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Snark Blocker – Mike Zeck’s G.I. Joe Covers!

Prepare yourself – this much testosterone may be bad for your health.

Otherwise, enjoy!

At first, Zeck was just mixed in with other cover artists. Right from the get go, though, his covers were extremely dynamic with interesting angles and layouts.

Then. however, Zeck began his most famous stretch of covers, drawing the covers for issues #37-57, with only one John Byrne cover (for #51) mixed in.

As you can see, almost all his covers are striking in either one of two ways – either they are dynamic action shots or they are dramatic looking cool poses.

There are a few slight duds mixed in there, of course (the cover for #50 stands out, I believe, in a negative sense – it does not seem all that dramatic for a 50th issue), but for the most part, he was on top of things every month.

During this time, he even helped launch a new G.I. Joe title – G.I. Joe Special Missions, where his action covers were definitely warranted…

Some of the later Special Missions covers seem a bit on the rough side, but still, very cool covers.

Zeck also did the cover for one of the G.I. Joe Yearbooks…

Zeck actually stayed on the covers of the main book for nine issues past #57, but man, the change in the book’s direction did not suit Zeck’s style at ALL.

An armored Cobra Commander? A guy in a Hawkman get-up? Some pirate guy on a hovercraft? Zeck did what he could, but this was no longer his wheelhouse…

The exception, of course, is this three-parter where Zeck got to draw what he drew best – dynamic military action scenes…

#61, in particular, is one of the best covers he did on the book.

But then it was back to the sillier plots…

When Zeck is drawing stuff in outer space – you know you’ve gone too far.

He got one last cool cover and he was done with the book, after forty-four awesome covers!

As always, thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for the covers!

And thanks, of course, to the great Mike Zeck for these covers!

40 Comments

Bob McLeod is definitely Zeck’s best inker.

Did Kerry Gammill ink issue #56’s cover?

I swear I feel nothing but snark for about 90% of the Snark Blockers. I don’t think they’re working.

Lady Jaye is being chased by a Cylon driving a truck! Awesome!

Nostalgic. 47 was my first GI Joe as a kid and I still have it in really terrible condition. I need to read my full run again at some point when I have time.

Gah, I remember that awful white Cobra armor . . . By the time I’d gotten into comics (I’m all of 23, after all), that was what Cobra Commander was wearing regularly. I think it even made it into the cartoons! Gross.

Anywho, some great cover work there! The “Unmasking” cover comes off very well.

Am I right in remembering that #55, “Unmaskings,” did not deliver on the cover’s promise?

Issue 28 is really cool looking.

Zeck was the bomb, I think only held back by his inkers.

Man, Zeck could draw the hell out of some Joes. # 43 is possibly one of the most bad-ass images EVER.

Brian, the cover for #51 doesn’t seem to be loading…

Zeck’s a great, overlooked artist. I think this series of covers really shows off his talents.

“Am I right in remembering that #55, “Unmaskings,” did not deliver on the cover’s promise?”

They did unmask, if I remember correctly. Destro and Cobra Commander were trapped underground and found their way up via some drill machine thing. They came out in the middle of a mall (closed at the time), and they had to unmask and use regular clothes and wigs (Cobra Commander looked like a lost Village Person).

Can’t remember why Snake-Eyes unmasked though.

And of course, their unmasked faces were in shadow. They did unmask, but their faces were still not revealed.

oh hellz yeah – flood of childhood memories thanks to all those covers. Zeck is the MAN.

So many of these covers look familiar… I’m going to have to dig through my collection and see which ones I actually have!

I remember buying G.I. Joe #28 at the newsstand when I was just a kid. That was an awesome cover. Zeck did some fantastic work on almost all of these covers. It’s a shame he only drew, what, one actual issue of the book? I can’t recall. Anyway, I like the cover to #59. I thought it was nicely done. And, hey, Cobra Commander’s armor was cool! I bought the action figure of that one. Ended up taking the cape off a Red Tornado action figure, put it on armored CC, and he just looked kick-ass. Ah, memories. I think I was twelve years old when I did that!

