Tag Archives: Tony Salmons

G.I. Joe Yearbook #4 by Salmons

GIJoe Yearbook 4 pg 60 TEASE

Tony Salmons had a brief connection with G.I. Joe. He penciled three [EDIT: four!] full issues (69, 87, 88, and 91 — just as Marshall Rogers was finishing his run and Mark Bright was starting his) as well as one [EDIT: actually two] covers (a post for another day). These issues were inked by Randy Emberlin, who was now the regular inker on the series, and would stick around for another few years. Emberlin added a soft sense of dimension to Salmons’ work, which was known for its stark power and heft that was augmented by a deft sense of design. No one in comics draws like Tony Salmons. He had the attention of Larry Hama, who had edited Salmons on the short-lived Dakota North. Hama saw the ingenuity of Salmon’s drawings and coached him on storytelling and page layout, and gave him bits of work where he could — we all think of Hama as the writer on G.I. Joe, but his day job was editor on Savage Tales and the Conan titles.

When Salmons inked himself, his art moved in other directions. He drew one additional G.I. Joe tale, a back-up story for Yearbook #4, cover dated February 1988, and this is all him. (I’d show you the cover, but it’s Mark Bright, not Salmons, and represents the main story in the book, not this back-up, so it doesn’t much connect to today’s post) This is an unusual story. It’s only 7 pages, the Joes barely appear, and they don’t appear in costume. If you didn’t know anything about toys and licensed comics, you could mistake this for any crime drama. Scarlett and Snake-Eyes are in civilian attire, and again, it’s not like they’re driving up to this convenience store in the AWE Striker. (Which Salmons did draw in issue #88.)

At the time, I didn’t love the art. It felt sparse. But in 1990, I didn’t like Mike Mignola’s work and didn’t understand the big deal about that Jack Kirby guy, just to pick two main examples to help you calibrate my sense of taste. Salmons drew weird, and a little ugly, but he also drew dynamicly and fearlessly. He’s often been called an artist’s artist, that us fans may like the work or not, but there’s much we can’t see, that professional artists look at this work and immediately see that it’s special.

This is an odd page from an off-beat story. Even showing it here at ARealAmericanBook! feels like a little bit of a cheat. You want to see prime, juicy G.I. Joe art, and this isn’t a splash page or a cover, and it’s not in color, and it’s not all that loud. But there’s magic is seeing original art up close — without the filter of being shrunk and printed and colored. Salman’s lines are vital and raw, and yet thin and careful. Again, we barely see our marquee heroes. It’s also shocking in that an innocent bystander is quickly and cruelly killed. I was a tad upset by this at the time, and still am. But that’s the point of it.

Oh, the story ends on a tiny punchline.

Hama and Salmon’s work here demonstrates why I miss Special Missions and Yearbooks, places for one-off and slightly oddball Joe yarns.




Filed under Back issues, Comic Books, G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes

My First Comic Book Ever Was “G.I. Joe Yearbook” #3 – Part Three

Note for last week’s readers:  The part two chicken scratch doodle of Another World has been partially updated.

In our last episode, Tim bought his first comic book ever, G.I. Joe Yearbook #3…

G.I.Joe Yearbook #4 cover art by Mike Zeck

G.I.Joe Yearbook #4 cover art by Mike Zeck, 1988.

Then, what I believe is one year later, but could have been only half that, we returned to Another World.  I bought G.I. Joe Yearbook #4, looked at but passed on another Mad, and Kevin bought two back issues: G.I. Joe #61 and #62.  (Or maybe he’d bought them on that first visit?  Memory’s funny that way.)  At home he promptly put them on a high shelf in his room where I couldn’t reach them.  He never offered them to me, and I never snuck a peak when he was elsewhere.  I didn’t even touch them until later when we were regular comics readers and those two issues were incorporated into our burgeoning G.I. Joe collection.  This should demonstrate the strange disinterest I had in comic books at that initial point.  (It is also indicative of our overly strong sense of personal ownership.  My toys were mine, Kevin’s were his.  We didn’t share, and we didn’t much trade.  This is not meant to sound mean, it’s just how our personalities worked.  We played with our G.I. Joe toys side-by-side, my characters and vehicles interacting with his, but him only holding and role-playing with his, and me with mine.  Weird, I know.  It’s worth an entire blog post, how we played with our toys.)  By then we had found D&D wares at the Waldenbooks at our mall (an important location that I’ll come back to in a later blog post), and rarely returned to Another World.  In fact, I don’t think Kevin ever went back.  I did go every year or three — it was friend and future editor Nick Nadel‘s local shop once he entered the picture, but until I had a driver’s license there was no point in shopping at this third-closest store.  It did move and renovate, and finally closed when parent company/comics mail order giant American Entertainment went belly up a decade later.)

But back to those two issues–

G.I. Joe #61 and #62 covers by Mike Zeck

G.I. Joe #61 and #62 covers by Mike Zeck, 1987.

Before Kevin whisked them away I do recall seeing these two covers, which by themselves form a kind of contained story, and being worried for the protagonists.  This is a point I’ll come back to at a later date on the blog — the power of the cover image — but for now you can likely acknowledge that even if you’re not a G.I. Joe fan or a comics reader, these guys are in trouble.  The barbed wire, the handcuffs, the menacing weapons.  Trouble!

As with the first comic I’d bought, Yearbook #4 did not turn me into a lifelong reader.  I just recall thinking there weren’t enough Joes in the lead Oktober Guard story, being confused by the recap pages that mixed narration with word balloons, and wishing the Joes in the back-up yarn wore their regular costumes and not their civvies.  Years later Tony Salmons would give me some original art from that story.

G.I.Joe Yearbook #4 pg 4 panel 4, art by Tony Salmons

G.I.Joe Yearbook #4 original art by Tony Salmons

So here’s where the biography stands:  Kevin and I have been buying G.I. Joe toys and watching the G.I. Joe cartoon for four years — half a lifetime.  For me it vies with Transformers as my favorite thing ever, for Kevin it’s no contest.  We read books and newspaper comics, and now own four actual G.I. Joe comic books.  But we’re still not readers!  What’s missing?

Tune in next week!

1 Comment

Filed under Back issues, Prehistory