FOR TOMMY: JOSH BLAYLOCK
is the man at the top of Devil's Due. Formed as a comics studio,
it gained huge momentum when it signed up G.I.Joe as a comic
book. This enabled the studio to leave Image behind and set
up on its own, also grabbing UDON Studios, Roaring Studios
and more to its bosom.
has been singled out for its slick, action packed artwork,
ability to experiment, and a single minded purpose to take
over the entire comics industry.
not an exaggeration by the way.
JOHNSTON: Forty years of G.I.Joe. How much has comics
played a part in that legacy?
JOSH BLAYLOCK: Not much for the first twenty, but DEFINITELY
a huge part in the 80's. The comics were used to create a
fantasy around the characters two or three years before the
cartoons aired. They were advertised on television. It was
a good time. I think it's played a similar role in enticing
those same comic book readers to return for a taste of what
they had in their youth with a new edge to it. Now that the
toys are moving in full motion, we're finally making some
progress in some stories for the kiddies.
G.I.Joe was always one of those toys/cartoons/comics that
seemed bound to attract criticism, providing a fantasy setting
for modern warfare for little kiddies. Developing an older
audience than maybe the one it was initially designed for,
that audience seems to have been disappointed by the attempts
to keep the age-suitability lower than some might seem appropriate
considering the very nature of the concept. How has Devil's
Due dealt with this continual battle through publishing its
JOSH: It's definitely a challenge, but we try to pull
it off. Just as the Batman cartoons of the 90's had that dark
edge to them while being suitable for children at the same
time, we try to play things off by mood and by letting you
use your imagination - sometimes it's more effective to let
you guess what is going to happen to a character about to
be interrogated, for example, rather than show it. We're a
little edgier than cartoons are allowed to be, but still maintain
a 'pg' or 'pg-13' feel.
How do the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq affect the
stories you tell? It would seem natural to make the stories
relevant to what children see in the news - but G.I.Joe has
typically portrayed a more black and white view of morality,
rather than that which the media portrays in modern warfare.
Is there a conflict here?
JOSH: We're definitely allowed to blur the line. Yeah,
that cartoon was black and white, but [writer] Larry [Hama]
really put a healthy dash of cynicism in the old books, and
we still play on that. Paul Jenkin's Cobra Reborn 48 pager
DEFINITELY does. The Reborn, (follwed by RELOADED) books are
a lot more edgy, NEW beginning for G.I.Joe, from a modern
setting, and even more grounded than the other series. The
thing I hear most from fans after reading Cobra Reborn is
"Wow, I think Cobra Commander even convinced ME to sign up!"
There have always
been bad guys within out own government in the G.I.Joe mythos
- but the members of G.I.JOE itself are undoubtedly on the
side of good.
It seems a franchise pattern - huge initial success followed
by a tapering of sales as the initial buzz of nostalgia is
dimmed. Is this pattern inevitable, or can it/has it been
JOSH: I don't think that's limited to nostalgia by
any means. That's the pattern for EVERYTHING. Otherwise I'd
still have all my cool PEARL JAM shirts - ha ha. The property
has to change for the times, and stay fresh for people. When
we started, fans didn't want what they read as kids, they
wanted a more "badass" version - what they always WISHED it
could have been. We're trying to mix it up a bit with Cobra
Reborn and the new RELOADED series now. When the kids stuff
comes around, we'll tackle the same issues, but in a different
way. The advantage is, things are always new to kids. They've
never heard of these characters before.
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