But, yeah… Zeck is amazing. I wish he would do more work nowadays. I think most of his recent stuff is for licensing art and private commission. But when he does have published work, I usually get it. Even bought several issues of Azrael that he did the covers for, even though i really didn’t care for the book.

Zeck is the Man, and I’m proud to say I own every single issue listed in this post. His covers were great.

When I was a wee lad in high school, G.I. Joe #43 had such an awesome cover that it got me to return to G.I. Joe for a stretch and even buy back issues so I could figure out what was going on.

The cover to #50 is pretty boring out of context, but it was more meaningful if you’d been reading the book. Cobra had been hiding out in a town called Springfield for a good, long time, so seeing the sign on the cover told the longtime readers 1) the Joes found them, and 2) they were going in heavy to !%@$ them up. If I remember the story right, it turned out that they came up with little to no evidence that Cobra was ever there, so for all the world and the chain of command, it looked like the Joes blew the crap out of a bunch of civilians for seemingly no reason. Maybe the more somber cover was meant to reflect that despite the anniversary?

My last petty comment is that the woman on the cover of the Yearbook #3 looks more like Cover Girl than Scarlett, but it has enough awesome that I didn’t really care that much.

Snake-Eyes was unmasked in #55, sort of. He was pretending to be Flint on a mission into the fictional Central American country of Sierra Gordo to get intel on Cobra’s Terrordromes and was captured. In this issue, the Flint mask was pulled off revealing him to be Snake-Eyes to the Cobras.

Now you know.

Hey, wait a second… the cover to #50 has Zeck’s signature on it. Look in the lower left hand corner. So that obviously was not drawn by Byrne. Did Byrne actually draw any G.I. Joe covers during this period?

i loved Zeck on Captain America! There was one cover where Cap literally looked like he was jumping out of the cover. It was almost 3-d! That said, i never bought a G.I. Joe comic in my life [although i do consider myself patriotic].

I love all of these covers and all of the comics that were contained within.

“the cover to #50 has Zeck’s signature on it” – ye gods, that’s sure freaky! It’s definitely a John Byrne jawline and upturned mouth on that trooper (Flint?)…
Maybe one inked the other?

The Byrne cover from #37-57 was actually issue #51, not 50 (and hence why #51 wasn’t included; looks like a little typo in the article, is all…).

Flint on #50’s cover definitely looks more Zeck than Byrne to me…

#51 was by Byrne, which is why it isn’t seen here.

Covers 40 – 49 bring back soooooo many good memories. I mean, geez, how could you NOT buy a book that featured the Grim Reaper firing an M-16 on the cover?

An interesting compare / contrast exercise would be to put these next to the re-done versions included in the recent 2-packs of figures. The new ones certainly lack the dynamic nature of Zeck’s best work (43, 30, 34).

I also always loved how he used to switch between a slightly more cartoony style and the more straight-up style, and be great at both.

Some of the covers from the Cobra Civil War era actually approached Zeck in terms of badassery – they’re in the mid-70s. Everything around the time of the Zarana / Lady Jaye catfight cover.

The Cobra Civil War Era had some great stuff inside as well.
After about issue 82, the comic started to slip a bit.
There was some decent stuff, but nothing quite as good as that which preceded it.

“The Cobra Civil War Era had some great stuff inside as well.”

There was one really awful fill-in in the middle of it, IIRC – someone who apparently drew it just off a script, since no one looked anything like their character models (Hawk was suddenly a guy in a baseball cap and khakis). But, yes, some good art in that era.

Special Missions was a really underrated title, as well, since it was Hama doing exactly what he wanted to do with Joe without Hasbro or Marvel having much oversight since it wasn’t the “real” book.

Oh man, that GI JOe Yearbook #3 was a treasured part of my childhood comic collection. That thing was dogeared, copied, pored-over and generally consumed beyond belief. Absolute love to a 9 year old kid.

Man I miss sixty and seventy-five cent comic books….

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 4, 2008 at 9:15 pm

“Man I miss sixty and seventy-five cent comic books….”

BLOODY Hell! I miss the thirty and thirty-five cents comics books!

Wasn’t there anything that ZECK didn’t DO?!?

Yeah, #43… I think that’s like one of the greatest comic book covers, ever. And I’m not kidding. An issue including a number of character deaths, and on the cover? The Grim Reaper with a @#%^ing machine gun!

