My brother always got the big Joes, the heavy machine gunners. He got Rock ‘n Roll (both!), Roadblock (both!), and later, Salvo. To my delight, I finally “called” a Joe who was beefier, and came with a big weapon — steadi-cam machine gunner, codename: Repeater. Here he is in scale, plastic glory.
But you came here for art, not well-disguised photos of my kitchen counter.
George Woodbridge, master illustrator! Did much of the ’88 turnarounds.
Mark Pennington, a big part of the Joe team at Hasbro. Did much of the ’88 accessories. And ’88 figures. (Later inked a lot of “X-Men.”)
And that wonderous weapon!
I’ve written about George Woodbridge before. Here’s something else by him, a color photocopy of Hasbro’s internal presentation artwork for W.O.R.M.S., the Maggot tank driver. The figure was released in 1987, so this was probably drawn in ’86. I’ve posted this link before, but here’s a bit about Woodbridge, from a eulogy Mark Evanier wrote in 2004. Woodbridge is better known for his military and historical illustrations, and for contributing work to Mad Magazine, but he did a bunch of internal Hasbro freelance work as well.
Having a ninja commando on the team was just the start. In 1988, G.I. Joe got a real-life samurai in the form of Budo. Here’s his action figure sculpt input sheet.
Figure art, above, by George Woodbridge. Accessory art, below, by Mark Pennington.
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.
Here’s George Woodbridge’s turnaround. Such a crisp and clean line, and a deft spotting of blacks.
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.
Today’s art peak brings you several photocopies of Russ Heath’s model sheets for the 1985 season of the animated G.I. Joe. While the Snake-Eyes action figure was iconically all black, the TV series had previously shown him in dark blue. (All black doesn’t “read” well in animation.) For 1985, SE went dark grey, which to my eye reads better than the dark blue and works better as a stand-in for black since dark blue is already associated with Cobra. Russ Heath’s front view:
Clearly based, as many of his drawings were, on Hasbro’s internal presentation artwork:
This one, a black and white photocopy, doesn’t have a signature, and I’ll admit I don’t know who painted it. To my eye it’s not Ron Rudat — the proportions and clothing folds don’t match with work that I know is Rudat. The anatomy is tight, which says George Woodbridge, but his Joe work was colored and black ink, not rendered paintings. Maybe one of you eagle eyed Joe collectors can correct me in the comments. There is a slightly better reproduction of this image, still a black and white photocopy of a color photocopy, though, in Vincent Santelmo’s Official 30th Anniversary Salute to G.I. Joe.
Two more views by Heath:
And SE’s undercover disguise, drawn by Bruce Timm, from the beginning of “Battle for the Train of Gold.” To give you a sense of the timeline, this was drawn in August 1984, and the episode aired 14 months later.
And what appears to be an unused alternate from same.
I’m not sure where in the storyline of “Train” there would have been an opportunity for SE to wear this, but there is a horse farm in act 3, so who knows?