If the G.I. Joe folk are "Real American Heroes" and fans refer to the creators working on the "G.I. Joe" comic as part of the team, does that mean "G.I. Joe" artist Tim Seeley is a "Real American Hero?"
If nothing else, he's a dedicated, fast and reliable artist who's a hit with the fans, so he's definitely a hero to someone.
In CBR's continuing spotlight on Devil's Due Productions, CBR News spoke with Seeley to learn more about his work on the popular series based on the decades old property and explained how he came to be the new artist on the series.
"'G.I. Joe' kinda dropped in my lap, actually," admits Seeley. "Josh hired me as astaff artist, basically to do some books and be there to fix art and do our freelance work - t-shirts, cards, stuff like that. I did some covers, a fill-in Joe issue, and then all of a sudden, we needed someone to do the monthly chores. So, when Josh started looking around, I suppose my sad, pleading face was the first thing he saw and I got the job."
Seeley's constantly complimented by the fans for injecting a lot of energy and warmth into his "G.I. Joe" art and the artist explains that he's only trying to show how much he loves these characters. "There's a lot of unique things about Joe. One is the huge-ass cast. There are literally hundreds of characters in this book. I think it beats out every other comic as far as cast size, except maybe 'Transformers.' So, I really enjoy all these different faces and costumes. It's also really cool to be the one to translate a lil' plastic guy into a comic book character. Some of these guys are brand-spankin' new, and I get to be the first guy to draw them in the Joe-verse."
But that doesn't mean that every character is easy or fun for Seeley to pencil. "I've been enjoying the hell outta drawing Hawk lately. I really like his personality, and I think I've finally nailed the way he looks in my head. I also get a kick out of Dr, Mindbender. You can put the most maniacal faces on him, and it still looks right. I'm not crazy about drawing the Crimson Twin, mostly because you always have to draw two of the same guy. Oh, and so far, Wraith isn't my favorite. Damn you Talent Caldwell and your lil' detailed costumes [laughs]!"
With such a vast array of characters- from the military to freakish clones- it might seem hard to find real-life references for the art, but Seeley says he finds some inspirations. "I have piles upon piles of reference on my desk. Tanks, planes, guns, dudes with guns, I try to make Joe as realistic as I can without making it look boring. I always keep in mind that Joe is not exactly 'real life.' I'll usually try to make something look more like the toy than a real vehicle."
Speaking of the toys, not all the costumes are as instantly classic as that of Snake-Eyes, for example and it stands to reason that Seeley might want to tweak some of the outfits. "Y'know, I honestly don't really like updating the costumes in the 'main' series. To me, this is the toyline book. They should be recognizable as the toy character. But, I did do a lot of the 'Reloaded' designs. With that, I actually was trying to update them and make them more realistic. I would like to redesign the Cobra-La characters though, if Josh ever went crazy and decided to do a Cobra-La story."
The response to Seeley's work has been quite favorable but he also laughs, noting that his source for feedback might be biased. "I usually only see the Devil's Due massage board, and I think those guys know I see it. So, they probably save the 'Seeley Sucks' for other message boards. Heh, but, yeah, so far I think they like me. I did have the honor of being voted 'Best Joe Artist Ever' by one fan message board, and I was pretty damn honored. But, I think that was after my fill-in issue, so maybe they've changed their minds."
If you're one of the many enjoying Seeley's artwork, you'll be happy to know that the artist plans to be yelling "Knowing Is Half The Battle!" for a long time. "I'm going to fight tooth and
nail to do 25 issues, which would take me up to issue 50. I just think Brandon is turning in some killer plots and he has a story mapped out which deserves consistency. Also, I'm a pretty 'newbie' artist. To make any kind of splash, I gotta show that I can keep it up and do more than one issue a year like some of these guys. I'm a comic book artist and that means 12 issues a year, someway, somehow."
Not to be ignored is the synergy between Seeley and his writer Brandon Jerwa, a person that Seeley feels takes the series to the proverbial next level. "Well, not many people know 'Joe' like Brandon. And, to top that off, Brandon writes great individual stories that fit into a larger scheme. He's good at big stuff, but he's even better at little character moments. That's what I look for in my comics. Some pages, I'll curse his name for making me draw 40 guys doing different things in front of a squadron of tanks, but then he'll have a perfectly timed quiet moment the next page, and I'll love him again."
So if you're not sure about "G.I. Joe" after this interview or Jerwa's earlier comments with CBR News, Seeley offers a final recommendation. "'G.I. Joe' is the ultimate team book. Lots of cool characters, insane villains, crazy gear, explosions...it's just sheer fun. I mean, it's not gonna change your life like 'Blankets' or something, but, it's about as perfect a action comic concept as you can get, and, I gotta say, that current creative team really rocks."