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G.I. Joe

Chris Ryall has answered 10 questions regarding the new GI Joe comic by IDW Publishing.

Regarding a Sigma Six spin-off
In this case, anything's possible and are fair game--we've already talked about the possibility of Sigma Six comics or Origins (the new Warren Ellis-scripted animated thing) or something else. But I did mean what I said before in that I really want to establish our ongoing Joe world before delving into such things. I think if we start spreading too thin at the start, we won't do the fans any favors. And since there's also a movie continuity to contend with, any more than those two might be too much for the foreseeable future.

Regarding the Joes operating out of a PIT base

Regarding which Joes are in the elite team
This is one of those story details I'm loathe to discuss rather than let them play out. The core team at the start of the #0 issue is largely the same as the movie's cast, albeit in different circumstances, but that changes very quickly, as other faces appear in issue 1 and beyond.

Will Gung-Ho have a shirt?
Matthew McConaughey wants to know why you have to wear a shirt to get some respect... but don't worry, Gung Ho's gonna be treated properly.

On "How much will the stories be dictated by the Hasbro / Hama stories"
I saw a fair share of "free reign" talk over at Phil's board today. Thing of it is, none of us have free reign. I mean, it's a licensed property, we're the licensee, and Larry is the guy we've hired to bring it back to life. But Hasbro is the licensor--they have ultimate say over anything and everything.

That said, Hasbro has been amazingly receptive to what we want to do, and been helpful, beneficial and had some great creative suggestions. This has been the case the entire time we've handled the TF license, since mid-2005 (when we started internally). They like what we've done and we've built up a good level of trust, and all of that played into them awarding us the Joe license.

All of which means that we're not looking at a scenario like two decades ago where a toy release drove the storytelling. Comics and the way they supplement/complement a licensor's efforts have changed and everyone recognizes that and appreciates it. We're not a toy tie-in as much as we're a toy complement. And there are different initiatives and dictates at Hasbro than before, and part of that is ensuring the strength of the Joe brand with their and our core audience. Which sounds like marketing-speak, but what it means is that the comics can be more adult than before, they can tell stories that aren't developed in marketing meetings, and we and by extension Larry have room to tell good stories and develop the world free of such worries.

I don't know all of what happened with past Joe comics, I just know our experience with the TF comics, and it's been a true partnership and a gratifying one. So I'm only optimistic about what we're going to do here, and so are they. And hopefully you. And someday, maybe even Jamar Miller...

How will IDW alter the GI-Joe francise?
I don't know if I completely follow the question, so let me see if this is any answer. Also while perusing Phil's board today, I saw some question/parallel drawn between us hiring Simon Furman to relaunch the TF books for us and now Shane McCarthy, nearly 3 full years after that, coming on to write a big TF title for us. If the concern there, or here, is that we're hiring an "old guarder" to start things and then abandoning them, that's not at all what happened with the TF books. Simon's storyline ran for three years, included what, a dozen Spotlight issues in addition to the main storyline, and now is headed in a different direction. That seems to me to be pretty standard in comics, occasionally shaking things up to reinvigorate things or refocus people on the comics (next up: Me Grimlock, Me Skrull!). Simon is doing multiple other books for us, so the strange talk that we "dumped" him is just that, strange. He guided the entire TF line for us (and Beast Wars and the movie prequel with me) for years and did/does so masterfully. But one person doing everything isn't the best way to give the fans multiple voices or takes on characters. Not every Spider-Man title is written by the same guy. This is that.

With Joe, Larry will be doing the main book for us. If we do other miniseries or Spotlights or what have you, other writers will be along for the ride, too. So there was no circumstance behind AHM other than a new storyline being needed and me wanting to add a new voice to the mix. With Simon, Chris Mowry and now Shane, there's a nice mix of TF writers working on multiple projects. And it's safe to say that there will be multiple writers eventually working on Joe projects, too.

(Then received clarification on the question)

Ahh. The TF thing was partially about making/keeping the comics accessible to new people but also just wanting to do something new and big and different. It honestly spins more out of me being impressed by the level of planning in something like Planet Hulk, where the story itself was one thing but then the *next* story, where the Hulk would eventually return to Earth, was even more highly anticipated. I wanted to do something big, something like Independence Day minus the lame, and strip away a bit of the hard continuity and give people a good new jumping-on point. I think when you rely too much on convoluted continuity to tell stories, you end up with things like Final Crisis that are oft-putting to new or casual fans.

Joe won't be a huge departure from what Hama did before, but then again, it will be because he's a different person and storyteller now. If that makes any sense.

Will the comic start from the beginning?
Aaaand here we are, the $10 question. Three to go after this one (for now), so until those are posted, let me dig into this one.

First, some backstory.

When we first started considering Joe, or even before that, in just keeping an eye on the DDP comics and pondering what we'd do "if," we looked at various options.

