A Real American Book! 2016 in Review

A Real American Book! Year In Review 2016

It’s been another year, so here’s an update on my progress since the last Year in Review. As always, teaching and retailing take up much of the week, so writing happens mostly over vacations.

As with last year, this span of time runs not from calendar-start to calendar-end, but from late January 2016 to mid-February 2017, so I can include all of Winter Break.

——-Here’s what I did this year:

-Wrote and posted 3 blog articles here. That’s low. More on that later.

-Added a paragraph and five pictures to Chapter 9, which my designer incorporated into a revised layout.

-From discussion with editor Nick, finalized Chapters 12 and 13. Turned into him a second draft of 14 and a first draft of Chapter 15.

-Sent Chapters 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 all for the first time to designer Liz. She sent back layouts for the first three of those. 10 is done and 11 is close. 12 I realize needs to be broken into two, so we’ll call that 12 and 12b. That needs some adjusting now, and will require a bit of new photography. Designer Liz is just now starting laying out 13 and 14.

-Realized that 15 will have to be broken in two, to be called (for now) 15 and 15b.

-Worked on Chapter 16. This is about GI Joe Extreme. It would be fun to muse about that show here at the blog, but there’s only so much time in the day. I have much to say about Extreme.

-Rewatched Season 1 of GI Joe Extreme and took notes. Watched Season 2 for the first time and took notes. (Yes, I’ve had these on VHS since I dubbed them at Sunbow in 1998, but never got around to watching them until now.)

-Traveled to Loveland, Colorado for the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention.

-Bought a few toys on ebay for photoshoots. Occasionally I borrow from friends, but sometimes it’s just easier to have it myself.

-Executed two new photoshoots with photographer Andre. That makes photoshoot #14 and #15, for those of you keeping count. This is for Chapters 14-16. I’ll need another photoshoot in the spring for the one or two things we didn’t get, plus some stuff that needs to be added into early chapters that now (it’s been so long since I “finished” them) need rewrites.

-Conducted five new interviews. Most of these concern the 30th anniversary, to be covered in Chapter 15. For some reason I transcribed four of these interviews myself, instead of sending the audio to my usual place. Tracked down someone who worked on GI Joe Extreme, too, although I don’t know three sentences in an email count as a fully fledged interview, but I’ll take it! Man, I really want to talk about GI Joe Extreme. Not just the show, or that would have been italicized.

-Sent follow-up questions to about ten previous interviewees. From some I wanted a detail expounded. From others I requested a photograph.

-Was interviewed by mental_floss for an article about Sylvester Stallone and G.I. Joe, and provided all the images. Hopefully that gets my name and the name of this blog out there a little more.

-One former interviewee — whom I visited in New York and in Connecticut in 2007 — I paid another visit to. Caught up, had lunch, and filled my car with treasure from his basement. I’m sorry to be a tease, but this is only peripherally related to G.I. Joe. It’s actually a separate project that will take another few years to sort out. You will definitely hear about it here. I will return said treasure to this gent’s basement and then I will make a big fuss about it here and elsewhere, but not anytime in 2017. So it’s not technically related to A Real American Book!, but emotionally it is. It occupies a similar space in my head. And provides an image for Chapter 12.

I don’t have any photos of me standing over paper, pretending to write. But here’s one of me pretending to dust! Andre is not pretending.


——-So where does all of that leave me?

There aren’t too many interviews left, I’m certain. I can think of a small handful — three, or five, or eight — that I may try for. And one or two that I can’t imagine, that I’ll just stumble into, “Oh, did you talk to so-and-so? He or she worked on G.I. Joe. Here’s an email address.” That kind of thing. But after 209 interviews, it really does feel like I’m near the end in that regard.

There’s still Chapter 15 to finish with editor Nick. And 15b. And Chapter 16 to finish a first draft of, and then the back and forth with editor Nick. And then finishing chapter X, and the wrap-up chapter. And gathering images and a few more photoshoots. Once I’ve reconciled the “b” chapters (remember 12b and 15b from above?), they all get renumbered, and that makes a total of 20 chapters. That feels like another year or two. I’m sorry if that sounds like too long. You may have heard me say “one more year” in 2015, or at JoeCon 2014, or in 2010. But this pace is the best I can do, what with three other jobs (fun jobs).

