Panini UK have just launched another title to their growing line of originated adventure comics. Joining Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel Heroes on the shelves is the first issue of G.I. Joe, - a £2.25 full colour title featuring 16 pages of brand new comic strip every issue.
The comic is based on the long established Hasbro brand of action figure toys which has recently been adapted into a major live action movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The material within Panini's comic reflects the updates to the franchise shown in the new movie but the basic concept has been seen in British comics before, dating back to IPC's Battle Action Force weekly in 1983 and Marvel UK's Action Force comic in 1987. (Action Force being the British name back then, when it was assumed that British kids wouldn't relate to the American sounding GI Joe. A practice begun in 1966 when the original Hasbro GI Joe dolls were imported into the UK by Palitoy and reboxed as Action Man.) To add to this diverse history, Panini were also the publishers of the Action Man comic a few years ago.
The strip in the first issue of Panini's new G.I. Joe comic is written by Ferg Handley (Commando, Spectacular Spider-Man) and drawn by John Royale (Spectacular Spider-Man). Future issues will also see artwork by Kev Hopgood and Mike Collins. There are also activity features, a pull-out poster, Tech Specs, etc as one might expect in a magazine aimed at 7 to 12 year old boys but, pleasingly, the mag isn't dumbed down too young as some titles are for this age range.
Retailers are encouraged to shelve G.I. Joe alongside Toxic, Transformers, and Match of the Day magazine, which presumably are seen as its main competition. Being a regular contributor to Toxic I naturally hope it doesn't take away readers from that title but at the same time I sincerely hope G.I. Joe does really well. The success of Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel Heroes has proven there is still a market for boys adventure comics so hopefully G.I. Joe will continue that trend. Such comics may have to borrow American characters these days but they're still giving work to UK creators and that's a healthy outlook indeed.
Edited by Simon Frith, G.I. Joe magazine is 36 pages for £2.25 and carries a free gift every issue. It's published every four weeks.
Panini Comics website: http://www.paninicomics.co.uk/Home.jsp
Above: Some of the various British comics available in newsagents today.