Monday, June 27, 2011

Beachhead...or was that Firefly?

I've found there are 3 kinds of Joe fans

1. The fan that watched the cartoon as a kid and has fond memories of GI JOE but cant recall too many specifics beyond that Snake Eyes was cool, Shipwreck could do anything for some reason and with a bird involved in most cases, and that Cobra Commander wasn't nearly as cool as Destro.

2. The fan that read the comics and took the property seriously. Larry Hama is a god to them, they worship the silent issue, and chances are the book either got them into reading comics or GI Joe is the only comic they read to this day.

3. The toy collector. An awesomely fanatic compulsion to buy every single figure that comes out, and even builds armies of the trooper figures. Literally ARMIES of hundreds of these figures all lined up ready for battle. These collectors are split into two groups. Those who keep their figures boxed or strictly lined up in full command attention on the shelves, or those that actually get their figures down and play with them creating some pretty awesome dioramas of action scenes.

These 3 categories can certainly cross over. But depending on wether you know the difference between Beachhead and Firefly when it isn't a colored illustration is a marker on how devoted you are to the property. For those hard core fans, it's a no brainer.  But for you casual fans can you tell me which is which?

Who is this guy? A

Who is this guy? B

I can't tell you how many times I'd be at a convention drawing a Firefly and someone asks if I'm drawing a Beachhead or vice-versa. Im sure it's the mask.

Beachhead is option B: He's a GI Joe, real name Wayne Sneeden. He was previously an instructor at the Ranger School and an advisor at a Covert Ops School in Central America. "He doesn't get angry...he gets even". In the comics he was often stinky and other characters would comment on it. In the cartoon, I remember him yelling alot and training new recruits.

Firefly  is option A: He is a mercenary, who often will work for Cobra as long as the money is good. His real identity is unknown, which only makes him cooler. His background has been tied to the Arashikage clan in the past, but other than that his training or past is unknown. He is a demolitions expert and usually if he's around you can expect an explosion or two.
That completes your lesson for the day. For your next lesson we will be discussing Tomax and Xamot, which is which? 


  1. Awesome.

    I'm a Type one guy who's reading the comics for the first time currently. Loving them. I'm also an army builder, but I only collect vintage o-ring figures. I currently have 19 V1 vipers. and one boxed.

    Great article by the way, very entertaining. And yes, I knew the difference. Ha ha!

  2. I loved the cartoon growing up and I have my fair share of figures but I mostly fall under category #2. Marvel's GI Joe #17 was my first comic I remember 'owning' and it was all over from there. I had the first 'straight-arm' figures when they came out and have been a GI Joe nut ever since.

    Those Firefly and Beachhead pieces look amazing! It made me think, do you use the figures as 'mini-models'? I noticed the crossbow on the back of Beachhead and it reminded me of the 25th anniversary one I have that always falls off!

  3. I'm all three categories, falling in the "play with the toys" group for #3. I can pick Beachhead out anytime because he's my favorite! I still treasure the original sketch from you. Thanks again.

  4. Yo Joe!
    Pretty sure Robert knows my answers but 2 and 3 all the way! I watched the cartoon but the fact that the continuity was different from the comics drove me nuts!

    And I can tell Beachhead and Firefly apart All Day! Tomax and Xamot always baffle me though!

  5. Catoon for me first, then toys, then the comic was my progression, then back again to toysm heh.

  6. I'm a little of all three. It started as a kid getting the toys then I watched the TV show and then my parents also bought me some of the comics. I actually stopped collecting all of it as I got older, but I kept reading comics. When I read about the relaunch that IDW was doing I decided for nostalgia sake to give it a try. Boy was I glad I did, it's a great read and really brings GIJoe to the more mature audience. Thanks to the crap that Marvel and DC have been doing recently I've quit reading most comics the GIJoe line is takes up the bulk of my monthly list with only 5 other titles from other independent publishers.

    Great Firefly piece, oh and great Beachhead piece too, it's still hanging on my wall :P
    Wish I could catch you at a convention near me to get another commission from you, but I'll be watching your daily sketch challenge maybe I can pick something up from there.

  7. I'm a cartoon guy but never found Snake Eyes particularly cool and liked Cobra Commander much more than Destro, mostly because Cobra Commander would be completely ridiculous from time to time. But Scarlett belongs with Duke, Wild Weasel is the most awesome character in all of GI JOE, and a Roadblock that doesn't speak in rhyme is just a waste of my time.

  8. I'm all of the above. I got into the line through the toys first, then the cartoon, then the comic, but my love of the comic trumped just about everything else... although I like the toys just as much. I'm obsessed with most things Joe (as in the Joe vs. Cobra incarnation from the 80s onward). I can tell Beach apart form Firefly in an instant. A balaclava and Firefly's mask aren't even close when you look at the details (for instance, the ribbing, and also how Beach Head's mask mouthpiece can be lowered to expose the mouth).

  9. Your insight is definitely on point, Robert. I sold all my Star Wars figures as a kid to but more Joes, and the first comic I bought was Joe #18. That lead to a subscription for many years and my mom going to flea markets to help me fill out my collection.

    I got Jacob into Joe through the cartoon box set I picked up a few years ago. He definitely knows the difference with his BH commission on the wall. I've announced my interest in having a commission Snakes in his Boy George outfit, but Shane wouldn't talk to me anymore if I did that...maybe that could be part of your daily sketch challenge!?!?!

  10. Sorry, that's "buy more Joes."

  11. Thanks for all the comments guys. Popa I saw what you did there at the end man. I think you should just speak in rhyme. I should put another option

    Do you like:

    or are you John Popa.

  12. Rockhammer, yeah it drives me crazy when artists dont draw a baclava mask right. Come on people, do your research.

  13. Oh man, I have no idea what you are actually saying, as my brain exploded upon seeing that sweet Firefly piece... Me want!!!!

  14. Awesome pieces Robert! As for your question regarding the type of Joe fan, I love all 3 but lean towards the comics & figures before the cartoon.

  15. Awsome blog! Pretty art! I voted comic on the poll, though I'm really a comic/toy guy. The two fuel each other. The cartoon was good enough to get an animation fix, but I always felt it under-achieved, even when I was 12 years old.

    Right now I'm trying to picture a "baclava" mask. I'm picturing some greek pastry on top... yummy!

  16. I am definitely option two. Larry Hama is an amazing writer and got me into comics. His stuff is the only thing I still read after all these years though...

  17. What did Cobra Comander look like under his hood/Helmet anyway was he deformed or did he look like a snake?

  18. IN the comics he was just a normal looking guy. He used the helmet and mask as a form of intimidation. They mystery is always more intimidating than the reality. In the cartoon, when they went to Cobra-la, he was changed to look like a snake/man.