Online Interview with Larry Hama

The life of Thomas Arashikage has taken him down paths that have allied him with both G.I. Joe AND Cobra. Now he’s away from both sides of the war, and getting into trouble all his own! Storm Shadow returns in his own monthly title written by his creator Larry Hama!

With the upcoming release of GIJOE – Storm Shadow #01 from Devils Due publishing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Larry Hama about this book.

Rodney Ford: As a bit of back ground info, Storm Shadows first appearance was in GIJOE #21(marvel comics 1982), “silent interlude”. Can you tell us a bit about how Storm Shadow came into being the assassin we all know and love?

Larry Hama: I got to the end of ARAH #21 and got the idea to use him matching hexagrams bit. I didn’t even really know what the connection was between the two characters at the time. But that was the first link. Hexagram 65 of the I Ching (chi chi,) is called “After Completion.” It connotes the instability of perfection because the trigram K’an (water) strives to move downwards, while the trigram Li (fire) pushes upwards. I actually chose that hexagram because the symmetry made it easier to remember, but the meaning turned out to be synchronistically apt. Jung would have been amused.

RF: Did you ever think Storm Shadow would be as popular as he has been for the last 25 years?

LH: I didn’t think ninjas would ever catch on. But then, I worked on one of the first US Nintendo print ad campaigns for Dentsu Y&R and I remember thinking that such a weird product name would never catch on in America.

RF: Storm Shadow is one of the most recognizable and popular characters throughout all of the Gijoe franchise. What do you think makes him such an appealing character?

LH: His story is about the power of redemption. He masters arcane arts and disciplines and is a loyal and good friend to Snake-Eyes, but he is torn apart by envy and pride. Somehow, he finds the strength to get it all back together. Okay, he’s got cool ninja outfit and neat weapons and kicks major butt, but I think his back-story is a major appeal to
those who actually read the comic continuity. I really can’t say about the animated material, since I have not really seen more than an episode or two.

RF: Tommy has gone threw a lot of changes in the last few years. Will this story focus on his inner war as opposed to his war with Cobra and the Joes?

LH: Intrinsically, it will be all about his inner war, but not overtly. I really hate stories where characters sit around and talk about how they feel. I think we should get that information from the action of the story. This is not radio drama.

RF: How did the Storm Shadow ongoing series come about? Did Devils Due approach you to write the series?

LH: Yep. Mike O’Sullivan e-mailed me.

RF: Can you give us any details about the series? Will there be any guest appearances?

LH: Ah, those are surprises.

RF: Have you worked with DDP before? How has your experience been working with there incarnation of GIJOE and subsequent characters?

LH: I’ve done one four issue arc of one series, a four issue limited series and a short story. But I haven’t really worked with the new incarnations and the newer characters. I feel more comfortable in my own turf.

RF: What do you think of Mark Robinson Pencils? Do you feel his style compliments your writing?

LH: Difficult to say at this point. I only have a few pages to judge from and some of them are not in order. It’s impossible to judge continuity without the whole thing there, “After Completion,” you know. But from what I have seen, his drawing is very solid, and his acting has some cool subtlety to it that is a welcome relief from the usual snarling
and teeth-grinding.

RF: If I where to ask you why I should pick up this book, what would your response be?

LH: You put me in a difficult position. I always felt that blatant self-promotion was, well, unseemly. Whatever I do at any time is always my best shot within the real world parameters of the job. I only had a week to write and draw #21, but I gave it all I had. When I have more time to do a job, I tend to get carried away on the research. I am most comfortable with writing and drawing. I’m NOT a good salesman. A cobbler should stick to his last. I would say, please try this book. You might like it.

RF: Do you have anything else in the works with Devils Due?

LH: No, but I have some episodes of Robot boy coming up on Cartoon Network next season and five graphic history novels from Osprey. Also a video game for Curious/Game Lab that I have been working on for a year, and a new secret project with Pepe Moreno.

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