GI Joe Classified Shooter addendum

Okay, important things first:

Larry Hama shares a letter he got from a fan, basically asking for a free sketch. He publicly responds: "I'm starting to get these again, mailed to my home address. I am going to discard all mail from unknown addresses unopened from now on. I literally do not have time for this. I'm 75, and I'm still working because I can't afford to retire. I do not receive royalties from any of the GI Joe material I have worked on, and I do not receive royalties from Marvel foreign sales. I live on my page rate which hasn't gone up in thirty years. I sign comics and toys for free (two items) as long as they are dedicated ('to so-and-so') but I charge for undedicated sigs, and I charge for sketches."

Larry Hama is basically responsible for creating the brand from scratch, and still has to work in his 70s to stay alive? It would be one thing if he was choosing to write, but to have to? That's bad. Hasbro, fix your shit.

Also, comics companies give him a higher page rate. No one should be making the same money in 2024 they did in 1994.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

As mentioned in today's review, Shooter is based on a joke seen in the first issue of Marvel's A Real American Hero comic.

Here's a comparison between Herb Trimpe's original pencils and the published page (it's unknown whether he redrew the hand himself, or if it was inker Bob McLeod):

That isn't the only change made, for the record. If you compare the penciled page to the final product, there are adjustments both big (redoing an entire panel's layout) and small (toning down what was originally a very "Jack Kirby" art style, as seen in the technology and faces).


And one final note: although she's technically considered dead, it's possible Shooter lives. Her last stand has been shown in the comics only twice (GI Joe Declassified #3 and A Real American Hero #228), but both times have shown her radio getting destroyed. That's such a small detail, you have to assume it was specifically called out in Hama's script, and so is something he explicitly wants the story to contain.

(We can safely guess it's not just a question of SL Gallant looking back at what Joe Dodd had originally drawn, because the particulars of how the radio is broken are different).

So yes, she was repeatedly shot in the back, and then the castle she was on was blown up, but this is comics: people have survived worse, even in a "realistic" book like GI Joe. You could easily imagine Shooter being found in the rubble by the locals she'd just saved, badly injured and unable to communicate. Maybe she's in a coma; maybe she's got amnesia; either way, she can't tell them who she is.

She's shown removing her dog tags before the mission, so she has no identification on her. And as established, her radio is non-functional. So her benefactors have no way to get in touch with whatever group she belongs to, and they take it upon themselves to save her life.

Larry Hama has said before he doesn't really plan his stories out in advance, but does whatever he feels like at any given moment. With the way Shooter's story was written, he could decide tomorrow that the 14th Original Joe is out there, still alive and just waiting to be reintroduced to the world.

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4 Responses to GI Joe Classified Shooter addendum

  1. Ai Muhao says:

    Query: what was Larry Hama's connection with Hasbro? Like, off the top of my head Bob Budiansky is the one who created the backstory and identities of most of the Transformers (many of them still in use today to varying degrees), but I don't think he gets royalties etc from Hasbro either, yes? Were they not basically hired workers i.e. employees of Marvel hired to create the backstories etc?

    I know Budiansky himself has noted that while he's quite pleased that people are so passionate about Transformers, to him it was "just a job" back then and so he sometimes disappoints people when he notes he's nowhere near as passionate about the franchise as they are.

    • Reuben says:

      He wrote most of the file cards himself

      • Ai Muhao says:

        And Bob Budiansky wrote almost all the character profiles of the Transformers. The thing I was asking about is "why would this blog post say "Hasbro, fix your shit" if they have no obligation to Hama"?

        Like, if they were hired to via Marvel to create the Joes and TFs, then any obligation Hasbro had to them ended once the licenses ended. And this isn't a situation like with Superman or Batman's creators where the characters were created from scratch, this was guys working for Marvel being given a bunch of toys and told, "Make up a story for these".

        To put it another way, Peter Cullen is the one most responsible for making Optimus Prime stand out amongst all the other 80s lead characters, but as far as I'm aware it's not like he automatically gets residuals or something every time an Optimus toy (at least based on the ones he voiced like G1 and the Bay movies) gets sold.

        • precios brackets says:

          Yes, but he should. Bob Budianski should be getting residuals for his work too. Larry Hama personally created the file cards for all but one of the classic figures, and has been the driving force behind the brand since its inception. He's a synonymous with GI Joe as Stan Lee is with the Fantastic Four, and if Marvel can create a pension for Stan when they didn't "have" to, Hasbro can do the same for their important creators.

          There's a gap between what's "legal" and what's "right," and an actual obligation - one as big as that owed to Larry Hama or Peter Cullen - goes way beyond what a contract signed 40 years ago at the start of a brand could provide for.

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