After Chuck Dixon's somewhat acrimonious parting with longtime publisher DC Comics, fans of the popular comics writer have been wondering where he might turn up next. But Dixon himself has had far less uncertainty about his future.
The day that news broke that Dixon had left DC, Chris Ryall, Publisher and Edito-in-Chief of IDW Publishing, got in touch with Dixon about working for IDW. Quickly, they agreed on the perfect project: G.I. Joe.
IDW acquired the G.I. Joe license from Hasbro earlier this year. The publisher previously announced that Larry Hama, who wrote the original Marvel "G.I. Joe" series, would be writing the new book, but there will actually be three titles in the IDW line, with Dixon writing one, Hama another and Mike Costa and Christos Gage co-writing the third. Dixon's book, titled simply "G.I. Joe," will be the first out of the gate in January of 2009 with artwork by Robert Atkins and covers by Dave Johnson. In a release, IDW said the title moves ahead in the timeline from Hama's series and looks at the fledging G.I. JOE organization as it explores an all-new threat, a shadowy organization that is first introduced to the team in a #0 issue story with wraparound cover by Gabriele Dell'Otto.
"[Chuck Dixon is] both very talented and very professional, and after having worked with him a couple years back, I'd been wanting to do so again. So, thanks for that one, Dan D.," Ryall told CBR. "In talking over various options with Chuck, and in looking at expanding our G.I. Joe plans, this book just made sense. Everyone who's ever read Chuck's comics knows that this is right in his wheelhouse, much as it is Larry Hama's, so they really pack a strong punch on the main books."
For Dixon, it was an obvious move, as he had known IDW publisher Ted Adams dating back to their working together at Eclipse Comics. After Adams started IDW, Dixon wrote "Transformers" for the publisher, and IDW also prints some of his creator-owned properties. Additionally, Dixon wrote a few "G.I. Joe" issues when Devil's Due Publishing owned the license.
"More importantly, I used to work for Larry Hama back when he was writing 'G.I. Joe,'" Dixon told CBR News. "So I got to see some of the inner workings of that and see him at work on it as the comic evolved."
The new "G.I. Joe" comics will drop the continuity begun with Hama's original series and continued through the property's stops at various publishers. Ryall indicated the creative team would take the basics of the G.I. Joe team and start from scratch. "It's everything you love but re-presented in stories filled with new reveals and tweaks of the original," Dixon said. "If we succeed in our efforts, it will give even longtime Joe fans the feeling they had when they first met these characters. We turn the coolness factor to 11. Again, we're not breaking anything, just starting over from a fresh angle."
IDW's G.I. Joe line officially launches this October with "G.I. Joe" #0, $1.00, 24-page special featuring three stand-alone stories as well as character sketches and commentary from artist Robert Atkins, previews of upcoming covers, and interviews with the new G.I. Joe creators. The issue features two regular covers, one from Dave Dorman and one from JonBoy Meyers, as well as two special incentive covers from Atkins and a wraparound image by Ben Templesmith.
Following Dixon's January "G.I. Joe" debut will be February's "G.I. Joe: Origins" by Larry Hama with artwork by "Ex-Machina" inker Tom Feister, with covers by Feister and Andrea Di Vito. In a release, IDW said the series "re-envisions the G.I. JOE team for a new generation. Hama will be putting his great strength of blending strong characterization and action storytelling, honed over decades of writing these characters, to effective use in looking at the formations of the G.I. Joe organization and just who the characters on the team really are."
Finally, launching in March will be the four-issue miniseries, "G.I. Joe: Cobra," by Christos Gage & Mike Costa, with art by Antonio Fuso and covers by Fuso and Howard Chaykin. IDW says, "the title views the sinister Cobra organization from a ground-floor view as a familiar G.I. Joe team member seeks to infiltrate Cobra and learn their inner workings."
IDW will release additional G.I. Joe comics in anticipation of next year's live-action film from Paramount Pictures, as well as deluxe reprints of classic material.
The three new G.I. Joe books will be managed by new IDW editor Andy Schmidt, formerly of Marvel Comics. "He has been a blast to work with," Dixon said of Schmidt. "We've been on the same frequency from day one and he's my favorite kind of editor; challenging when he needs to be and hands-off when it's going well. He coordinates with all of us and we each see the other's outlines and scripts to keep everyone involved in the loop.
"Andy also deals with Hasbro directly, so I can just concentrate on scripts," Dixon continued. "Hasbro's been great and very receptive of even our wackier ideas. There's a trust there. I love playing with their toys but have no interest in breaking them."
As for Dixon's favorite character to write, he says it's not the one he expected. "It's never the ones you think it's going to be," the writer confessed. "I am completely absorbed by Destro, which is something I never anticipated. I used to write 'Winnie the Pooh' books for Dutton, and Tigger always threatened to steal the spotlight from the main cast. Destro's my Tigger. There's nothing that isn't cool about him."