GI Joe Fan Makes Stop-Motion Short Based on Marvel Comics' "Silent Issue"

YouTube channel Penn Productions has created stop-motion short, using G.I. Joe action figures, puppetry, animation, and some minimal live-action work, that recreates the fan-favorite G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21, the comic from writer/artist Larry Hama that many fans and critics consider to be one of the best comics ever made based on a licensed property. Like the comic on which it's based, the short has no dialogue, although a style choice was made to include sound effects and a score, which the comic did not have. Events that took place in the comic would obviously have made some sound, but the choice at the time was to leave it completely unlettered.

Featuring Snake Eyes in a totally silent issue (no word balloons or sound effects), the issue is frequently cited as one of the best and most influential single issues of a mainstream comic book ever published. It also, apparently, came to pass as the result of an editorial problem that gave the team significantly less time than normal to complete the issue -- writer Larry Hama responded by realizing that a silent issue would prevent the need to have the comic lettered, cutting time out of production.

"They needed the issue done in three weeks. Not having any lettering cut a week off the schedule," Hama once told Comic Book Resources. "Three weeks was less than half the time usually allotted. I forgot how the thing happened, but we needed an issue right away. I told Denny [O'Neil, the book's editor] if I wrote and drew at the same time we could cut out a lot of time. And then I had the idea to do a silent issue and eliminate the week it would take to get it lettered."

In 2014, IDW released a hardcover collection which contained not only a reprint of G.I. Joe #21 - remastered from the original art and recolored to contemporary standards -- but an unprecedented glimpse of Larry Hama's original layouts and Steve Leialoha's finishes, and a look behind the scenes of the comic's creation - and at its enduring legacy. The edition also featured an all-new commentary by Hama.

Like most of Marvel's '80s-era licensed comics, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero disappeared from circulation for years, before Hasbro, Marvel, and IDW came to a deal that would allow reprints of books like Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye and G.I. Joe for a new generation of readers.

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