buy this and this. (If you’re near Boston, buy it here.) But don’t think too hard about this:
Or do think too hard about it and let me know in the comments.
5 responses to “Russ Heath “Cubby” model sheet”
I’m surprised that Cubby wasn’t included as an animal companion pack-in with the 1990 Sub-Zero figure. He is kinda cute, too. But yeah, it’s ideas like that which gave the DIC series its bad rep. I’m gonna have to dig out my DVDs and check out that episode.
Thanks for the Russ Heath links. One of my favorite artists ever!
The timeline of toy production probably didn’t allow for this, and it was likely an idea the writers came up with. But yeah, I’d buy that version of Sun-Zero.
You can almost tell that Heath tried the best he could to make Cubby not look like a funny cartoon character animal. That second drawing at least makes him look like a real bear. But there’s only so much you can do when you have to add fatigues to the bear.
Cubby’s first appearance in the episode verges on the surreal. DIC’s weirdness quotient is what draws me to the series. Look forward to a review.
Yeah, that first shot is strange. I’m guessing it worked better in script and storyboard form, and that that scene lost something with animation and music editing. Which happened a lot in both the Sunbow and the DIC versions of G.I. Joe.