Tag Archives: Mad Magazine

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!

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Behind the scenes of G.I. Joe – Hydro-Viper

Today’s art post is the complete sculpt input (i.e. “turnaround”) for the 1988 Hydro-Viper.  Again for casual or non-fans, let’s start with a photo (by me, not my fancy book photographer) of the production figure for a baseline comparison.

G.I. Joe 1988 Hydro-Viper figure

Here’s George Woodbridge’s turnaround.  Such a crisp and clean line, and a deft spotting of blacks.

G.I. Joe 1988 Hydro-Viper figure turnaround

Note that the figure is referred to as “Cobra Frogman,” so “Hydro-Viper” hadn’t yet cleared Legal.

Woodbridge’s association with G.I. Joe is limited. He drew most of the ’88 inputs, and did many of the Hasbro-internal figure presentation paintings that Dave Dorman and Bart Sears didn’t around 1988.  Writer Mark Evanier wrote a short biography of Woodbridge in 2004 when the artist passed away.  You can find it here, but if you want a shorter version, I’ll just throw out the terms “Mad Magazine” and “military and historical illustration.”  In the near future I’ll show a few more pieces like this here, and in the not-near future I’ll have Woodbridge’s Crazylegs (a Joe paratrooper) color piece in my book.

Here are three sheets of the Hydro-Viper’s accessories, drawn by Bart Sears.  In toys, Sears is known for designing Hasbro’s C.O.P.S.  In comics, Sears drew Justice League Europe and has recently penciled some Conan and Indiana Jones for Dark Horse.  Of note here is the ray, the most bizarre of all animals that any G.I. Joe figure came packaged with.

G.I. Joe 1988 Hydro-Viper backpack turnaround

G.I. Joe 1988 Hydro-Viper weapons turnaround

G.I. Joe 1988 Hydro-Viper manta ray turnaround

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

In our last episode, Tim’s parents took him and his brother to their first comic book store…

29 July 2011 - Still updating this art. At left, Another World's back entrance, not open to foot traffic, on Wisconsin Ave. On right, the front entrance on P Street. Wisconsin is visible in the background.

But this is where my memory gets fuzzy.  I believe we went to Another World one more time, six months or a full year later.  As best as I can piece it together, on the first visit, in addition to the Dungeons & Dragons set, I bought two periodicals:  I saw an issue of Mad Magazine and had to have it.  Mad was still a kind of forbidden fruit, and we had just gotten into it a few months earlier, but our subscription hadn’t kicked in.  For now it was the serendipity of seeing one on a newsstand, having the money, and getting the parental permission.  My other buy was G.I. Joe Yearbook #3.  (I should here define the series “G.I. Joe Yearbook” as an annual run of double-sized specials that complemented the regular, monthly G.I. Joe series.)  Interesting, Kevin also bought a copy.  Why did it grab us?  Probably because the cover showed favorite characters in distress, a scenario I was intrigued to see to its resolution.

G.I. Joe Yearbook 3 cover by Mike Zeck

Art by Mike Zeck.

I don’t want to undersell that point.  The cover made me worried about the characters.  Snake-Eyes is in trouble!  Scarlett defends him!  Storm Shadow — a villain — is also helping?  (This is a stark contrast to many comic book covers nowadays that feature glamor poses with little drama or story content.)

So Kevin bought Yearbook #3 as well – we were occasionally selfish and territorial about our possessions, and didn’t consistently share everything. 

Yearbook #3 was just a curiosity.  It did not turn me into a lifelong comics reader.  That would happen two years later.  But it was still an entertaining book, with a wordless story told only in pictures and pantomime that did in fact follow up on the cover image. My aversion to newsprint was abating.  (I can’t reconcile how newspaper comics were fine but comic books printed with the same palette on the same stock were not.  It might be that I was used to higher quality color and printing from glossy magazines like Hotdog and Dynamite, that I was already picky and fetishizing the bound periodical as a keepsake.)  (I mean “festishizing” in the general, non-sexual sense of the word.)  But as much neat content as it had, like a fun “Kitchen Viper” joke, and an article on the TV show, Yearbook #3 was still this weird… thing I didn’t entirely love.  It’s like an album you don’t appreciate until months or years later, but in this analogy, it wasn’t a single album, it was the entire pastime of listening to music.  I liked prose books, I liked magazines, I liked Garfield collections, I liked cartoons, but comics still hadn’t clicked.

I recall pulling Yearbook #3 off my shelf and reading it a few times afterwards, one time lying on my brother’s bedroom floor.  But it sparked no storylines for our G.I. Joe toy games, and no discussion of buying additional comic books.

What was the comic that changed Tim’s life forever?  Tune in next week to find out!

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

I should have become a comic book reader two years before I did.

Another World, Georgetown, Washington, DC, c. 1988

Another World's closed-off back alley entrance. I think it's outdoor seating for a cafe now.

I was reading newspaper comics in the Washington Post for years before I picked up my first Marvel or DC.  And in those two years, the only parts of Mad Magazine that mattered were the comics – the movie and TV parodies, Spy Vs. Spy, The Lighter Side, and A Mad Look At.  I even scanned through a few comic books one day probably in 1987 – and a G.I. Joe issue to boot! – but put it down with disinterest:  Whereas the TV cartoon was saturated full color, the comic was limited four-color printing, and it looked dull on beige newsprint.  This was at the house of a friend from school, and I believe my brother read several of his G.I. Joe comic books.  But not me.

Friend Taylor and my brother reading comics.

Soon after, my brother Kevin immersed himself in Dungeons and Dragons, and brought me with him.  While we could potentially play with friends using their materials, and even though this board game without a board mostly took place in our minds, we knew we had to buy a few essentials – dice, a rulebook, perhaps a module.  I think what happened was that our mom looked up “gaming” in the yellow pages, and found a store in Washington, D.C.  It was half-hour drive in the “wrong” direction since we always drove north and west to shop at our local mall, and parking in Georgetown (that particular section of D.C.) was difficult, but Mom and Dad were up for it .  And so we visited Another World, a comic book shop with a large back issue selection (whatever that was – it smelled old), new comics, and some gaming.

Another World, Georgetown, Washington, DC, c. 1988

Imperfect recollection of Another World's first store layout

We procured the red boxed Advanced Dungeons and Dragons starter set.  Georgetown wasn’t going to be a weekly trek like our mall (or downtown Bethesda, two miles from our house) were.  And it wasn’t going to be monthly.  Perhaps Mom and Dad liked to stay out of D.C. on weekends since they were there Monday to Friday for work.  Or perhaps they were willing, but Kevin and I didn’t realize we merely needed to ask.  Whatever the case, my sense was that this was a special trip, not the start of something.  Adding to my disorientation was that Another World had two entrances and a quirky layout.  The store straddled two sides of an acute street corner without having the corner itself, was small and cramped, had two different “rooms,” and was on two different levels, one a few steps higher than the other.  And again, it was filled with comic books, which I didn’t understand or like, even if I had been seeing Griffin Bacal’s wonderful animated television commercials for Marvel’s monthly G.I. Joe series for years.

But we went back months later and Kevin actually bought some G.I. Joe comic books.

What happened at Another World?  Find out next week…

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