1994 Zartan Pin-Up
Comic pin-ups are always a treat. An artist gets to go all-out without regard for story context, and spotlight a character head to toe. I find it interesting to consider them through the lens of history. A pin-up image can really distill the style of an era and give you a peek into the comic zeitgeist of the day. Here’s a peek into what was going on during the Ninja Force days of the Marvel GI Joe comic.
I’m not sure what to call the 1993 figure version of Zartan beyond his Ninja Force affiliation. He’s always had a biker gang association in the comic, for obvious reasons. Yet the 90s redesign saw him sporting an orange Mohawk and facepaint, along with a black, purple and green outfit (and accessories with orange chain!) I got it—Schumacher Zartan! He’d fit right in as a leader of Batman Forever’s neon street hooligans.
In some circles, it’s fashionable to bag on 90s comic art, but I like to appreciate art on its own terms. And remember, most of us who read and collected this stuff back then thought it was pretty dang awesome. I won’t try to be hip and hide from my past—I bought five copies of X-Force back in the day. The era may have had its issues, but I’ll be darned if it wasn’t a lot of fun. Big, dumb fun–but fun.
Funny enough, Zartan isn’t quite as colorful as his action figure in this shot. There’s also some interesting visual touches going on with his name and the background. I wonder if the swirls are meant to represent his image-enhancing ability? It’s definitely a period-appropriate take on Zartan—even though his looming 80s visage up top appears to be constipated.