Holiday blues, I guess...
  -- Duke (responding Tripwire's question about the cause of Mutt's depression)
Home Larry Hama Email

Fri, 10 Jul 1998
In my humble opinion, Michael Golden was the best artist who worked on G.I. Joe. He is probably the most influential comic book artist of the last fifteen years-- because the vast majority of the people who DRAW comics think he's the best there is. He is the main influence on the top artists in the field right now. People who can't draw seem to think his work is cartoony, but I have yet to meet a pro artist who isn't totally intimidated by Golden's drafting skills. It's no wonder that guys like Jim Lee are always trying to buy up Goldens originals. As for artists on the long runs, my faves were Ron Wagner, Rod Whigham, and Mark Bright. M.D. Bright also played bass in my band!

PS: I have been contacted about writing a new G.I. Joe series to pick up the continuity from my last issue. More on this when the contracts are inked.

Mon, 03 Aug 1998
I always had a lot of probs with Duke as the "First Shirt". In a line infantry company, the top kick runs the outfit. He is, without a doubt the most experienced soldier in the unit. In Nam, you might have had First Shirts who had been in WW II and Korea-- and a commanding officer straight out of "Shake and Bake" or ROTC. The main prob I had was that the folks at Hasbro and the writers on the cartoon show just treated Duke as if he was interchangeable with Hawk. This is why Duke was never really developed as a character in the comic. There was also a design prob in that he looked too similar to Hawk. In my own head, I tended to think of Stalker as acting first shirt, especially in the field. There was a character in the Nam comic, Sgt Polkow, who fits the mold of what a first sergeant should really be like-- In a glorified sense. The actual first sergeant in that comic was a bribe-taking SOB, but when the chips were down, he did his job. That is hitting closer to reality.

Thu, 27 Aug 1998

    Peter Ljungman wrote:
    However, another interesting thing is that Scarlett's *secondary military specialty* was classified. I wonder what she wanted to hide ;-) Perhaps Mr. Hama could enlighten us?

Never came up with that one. I put that in as a "Back door" so that I could add to her file at a later date, but I never got around to it. BTW, as I remember, the De'Cobray surname for Baroness was something I got saddled with for some reason or another. I think the "Anastasia" was mine.

Wed, 02 Sep 1998

    Hey, LARRY, what do you think about this code name thing? Do you care if others use these character's names as their own?
    Take Care

It doesn't bother me in the least. I WAS a little bugged many years ago when I first got on the net that the Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow tags had already been snapped up. Ah, well....

Fri, 11 Sep 1998
I have never even heard of Eagle Force. Actually, when I took on the G.I.Joe project, I wasn't even all that familiar with the 12" figure line. I do remember that I was trying to make G.I. Joe NOT resemble Sgt. Rock or Sgt. Fury in any way. There were actually a lot of hold-overs from the "Fury Force" concept that I had been developing for Marvel at the time. The whole idea of a secret base under a motor pool, for instance. I even had a "Snake-Eyes" type character, who didn't speak, had his face covered with a cowl and was a mysterious assassin type. He carried a pump shotgun and a commando knife in his boot and was actually inspired by the Pahoo Katawa (Wolf Who Stands in Water) character in the old Yancy Derringer TV show.

I first used ninjas in a comic book in the mid-seventies, in Iron Fist. Michael Kaluta and Denny O'Neil were using ninjas in "The Shadow" for DC way before that. I remember watching ninja movies as a kid back in the sixties. The genre has been around in Japanese movies since the 'forties and 'fifties.

Sun, 20 Sep 1998
Pun names on the file cards.

