@’s by Andy Hartnell
Writer of DANGER GIRL/GI JOE!!!
Russ Sheath here. Danger comes in many forms this week in the form of DANGER GIRL / GI JOE # 1 from IDW. Written by DANGER GIRL co-creator Andy Hartnell with art by John Royle and covers provided in scintillating form by DANGER GIRL co-creator, the irrepressible J. Scott Campbell, DANGER GIRL / GI JOE see's two worlds collide, head on. Intrigue, espionage and a cliffhanger rollercoaster ride, the trademarks of Danger Girl meet the battle against the forces of Cobra Commander in this new mini-series from DANGER GIRL co-creator Andy Hartnell with art by John Royle and covers provided in scintillating form by DANGER GIRL co-creator, the irrepressible J. Scott Campbell. Who will battle who and what side will the Danger Girl team end up on is anyone's guess but the one man who can give us all the mission intel is Andy Hartnell. Secure in his battle bunker Hartnell spoke to AICN's Russ Sheath about Danger Girl, the coming together of the two properties, the status of the DANGER GIRL movie and his passion for all things Joe.
RUSS SHEATH (RS): For AICN readers who may not be familiar with Danger Girl, tell us about Danger Girl?
ANDY HARTNELL (AH): Okay… So here’s kind of the long and short version: DANGER GIRL is a comic book series that was created by J. Scott Campbell and myself back in 1997. He and I first met back in ‘95 while he was working on a book called GEN 13 and I was working as a colorist for Jim Lee’s Wildstorm Studios. So when Campbell and I would hang out, we’d often talk about our favorite action adventure movies like Indiana Jones, the James Bond series, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA… all kinds of stuff like that. Movies like those weren’t coming out at the time, so we decided to make our own movie, something that brought back that fun and adventure… but we’d pack it all inside of a comic book series.
So that’s where Danger Girl really came from – Campbell and I wanting to see another one of those big action adventure stories that no one was doing at the time. We shared the idea with some other people in the studio and everyone thought it was neat, but risky – none of the major publishers were really doing comic books without superheroes at the time. What’s going to make this exciting? Why isn’t anyone flying around or popping claws out of their fists? So we went ahead with it anyway and came up with this story about a young woman named Abbey Chase who was an international antiquities thief. We were going to throw her into the biggest adventure of her life by having her join forces with a covert action team called DANGER GIRL. So Danger Girl is really about this former spy who assembles a team of adventurous young women from all over the globe. You have a thief, an assassin, a spy, a huntress, a hacker, just all these colorful and exciting characters who would come together as a team whenever a nasty new threat would emerge. So anyways, we went ahead with our risky idea, put out the first issue of DANGER GIRL, and it was the first comic book in years that finally knocked the X-MEN off their throne as the #1 seller. And we’ve been packing the stories with non-super-powered action ever since.
RS: You have two great comic book universes to play with in GI Joe and Danger Girl. With regards to your writing process, where do you begin? Did you have some core 'set pieces' or 'interactions' that you wanted to see?
AH: It was tough. I had a completely different story in mind when I first started. It involved only a couple characters from each book. But then I started to wonder – what if I never have time to play with these awesome Joe characters again? What characters do I want to see if I can only try this once? And the answer was everyone. So now there’s probably more than 50 Joe characters appearing in this series. And then you have all the Danger Girl and Cobra characters. So it’s a pretty big juggling act. And I always have kind of a catalogue of big action sequences I’d like to see, and it’s really just finding the right story to make a few of them work.
RS: What, for you, is at the core of every DANGER GIRL story, is there a 'must have' element to Danger Girl whenever you start to write a story?
AH: It’s all about adventure. There definitely needs to be plenty of excitement, discovery, some big action sequences, humor. It just really needs to be entertaining. It needs to be fun. But I think the overall arc of the entire DANGER GIRL series is about finding your family. Finding someplace you belong and being with people who need you – who think you matter.
