One of my favorite souvenirs from my time working as an intern at Marvel Comics back in 1998 was my issue of G.I. Joe, A Real American Hero #41.
At some point during my time there, I managed to get a stack of Joe comics. I had followed the series intermittently while growing up, but didn’t have all of them. So when a few showed up in the big comic book dump bin that was there (a box that Marvel employees would dump comics they didn’t want that I would check on a daily basis), I grabbed them. Among the issues was #41. Rather nondescript, however Howie Decker of Underscoop Fire mentioned it on this week’s podcast, it turned out that I would actually have access to a majority of the creators of this issue and, with my editor’s blessing, I began a signature quest.
The script for this issue was by Larry Hama. Hama is known for being instrumental in the creation of the Real American Hero characters and he wrote this entire run of comics. This signature alone was necessary. No disrespect to the others, but without Hama, the project would be a bust. Hama lived in NYC and regularly visited the Marvel offices as he was doing some writing work at the time (Elektra, Wolverine, Generation X and more). He was gracious enough to let an intern stop him one day and sign a comic book he wrote from 13 years prior.
With that one done, the next easiest one to get would be another regular visitor to the Marvel offices and someone working for my editor, inker Keith Williams. Keith was inker on Star Trek: The Untold Voyages and when he brought in the inked cover for issue #5, I asked him to sign my Joe comic. Williams had a good laugh about the book he had done all those years ago and happily signed it for me. He was a really nice guy.
Rod Whigham, penciler of issue #41, was not a NYC resident so he would not be stopping in the office at any point. However, he was also doing work for my editor on the Men in Black comic.
One of my main responsibilities was shipping on behalf of my editor. I’d traffic scripts and artwork in and out of the office. Fortunately, we had a script to send to Whigham and I stuck the comic in that package along with a note asking if he’d sign it. And the next time he sent artwork back, he sent the comic back. With that, the “big three” were achieved.
But I didn’t stop there. There was one more that I could get. The colorist of this comic book was a man by the name of George Roussos. Roussos had a long history of working in the comic book industry. He was a staff colorist in the 80s and still worked at Marvel in 98. He was a very interesting man and I’m glad that he was willing to sign my G.I. Joe comic.
I figure the signature quest is over for me. I have met Denny O’Neil and Jim Shooter at conventions but I didn’t have this comic with me (I might have met them before I had this comic, I can’t recall the timeline). And Joe Rosen passed away in 2009.
Still, this is a very awesome piece in my collection that not only looks cool, but has a lot of personal meaning to me as well.