Schmidt to Oversee G.I. Joe at IDW Publishing

Last week it was announced that toy manufactuer and intellectual property owner Hasbro had reached an agreement with IDW Publishing, creators of the best-selling "Transformers" comic book series, to launch an all-new line of "G.I.Joe vs. Cobra" comic books.

Today, IDW announced former Marvel Comics editor and Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt has joined the San Diego publisher as Senior Editor, with one of his primary roles to be overseeing the "G.I. Joe" franchise. The move comes after IDW recruited former Wildstorm editor Scott Dunbier to be their Special Projects Editor.

CBR News checked in with Schmidt to find out what he knows about the Real American Hero. Because knowing is half the battle.

CBR: Surely, becoming Senior Editor for IDW Publishing is great news.

Andy Schmidt: My wife certainly thinks so.

We understand you are moving from New York to San Diego for this new job.

Yes, sir. I am heading out there very soon. [My wife] Alix and I are really looking forward to it.

You founded Comics Experience, where you teach classes in working in various areas of the comic book industry. How will your IDW gig affect Comics Experience?

That was one of the first things IDW and I spoke about. I was concerned that [IDW Publisher] Chris [Ryall] and company were going to ask me to stop teaching my Comics Writing and Comics Art courses, but they had no problem at all with me running my own business. It's safe to say that Comics Experience will continue. Stay tuned for announcements on the Comics Experience front.

Tell us about how you came to land in this new position at IDW.

It was a very natural progression. I had emailed Chris Ryall to congratulate him and IDW on scooping up Scott Dunbier from Wildstorm. From that email, Chris and I started talking and I let him know that I thought it would be fun to edit some of their books. I didn't think anything would come of it, at most, I thought I might one day freelance edit a book or two for them �" which would have been fun. As luck would have it, Chris was looking for a new editor.

Chris was shocked to hear I'd actually be interested. I told him that when I left Marvel it wasn't because I didn't like editing or that I had anything against Marvel, I just wasn't able to write while on staff nor did I have the time to start up Comics Experience. It's a year later, I'm doing both and I miss editing. I mean, seriously, what a great job!

IDW has got such a diverse line of books and great production values, how could I resist? During the interview, I had a few ideas for publishing overall and they seemed to like where I was coming from. The Senior Editor thing came up after we had been talking for a while and it was clear I was going to have a few additional responsibilities beyond editing books.

All in all, Chris and [owner] Ted [Adams] were such straight shooters and extremely accommodating and inviting for not just me but also to my wife as well, that I really just wound up liking them so much that all of us were busting our humps to make everything work out perfectly. I can't stress enough how great both Chris and Ted have been to us already.

As you will be, to use a TV term, show-running IDW's G.I. Joe line of books, can you share a bit about your love for the Real American Hero?

Dude, I think the aircraft carrier was the only toy I ever owned that was twice as big as I was. Well, that and my life-sized Rancor monster, but she's more of a pet than a toy. It's safe to say that I love me some G.I. Joe. This is very exciting for me. I loved the cartoon, heck, I even enjoyed the Cobra-la stuff (for what it was trying to do) and "G.I. Joe" #27 is one of the finest American comics ever made.

What are your first memories of the franchise?

I was introduced to G.I. Joe with the first cartoon miniseries. It blew me away. When Snake Eyes was irradiated and walking through the snow glowing red, I was absolutely convinced he was going to die and I was really upset. I was, I don't know, maybe 10 years old and that cartoon had my undivided attention. I had never seen anything like it. It was about great heroes but it felt real at the same time.

And then I got the comic. That changed everything.

Do you have a favorite Joe? Villain?

Snake Eyes. Destro. There's a lot of cool stuff in G.I. Joe, though. Every one of those characters has potential and that's what I'd like to do �" give some spotlight time to some of the other characters. There are so many good ones. I don't think we need to just focus on the ninjas and sewer rats.

In terms of continuity, with the new ongoing starting in October, will that series be a reboot, a re-imagining, an origin story... how much can you share?

Oh, I could share a lot. That was the question, right? How much can I share?

Do you think readers will need to have previous history of G.I. Joe to enjoy the comics?

Um... No? As this is a public interview, I think I'd be fired if I said "yes." The truth is that I think a large part of the reason that Chris wanted me on Joe is that I've got a track record of taking characters with a lot of history and a loyal fan base and making them accessible to new readers and respecting the die hard fans.

I mean, except for Quasar fans. Which reminds me, any Quasar fans who love Gung Ho might want start writing their hate mail now...

With the "G.I. Joe" movie coming out in 2009, will there be tie-in books, as well?

Definitely. But the movie continuity will be separate and clearly labeled from the comics continuity books. I can't wait to start working on the movie stuff. Did you guys see that photo of Snake Eyes? Hot damn!

The movie books and the ongoing books two separate continuities?

Not just separate, but also not connected in any way!

Any other plans for the franchise? Reprints? Any crossovers like "G.I. Joe vs. Transformers"?

There are plans for reprints. What form they'll take exactly we're still working out. I know Marvel reprinted five volumes (50 issues worth) of the '80s stuff. We're trying to create the definitive Joe library here. There's a lot of work that much of the audience may not be familiar with.

Crossovers we're going to hold off on for the time being. I only want to do crossovers that make sense�"like with Lord of the Rings or Star Wars!

Can you confirm fan-favorite G.I. Joe writer Larry Hama will be involved with IDW's G.I. Joe comics?

I can. And I do.

Will you be working on anything else at IDW?

You know it! I'm also helming the "Star Trek" line�"hold onto your saucer sections, Trekkies! And I'll be working with Peter David and J.K. Woodward on "Fallen Angel." And you know, I've always wanted to work with that Peter David guy! I mean, what he did with Madrox was phenomenal! Oh, and his Hulk stuff didn't suck either.

CBR News will have more from Schmidt in the weeks ahead on "Star Trek" and his additional responsibilitie' with IDW Publishing.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Indie comics forum.

Tags: idw publishing, gi joe, andy schmidt, comics experience, scott dunbier

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