RS: Without giving too much away can you tell us a little of how we find The Danger Girl team at the start of the story and what brings them together with GI Joe?
AH: I’m one of those guys who doesn’t reveal anything! When I was a kid reading comics, mainly G.I. JOE comics, I’d pick them up off the spinner rack based just on the cover image. I’d get home and flip them open with no idea what was going to happen in the story. That’s where a lot of the excitement came from – Why is Clutch falling out of the sky on the cover? Why are Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow fighting on top of that elevated train? So I think the question with our first cover is: Why is Abbey Chase wearing a Cobra outfit? Why is she the villain in this story?
RS: Are there any GI Joe characters you have been dying to write? Do you have any favorites?
AH: Without question it was Cobra Commander and Snake-Eyes. I was very excited to play with those characters. But then, as the story came together, I found that I was using those characters very sparingly. I think my favorite parts ended up being the arc involving Destro, Baroness and Abbey, and then also all the interactions between Sydney Savage and the G.I. Joe team.
RS: Did you receive any input from Hasbro? Were there any specific dictates from them?
AH: Hasbro’s been awesome. Totally supportive of everything. There’s a few things you can’t do with their characters, sure, but it’s nothing we wanted to try anyway. If you know their characters well enough, you know what they would or wouldn’t do anyway.
RS: Which are your favorite Joe characters?
AH: That’s kind of what makes G.I. Joe so awesome is the huge number of characters they have. I’m a really big fan of all the characters from the 1982-1987 era. They’ve added a ton of cool characters since then, but those are really my all-time favorites.
RS: Which is your favorite Danger Girl?
AH: Abbey Chase. It’s funny because I really love her origin story and overall arc, and that’s a story that’s never really been put to print yet! But it’ll be out there sometime.
RS: Are you looking forward to seeing the upcoming movie, GI JOE RETALIATION?
AH: When I first saw those Cobra tapestries roll down the side of the White House, I got very excited to see the movie! My hope is that they bring back some of that magic from the old Marvel Comics series. I know it’s gotta be tough to deliver all of that in a 2 hour movie, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s looking pretty cool.
RS: There's long been talk over the years about a DANGER GIRL movie, any developments there?
AH: DANGER GIRL was first set up as a film with New Line Cinema. Things were happening really fast. They hired a couple guys who wrote a great script, and then we were told to just wait a minute – they wanted to see how CHARLIE’S ANGELS and TOMB RAIDER would do. Those did extremely well, and then we were told that audiences already had their fix of female heroes. We were like – ummm, okay? Then Paramount picked up DANGER GIRL as a TV series. They had a great pilot script, things were happening fast, and then that suddenly went nowhere. The reason always ends up being the whole girl thing – people are skeptical about having female leads in an action movie. But now you have THE HUNGER GAMES, everyone raving about Black Widow in the AVENGERS, all kinds of great female heroes that people are going crazy for. So yeah, as of today, all the rights to everything with Danger Girl are back in our hands. There’s always phone calls happening and talent interested in doing a movie, but no one’s really pulled the trigger on it yet.
RS: How long is the series, any chance you are planning further arcs?
AH: The series was initially set at 4 issues, but was quickly extended to 5. We have a really great creative team with John Royle on pencils, Phillip Moy on inks, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. on colors. Once things were going down on paper and we saw something special was happening, we really wanted to add that extra issue at the end. We’re all really having fun working together so the hope is that we stick together for a while even beyond this series.
Just wanna wrap up by saying thanks to you, Russ. It’s been fun talking shop even outside this piece with AICN. Yo Joe! (but really: COBRAAA!)
RS: A huge thanks to Andy for taking part. Check out J. Scott Campbell's official site here and on twitter @jscottcampbell. John Royle is online here . DANGER GIRL / GI JOE # 1 from IDW is released on 18 July.
You can follow Russ Sheath's blog Russwords here and on Twitter here.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G