Tag Archives: G.I. Joe cartoon

The Other Half of the Battle: “The Cobra Strikes”

In this new semi-regular series here at arealamericanbook, I take a look at key episodes of G.I. Joe (1983), G.I. Joe (1989), and GI Joe Extreme (1995) for your infotainment enjoyment.  Yes, there was a television show called “GI Joe Extreme”.

“The Cobra Strikes”
original airdate 9/12/83
Written by Ron Friedman

The plot in one sentence: Cobra blackmails the world with its matter teleportation device in the very first episode of G.I. Joe ever!

Best thing about this episode: This frame:

G.I. Joe "The Cobra Strikes" screencap Duke kicking

It starts as a face kick, but ends up being a neck kick.

Weirdest thing about this episode: Duke’s about 6 feet tall, right?  So what’s up with Ramar?

G.I. Joe "The Cobra Strikes" Duke and Ramar

Personal Trivia:  I don’t think I caught this in its initial broadcast.

Best line:  “The shipment was difficult to assemble, and I lost more time climbing to this ridiculously melodramatic location!” (Destro to Cobra Commander)

Worst line: “I’m going to kick the mustard out of that crazy hotdog!” (Duke)

Number of times a Joe kicks a Cobra in the face/neck in this episode:  One.

Number of times a Joe kicks a Cobra in the face/neck in the entire series:  Two.

Historical significance?  After Masters of the Universe started a new trend, G.I. Joe was the next big kids cartoon to debut in first-run syndication.  You can bet children dulled by the tame and static Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears cartoons of the 1970s had never seen so much mayhem.  To wit:

G.I. Joe "The Cobra Strikes" screencap Duke Scarlett Skystrikers

Most Skystrikers don't make it off the runway, destroyed in a Cobra raid.

Does it hold up?  The animation is the best of the entire series, with more fluidity and effects than any other episode until the higher budget G.I. Joe: The Movie came along in 1987.  The villains are delicious, there’s a nod to proper military hierarchy (something that many episodes eschew), and there’s more face punching, face kicking, and explosions than almost any other episode.  But there’s also a little too much goofiness, from Cobra’s mind-controlled slaves to the general concept of the matter teleportation device.

A Real American Book gives it 4 out of 5 MacGuffins

I give it 4 out of 5 MacGuffins.

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Filed under The Other Half of the Battle (Episode Reviews)

Behind the scenes of G.I. Joe – PSA #10 Storyboard

G.I. Joe PSA

Endorsed by the National Child Safety Council, a non-profit founded in 1955, the now infamous G.I. Joe public service announcements (PSAs) were created to elevate the series’ profile as an agent for pro-social values and to ward off criticism from parents’ groups that the G.I. Joe cartoon was a) violent and b) a half-hour toy commercial.  35 PSAs were created in all, with topics ranging from not giving in to peer pressure, to nutrition, and to owning up to one’s own mistakes.  The format was likely borrowed from Filmation’s 1983 series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  In that show, at episode’s end a marquee character would directly address the audience and refer to an incident from the proceeding episode.  The Joe ones were different, working both in “regular” continuity wherein the Joes spoke to kids in-scene, and not the television audience, but also a kind of parallel universe where the Joes were always near suburban danger and utterly lacking in top secret status.

For Footloose’s rapid-fire instructions, PSA #10 is one of my favorites — there’s no way I’d remember what to do in my own soccer crisis unless I had a transcript handy.  Also, this is perhaps one of three incidents in all of G.I. Joe animation 1983 to 2000 where the animators showed blood.  I appreciate the added dash of seriousness.

Here’s the storyboard for PSA #10.  I should know who drew this, but don’t.  I’ll check my sources and update this post when I can.

G.I. Joe PSA #10 storyboard pg 1

G.I. Joe PSA #10 storyboard pg 2 of 3

G.I. Joe PSA #10 storyboard pg 3 of 3

For those unfamiliar with storyboard formatting, here are a few items of note:

-The second panel — the stretched out one — represents a camera move.

-The numbers under the panels represent length of footage in feet and frames.  Old school film editing (and animating) was measured not in seconds/frames, but in feet/frames, with a foot being the physical length of 16 frames of film, and a frame lasting 1/24th of a second.  So where it says “SLUGGED BOARD” at the top left of page one, the board artist has timed out to the audio track each shot’s duration, or is providing a time table for the animators to show how long each shot should last.

As a special thank you, I’d like to acknowlege YouTube user PSAGIJoe, who has uploaded the original, non-satirized PSAs.  You can find them here.

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Filed under Animation, G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes of G.I. Joe – Heath Snake-Eyes

Today’s art peak brings you several photocopies of Russ Heath’s model sheets for the 1985 season of the animated G.I. Joe.  While the Snake-Eyes action figure was iconically all black, the TV series had previously shown him in dark blue.  (All black doesn’t “read” well in animation.)  For 1985, SE went dark grey, which to my eye reads better than the dark blue and works better as a stand-in for black since dark blue is already associated with Cobra.  Russ Heath’s front view:

Clearly based, as many of his drawings were, on Hasbro’s internal presentation artwork:

This one, a black and white photocopy, doesn’t have a signature, and I’ll admit I don’t know who painted it.  To my eye it’s not Ron Rudat — the proportions and clothing folds don’t match with work that I know is Rudat.  The anatomy is tight, which says George Woodbridge, but his Joe work was colored and black ink, not rendered paintings.  Maybe one of you eagle eyed Joe collectors can correct me in the comments.  There is a slightly better reproduction of this image, still a black and white photocopy of a color photocopy, though, in Vincent Santelmo’s Official 30th Anniversary Salute to G.I. Joe.

Two more views by Heath:

And SE’s undercover disguise, drawn by Bruce Timm, from the beginning of “Battle for the Train of Gold.”  To give you a sense of the timeline, this was drawn in August 1984, and the episode aired 14  months later.

And what appears to be an unused alternate from same.

I’m not sure where in the storyline of “Train” there would have been an opportunity for SE to wear this, but there is a horse farm in act 3, so who knows?


Filed under Animation, G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes