Let's Get Small, Part 1 - Mania.com

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Let's Get Small, Part 1

The men behind the G.I. JOE comic book relaunch resurrect another '80s toy icon - the MICRONAUTS!

By Arnold T. Blumberg     June 03, 2002

For a tiny group, the Micronauts made a big splash in their Marvel Comics debut.
© Marvel Characters Inc.
They were never the phenomenon that the Real American Heroes were, nor were they as popular as those transforming robots that boasted that they were "More Than Meets the Eye." But for some, the Micronauts are another fondly remembered ingredient in the ultimate '80s childhood, and like many of those pop culture icons from the decade of neon and pastels, they're back - and just as tiny as ever.

Devil's Due, the same comic book publisher that just spearheaded a successful relaunch of the G.I. JOE series, has taken up the Micronauts gauntlet and resurrected the interchangeable adventurers for a new ongoing bimonthly series that will debut in June, just as Palisades Marketing is ramping up interest in their all-new line of Micronauts toys.

Back in the day, the charm of these toys lay in their infinite (well, maybe not quite infinite, but work with me here) interchangeability, and now it's time for a new generation of jaded toy buyers to discover what it's like to play with the diminutive space-farers. Devil's Due is there to help with the new comic book, which will sport covers by comic book vet Michael Golden, who penciled the original Marvel Comics MICRONAUTS series (which covered almost 80 individual issues from 1979 to 1986, with cameos by the likes of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men!). The new series will also feature stories by Scott Wherle, Eric Wolfe Hanson, and Barbara Schulz.

This new title looks set to enthrall 30-somethings everywhere, and just maybe their children as well. Josh Blaylock, founder of Devil's Due, thinks the time is right for a Micronauts invasion.

Dave Johnson's work for MICRONAUTS

"I knew there was an interest for it, and a lot of people ironically enough had asked me if we were doing MICRONAUTS as soon as we said G.I. JOE was coming out," says Blaylock. "But I myself was never into them at all. I didn't know anything about them, I just knew it was an old comic series and toys, so I personally wasn't a fan."

Despite Blaylock's relative lack of knowledge about this property, the license holders of the Micronauts property still saw in Devil's Due a company that just might be the ones to bring the Micronauts back to the world. Blaylock was not about to disagree with them, and a rebirth was...well, born.

"Global Icons contacted us because they liked the way we were handling the G.I. Joe property," says Blaylock. "They felt we knew how to handle the Micronauts and how to do it so the old fans really enjoyed it. It took me two seconds to say yes to that, and we hammered out a deal, and here we are."

While Blaylock admits that G.I. JOE is his baby - "I know G.I. JOE inside out" - he also reveals that his first step was to recruit the right creators for the new project, people who had the same fondness for the Micronauts as he did for the Joes. The passion for the characters was the crucial element that would insure a successful resurrection.

"I wasn't going to read MICRONAUTS in a week and then tell people how to do it," says Blaylock. "Since I wasn't a fan, the first thing I did was put people on the book who knew about it from their childhood and who would do it right."

Image's MICRONAUTS revival

Enter writer Wherle, who has worked with Blaylock on G.I. JOE, and Eric Hanson, who will be penciling the new series.

"[Eric is] an artist I've known for a long time," says Blaylock. "We had [him] do a fill-in for us on G.I. JOE. [He's] one of the industry's little secrets and he's really talented, so I put him on the book and he just went wild with some of the designs."

Global Icons gave Devil's Due a lot of leeway in designing the new Micronauts. Blaylock knows they have a responsibility to please fans as well as newcomers, and fortunately for him, the license holders have a keen understanding of the market and potential popularity of their tiny little stars.

"They were very cool as far as what we could do with the comic book," says Blaylock. "The first thing [Global Icons] said right off the bat was they understand that this is a retro property right now. It's going to be pretty much only the older crowd into it. They understood who reads comics for the most part, and although they are planning a total relaunch, they're doing it very intelligently. They're starting with the niche market of the old fans, doing a comic book that appeals to them, and they're doing toys, and that will eventually lead into something even bigger down the road. [But] I don't have all the details on their marketing plans."

Next time, Blaylock discusses what you will and won't be seeing in the new MICRONAUTS comic book series...



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