Told at many conventions and in many interviews is the prehistory of G.I. Joe, how Larry Hama pitched a military comic to Marvel called “Fury Force.” He sketched out six heroes — covert military types — along with a motorcycle, a van, and a secret base underground base. And later grafted it onto Ron Rudat’s G.I. Joe action figure designs, and made it the through line for the monthly G.I. Joe comic book.
Fury Force had a helicopter, too.
Not much to say about this, except that it hangs on my wall and is a wonderful piece by Ron Wagner and Bob McLeod. It’s been great to see Wagner back on G.I. Joe at IDW, and there are twenty books from Marvel and DC I wish Bob McLeod were inking. His talents are stellar, and it’s unfortunate he’s not active in the industry. Click to enlarge:
Part of the thrill of this image is that it pairs the obscure Spearhead (and his lynx, Max), who never showed up on the G.I. Joe cartoon and barely appeared in print, with the slightly higher profile Tunnel Rat and Airtight. And it’s replete with mood, and just wonderful, wonderful spotted blacks. Here’s a detail.
Here’s a great example (not from G.I. Joe) showing how much decision-making can go into inking. McLeod’s website has numerous before and after examples, some where he maintains the style of the pencil artist, others where he’s given more leeway and adds much of himself. And then another page of such examples.
Sorry for the missing weeks. Things have been crazy, but I’m back on schedule with more art, memories, and anecdotes.
Today’s post is a photocopy of Herb Trimpe’s pencils to Marvel Comics’ G.I. Joe issue #1, cover dated March 1982. Click to enlarge.
Trimpe clearly put a lot of effort into this, as evidenced by the distinct facial types, lush backgrounds, and dense spotting of blacks.
Here’s the page as printed, now with inks by Bob McLeod and colors by Glynis Oliver. Notice how much McLeod has redrawn and softened the organic stuff.
When Marvel issued its G.I. Joe Volume 1 graphic novel in 2002 (reprinted more recently by IDW Publishing as Classic G.I. Joe Volume 1), a friend re-read the issues contained therein — #s 1-10, and made an observation. He remarked that early G.I. Joe was very much a weird Marvel ’70s-post Silver Age comic book, what with Trimpe’s Kirby faces and invented Kirby technology. That it didn’t become the familar ’80s G.I. Joe we know until late in or after the first year. (Issue 6 is another good example, with the Joes building a weird desert dune buggy.) Just look at the tech framing on the top and bottom of panel 1, and the computer in panels 4 and 5. And not that it carries through to the inks, but look at Austin’s cheekbone in panel 3 — a Kirby line! — and his eyes as well.
What other artistic influences do you see?