“Revenge of Cobra” 1984 Generic Joe II model sheet

G.I. Joe model sheet tease Generic JoeI don’t recall when this generic trooper (version two) appeared within the 1984 G.I. Joe animated miniseries, “The Revenge of Cobra,” (feel free to chime in in the comments), but here’s a little art of him.  (Version one, not pictured in this post, is sans camo.)  First up is a black and white photocopy of the model sheet, with cel paint color codes written in pencil.

G.I. Joe model sheet tease Generic Joe

And here’s the color model sheet — cel vinyl (like acrylic paint) on the back of an animation cel.  Two or three of these were painted for every single character that appeared (standard for animation, not just the G.I. Joe production).  One or two stayed in the States, and one or two went overseas with all the scripts, storyboards, and background keys to the animation studio that would produce the bulk of the show, in this case Toei in Japan.

G.I. Joe color model sheet Generic Joe

This art is likely Russ Heath, since he’s the main designer credited on “Revenge,” but I should point out that eight other artists appear in the end credits of these five episodes.  They did costume changes, props, and lesser background characters so there’s a chance one of them took a Heath drawing of Generic Joe version one and added a few details.

I don’t know if the term “greenshirts” came about in early Joe fandom, or in 2000 when Devil’s Due Press published its G.I. Joe comic book and canonized the term, but I’ve never liked the word (even though it’s wonderfully accurate) because it represents the animation’s misunderstanding of the Joe concept from almost year one.  With generic soldiers running around in the background of every episode, G.I. Joe becomes a stand-in for the regular, larger armed forces, rather than Delta Force, (what it’s actually a stand-in for), akin to the A-Team or the Mission: Impossible folks.  It’s not hundreds of men and women, it’s five or ten or 20 on smaller missions.

But seriously, I don’t recall when this guy shows up.  Do you?

13 Comments

Filed under Animation, G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes

13 responses to ““Revenge of Cobra” 1984 Generic Joe II model sheet

  1. Tolan

    Great work Tim. With all these great teases and tidbits it looks to be a great collection of Joe history.

  2. Nega T

    Looks like an early take on Ripcord. Or a mix of Stalker and Ripcord.

    I dislike the term “green shirts”, too, but mainly because it’s a Star Trek reference (to the expendable red shirt security guards from the 60’s series), and GI JOE fandom shouldn’t resort to using Trekkie lingo. The real reason the generic Joes exist is because keeping track of a bunch of different unique Joe characters gets tedious and leads to animation mistakes (some were made), and also, Cobra in the animated world is large and publicly known, make sense that the special force fighting them would be larger (if they’d even have a special force, since Cobra seems like world enemy #1). But the regular military seen in the toon didn’t seem too competent anyway.

    I guess folks have different views on things, I just hope your book isn’t another excuse for a comic book fan to bash the cartoon. GI JOE fandom isn’t that big, and there’s no need to be as devisive as it is at times.

    • I like the cartoon as much as the comic, so there’s no bashing of either. The book maintains a respectful tone.

      I wonder if “blue shirts” will one day catch on as a term for the ’82 Cobra Soldiers.

      • “Blueshirts” has absolutely caught on as a term for the original COBRA Trooper. It came into use as a nickname to separate that Trooper from the equally-iconic Viper. I think it predates “greenshirts,” which was the Joe equivalent applied to the cartoon dudes.
        I remember these terms from the days of message boards (Pre-DDP comics). I always took Devil’s Due’s inclusion of these terms in the comic was one of their many nods to the online fans.

  3. What a beautiful piece. Can’t say that I remember seeing this fellow in any of the Revenge episodes, but I’m definitely going to take a much closer look. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. There are a couple of these dudes in Revenge of Cobra. They first appear in ‘The Palace of Doom’ at the tail end of the episode (it’s one of them that hands Flint that weirdo mechanical bridge/ladder thing that can’t save GH and Shipwreck from droping into the gaping Earth). They also show up in the opening act of ‘Battle on the Roof of the World’. It’s a shame they never appear again.

  5. Nate

    I have no problem with the term “Greenshirts,” outside of, I guess, fans’ obsessive nature over trying to incorporate them or use them in their “Joe-verses”. But the term itself doesn’t bother me, and I definitely think that identifying it as borrowed from Star Trek lexicon is a major stretch. But whatev. In the Sunbow universe, though, their presence didn’t kill me; while you’re 100% dead-on right that it underscores a misunderstanding of the concept of the ‘Joe team and sort of makes them appear as one large fighting, infantry force instead of an elite unit like a Delta Force or the S.E.A.L.s. BUT, to allow my brain to maintain that image in the Sunbow context, I’ve always allowed myself to think of those nameless, faceless “greenshirts” as ALSO being nameless, faceless members of an elite special forces unit, but the named ‘Joes we’re all familiar with that take the headlines of each story are the squad or unit leaders and the greenshirts are the lesser-known operatives of the same team.

  6. Jack Colby

    Wow, this is the first time I’ve seen anyone express the total wrong-ness of the “generic G.I. Joe”! I thought I was alone in thinking that way. I can see why they did it in the cartoon, but it doesn’t make sense considering what G.I. Joe actually is meant to be. Likewise, I have never considered the vehicles to be anything but unique specialty vehicles with specialist drivers who considered them to be “theirs.” Clutch and the VAMP, etc…

  7. Luke

    I never had a problem with the generic soldiers and the term “greenshirt”. The problem, as I see it, stems from the Joes having an HQ. They’re not just stationed on a base, they HAVE their own base. Most of these guys are pilots and special forces and whatnot, they aren’t paper-pushers, mess cooks (except Roadblock), or any of the numerous other “mundane” functions that would realistically be necessary but not require “elite special missions force”-level expertise, or even be interesting to acknowledge. In the Sunbow cartoon, GI Joe seems to be occupying a fully-functional military base, and the manpower for that has to come from somewhere. At the same time, all those guys doing the grunt (grunt not Grunt 😉 ) work are trained soldiers and could easily be pressed into filling out a security detail or tank crew or even an invasion force. When you’re fighting literal legions of of Cobra, why wouldn’t you call them up every now and then?

    Even the secret HQs have this problem. Hama kind of handwaved it in the Marvel comics with the Joes doing chores every now and then, and IDW just went ahead and gave codenames to EVERYONE from Hawk on down to the groundskeepers.

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