Category Archives: Comic Books

G.I. Joe #35 by Mark Bright

In the numbered 30s, the monthly G.I. Joe comic was a scheduling challenge. The series was about to get a new regular artist, certain issues needed to advertise key toys based on the scheduling of particular TV commercials that hyped the comic, and of course, every issue needed to be approved by folks at Hasbro. Issues #35 and #36 had six artists between them, one of whom was Mark D. Bright.

In 1985 Bright was drawing Power Man and Iron Fist, which was only published bi-monthly but also about to be abruptly canceled, and Bright was about to start his run on Iron Man, both with the same writer. That would be Denny O’Neil, who was editing G.I. Joe. The pages in Joe #35 and #36 were smartly broken up so that each art team was basically handling one set of characters in one environment. Bright, along with inker Andy Mushynsky, got the subplot with Breaker, Clutch, and Rock N’ Roll driving cross country and having a bizarre run-in with the Dreadnoks.

When I first read this, I was disappointed because they’re in their civilian clothes, driving a civilian car, and spending a lot of time not fighting marquee Cobra characters. But now I appreciate this bit of business, that we see Joes on R&R, attempting to do something specific (surf), and specific to their characters (“Rock N’ Roll was a surfer in Malibu prior to enlistment,” explains his toy packaging). (I felt similarly about the animated episode “Flint’s Vacation,” by the way — it’s weird to see a Joe in civvies and visiting his cousin, but now I find it’s one of the more interesting episodes.)

Bright excels at drawing vehicles, but that’s not to say he had any trouble drawing faces, poses, costumes, and the like. What is striking about this page is that it’s one you would find in almost no other Marvel comic book in the entire decade. The X-Men don’t drive, they fly or teleport. And when they do fly, while we see them in their jet, it never dogfights another plane. And when the X-Men relax, they just play baseball. And as integral as the Batmobile and Batcycle are to the Caped Crusader, rarely is there an interesting chase involving Batman, his cool vehicles, and some villains. As I mentioned in my Rob Liefeld post recently, the fact that this is a 1956 Bel Air Nomad adds something to the proceedings, and not just because Larry Hama likes hot cars.

Bright draws in a crisp Marvel 1970s/’80s house style, which I mean as a compliment, and Mushynsky’s inks nicely delineate textures like hair, cloth, glass, chrome, hay, and flame. This is not a page that jumps out at me, but when I’m holding the original art and I see the light reflect off the ink, the small bits of Wite-Out, and the bluelines printed on the bristol, I am reminded that drawing even one page of a professional comic book takes talent and gusto. Click to enlarge:

Mark Bright would become series regular artist four years later, and one day, I can properly demonstrate to all you nice readers out there just how much I appreciate Bright’s art. But in the meantime, what do you see in this page?

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Remembering Denny O’Neil / interview

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G.I. Joe Yearbook #4 by Salmons

GIJoe Yearbook 4 pg 60 TEASE

Tony Salmons had a brief connection with G.I. Joe.

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Remembering Russ Heath

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Podcast – Department of Nerdly Affairs

Rob Paterson and Don Chisholm take a biweekly deep dive on their podcast, Department of Nerdly Affairs. Their topics range from Taiwanese comics to Chinese webnovels to hero pulps to indie RPGs. Recently I guested, and we three talked about G.I. Joe history, toys, comics, and animation. Thanks, gents! Listen here.

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G.I. Joe #44 cover by Zeck & Beatty

GI Joe 44 cover original art detail by Mike Zeck and John Beatty

Mike Zeck needs no introduction. Here’s a short one anyway. He’s best known for four things: a three-year run on “Captain America,” the 1986 “Punisher” miniseries that made Frank Castle into a real character and not a Spider-Man foil; and 40 or so unbelievable G.I. Joe covers. His career in comics is bigger than that, but you only asked for a short introduction.

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G.I. Joe #26 George Roussos original color guide art

GI Joe 26 pg14 COLOR GUIDE detail Continue reading

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G.I. Joe Yearbook #3 by Ron Wagner

G.I. Joe Yearbook 3 pg 4 Wagner DeMulder

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G.I. Joe original comic art by Lee Weeks

G.I. Joe 107 page 3 detail, Lee Weeks and Randy Emberlin, with color by Tim Finn

In 1990 Lee Weeks had recently finished at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art (now just “The Kubert School”) and was regularly drawing Daredevil for Marvel.  Before that job started, fellow alum Andy Kubert had helped get him a cover job on G.I. Joe, and in the middle of that 10-issue cover run, Weeks drew a fill-in issue as regular artist Mark Bright’s time on the series was winding down. Continue reading

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G.I. Joe commercials – 1987 Effie award winner

Effie Award 1987 catalog partial cover

No doubt you’re familiar with the Academy Awards, given to films and film artists, planners, and scientists.  Or the Emmys, given for television, or the Grammys and Tonys, for recorded music and Broadway theatre.  You’ve maybe heard of the Clios, which we think of as the Oscars of advertising, but that category is more broadly defined on the Clio website as “advertising, design, interactive and communications.”  And there are the Effies, for “marketing communications” — given to marketers by the marketing industry.

G.I. Joe won a silver Effie in 1987. Continue reading

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