Larry Hama

If it weren't for Larry Hama, there would be no Bucky O'Hare. He created the entire aniverse back in the late '70s, years before the comic book first came out. He has been a writer for other comic book series, including G.I. Joe and Wolverine, but Bucky O'Hare is his favorite.

Larry graciously agreed to an e-mail interview for the site. Check it out!

How and when did you first come up with the idea for Bucky O'Hare?

Larry Hama: I developed it in 1978 when I was an editor at DC Comics. It was supposed to be the first "creator-owned" DC Comic. They kept asking me to turn in material before they came up with the contract, and I kept refusing to hand it over until I had the contract in my hand. My lawyer was Ed Preiss (father of the late Byron Preiss) who had been Siegel and Shuster's lawyer in their suit against DC for recognition of creator status on Superman. Ed said, "a verbal agreement is worth the paper it's written on." So I never handed it over and took it with me when I left.

How much of the aniverse did you map out when you first envisioned it?

LH: The whole shebang.

Was Bucky O'Hare always intended as a franchise (cartoon, video games, etc.), or just a comic book?

LH: It was the whole deal at the inception. I designed the toys first. That's why the comic characters have 3mm holes in their feet and have 3mm plugs on their belts. I wanted the comic and animated characters to be EXACTLY the same as the toys with no COMPROMISE.

How did Neal Adams and Michael Golden enter the picture?

LH: I made a deal with Neal Adams to do the comic for Continuity. The original idea was for me to write and pencil it, and Neal was going to ink it! In the middle of that, Mike Golden turned up and me and Neal went "this guy can do it better than either of us."

What was the creative process like for the Bucky O'Hare comic book?

LH: I sat around in a tiny back room at Continuity Associates and thought out the story and wrote it down. On a typewriter. This was before everybody had computers. I am basically a penciler who works with a typewriter (or word processor) since I try to think of the pictures first. I wrote out full scripts and sent them out to Golden. He thought out everything and made it all solid. I would send him rough sketches of everything and he would make them all ten thousand percent better.

Did you intentionally create parallels between Bucky and the hottest sci-fi property of the time, Star Wars?

LH: It was definitely a reaction to Star Wars but for a very different reason. I knew that the first years run of Star Wars toys was hurt by the fact that the spaceship designs were pretty impossible to replicate in plastic at a decent price break. That's why I designed the toys first. Or at least designed the toy concept. I really wish they had been able to make the Righteous Indignation as a toy. I think that would have really helped the line.

Were more Bucky O'Hare comics originally planned for publication after what ran in "Echo of Futurepast?"

LH: I wrote a whole next graphic novel. It's completely scripted. Michael Golden actually penciled the first two installments. And then Continuity Comics went under.

What was the storyline for the sequel you wrote?

LH: The storyline was what I had worked out from the very beginning. The original story was supposed to fit into a 90 minute animated feature. There were two 48 page graphic novels planned that would each comprise half of the feature story. The second half would feature Komplex and Toadborg as the main bad guys and would center on the Toads finding out how Willy came into the Aniverse and their plan to invade our universe, and how Willy helps Bucky foil that plan. I wrote the screenplay for the movie years ago, so the second graphic novel was just an adaptation from that script.

It sounds like you had a very different idea for where to take Bucky than what ended up happening. Was the movie ever given a fair shot originally? How did the cartoon come about?

LH: I can't answer this question because I don't know what ended up happening. I have not really read any of the Bucky material I did not write, nor have I seen any entire episode of the animated series. The same holds for GI Joe and Wolverine. I never watched the animated versions, never read the comics I didn't write, and haven't read a Wolverine since I stopped writing it. The Bucky material was too personal to me. If Mike Golden did something on his own, I would read it, but not anybody else. The voices would be all wrong.
I don't understand the second and third part of the question. It took over ten years for Bucky to make it from inception until a physical graphic novel was on the stands. It could take many more years for a movie project to get put together. No such thing as a "fair shake" in the movie biz. It's all in who you know, who you are, and what is selling at the moment. The cartoon came about as a matter of business. I was not asked to participate in any way.

Despite not being asked to participate, you're credited as being an "associate story consultant" for the Bucky O'Hare TV show. How exactly were you involved?

LH: Not a lot.

The TV show included many aspects of the aniverse not in the original comic. How many of them were your idea?

LH: Not sure. I only ever saw part of one show. I've never seen any of the GI Joe animated shows all the way through either. Or COPS for that matter!

How pleased are you overall with the TV show?

LH: I didn't like the theme song. It wasn't what I would have done, but it was what the tv people thought was the right thing to do.

In addition to being a writer, you're an accomplished musician. If you could have written the theme song for the TV show, what would it have been like?

LH: I would have tried to get the Ramones to do it.

Did you have any involvement whatsoever with the UK Bucky O'Hare comic book, which lasted 20 issues and picked up where the US one left off?

LH: None at all.

Neal Adams and Continuity Studios seem to be planning a Bucky O'Hare revival. Are you involved, and if so, can you share any details?

LH: I'm as involved as they want me to be. Like I said, I already wrote the sequel.

Looking back, how do you feel about the life the Bucky O'Hare property had?

LH: Pretty disappointed that we couldn't get to a second season. All the result of a shipping and distribution error in getting the toy assortments to the stores that first Christmas. The assortments went out with the same number of Bucky figures as let's say the Toad Air Marshal. That's nuts. The Bucky figures disappeared immediately, and all that was left on the racks were Air Marshals, and Toad Troopers. There should have been twice as many Buckys and Willies.

It's been said that of all your work, you are most proud of Bucky O'Hare. Is this true, and if so, why?

LH: It's my inner fantasy. I want to be in that spaceship. It's the most complete thing I've ever done because it's my original fantasy, and not a pre-existing licensed toy like GI JOE, or a pre-existing character like Wolverine. And besides, I'm a duck man at heart. Always would have rather done funny animals than anything else.

What are you currently up to, so Bucky fans can check out your latest work?

LH: Been working on a series of historical graphic novels about Civil War battles for Osprey Publications in Oxford. The first one is Antietam.

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