Tag Archives: Sean Deyoe

That First Time I Wrote a G.I. Joe Book – Part Three

In our last episode, Tim wrote an entire issue of the RISD student newspaper!

All that’s left of the original print run

When the print run was delivered the following Monday – The kickoff day of G.I. Joe Week! – I was giddy.  3000 copies were waiting at the mailroom, and I spent my lunch hour placing them in student mailboxes.  (RISD had 2000 students, so naturally I figured I would take the remainder.)  Regular editor Andy Dill helped, which I wasn’t expecting, but greatly appreciated.

I got great feedback from friends and acquaintances.  Some specifically loved the issue.  Others were just impressed by the commitment to take on the project.  And others still had different reactions.  Giant trash cans and round metal recycling bins lined the mailroom, overflowing each night with the day’s junk mail from 1800 undergraduates and 200 grads – catalogs, opened envelopes, memos from school.  After I disseminated Mixed Media, I hovered to see a few random reactions from people opening their mailboxes.  What was this green thing inside, anyway?  I also rescued about 30 copies from the trash.  I had plans to mail the issue to family and friends far and wide, and a vague notion to take a few hundred up the road to Hasbro, in Pawtucket.  (That never came to be.)

I was standing next to a trash can while two young women sorted through their mail.  They were in a hurry since lunch time was short.  “Bill, bill, junk, junk,” complained one, “What the fuck is this?!” she demanded of no one, looking at my masterpiece.  She threw it in the trash can and walked off in a huff.  Her friend finished her own sorting, tossed a few papers and her Mixed Media, and then noticed me standing right there, looking back at her and the trashcan.  In my arms were 40 copies.  She paused, looked in the direction of her friend, looked back at me, looked in the trash can, slowly pulled out her copy, and darted after her friend.

The issue turned out better than I expected, and I floated through the rest of my boring Wintersession short term class.  Designer Sean Deyoe had smartly separated the main article and the episode guide through margins and differing font sizes.  He had cropped and zoomed in wherever he wanted, and with me sitting quietly next to him, had slaved away on that killer back cover.  Two small production errors appear in the final edition – on the front cover and back cover, no less! — but I’m still so giddy with the end product that they don’t bother me.  Either because he was ready to move on or because my issue had broken him, Deyoe quit one issue later.  Andy Dill hung on as editor for a bit until some movement at the Office of Student Life installed two friends, Cory Mitchell and Mark Hoffmann, as new editors before the year was out.  They stayed on through our senior year and nicely revitalized the newspaper.  I would go on to write another article and submit a comic or two, but they were school related.  My ‘80s pop culture intrusions on Mixed Media were over.

Leave a comment

Filed under Prehistory

That First Time I Wrote a G.I. Joe Book – Part Two

In our last episode, Tim decided to write an entire issue of the RISD student newspaper.

Mixed Media had its own office next to the Tap Room, which served alcohol before my time (hence the name), and is famous for being the site of an early, if not the first, Talking Heads performance.  When I was at RISD, this was a seldom-used space for music and drama, and tucked away next to it was a claustrophobic closet with a scanner, a Mac, and two desks.  The Mixed Media office.  Weekly meetings took place there, but no one attended besides editor Andy Dill, designer Sean Deyoe, and calendar organizer James Holland.  I had joked to Andy that he could take off for the issue, that me writing the whole thing was tantamount to guest editing it, and he was fine with that.  I sat down with Deyoe and explained that I wanted to have a lot of images.  Deyoe was a talented graphic designer, and had used MM as a place to experiment and play.  Because no one cared about it, the stakes weren’t high, but since it was a “real” publication, printed by a press on newsprint, it was a worthwhile project.

Deyoe was impressed (and later, probably bothered) at how many images I had ready.  This meant extra work for him.  Again, MM was dying of attrition.  The issue prior to mine had 16 pages (one of them blank) and 7 images, and the issue before that ran a paltry 8 pages (one of them blank) and featured three images.  Three!

Mine was a return to form:  32 pages with 64 images.

The contrast was clear.  I knew that even if people didn’t care for my content, they would notice this hefty issue, four times as big as the issue before the issue before.  Even better, Dill reasoned that since we had left over printing money from the previous few issues, we could splurge on mine, and offered a single color ink, something to go with the black.   The choice could only be a military green.  I solicited articles and art, and got three comics from friends, and polished my giant history and episode guide.  Holland brought in the calendar and I beefed it up with several fake G.I. Joe-themed events on and around campus, including a five-day Cobra invasion of Providence.   Deyoe scanned all my photos and comics, picked fonts, redrew the Cobra logo in Illustrator (for someone’s t-shirt design, not MM), and didn’t mind when I pitched him a back cover concept that would take longer to lay out than entire issues – a MM version of the 1980s Real American Hero toy card backs.  I also drew the cover, badly, which my roommate Peter Demarest, posed for.

