Season 3 of G.I. Joe, or as the Shout! Factory DVDs call it, Series 2 Season 1, is a mixed bag. Lots of returning writers, characters, and voice actors, but the show is a different tone. It’s funny, or tries to be, and there’s not much sense of danger. I’m never worried for the Joes. But Russ Heath was on board again drawing model sheets, so that’s a bright spot. Today’s artwork comes from a ridiculous episode called “That’s Entertainment,” where Cobra Commander kidnaps actor/comedian Jackie Love and decides he wants to make movies. Really, the less said, the better. Continue reading
Category Archives: Animation
No doubt you’re familiar with the Academy Awards, given to films and film artists, planners, and scientists. Or the Emmys, given for television, or the Grammys and Tonys, for recorded music and Broadway theatre. You’ve maybe heard of the Clios, which we think of as the Oscars of advertising, but that category is more broadly defined on the Clio website as “advertising, design, interactive and communications.” And there are the Effies, for “marketing communications” — given to marketers by the marketing industry.
G.I. Joe won a silver Effie in 1987. Continue reading
As much as I love G.I. Joe toys and comics, I was a fan of the animation first. I went to school for animation, and teach it, and the Sunbow/Marvel G.I. Joe (along with Transformers) are my top shows. Vivid color, strong animation, smart writing, superb sound design, stellar music, and top-notch voice acting bring me back to these two series again and again. They’re charming. And their strengths are such that I can blissfully ignore their many flaws, like the ease with which a squad of Joes flies into space in F-14 jets, or return via parachute.
But Flint Dille and Stanley Ralph Ross’ “The Wrong Stuff,” for all its silliness, is one of the series’ best episodes. One day I’ll write a long post about it, but in a word, it’s funny. So let’s celebrate that fun with an original production cel and background of Wild Bill in full astronaut regalia. Click for larger: Continue reading
More storyboards from writers Steve Mitchell and Barbara Petty’s “The Rotten Egg,” this time pages 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24. Sorry, I don’t know who boarded these, but when I do I’ll update this sentence.
Something that simultaneously delighted and bothered me as a kid watching G.I. Joe was how obvious certain traps were that the Joes walked headlong into. Whereas in Larry Hama’s comic-verse, a Cobra military academy in the next state over would have felt right at home with Broca (note the anagram!) Beach and the Cobra Consulate Building. But here CEC was trying to have it both ways — secret and yet in plain sight. So it bothered me then, though amuses me now, that Leatherneck tools over on the Silver Mirage, outnumbered a thousand to one, and is actually surprised when what are clearly bad guy cadets turn out to be bad guys. But Barbara Petty and Steve Mitchell crafted a strong script with great characterization, that delivers something new for the series — a rivalry begun in the past — and manages to be filled with tension and action — mostly sans weapons, while eschewing the “regular” Cobra Command. No small feat. Clunky animation, yes? (See still above, YIKES) But great boards, of which here are five more pages:
Back to the storyboards for the Season 2 episode, “The Rotten Egg.” These pages below are drawn by two or three artists, unusual for a Joe board as one artist tended to handle each act. There may have been deadline trouble, or a change from the director (or Hasbro) necessitated altering shots, and perhaps whoever originated these had already moved on to the next episode. What is certain is that Mike Vosburg drew some of what’s below — everything but the Wet-Suit close-up on the first page, the top tier of the second page, all of the third page, the first two panels of the fourth page, and probably none of the final page. Vosburg’s figure work (see big panel above) is angular, and he spots blacks — no sketchy pencil lines, no rounded or bulbous anatomy. Vosburg is a tremendously talented artist, a post for another day, but for fun trivia I’ll point out he was the only artist who both drew the monthly Marvel comic and also storyboarded for the daily cartoon. Coincidentally, to boot. Pages 7D, 8, 9, 9A, and 10:
In the 1980s Sunbow Productions, based in New York but with an office in Los Angeles, oversaw production of the animated G.I. Joe cartoon. Because the show was so intensive — dozens of characters, props, vehicles, and locations, the show bible and “briefing books” were by necessity large three-ring binders filled with photocopies of model sheets, sample dialogue, photos of toys, and lists of names. All in an effort to properly and correctly feature and advertise Hasbro’s product. Today’s post is two photocopies of memos to the west coast producers and story editors, likely from Terri Gruskin in NY.
You may find posts like this — without artwork, or imagery of characters or people — to be dry. But I find such documents fascinating. In this case because it’s a reminder that the whole process was a series of revisions and rolling changes. And even though the memo is unsigned, it’s a concrete document showing a decision being made, and representing the dissemination of that decision.
Also, mid ’84 appears to be when Tomax and Xamot’s names were finalized. (Without Hasbro documents it would be unfair to call this definitive, but presumably there wasn’t a lag between the decision in Pawtucket and the directive in Los Angeles.) It’s notable that the TV ad for Marvel Comics’ G.I. Joe issue #37 (printed in spring 1985, but the ad was in the works 6 to 12 months prior) refers to them only as “evil twin brothers,” so their names were in flux while (presumably) Legal cleared them.
Prose recollections of my life as a G.I. Joe fan continue next week. In the meantime, to celebrate Jim Sorenson’s announcement about his book of G.I. Joe animation model sheets (I helped out a little bit), today’s post features the model sheets for the two boys in PSA #34:
Thanks again to YouTube user PSAGIJoe for uploading the original public service announcements.
I love this one for its mild message about nutrition, rather than the more severe topics of theft, vehicular injury, and death by asphyxiation, as well its catalog of animation mistakes: the color pop on Lifeline’s backpack, the terrible animation of the trio biting and chewing, Lifeline’s ability to talk without chewing, the oddity of bumping into a special forces operative single-handedly juggling fruit while… waiting for us? Also, that weird apple vending machine thing.
Is this just a poorly designed shelf? Are those apples floating in zero G? Is it a graphic of apples printed on the front surface of an apple vending machine? It’s in no way important, but to me it strikes of the cultural divide between America and Japan (or Korea) crossed with an impending deadline. I don’t have the storyboard for this PSA, but I’ll guess that the backgrounds weren’t fully fleshed out. Photocopies went to the animators overseas, where retail stores are a little different, and some talented background painter whipped up this contraption:
Anyway, here’s Terrell Williams and “boy,” all ready for their close-ups.
They’re unsigned, so I don’t know who drew them, but looking over the list of G.I. Joe model designers, I’d guess Carol Lundberg, John Koch, or William Draut.