Option 1: Keep the continuity, continuing what multiple publishers have done over two-plus decades, trying to wrangle continuity that didn't always make perfect sense or flow perfectly from issue to issue, let alone from publisher to publisher.

Option 2: Pick and choose from the past, and maybe pick up right after Marvel's run ended, ignoring the rest.

Option 3: Do our own thing.

Ultimately, it wasn't even a hard decision.

We respect like crazy what Marvel did. Without that historic run, Joe never would've been a lasting, viable comic property. It would've been Marvel's Masters of the Universe (remember that old DC comic? I do. Or remember Crystar, Crystal Warrior? Or other failed toy comics? Yep, I do). Instead, it and Rom Spaceknight showed that toy comics could be their own thing, could be so much more.

I also respect what others have done since. But the thing of it is, the idea of continuing it brings with it two main problems:
1. It's presumptuous. How in the world would we ever even know what DDP was going to do with the finale of WWIII when we had to get started? We wouldn't, so to assume one thing and have it play out differently would be trouble enough.
2. The bigger point--it's not our story. If we pick up where DDP left off, we're not IDW doing the things that Hasbro wants us to do and that fans expect, we're DDP West. Their concluding storyline left things in a way that we'd need to either invalidate lots of it to be able to include all the characters we want, or we'd have to write around what they did since it wasn't what we'd do. All of which seems much more wrong than blazing our own trail. We'd be one step away from bringing in Mephisto to wipe away the elements we don't want to use.

The biggest point to make is that while we weren't looking to scrap two decades of good (some great, some not so) comics, we were looking to give new fans something to get excited about, something to make old fans anticipate something new rather than more of the same, and something we'd be proud to have our logo on.

Are we doing a reboot? The answer is, we're starting at the beginning. A New Beginning. But we're doing it in a way akin to what they did with James Bond last year. The movie stripped away a lot of the things that had made the franchise feel bloated and ridiculous and started over. Not necessarily scrapping what was to come in the characters' future movies, but resetting things, losing the bloat, making the character stand out again, and reminding people why it was once great.

That's what we're doing. And doing it with Larry, where he's a two-decades-better storyteller than he was, and with the wisdom of years to think about what worked and what didn't, is immensely exciting to me. Before, he was essentially making it up as he went. Now, he know what he wants to do, and is being given the freedom to do it.

I had dinner with Larry in NYC a few weeks ago and we talked about all of this, and in his mind and mine, there was only one way to make this work right, so that's what we're doing.

Time to start fresh, paying tribute to what's come before, not invalidating anything that's come before or reworking it to make it fit with what we want to do, and not being hamstrung by what other people have done.

Time for G.I. Joe: A New Beginning.

Will IDW be touting Snake-eyes as the "uber-character"
It's a hard thing, because EVERYONE loves Snake-Eyes. But I'm also very wary of burning out a good thing right away. So I know he's still going to play a prominent role, but as a member of the Joe team and not as our Wolverine. He'll get his due soon enough, sure, but at the start, the team is what I want to be the focus. There're too many other good characters to focus on on both sides of the fence to let him steal all their thunder.

On reprinting old comics
In more general terms, we just want to really treat the old Joe material as something special, not just comics to scan and release again. So we're still working on the best way to do that, and the best timing, but there'll definitely be a good amount before the movie (which is just good business as well as an effort to quickly get this stuff back in print. Bookstores will be wanting multiple Joe products ahead of the movie). But we'll be recoloring/retouching and likely doing things like The Best of Larry Hama (picked by LH) and other hardcover presentations of the material. I'd expect these to start as soon as February '09.

How are the sillier concepts going to be treated?
People might describe our comics in many ways, but I don't think "silly" will be one of them. Along with what I was saying before, there won't be anything silly--no Ewoks this time--in the comics. Serious action, yes, gritty, yes, but there's a real moratorium on silly.

Alright, there's 10. Thanks for playing.

Now, as most TF fans whove done these Q&As here know, I'm usually terrible about sticking to my "only 10!" rule and end up replying to other things along the way. So feel free to discuss and I'll likely poke my head in and kibbutz a bit more.

Hope this all helped a little bit. Much more to come, obviously. And what'll we start showing off Robert Atkins' stuff.

In other words:

Larry Hama. Robert Atkins. G.I. JOE.
October '08: Issue #0 (24 pages, an all-new 16-page story and lots of sketches and interviews and such)

January '08: G.I. Joe #1 "A New Beginning" part 1 of 6.

Official press release and all that is still coming, too, but in light of the Web leak, this seemed the best way to address the scuttlebutt.

Bonus 11th question -Will the Joe series be mini-stories
That's actually not fully determined yet. I kinda like the idea of a nice, long run, but we'll see. Sometimes the dictates of the market now seem to necessitate restarting with new number ones after each story.

Category: G.I. Joe | Submitted by: Moonbug - on: Tuesday, 8th July 2008 at 09:00:55 BST | Share: | Discuss: Read on

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