And I think that’s an M-60, by the way. G.I. Joe and Larry Hama have taught me to name many weapons on sight! :)

>And I think that’s an M-60, by the way. G.I. Joe and Larry Hama have taught me to name many weapons on sight! :)<

Yeah, after I wrote that I looked again and said “wait, that’s the gun Roadblock used… so it can’t be an M-16″ I was wondering when some 80s Joe fan would call me on that. :)

I remember looking forward each month to get those GI Joes in the mail (yes I had a subscription!). Issue 43 and 45 bring back great memories, especially 45 where Ripcord goes one on one with Zartan as Ripcord infultrates Corbra Island. It’s a great story, but man those Zeck cover hold up beautiully. I wish comic covers today (at least from Marvel) go back to those covers…and put some freaking captions on them!

For the record, Roadblock toted an M2 .50 machine gun (in service since 1919, and still going strong — that John Browning sure could build ‘em). The M60 (which is indeed the gun on the cover of #43) was Rock and Roll’s weapon of choice, for the times he couldn’t use the gatling gun on the motorcycle.

I am also sad to say that my skill at recognizing and naming firearms started with G.I. Joe comics, but this also led me to the realization of how silly the comic could get, since a quick look at a book showed the M2 weighed more than 80 pounds unloaded, plus another 35 for a can of 100 rounds of ammo. I think it also has 2 triggers at the end to fire it, which would be hard to do with one hand even if you were able to carry that thing.

“BLOODY Hell! I miss the thirty and thirty-five cents comics books!”

Tom, I’m with you on that one too! I just didn’t want to give my “Grampa” voice away!

;)

#43 was the issue I started collecting GI Joe, and comics, with.

The Cobra Civil War is to this day one of my favorite comic storylines. And while I never got around to submitting my top 10 battles, the Cobra civil war was on my list for that, too. GI Joe was a great comic book series.

I copied so many of the poses and layouts in those covers when I was in high school.

Marvel’s GIJoe will always be my most favorite comic book series. Even when it got really bad sometime after hitting 100.

The stories in the 30’s and 40’s were some of the best. #33 had a big revelation that I won’t repeat — and then Hama had to do two or three filler stories to push some toys, so you didn’t get to find out what happens next in the storyline for months! it drove me crazy!

My brother’s been storing our comics for the past several years but can’t anymore, and I got half of them (pickup was full) back at Thanksgiving. All our GIJoes were included. And I have a week’s vacation coming up.

You know what these covers make me want to do? Buy the comic!!! Something comics just are not doing for me now a days….(also, I hope later on there is a listing of Zeck’s Deathstroke covers) I was a passing fan of GI Joe and had some of those issues but I do love the majority of those covers.

Thanks! Love these GI Joe covers. Just to let you know that GI Joe 64 is by Ron Wagner, not by Mike Zeck. I know because I own the art and I bought it directly from Ron.

James From Miami

September 3, 2011 at 9:22 am

Great article. My first G.I.Joe comic book was issue #62. I bought it at some convenience store near my aunt’s house sometime around the late 1980’s. Then if I’m not mistaking, I took it to school the very next day to show it to some friends there. We had this young female teacher who was very mean most of the time, for no apparent reason whatsoever. She would do or say the most weirdest things to us. Trust me, she was mean and weird. So I make the mistake of showing the comic to a friend while we were in the classroom, even though it was early in the morning and we were not given any school work yet. She then just appeared out of nowhere, and grabbed the comic book right out of my hand and walked away without saying anything to me. By the end of the day I went to ask her for the book back. So while she was opening a drawer, and taking the comic book out, I’m thinking she was going to be nice and give me back the comic book and tell me not to bring it back to school again. But instead she grabs the comic book and rips it by the middle in half, right in front of my face while saying something that I wasn’t even listening to because I was feeling a very unpleasant pain in my stomach as my heart felt like it had just shattered right there in that moment. And then she throws it in some garbage can. But for many years, I never forgot that cover. And one day in around 2003 or 2004, I finally find a copy at a comic book store in my area. True story. Thank you for the article.

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