As far as I remember, I didn't start with the puns until a year or two down the line. Of course not all the file names are puns or anagrams or jokes. Some are real people-- People who worked at Hasbro or Marvel. There's one or two you will find engraved on the Wall in Washington. Sometimes I just pulled names out of my mom's 1931 Sacramento High School yearbook (mix and match!) or my own yearbook from the High School of Art & Design in NYC. Robert Graves was simply plucked out of the air. No secret message or intent. Scarlett's name was a prob, because there already was a character in the Marvel universe named Shanna O'Hara (Ka-Zar's girlfriend). I had never read the title, but perhaps I retained the name subconscioulsy -- I don't know. Phil Provost (Chuckles) is the son of a friend. Gabriel Kelly is the father of another friend. When the word got out that I was naming G.I. Joes for people I knew, I started to get flooded, so I had to cut it out.

Fri, 23 Oct 1998
Back around issue 60 or 70 of G.I. Joe, I did a signing at a comic shop in Georgetown in Washington DC. When I arrived, the line was snaking around the block. I sat there and signed books for about seven hours. Some kids had the entire run in plastic. I signed every book that was placed in front of me and every single reader that came up to me was between the ages of eight and thirteen. I was getting about 800 to 1200 letters a week at that time and 99% of it was hand printed (not script) on lined paper. Two years ago, I did a Wolverine signing at a comic shop in Manhattan. I signed books for two hours and there wasn't a single kid in the line. Nobody under twenty showed up. Two of the fans were mailmen who were still in their uniforms because they skipped off their route to get their books signed. Times have changed, and the audience for the books has changed. If the industry doesn't produce books that kids want to read, they deserve their fate.

As to the stuff about the finalized team for the new Joe books, I am still fussing with the list. Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Scarlett, Stalker, Roadblock, Gung-Ho and Hawk are the only definites so far. I never considered Snake-Eyes to be functioning on the team in the ninja role-- he seems to have been ret-conned into that category. Since when are Uzis, frags and a Syktes-Fairbourne knives medieval Japanese weapons, huh?

Fri, 06 Nov 1998
As to the ongoing thread about the G.I. Joe Comic being a marginal seller-- Yes it was-- at the very end of its run. G.I. Joe had quite a stay at the TOP of the charts for well nigh seven or eight years, although it never got a decent review in the fan press. A lot of anti-toy prejudice there. At one point, it held the numero uno slot at Marvel for a brief period. Why would Marvel continue to publish a toy book for twelve years if it wasn't making money? At the peak, I could go to a store signing and and keep my marker in constant motion for six to eight hours. This was a period when Marvel was publishing two monthly Joe titles and upwards of five different forms of Joe reprint titles including digests and super-sizes, annuals, Orders of Battles and trade paperbacks.

Wed, 11 Nov 1998
How many Joe tats are out there?

Benny Powell of Bench Press told me that a guy at a convention showed him a cobra sigil the size of a Voit basketball tattooed on his chest. Let us hope he doens't get sued by Hasbro.

Tue, 08 Dec 1998
Fort Wadsworth is in Staten Island, at the foot of the Verrazano Narrows bridge. It is still there. It used to be the H.Q. of the U.S. Army Chaplains Assistant School for real. I think it was closed down as a result of DOD cutbacks about five or six years ago, but it was certainly open and functioning during the run of the Joe comic. I went there to take reference photos that were used by Frank Springer.

Wed, 17 Mar 1999
The set of G.I. Joe comics that I am selling is the set that I kept at the Marvel office for reference and has lots of notes in the margins. I am keeping one complete mint set and another complete set that is much used for reference. I also have about six big comic boxes full of extras (about 1200 comics?) I needed to clear out about eight boxes worth of stuff, so I am cutting loose extraneous Joes as well as other titles I have worked on. My office is now full. I have steel shelves all the way to the ceiling filled with boxes of comics, magazines, toys and unbuilt model kits, as well as two filing cabinets full of reference, two steel shelves of reference books and don't even get me started on my guitars, amps and effect boxes! The Joe stuff is only a small fraction of what I am selling off in a major "garage sale". The sale has nothing to do with the current state of the Bench Press deal, which is still chugging along with the suits and lawyers. This is not a surprise. I am used to it and I am not giving up on Joe. There. Does that explain things?

