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.


  • I bought a lot of comics in the early ’90’s. But, frankly the art turned me away. I grew up on ’80’s artwork and anything other than that is off putting to me. That’s one of the reasons I’ve never gotten back into the comics since the vintage run ended.

    Zartan’s head is very KISS in this rendition. The figure, in the context of 1993, is forgivable and even kind of fun to own nowadays.

  • Aside from the pin-up, did Zartan ever appear in his Ninja Force outfit in the comics? I don’t recall seeing him after Billy and him teamed-up briefly with Destro and the Joes. The leather jacket fits in very well with the biker part of his character, but the mohawk was way out of date by ’94. Even by the time the punk-inspired Dreadnoks of ’86 came out, that hair style would be gone shortly.

    And while we’re talking ’90s comic art, I liked a lot of it up to about ’93 or ’94. I’ll also give credit where credit is due. Whoever was drawing the Marvel mutant titles at the time sure knew how to draw the ladies. 😀

    • He did, and that was the oddest thing. Zartan shows up at the Silent Castle and he turns to Destro or someone and asks how they like his new “look”. It’s the only time they pointed it out, though. I always thought it was a physical restyle, but this image has me thinking it could’ve been holographic. Paint the skin green, though, and this looks straight-up Incredible Hulk!

  • This is the most killer piece of art I’ve seen in months! So refreshing! Thankx!

  • Never liked that artwork in the comic or Zartans Mohawk look…

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