"Tim Finn" "Sean Deyoe" RISD

Front cover/back cover, art by Tim Finn, design by Sean Deyoe

What happened when the print run arrived the following Monday?

Check back Friday to find out.  Next week kicks off my new posting schedule:  Mondays for small bits of art or commentary, Thursdays for these articles on the making of the book.


Filed under Prehistory

That First Time I Wrote a G.I. Joe Book – Part One

April 1998 covers by Bryan Konietzko and uncredited.

During my time at RISD the student-run newspaper was called Mixed Media.  At 8.5 by 11 inches and with very little news, “newspaper” might not be the best descriptor, but it was printed on newsprint.  It also floundered for several years.  You would think that with all these talented students there might be great artwork or reviews, but students were too busy to contribute.  The calendar was helpful, and a few interesting articles got people to write in, but this biweekly rag didn’t contribute much to the social and artistic life of the school.

There was also a Brown-RISD newspaper, but RISD students had little to do with it.  Whereas Mixed Media was ignored, The College Hill Independent was widely read on at least one of those two campuses and it contained actual news.  In fall 1997 a cover illustration featured several 1980s personalities and pop culture characters.  One was Optimus Prime.  I was peaking in my unreasonable Transformers fandom – watching the old show on VHS, rising at six in the morning to catch the new one, attending the annual convention to sell my Transformers comic fanzine, and hiding Hasbro’s robots in my homework whenever I could.  (Or not actually hiding them.)  Since it didn’t really matter what was in Mixed Media, and the editor was always asking for submissions, inspired by that Independent cover I figured that an article on the history of Transformers wouldn’t get rejected.

It did not, and several friends responded favorably.  I was pleased to see my name in print and to spread the good word about my favorite fictional characters and their conquest of television airwaves, toy store shelves, and comic book sales charts.  And I noted that Mixed Media’s designers blew up one of the two images I provided, breaking up the staid column layout of the 2-page article.  I couldn’t help think that I had gotten away with something, that this publication that was supposed to be about RISD, and the issues facing its student artists and designers, had bent some rule in running a fluff feature on something so off-topic.

Announcements from Mixed Media v4 issue 8

A year later, the newspaper had sunk to its lowest point.  Issues were short, content was light, and no one talked about it.  (To Mixed Media’s credit, it always looked great.  Graphic Designer Sean Deyoe used it as an ongoing experiment in layout, and started calling the publication mixedmedia or MM to refresh its identity.)  I was a junior, and I would skim each issue hoping for comics or anything spicy in the text.  This was still years before free news migrated to the internet and just as the school administration started communicating to students through e-mail.  Each student still received photocopied fliers and reminders in his or her regular postal mail box.  A senior in Film Animation Video named Andy Dill was editing Mixed Media by now, and was either distracted by his workload or losing interest in this dying rag.  Or both.  A few students thought Mixed Media had become an extension of Dill’s ego, a soapbox for him to stand on, even if no one gathered to listen.  We were friendly, but I didn’t know him well.  In November I mentioned that I was considering writing a G.I. Joe history as a companion to the previous year’s Transformers piece, and Dill was amenable.  I had seen entire issues of Entertainment Weekly given over to a single topic (like a Seinfeld episode guide), pushing out all the regular articles until the following week, and as a joke said that I might just write the whole Mixed Media.  Unphased, Dill said that was fine.  I typed all winter break, and into January, while my short-term class (the six-week one between fall and spring) bored me.  Instead of reading about Leonardo’s sketchbooks, I typed – mostly from memory and with little research – the entire history of G.I. Joe, borrowing liberally from Matthew B. Pak’s 1980s episode guide and cribbing a few bits from John Michlig’s wonderful GI Joe: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action since I knew little about the 1960s Joe.

Matthew B. Pak’s episode guide cover. I’ve never ackowledged I cribbed from this for “Mixed Media” until now.

And this prose was building towards something else.

Sean Deyoe’s covers to the two issues preceeding my G.I. Joe one, January 1999

As a junior I ran Animation Night for the RISD Film Society.  This was a way to stretch our budget, as renting film prints from studios and distributors and paying projectionists all cost money.  But video projecting VHS tapes from my personal library cost nothing (public screening rights be damned).  That February I was organizing “G.I. Joe Week,” consisting of three nights of Joe-related screenings at the RISD Auditorium.  Mixed Media went to student mailboxes on Mondays, so this would be a great way to kick off this event that was really only an event in my mind.

Half-page ad in Mixed Media 4.9

How did it all go?  Check back next time to find out.


Filed under Prehistory