Thurs, 4 May 2001
Actually, I cribbed the plot of 145 - 150 from a tv mini-series treatment I did for David (Roots) Wolper way back when. The proposed series was called "Project X" and it was about a kid astromer who discovers a new asteroid.

He becomes a celebrity, gets on the cover of Time. And then then they find out that the asteroid is on a collision course with the Earth. The kid then gets involved with the scientists who are trying to figure out how to stop the asteroid. Sound familiar so far? The second half of the mini-series involved sending a team of specialist on the space shuttle up to the asteroid to land on it, drill down to the core and implant nukes to blow it off course. David Wolper paid me for it, and owned it outright, and he never did anything about it, so that's the end of the story.

Wed, 30 May 2001
Somebody asked about what I had planned for Bench Press. Here it is:

(Ongoing G.I. Joe comic book series)

by Larry Hama

In the middle of the Utah desert, a lone Hummer rolls across the sand at sunrise.

The Hummer stops at a rusted gate set in a high chain-link fence topped with razor ribbon and concertina wire. A sign on the gate reads: RESTRICTED AREA GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. The gate is chained and padlocked.

A lone figure steps out of the Hummer and stands in front of the gate. He is holding a folded package under one arm. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a key. He unlocks the gate and walks inside. It is HAWK. He is in full dress uniform replete with medals.

Hawk walks across the deserted compound. It is a small base in the middle of the desert with only three or four wooden buildings, all of which are boarded up and locked. It is a ghost fort and Hawk is well aware of who the spirits who haunt this place are.

There is a flagpole in the middle of the compound and that is where Hawk walks to. He stares up at the empty mast. He takes the triangular package from under his arm and unfurls an American flag which he snaps onto the halyard. He hoists the flag to the top of the mast and he steps back, stands to attention and salutes smartly.

Hawk is still holding the salute as a big transport helicopter flares in for a landing, sending up a cloud of dust.

The hatch pops and out steps Flint, Stalker, Roadblock, Snake-Eyes, Torpedo, Ripcord, Tunnel Rat, Lady Jaye, Cover Girl, Dodger, and Spirit, followed by the pilot, Wild Bill.

Hawk turns to them and they salute one another. "Welcome back to the Pit." he says. They walk to the main building. (The one with the trap door to the lower levels) As they reach the door and Hawk extracts another key, Stalker breaks the silence, "Three years ago, they said they didn't need us anymore."

Hawk opens the door and leads them inside. "Well, they were wrong."

Thus, begins the new G.I. Joe saga. A core group of veteran G.I. Joe team members is now ensconced in the unmothballed PIT, a nuke-hardened secret base deep under the Utah desert. They are the last line of defense against organized terrorists, criminal drug lords, paramilitary extremists and all others who threaten democracy and freedom.

Cobra Commander is alive and well on the new Cobra Island which is now a tourist resort. Destro and the Baroness are in semi-retirement in Scotland, but there are forces at work that may cause the Laird of Castle Destro to don again the steel mask. In Borovia in the Balkans, and in Trucial Abysmia in the Mid-East, unrest and trouble are brewing. The ninja clans are stirring in the Pacific Rim eager to take advantage of the economic distress and political instability. On the home front, extremists of all ilks are stockpiling weapons and brewing up fertilizer bombs.

The defense budget is a mere shadow of what it used to be during the grey days of the Cold War, so support for the Joe Team is tight. There is also a tacit understanding that should any of their operations be compromised, the government will deny all responsibility. After all, their job is to do the unspeakable, and be forgotten.

Jan 25: G.I.Joe Examined on Podcasts
Jan 25: Buzz Dixon Interview
Jan 25: Paulsen Annie Nomination & Dini on Batman Comic
Jan 12: Sgt. Slaughter Signing in Atlanta
Jan 11: G.I.Joe to Return on G4
Dec 30: Paramount Movie Reviewer Plugs
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