Does IDW Approve of Divisive Politics In Their G. I. Joe Properties?

by Avi Green

Who’s responsible for this latest GI Joe mess? Larry Hama, SL Gallant, or IDW?

While all attention was focused on Aubrey Sitterson, it turns out Hama’s book has some troubling material turning up as well. This item about the 244th issue of GI Joe: ARAH is decidedly at least half bad news, and should serve as a warning that even Hama’s series isn’t immune to leftism. First, I don’t know if we should be worried yet, but here’s a panel from the issue featuring one of the latest recruits to the GI Joe staff:

The character, whose name is Naif Nasr, doesn’t seem to be referred to as a Muslim in the material I’ve found so far, but that headgear he’s wearing is fishy. Assuming he’s not actually Islamic, that’s why I’ll withhold judgement for now, but I can say that, if Hama’s capitulated to that kind of SJW pandering, it’s very worrisome.

The following, however, is even more noticeable:

If you look carefully, you’ll see that the vandal with the grey cap has NRA marked on it. And then, as if the political allegories couldn’t get bad enough:

Here, if you look closely, you’ll see that Trump is being carved into the side of this hut belonging to Snake-Eyes, who was killed off 2 years ago. So it seems we have here a case of hooligans up in the hills depicted as Trump/NRA supporters by artist S.L Gallant, who’re willing to commit trespassing, breaking and entering and even vandalism of a military man’s property. And if I didn’t know better, I’d say there was a potential allusion to the whole MAGA slogan from last year’s election in the dialogue there.

So who’s fault is this? Some people posting on the Hiss Tank forums noticed and were rightfully put off, which led to a response by editor Tom Waltz on the thread about Sitterson, who said:

Actually, no. The TRUMP knife-grafiti vandalism was my fault… because I missed it before we sent this off to the printer. It was a silly inside gag (Gallant’s always f’ing with me… he’s like Loki when it comes to being a trickster, and I’d kill him if I didn’t love him like a brother. Wait… does that make me Thor?) that I had made a note to myself to take care of and have modified… then it got lost in the production/deadline rush to get this out to stores.

Why am I telling you this? Not to defend my mistake (these things happen… sucks, but they do) but because it was Larry, when we were putting together the balloons and captions for the issue, who requested we remove anything overly/overtly political in the scene, because despite whatever political leanings he (or anyone involved with the book) might have, RAH (in his exact words to me when he made said request) “isn’t the place for this.” And I (and IDW) 100% agree with him, which makes me even more bummed that I missed it (total disclosure: I didn’t realize I had let it slip through until I read this forum thread).

I wouldn’t dare speak for Larry as to how he feels about anything, politically or otherwise — he’s a grown man, who is fully capable of doing so for himself should he choose to do so. However, I think it’s important I point out facts in this specific case to counter uninformed online conjecture. Larry didn’t want that stuff in the issue. I didn’t either. IDW didn’t either. But… it got lost in the shuffle anyway, and as editor, that’s my bad.

Look — we are doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes here at IDW when it comes to JOE — a lot of exciting things. Personally, I’m so excited for what’s coming with DAWN OF THE ARASHIKAGE, I could wet my trousers! (You guys wanted gritty? Get friggin’ ready!) And despite just about 99.9% of what’s being thrown about online (by folks who have zero clue what we do day-to-day, or who we are as people at IDW… which, if you’re curious, is a VERY diverse group, with everything from young hipsters to old, crusty former Marines like yours truly, and everything in between), I can say without reservation that our number 1 priority is to the properties we are blessed to be working on… as well as finding ways to tell the best stories possible through those same properties… and not some “Marxist propaganda campaign.” Hell, the only campaign I know of here is to get more varieties of coffee in the office kitchen (I keep telling all these wimps to drink it black… problem solved! LOL). Truth is, there are damn good people here at IDW (and over at Hasbro) that I’m proud to work alongside, just as I was once proud to serve alongside a diverse group of Marines back in the day — all differences in races, genders, and political leanings notwithstanding.

My point is, to everyone here on Hisstank: please don’t assume to know what folks are thinking or doing unless you either intimately know them… or you actually ask them and let them explain it to you. Your assumption might just be wrong and when you share those inaccuracies with the vast online world, it only creates unnecessary confusion and animosity. I’m not trying to scold or berate… I’m just letting you folks know that we are all on the same team here — the team that wants to bring G.I. JOE back to the glory (guts and glory!) and prominence it deserves. And I promise — we’re working on it every single day!

As for Larry? Larry bleeds G.I. JOE. And I’m learning so much from him — all of it good and honorable. You know who else bleeds G.I. JOE? SL Gallant (the trickster bastard). That guy’s one of the biggest JOE (and overall 80s nostalgia) nerds I know! Hell… all the gang: Brian Shearer, James Brown, John Royle and his team… they LOVE being on this book. (And they aren’t done yet… look for a cool announcement at NYCC… hint, hint.)

And I know you all bleed JOE, too, so please accept my heartfelt thanks for supporting us through thick and thin… the best is yet to come!

Yo Joe!

Tom Waltz

I’d like to think it was that simple, but it’s not. And not everyone on their forums was convinced by Waltz either. How could they not possibly have noticed, or forgotten to edit the art to avoid having those etchings stuffed in by the artist? One poster even said:

It’s commendable of the editor to take the hit, but this wasn’t “just” Gallant inserting the Trump etching. The script called for an “intention”, to say the least. The letterer saw it. The colorist saw it. Everyone on the book saw it.
Look, I’m a left winger liberal, and I thought it crossed the line. Just didn’t feel needed in an escapist book, and it’s easy to see that this will alienate fans.

Well there you go! Even that line about the bearded vandals “making the country great” is cause for suspicion. In fact, it’s almost hilarious to see somebody with a NRA cap presented as a baddie in a book where firearms are fully embraced by many of the US military officials leading the cast. And if the cap and the Trump scrawling were supposed to be inside gags, why were they directly on the finished art panels? Even Hama, at this point, can’t be overlooked, and undoubtably, some of his work will have to be taken now with a grain of salt.

As far as I know, Gallant’s left the series, and IDW’s hopefully realized Joe fans aren’t standing for this newest insult next to Sitterson’s shockers. But it’s clear they’ve angered some Joe fans enough to avoid the book for who knows how long, and not everyone’s going to be fooled by an otherwise ambiguous apology. And I’m not forgetting that one of their managers, Dirk Wood, once defended Dark Horse’s Scott Allie despite the severity of his offenses.

Here’s a suggestion, if they’re really repenting: bring Chuck Dixon back for another assignment on the GI Joe franchise. Better still, show they’re willing to hire a right-leaning editor. That’s one way they can prove themselves better than Marvel’s editors, if anyone, are at the moment, and DC’s too. In fact, maybe Joe fans should openly campaign for IDW to hire a conservative for a prominent editing job with them, as well as adding cast members in GI Joe itself who’re of French, Armenian, Serbian, Uruguayan, Kenyan and Macedonian backgrounds to offset the example Hama may have leaned toward.

Originally posted at the Four Color Media Monitor
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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1