FCBD 2010: Exclusive Interview with G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #155 ½'s Andy Schmidt
A Gold Sponsor of this year’s Free Comic Book Day, taking place May 1, IDW Publishing is revisiting the Real American Hero’s classic roots with G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #155 ½ FCBD 2010 Edition from fan-favorite scribe Larry Hama and artist Agustin Padilla.
When it comes to G.I. JOE, everyone should remember that knowing is half the battle. One person that knows more JOE than just about anyone is Andy Schmidt, the Senior Editor of IDW’s G.I. JOE titles. Schmidt provides insight on this year’s FCBD title, his thoughts on the event as a whole, and much more with this exclusive interview for Freecomicbookday.com.
Freecomicbookday.com: Set your project up for those that might not know much about it. What can we expect to see in terms of story and art?
Andy Schmidt: IDW is offering up G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #155½ for folks to enjoy on Free Comic Book Day. This is a launch of the original G.I. JOE comics from the 1980s written by the original and most popular G.I. JOE writer — Larry Hama. The art is by relative newcomer Agustin Padilla and he’s got a nice modern style. It’s action-packed and a lot of fun. It’s action and adventure in a classic style with classic heroes.
Freecomicbookday.com: What’s your favorite part about being able to work in comics?
Schmidt: I love working with the creators who inspire me. And in this case, with Larry, a creator who inspired me to want to work in comics. I love helping writers and artists craft a great story. Honestly, what’s not to like about working in comics?
Freecomicbookday.com: Why do you think FCBD is so vital to the industry?
Schmidt: One of the industry’s challenges is bringing in new readers. And FCBD is a giant leap in the right direction to get new interest from people who may be comic book fans but just don’t know it yet. For me, a child of the 80s, it was G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS that really got me into comics. And it’s pretty awesome to be able to offer that same thing up to kids and adults who might be interested in those same properties today.
Freecomicbookday.com: Since FCBD has now been a yearly event since 2002, do you, your creator friends and/or your family have any annual FCBD traditions?
Schmidt: I go to the store with a couple of friends each year who aren’t into comics and get them to try out the FCBD books. They aren’t all instantly converted, but we’ve always had fun and, as an editor, I get great feedback from them if nothing else. It’s just a really fun way to bring comic book goodness to those who don’t already have it….
Freecomicbookday.com: What’s the biggest challenge when creating a FCBD book as opposed to a standard comic? Do you have to approach it differently knowing you might have a broader audience?
Schmidt: Every comic needs to be accessible. But a FCBD comic needs to be accessible to someone who is unfamiliar with the medium. In general, when a comic creator is talking about making a comic accessible, they mean that the characters are all identified, that the plot line is recapped in some way, that all that information is there in the book. And that is extremely important, but there is a difference. With FCBD, I’m worried about page layout. I don’t want overlapping panels, oddly shaped panels, or strange layouts. That can be very off-putting and confusing to a new reader. The storytelling has to be crystal clear. I ask my colorist to use bright, vibrant colors, instead of some more subtle design. I don’t want it to be garish, but attention getting in a way that most other books aren’t. It’s tough to know when it’s too much and when it’s just right.
Freecomicbookday.com: Knowing that so many readers are sure to pick up the issue, does that put more pressure on you, or is that something that gets you more excited about what you’re working on?
Schmidt: It’s definitely both. I’m much more nervous about this because it is such a big and great opportunity, but that’s also what makes it so exciting. We could actually reach non-comic-fans and bring them in. This is a medium that has brought me and so many people I know such great pleasure and joy that any opportunity to share that with someone new to it is an exciting one.
Freecomicbookday.com: In the spirit of potential newcomers picking up comics, what was the first comic you remember reading or that inspired you to get involved in the industry?
Schmidt: G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #21. Hands down. Reading that comic, I knew I was never going to quit and I knew I had to work in comics. That was back in, what, 1984?
Freecomicbookday.com: What comic(s) or graphic novel(s) would you recommend to someone that enjoys your FCBD book and is looking for something like it to read next?
Schmidt: Our Classic G.I. JOE trade paperbacks are very nicely re-mastered versions of the original G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero and is where our FCBD book got started. That’s the most obvious place to look. But also IDW’s current G.I. JOE comics are all really great. The titles are G.I. JOE, G.I. JOE: Origins, and G.I. JOE: COBRA. These tend to skew more towards adults, but they’ve been getting great reviews and are fantastic.
Be sure to visit Freecomicbookday.com often to check out previews of this year’s books and to learn more about our FCBD Sponsors, what merchandise and downloads are available this year, where favorite creators will be showing up for signings, and much more. You can also follow all the latest FCBD news on Facebook and Twitter.