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DEVIL'S DUE WEEK: Larry Hama 'Rama

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As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Devil’s Due Publishing has launched a companion series for America’s Elite.  Although G.I. Joe has had several comic spin-offs in the past, the first ongoing solo series needed to be something special.  The character in question debuted as the mysterious ninja in G.I. Joe #21 (March 1984), the controversial “silent issue.”  The writer?  He was the guy that took Hasbro’s vague 1982 pitch for a toy tie-in comic and shaped it into an astonishing 155 issue run.

Larry Hama stopped by Broken Frontier to talk about the May debuting G.I. Joe: Storm Shadow.

BROKEN FRONTIER: How did you get involved in the upcoming G.I. Joe: Storm Shadow project?

LARRY HAMA: Mike O'Sullivan called from Devil's Due and asked me if I would do it. My interest was the same as when I was first asked to write G.I. Joe at Marvel way back in the early 'eighties - they were the only ones asking me to dance.

BF: What has our friend, Storm Shadow, been doing since leaving America's Elite?

LH: That will be revealed as the story progresses. If I told you now, it wouldn't be a surprise. Sorry if that sounds disingenuous, but it is true.  What is also true is that I haven't quite figured it all out yet.  But that is a facet of my story construction methodology that I
have gone into in great detail in other interviews that are probably still knocking around somewhere on the Web.

BF: Would you mind recapping that methodology for BF readers? 

LH: I plot each story as I go.  I plot each page as I go.  I don't know the end of the story until I get to it.

BF: Turning back to Storm Shadow, how long are you planning on working on the book?

LH: I usually stick with a book until I either get fired or the book gets canceled out from under me.  I was trying to think of books that I actually quit, and the only one that comes to mind is Iron Fist, and that was mainly because Atlas Comics had opened up across the street from Marvel and they were offering to double my rate.

BF: What do you see as the reason for Storm Shadow's enduring popularity?

LH: Gosh, I have no idea.  I think I probably gave wise-acre answers to this question in the past few months, but I really have no idea.  I think there are vast numbers of fans who are only aware of the animated incarnation of that character, and since I have never watched any of the animated episodes, I can't make a very good judgment on that. Maybe he was totally killer in the animated series?  I am only feeling half of the elephant.

BF: In a different interview you gave, you responded that you were returning to G.I. Joe monthly was a "mixture of pleasure and anxiety."  Could you elaborate on what excites you about coming back to this universe and what you are finding stressful about it?

LH: The pleasure is in dealing with a subject I don't have to do a lot of research on, and working with characters that are firmly established in my head.  The anxiety is the same anxiety I always had.  I remembered that after I wrote the second issue of Real American Hero  (the Marvel series was sub-titled “A Real American Hero – ed.), that I seriously wondered what I could possibly do next.  My worrying about it usually made me completely immobile and incapable of doing anything until the day before the plot was due.

Before I wrote Joe, I was writing a series for Warren called The Young Master that was drawn by Val Mayerick.  I would obsess about not being able to think up a story until twenty minutes before I had to walk into Editor Weezie Jones' office and pitch it to her.  I would think up the story on the Lexington Ave. subway ride from 57th St. to 34th St.  Sometimes I would still be working it out in the elevator on the way up to Warren.

BF: What other projects have you been working on recently?

LH: I wrote the script for a new game called Out Of Your Mind, from GameLab and Curious Pictures.  You can download trial versions at Big Fish, Flashbang and lots of other sites. Been writing episodes of Robotboy, an animated series that shown on Cartoon Network. Also, working on a new set of projects for Hasbro that I will be able to talk about shortly.

BF: This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the "new" G.I. Joe.  If you had the opportunity to talk to the Larry Hama that sat down to write G.I. Joe #1 in 1982, what would you say to him about the property?

LH: Don't worry about the plot. Character is what it's all about.

Here’s a six-page preview of June’s G.I. Joe: Storm Shadow #2. For a sneak peek at the debut issue released earlier this month, click  here.

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