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    Josh Blaylock Interview

    On January 18, 2005, rumors surrounding the comic book started, hinting at cancellations, reboots, and relaunches. Josh Blaylock, President and founder of Devil's Due Publishing, took the time to answer the following questions for us regarding the rumors and DDP's plans for G.I.Joe.


    Q: When will the relaunch be happening?

    The all new Joe series will hit stores this summer, immediately following the last issue of the current series, issue #43, which closes off the Red Shadows story.

    Q: How long has the creative team signed on for?

    Right now we're staging the first story arc, but I hope both remain on for a solid year at the least. Tim had one of the longest run on G.I.Joe ever, and quite a long run for ANY series by todays standards. If they hit a fraction of that we're doing great. Stefano brings an amazing energy to the series. He's going to go all out with the gear, weaponry, and tech detail. If you saw him on Master and Apprentice or Afermath's DEFEX, you ain't seen nothing yet!

    Q: What will be the title of the relaunched series?

    That's going to be decided very very soon. Something simple, but something that still makes it clear to retailers, this is THE G.I.Joe book.

    Q: Will this be an ongoing series or a series of mini series?

    Ongoing!! I really hope people can rest assured, the G.I.Joe comic book is only getting a renumbering. The series, and the history that goes with it, is going to live on.

    Q: Why Joe Casey? He has stated in the past that "Now, can someone help me out here...? Transformers... G.I. Joe... Battle of the Planets... Thundercats... He-Man... exactly what @#%$ decade is this industry living in?! Last I checked, it was the Twenty-First Century... and these are the cutting edge books tearing up the sales charts...? I don't mind seeing the massive X-machine starting to recede a little bit into the background, sliding down the charts to make way for a crop of new champs, but if they're just making way for 80's cartoon nostalgia, I may have to rethink my concept of "lesser evils." Have his views changed? Does he no longer consider G.I.Joe to be a "nostalgia title"?

    First I've heard of those comments, but I think that was just some venting about the glut of books out at the time. Many were quality, but many were not. I'm still gonna have to give him some crap about that, though ;) There's just something about the kind of stories I've seen him do that really makes him a perfect fit for the comic - really getting into the heads of the characters. It was a large part due to the first five scripts he's turned in for INFANTRY, the book he's writing for our Aftermath line.

    I think many people who overlook G.I.Joe don't realize just how complex and downright cool the characters are. G.I.Joe is the essence of great soap opera, with plenty of action to boot. Part of our new direction is to make the book more accessible to writers who can't know everything that happened in issue #6 of the Marvel run, but who can tell great stories nonetheless.

    A perfect example of this is Cobra Reborn, by Paul Jenkins. Hailed by many as one of the best, if not THE best Cobra Commander story written to date. The story that REALLY nailed him. Before that gig, Paul knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about G.I.Joe. Everything was based on simple notes I provided him about the essence of the character, and he crafted an amazing story from it. With the right direction, we can get some amazing tales out of a wide variety of talent in the future.

    Q: What is the main premise behind the relaunched title?

    At the end of the series, Cobra and G.I.Joe are both going back to square one, and thus the new era begins. That's right, COBRA isn't going anywhere! Do you think we're crazy? But they're not going to be the same Cobra they have been lately. The backstabbing and division of the group's inner circle is held together by a shoestring as it is, and many members are going to say enough's enough. G.I.Joe is going to have a tighter, smaller roster, and a different agenda. Their existence will once again be denied by the government. They're going to be a much more PROACTIVE 'Joe rather than reactive, and Cobra isn't going to be the only threat out there. G.I.Joe is going to have more of a "rogues gallery" and they're going to have to hunt down the members of Cobra wherever they are, making sure they never have a chance to regain their former power. You think it's hard to find the REAL bad guys out there these days... just imagine if you don't even know what half of them LOOK like under their masks.

    The U.S. government has also made some allegiences that G.I.Joe is not too happy with.

    Q: Why should readers (current, new, or those that dropped the title previously) pick up the relaunched title?

    Because, this is both a brand new start for G.I.JOE, and yet a continuation of the Joe that came before. It's the best jumping on point we've ever had - even better, I'd say, than issue #1 of the current series. The team is going to focus more on the 'superstar' members that most people know, but will still feature a wide variety of specialists and character cameos.

    Q: Will the ninjas be a major focus in the new series?

    No more than they've been in the past. I really like giving the ninjas their own side series when we really want to focus on them, like in the upcoming Storm Shadow "Master and Apprentice 2". We have a few surprises in store, though, but you'll have to wait and see.

    Q: Will the new series be a continuation of the former, but with less (or no) focus on 20 year old history?

    I think I covered the first part of this. To clarify on the history, though, the one change we're going to be making is this: It's long overdue that we make it official. The Joes aren't all 40-plus years old. They didn't fight in Viet-Nam. Not even Desert Storm. Instead, it was a more general "South Eastern conflict." They weren't formed in 1982, they were formed "about ten years ago." That kind of thing. If you see flashback scenes, they might very well have technology that wasn't available to soldiers in the early 80's.

    If you go back and look at our series, we've never actually said the characters fought in 'Nam, or that they were in their 40's or 50's. We did say that they were decommissioned for seven years (referring to the end of the Marvel run in '94, and our first issue in '01) or "about ten years", so that will have to be swept under the rug a bit. It's just time to make that official. The kind of thing every long running series has to do, otherwise characters like Batman would be pushing 80.

    Q: Do you consider the new series to be "grit-n-gritty"?

    You know, I don't know WHERE this part came from. Probably just an assumption based on some of Joe Casey's more edgy work. I'll say it again, though, what we're doing now is as 'gritty' as it gets! Hasbro's never going to let us chop off heads and blow arms off, or anything like that, and I don't think we'd want to anyway. I still get emails, though, requesting to make G.I.Joe more violent all the time.

    Q: Will there be a series focusing on Cobra Commander?

    There will be STORIES focusing on him. A series? Maybe someday.

    Q: Will the new team be led by General Rey?

    This was a tough choice for us. Rey is one of the stories we have that is going to take a while to follow up on, but he's not totally going away. Someone else will be leading New G.I.Joe, though, and I don't think it's who you'll expect.

    Q: Will the new team wear standard uniforms?

    Yes! Spandex and capes for all! Or trenchcoats and sunglasses. Just kidding.

    We DO want some basic similarities between the uniforms, but for each member to still be very unique. So far what Stefano has turned in has been awesome. It's important that they still look very military, although they'll have a very high-tech slant.

    Q: Will this continue directly from issue 43 of the current series, or will there be a time gap?

    It will be approximately one year from the end of issue #43.

    Q: Will there be more short, one to two issue story lines, or will the story lines continue to be four to six issues long?

    They'll still have a decent length to them, but the smaller roster and the focus on a smaller group of villains for each story will allow for a lot more in depth character interaction.

    Q: What are your sales expectations for the relaunched title?

    It would be nice to double, or triple our sales, but that's what everyone wants, right? Don't think I've given away all our surprises for this. Gotta save SOMETHING for the comic book news websites.

    Part I (Wrapping up the Current Series) - Part II (Relaunch) - Part III (Reloaded) - Part IV (Robots) - Part V (Other)

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