G.I. Joe and the creative spark

I know I’ve been mostly using this “blog format” as a say to report news or link to my reviews, and I’ve too rarely simply used it as its intended function…just to write and BS about some of my favorite things.

This is going to get long and elaborate, so click the “Read the Rest of this Entry” link below to dive right in.

Well, with the wife and kids at the in-laws for a spontaneous Sunday pancake breakfast, I wanted to take a few moments and just reflect on what was shown at JoeCon, what’s happened to G.I. Joe over the past two years, and how it impacts me, as a collector.  Keep in mind I’ve been collecting G.I. Joe for nearly three decades.  Back in 2000 I wrote my G.I. Joe fanfic, “The Price of Peace” which was a story that had been brewing in my head pretty much for 10 – 12 years.  I often wrote mini stories during my youth featuring the Joe team, and I took many elements of those stories and wove them into an ongoing G.I. Joe “rebirth”.  To my own surprise, the epic fanfic spanned well over 200 pages, and actually, in my own humble opinion, was pretty effective in telling the story I wanted to tell.  I actually find it rather ironic that some of the tales that I told in that story ended up happening in the more “authorized” G.I. Joe fiction, though I would attribute that mostly to coincidence and that a good idea often finds several different paths to get to the reader.

Then in 2001/2002, I started my own G.I. Joe Dio-Story universe continuing the events from the Fanfic, with a series called “Power Struggle“.  Over the following 5 or 6 years I produced a wealth of others, and I would argue that it’s probably the largest and longest ongoing G.I. Joe continuity aside from the official comics.  Mostly what sparked these stories were the toys.  Yes, I know the “new sculpt” stuff looks pedestrian by today’s standards, but back then they were the shit.  But more importantly, there was character and there was story.  I felt inspired.  The Barrel Roll/Blackout conflict inspired me.  The Venomization protocols inspired me.  Most often, it was the G.I. Joe Convention items that inspired me.

For whatever reasons, since around 2006 or so, the inspiration had somewhat whittled away.  I carried the dio-story universe through to “Ghosts” which featured the introduction of my G.I. Joe Renegades team, and offshoot of the more standard Joe team.  The dio-stories were clearly building towards an ultimate endgame, a script that has already been written, and sets that have already been built.

I had planned to start this final dio-story with a shocking event, that unfortunately, will now probably be a lot less shocking, but because I still intend to tell this story, I will not reveal that event here.

But the funny thing was, as nice as many fans thought the 25th Anniversary was, it failed to inspire.  It was just new versions of old figures, and there really seemed to be no “story” there.  No inspiration to continue my universe.  Certainly, I found more figures to use within my own dio-story, but no major influence towards wrapping up my personal continuity.  Well, as the Pursuit of Cobra started picking up steam late last year, the creative energies were flowing once again.  I once again started getting that desire to tell tales through my dio-stories, and in fact, have even produced a few mini dio-stories used in my reviews to try and satisfy that urge without going whole hog.

Well, with this most recent JoeCon, I’m very afraid I may have to go whole hog again.  Yes, these figures are good, but even more importantly, they tell an awesome story.  Or they have the potential to, anyway.

Listen.  I’m pretty sick and tired of the whole Zombie motif.  Yeah, they’re kinda cool, they make good horror movie villains, but I’ve seen so many Joescale zombie customs and so many “end of the world” scenarios at this point and the zombie fascination has worn itself out a bit, at least to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the hell out of Max Brooks’ “World War Z” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is pretty awesome, but I’ve never seen how that could integrate with the G.I. Joe universe.  I was even somewhat happy to see IDW’s “Infestation” comic focus more on possessed robots than traditional zombies.

But I’ll be damned if these figures aren’t starting to weave a tale in my mind.  A tale where a team of Hazard Vipers and Techno-Vipers at a remote Cobra Lab are working on an “upgrade” from the Venomization protocols.  Looking for a way to infuse Cobra Trooper DNA with outside DNA to create the perfect soldier.  Only something goes wrong.  “Compound Z” mutates the DNA, effectively “killing” the host and reanimating the corpse, creating a squad of deadly zombified troopers.  Only, these Troopers are totally out of control, and can pass along their mutated DNA by biting their victims.

When local law enforcement gets wind of these strange events, a G.I. Joe strike team led by Airtight moves in to deal with it.  Bringing Lifeline along for medical support, and Sci Fi for his technical mind, the Joes drop in and end up way over their head.  In fact, the tale could even involve Lifeline finally allowing himself to use a weapon against the Zombies, since, after all, they are already dead.  I dunno, maybe this is a dumb story, but for whatever reason, these figures are inspiring that type of creativity in my mind, which is something the G.I. Joe line hasn’t really done in several years.  Sure, I felt invigorated with the Rise of Cobra, and especially leading into the Pursuit of Cobra, but for the first time, I’ve got this intense craving to use these figures to tell a story.

Now the trick is to wait until the Fall and hope the creative drive stays intact.