That’s part of why I blogged so infrequently this year. I’d have an idea and an image for a blog post, and I’d think “I’m letting down my followers, I haven’t blogged in weeks.” And then instead I’d spend that time actually writing the damn book, which is more important. This happened several times. Also, there are two more mega Joe fans out there who’ve agreed to read the book as-is this year or next, so there’ll be a (hopefully small!!!) pass after I get their comments. I need to make sure I don’t leave out anything important.

So that’s it. Or almost it, for the 2016 A Real American Book! Year in Review.

While I can’t make time to muse for 2000 words on 26 episodes of GI Joe Extreme, or digitize all 570 minutes and record and edit a podcast on it, which I’d really like to do, I did make time for a doodle.

gi joe extreme Tim Finn book




1 Comment

Filed under Book Behind the Scenes, Photography, Writing Process

Rocky Balboa @ mental_floss


Jake Rossen interviewed me and I provided all the images for this mental_floss article about Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa “joining” the G.I. Joe team. This summer I had jury duty, but this fall I was finally an expert witness! Read it here.

Leave a comment

Filed under G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes, Press, Toys and Toy Art

JoeCon ’16 – the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention report

Tim Finn GI Joe con 2016

Last weekend was the annual official G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention in Loveland, Colorado.

Oh, first off, that isn’t Sgt. Slaughter. That’s Erik Neal cosplaying as Sgt. Slaughter. I’ve never met the real Sarge. If I did, you’d probably read about it here.

Secondly: This is long, but it’s mostly photos, and the text chunks are in tiny, digestible paragraphs.

Continue reading


Filed under Convention Reviews

Patriot Ledger, Dec 6th, 1984

Patriot Ledger 12-06-84

Once again, apologies for such infrequent blogging. School, store — you’re familiar by now, plus a new one: jury duty.

Today’s blog post comes from more than twenty years ago, part of page 34 of The Patriot Ledger, a newspaper based in Quincy, Massachusetts. News outlets in New England perhaps paid a little extra attention to Hasbro in the 1980s, since it was headquartered in Rhode Island. This article by Alice Greene paints a picture of Christmas wishes in late 1984.

Patriot Ledger 12-06-84 Alice Greene

Leave a comment

Filed under G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes, Toys and Toy Art

A Real American Book! 2015 in Review

A Real American Book! Year In Review 2015

It felt good, a year ago, to put into words all that went into writing this G.I. Joe book, so I’m doing it again. Many things repeat from last year, and a few things are new. And there is — good news — some progress.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Behind the Scenes, Photography, Writing Process

G.I. Joe #44 cover by Zeck & Beatty

GI Joe 44 cover original art detail by Mike Zeck and John Beatty

Mike Zeck needs no introduction. Here’s a short one anyway. He’s best known for four things: a three-year run on “Captain America,” the 1986 “Punisher” miniseries that made Frank Castle into a real character and not a Spider-Man foil; and 40 or so unbelievable G.I. Joe covers. His career in comics is bigger than that, but you only asked for a short introduction.

Continue reading


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

VAMP sketches by Wayne Luther

Wayne Luther Jeep detail

I got into G.I. Joe in its 3rd year, so while I hadn’t missed the VAMP (or the VAMP 2) at retail, other “basic” vehicles were vying for my attention and dollars — the Snow Cat, the A.W.E. Striker. But the VAMP is such a visible part of the first ten episodes of the animated show that I always wanted one. And even though my family wasn’t connected to military culture I knew from magazines and history that the iconic military Jeep was, well, iconic. So I always wanted G.I. Joe’s Jeep to be a part of my toy play. (Our agents of Cobra had their Stingers — the VAMP repainted in black — and I did finally get a bright yellow VAMP in the form of the Tiger Sting, but not until G.I. Joe’s 8th year. Don’t feel bad for me, though, my Joes did well with the Snow Cat and A.W.E. Striker.)

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes, Toys and Toy Art