For Duane France and generations of former kids, a singular swath of the fabric of youth is Army green and tailored for a tiny soldier.
“I’d go to my grandparents’ house, and you always made sure you had the G.I. Joes to play with … the comics to read,” said France, 47, a retired Army noncommissioned officer, combat veteran and clinical mental health counselor in Colorado Springs. “Especially for kids in the ’70s and ’80s, G.I. Joes were just a huge part of growing up.”
So when comic book writer Paul Allor came calling early this year seeking France’s input on a stand-alone G.I. Joe issue focusing on a character’s struggle with combat-related trauma, France said he was thrilled for the chance to revisit his childhood universe.
The project resonated with more than just nostalgia, though.
“Sure somebody asks, ‘Do you want to work on a G.I. Joe comic?’ you don’t say no. But what also for me was exciting is that he wanted to address this particular issue in this way, in this medium,” said France. “It was amazing for me to be involved in approaching mental health with such an iconic brand.”
The classic American pantheon emerged in 1942 as a cartoon series by Dave Breger in Yank, the Army Weekly. Over the nearly eight decades since, Breger’s characters, storylines and brand have evolved and expanded into toys, cartoons and Hollywood films, as well as multiple waves of comic book series and spinoffs.
The most recent iteration of the comic book franchise launched last year, with a reboot written by Allor, of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe,” and drawn by artist Chris Evenhuis, of Monstro Mechanica. It is set in an alternate universe in which G.I. Joe’s arch enemy, Cobra, has assumed control of the government and ushered in “a dark new status quo.”
“Old-school G.I. Joe fans will absolutely love it and find it true to everything G.I. Joe stands for, and new folks will be attracted to a deeply character-driven tale of hope and humanity, and about the power of…
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