Andy Schmidt: Expanding IDW's G.I. Joe-Verse

IDW Preview: GI Joe: Cobra #2

G.I. JOE #6

Just recently, IDW was named the third largest publisher of comic books in the United States by Diamond’s accounting. Part of that recent success has been due to the addition of Hasbro’s G.I. JOE license to their formidable arsenal of licensed properties such as Transformers and Star Trek. In a recent press release, IDW reiterated what was announced at the G.I. JOE panel that was held this past weekend’s FX International convention in Orlando, that is, both G.I. Joe: Origins and G.I. Joe: Cobra will continue past their originally announced runs.

The press release reads:

It’s the year of G. I. JOE! Building on the tremendous fan support of G.I. JOE: Origins and G.I. JOE: COBRA, published under license from Hasbro, Inc., IDW is pleased to announce extensions for both mini-series! Offering a look at the people who make up the team, G.I. JOE: Origins will become an ongoing series, starting in August. G.I. JOE: COBRA Special #1 will be released in September, offering insights inspired by revelations in issue #4 of that series, on-sale in June. For more information about IDW’s G.I. JOE comics, visit IDWPublishing.com/GIJOE.

"Reaction to all three of our G.I. JOE series has been beyond expectations, with both fans and critics raving about Origins and COBRA in particular," said Andy Schmidt, IDW 's G.I. JOE editor. "After seeing the fan response of both series, we came up with enough great content to extend them both. Even though neither series is over yet, fans are already asking for more. We're grateful for their support on these books, and so we’re happy to give them what they want!"

“We are thrilled with the direction IDW has taken with G.I. JOE. Their success in creating amazing and engaging storylines based on our classic characters is evidenced by the enthusiastic response from fans. The decision to expand both G.I. JOE: Origins and G.I. JOE: Cobra from their original scope shows the dedication and passion both Hasbro and IDW have for delivering fans exciting new experiences,” said Michael Kelly, Hasbro’s Senior Global Publishing Manager.

G.I. JOE: Origins #6 and #7 put the spotlight on Scarlett and Mainframe, respectively. Writer Chuck Dixon focuses on these two important characters, adding another layer to the main G.I. JOE ongoing series. Starting with issue #8, Larry Hama returns to G.I. JOE: Origins for three issues of action-packed missions! “There are literally hundreds of great stories to tell in Origins that take place before G.I. JOE and COBRA ever met, and that's exactly what you'll get in the book,” said Schmidt.

Coming in September, G.I. JOE: COBRA Special #1 picks up on several major revelations in issue #4. The final COBRA issue will feature the same creative team as the rest of the series and is sure to be at the top of any G.I. JOE fan’s list. After beating up on G.I. JOE for four issues, writers Christos Gage and Mike Costa are not done yet, and artist Antonio Fuso brings every agonizing emotion to life. Added Schmidt: “The COBRA Special will reveal a lot more about our sinister organization and will have repercussions throughout the G.I. JOE line.”

In light of these new developments from IDW, Newsarama quickly contacted the man overseeing the G.I. Joe line at IDW, Senior Editor Andy Schmidt, to ask about upcoming developments on their popular new line of books.

Newsarama: Congratulations on IDW being named third largest publisher—do you feel that G.I. Joe helped to push you guys to the next level?

Andy Schmidt: I think it's clear that the success of the G.I. JOE comics had something to do with putting IDW over the top. Fans have been asking for more and more.

G.I. JOE Movie Prequel #2

There are a lot of people are to thank for how the titles have turned out. Most obviously, the writers and artists whose names appear in the credits, but also the good people at Hasbro in that little "Special Thanks" credit in the inside front cover. They've been extremely supportive and encouraging throughout the re-launch of the G.I. JOE books. And our thanks goes out to all the retailers who are supporting G.I. JOE so well—and, of course, to the fans as well. We're really trying to break the mold and create a new golden age G.I. JOE!

NRAMA: What sorts of future plans do you have for later in the year, past the oroiginally-announced runs?

AS: We've got the COBRA Special in September, and there's good talk of a sequel (sort of) to that book. I can't say too much without giving away the ending of the current series. But if you're a JOE fan and not reading it, you're making a mistake. It's fantastic stuff.

The second major story arc for G.I. JOE kicks off in August with G.I. JOE #7 which has a cover by Howard Chaykin and a special gate-fold cover by David Williams. Whoooo-ee, is it nice. That spirals out of events of the first arc and the readers will be treated to the first one-on-one fight with COBRA, up close and personal.

Man, I can't wait for it.

We've got G.I. JOE: Origins springing into ongoing status. The fan support has been huge. We've got two issues starting in August that reflect events in the second arc of G.I. JOE and then Larry Hama returns as writer for the following three issues. Lots of great stuff to come in here. Larry left the door wide open for more great stories at the end of the initial five issues, and we're going to capitalize on what he's done.

Also in August, in conjunction with the new, awesome Electronic Arts G.I. JOE video game, we're putting out a one-shot special on the new character, Helix. She was created for the game, and we're making her debut in the G.I. JOE comic universe the same month. She's very cool and you'll see a lot more of her in the future.

NRAMA: How much of a factor will the new GIJOE: The Rise of COBRA motion picture be in the development of future projects?

AS: As we develop projects based on the movie, it will be an essential factor. And we do have more projects coming, including one written by Snake Eyes (Ray Park) himself!

NRAMA: How many creators have approached you in regards to pitching GIJOE projects?

AS: Man, a lot.

NRAMA: Anything that you had to turn down?

AS: My experience has told me not to turn down good stories. What I try to do when I hit upon one that doesn't fit is to see if I can find a way to keep the heart of the story, the character arc, intact, and see if it will fit in with perhaps a different setting or different plot. It's the characters that really matter, not the events.

So, I've green-lit or have several great stories in development from a lot of known creators. It's been really great working with them and seeing this kind of enthusiasm.

G.I. JOE Prequel #4

NRAMA: How closely does IDW work with Hasbro in terms of creating new characters or cross-promoting changes to their toy line?

AS: Pretty closely. I talk with my Hasbro contact person nearly every day. We talk about story and art as well as what's going on in the rest of the G.I. JOE world. So we're in the loop from that stand point.

NRAMA: As the guy overseeing everything, do you have a master plan? Or is world domination more likely to be on COBRA Commander's list of "Things to Do"?

AS: Ugh. Who'd want that job? I've got a wife and son and I can't even run their lives. So, I'm not looking for that job. There is a master plan, yes. It's all building to some pretty spectacular stuff. What's really great about reinventing these heroes and villains is that we don't have to do it exactly the same way it's been done before. We can spring a few new surprises in there. But yeah, so far, everyone involved has contributed to one degree or another on the master plan. Honestly, I'm amazed it's been such a smooth process!

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