Following the events of IDW’s G.I. Joe: Revolution in October, a new G.I. Joe squad is spinning out of IDW’s “Revolution” event. “Revolution” brings IDW’s Hasbro franchises of Transformers, MASK, Rom, and Micronauts - and of course, the aforementioned G. I. Joe - into one big toybox of a shared universe.
With a new volume of G.I. Joe launching on December 28 which picks up threads from the G.I. Joe: Revolution one-shot, writer Aubrey SItterson and artist Giannis Milogiannis are packing in the unexpected, starting with a new Joe team member – Skywarp, the Decepticon.
Newsarama caught up with Sitterson and Giannis to talk about their plans for the new G.I. Joe series, and what it means to them to have these characters interact with other heavily-admired franchises. They’ll also reveal the surprise Hasbro franchise that SItterson actually has a back up plan to crossover with (we’ll give you a hint: Friendship is magic).
Newsarama: Aubrey and Giannis, last Newsarama spoke to you guys, you were fresh off the announcement of the series, so do you feel somewhat more relieved that you can actually start talking about the workings of it? Aubrey Sitterson: I don't know if "relieved" is the right word. It's more like I'm feeling unbelievablymindblowinglystoked. Now that the Revolution one-shot is out, now that people have thrilled to our unique, innovative approach to the concept, now that they've seen Giannis' amazing designs and Lovern Kindzierski's stunning colors, learned about Sky-effing-warp joining the team… I can't wait for everyone to check out the new ongoing series.
I read the first issue last night and let me tell you: It makes the Revolution one-shot look like garbage… and the Revolution one-shot is universally recognized as being amazing! I can't even fully express to you how ready I am for people to find out and really understand why our G.I. Joe is the Crown Jewel of the Hasbro Universe.
Giannis Milonogiannis: I'm personally just excited to be working on such a cool book with such cool people. I hope readers check it out, cause we're having a great time making this - and the ongoing is turning out really crazy.
Newsarama: Aubrey, you're returning to the world of Joes after Street Fighter x G. I. Joe. Were there any characters who you wanted to play with first time but couldn’t, and now have the chance to write?
Aubrey Sitterson: Man, I loved working on Street Fighter x G.I. Joe, and I'm so grateful that my approach to the Joe characters resonated not just with fans, but also the fine folks at Hasbro. I'll be honest: I've heard horror stories about working with licensors, so while I hoped for the best, I was kind of preparing for the worst. Then, lo and behold, it turned out that Hasbro is absolutely amazing to work with! They're a total breeze, largely because we all share a common idea of what this series should be.
That's a long way of saying: No, not really!
Newsarama: Was there somebody that was still off the table?
Aubrey Sitterson: Well, yeah…but it's not Hasbro's fault. Anyone who's even so much as glanced at my online presence knows that I'm an absolutely massive professional wrestling fan – I even do a weekly wrestling YouTube show and podcast called “Straight Shoot!” So, as you can probably imagine, I was dying for a chance to get my hands on Sgt. Slaughter and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, both of whom were part of the Joe toy-line back in the day.
Outside of, you know, wrestlers, I've gotta admit: I'm more than a little bummed that in the IDW continuity, both Chuckles and Jinx are dead. This is comics, so there are always ways to bring people back, but I think doing so would be disrespectful to the amazing work that Mike Costa and others did with that storyline.
Newsarama: How are the Joes engaging with the rest of the IDW universe?
Aubrey Sitterson: Very carefully! Seriously: The Joes are regular humans who have all of a sudden found themselves in the midst of a world full of giant robots, extraplanar mini-astronauts, shape-shifting aliens and a Space Knight capable of blasting a person to smithereens in a single shot. Obviously, they're outgunned, but with the inclusion of their own giant robot – one that can turn into a jet – as well as some notable new technological advances… they're absolutely going to find their way in this brave new world.
Plus, G.I. Joe has something that no other franchise does: The unbelievable strength of a massive, diverse roster. You'll be amazed at what teamwork can accomplish in the face of incredible odds.
Newsarama: When you were kids did you ever pit the Joes with the Transformers and have action figure mash-up wars?
Aubrey Sitterson: Of course! But I wasn't limited to just Joe and Transformers – my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men figures never failed to make an appearance. Get me on the crossover already!
Newsarama: Giannis did you find it difficult to convey emotion with the Transformers since some of their faces don't really allow for proper expressions?
Giannis Milonogiannis: I've been having an interesting time in general with Skywarp - I'm always terrified of drawing the pages he's in, but those end up being the most fun and stronger ones in the issue. As for the expressions, I think there's something even funnier about Skywarp delivering his lines in a stone-cold face, so I try to play that up when I can.
Newsarama: Hasbro had a G.I. Joe and Transformer toy crossover for one of their SDCC exclusives this year with Soundwave being a tank that was driven by Zartan. Are we going to see any sort of things like that in G.I. Joe?
Aubrey Sitterson: While I can't promise that we'll have Zartan driving tank-Soundwave specifically, there are already big plans for how the books in this newly shared universe are meant to interact. Before anyone out in the world had ever heard of “Revolution,” IDW brought all of the writers down to San Diego for a summit and one of our biggest priorities was figuring out ways to make sure that this feels like a cohesive world, not just a bunch of books that crossover every once in awhile.
And again, I feel like I can't say this enough: there’s a Transformer on the team!
Newsarama: What's been the best thing out of G.I. Joe Revolutions that you find the most fulfilling as creators?
Aubrey Sitterson: I'm going to cheat and give two answers. First up is the opportunity to work with Giannis and Lovern. These are two guys that I've been a fan of for years and I was floored when our amazing editor Carlos called and said that he'd snagged them. It felt like such a tremendous coup, as they're the perfect team to convey the brand-new tone, direction and approach for G.I. Joe – one that pushes the franchise forward while staying true to what we all love about it.
The other most fulfilling thing for me is, honestly, the chance to spread my wings on an ongoing series. As far as I see it, having an ongoing book is the Holy Grail of the comics industry. Yeah, you can rattle off memorable, exquisite, important limited series all day, but for my money, the medium and format truly shines when you've got the same team, month in and month out, over the course of several years. I can't overstate how excited I am to have the opportunity to – with Giannis, Lovern, Carlos and our letterer, Chris Mowry – stretch out and tell a story that's larger, deeper and more impactful than a simple limited series.
And yeah: I'm going to write this book until they drag me away kicking and screaming.
Giannis Milonogiannis: I've been feeling really lucky to work with the people I'm working with, honestly. And I totally agree with Aubrey - doing an ongoing is extremely fulfilling and challenging, and it's my favorite mode of making comics. I'm glad we're getting to do it on a big book in our own way.
Newsarama: Lastly, if characters from Hasbro’s My Little Pony were able to join this party, what would you do with them?
Aubrey Sitterson: Great question. Obviously, Scarlett would institute a new cavalry division so that the Joes could ride the ponies into battle.
Here's an even better question though: How are we not already doing a Battle of the Bands crossover with Jem & the Holograms and Cold Slither!? Rock 'n Roll could be the Holograms' roadie! Is anyone even listening to me!? Is this thing on!?
Giannis Milonogiannis: What have you done? I can already tell the next script I'm getting is gonna be a weird one.