G.I. Joe has fought Cobra for over three decades - but they've never fought it like this.
Idiosyncratic cartoonist Michel Fiffe, best known for his creator-owned series Copra, brings his unique brand of imagination to Hasbro's G.I. Joe franchise with the new IDW Publishing limited series G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte. Debuting this Wednesday, Seirra Muerte mixes the nostaglic uniforms and action from G.I. Joe's halcyonic 1980s era with Fiffe's modern-day indie aesthetic that reads similiar to Ed Piskor's X-Men: Grand Design.
Fiffe spoke with Newsarama about this honest and experimental take on a nostalgic fave.
Newsarama: Michel, what can you tell us about the plot of G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte?
Michel Fiffe: It's essentially a hunt for Cobra before they cut a small Latin American country off at the knees, and a magnificent battle royal ensues. Throw in a personal vendetta gone sideways, fiction's greatest romance used as a weapon, and psychedelic ninja mind tricks… and you'll be barely scratching the surface of what's in store!
Nrama: How did you partner with IDW to develop this project?
Fiffe: Through a series of excitable e-mails that spanned years.
The logistics had to be hammered out carefully, patiently, but we came to a harmonious conclusion. Turns out, G.I. Joe was the perfect fit for me at the time.
Nrama: Have you always been a fan of G.I. Joe? Did you follow the property in all its forms – i.e. the cartoon, the toys, the comic books by Larry Hama?
Fiffe: If you were alive in the ‘80s, you couldn't miss the cartoon. That was my entry point as a kid. As an older reader, I would classify the Larry Hama body of work on the title as inspirational.
Nrama: What specific elements or tone do you want to bring to this story that are uniquely your own, or are uniquely tied to that rich history of G.I. Joe storytelling but are often overlooked?
Fiffe: By virtue of the fact that I'm writing, drawing, and hand-lettering myself, I feel like I’m bringing a very specific, intimate dynamic to this world… and that plays to the super-charismatic nature of the characters. I wanted to personalize them a bit, honoring their relatability, while still having them dodge bullets with poise and grace.
Nrama: You obviously have a history writing and drawing your own work! How would you describe the experience working with editors/IDW/Hasbro on Sierra Muerte?
Fiffe: It's good to get out of my comfort zone once in a while, and this project was perfect for that. Dealing with properties with the degree of care and management required of them was a definitely a gear shift. I like the feedback; what can I say, it's a novelty I appreciate!
Nrama: I'm curious, can you please name your favorite G.I. Joe characters? Besides Snake Eyes, obviously.
Fiffe: Let me be up front: Snake Eyes is not one of them, but I appreciate the foresight in your part. I'm more of a Rock 'N Roll and Roadblock kind of guy. Lady Jaye is high up there, and Cobra Commander… I fell in love with him as I worked on him. Same with Baroness.
Nrama: If the G.I. Joe team fought the Copra crew, who would win?
Fiffe: Don't be coy, Zack, you know the answer to that!
Nrama: Joking aside, why do you feel that so many of those 1980s toys and their attendant cartoons and comics have such a deep resonance, crossing generations and lingering with many fans well into adulthood?
Fiffe: We're living through the first wave of fans who never stopped embracing these characters on a larger, unabashed level. We didn't outgrow these obsessions, we doubled down.
Nrama: If Joe fans are on the fence about picking up this book, what can you promise them?
Fiffe: Beloved icons in their purest form, kicking ass issue-in, issue-out… what's not to love? Get off that fence and get on this comic. You won't regret it!
Nrama: What's next for you?
Fiffe: Copra full steam ahead.