Written by Bryan Stroud
Larry Hama (born June 7, 1949) is an American comic-book writer, artist, actor, and musician who has worked in the fields of entertainment and publishing since the 1960s.
Mr. Hama is best known to comic book readers as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics, where he created the universe behind the G.I. Joe comic book series, based on the Hasbro toy line. He also co-created the character Bucky O'Hare, which was developed into a comic book, a toy line, and a cartoon series.
But before that, in 1971 - with the help of contacts he had acquired while working with Wally Wood, Larry was able to find work at Neal Adams' Continuity Studios. While there, he worked with the inking crew known as the Crusty Bunkers.
The Crusty Bunker quest continues with a short exchange courtesy of Larry Hama. Even though I'd have loved if he'd gone into greater detail, each tidbit was another piece in the story of the days at Continuity Associates, and I'm grateful for all inputs.
This interview originally took place via email on September 29, 2010.
Bryan Stroud: How did you end up at Continuity?
Larry Hama: My friend Ralph Reese was working there and told me that desk space was available for 50 bucks a month. This was in 1973 or thereabouts. Neal Adams was still in partnership with Dick Giordano then.
Stroud: What did you do there?
Hama: I worked on freelance jobs with Ralph and picked up advertising storyboard, comp and animatic work from Neal on the side, as well as Crusty Bunker stuff.
Stroud: Who did you meet there?
Hama: Sergio Aragones, Russ Heath, Carl Potts, Klaus Janson, Jay Scott Pike, Bob McLeod, Pat Broderick, Joe Rubinstein, Joe D’esposito, Mike Nasser (Netzer), Marshal Rodgers, Terry Austin, Jack Abel, Mike Hinge, LynnVarley, Jim Sherman, Bruce Patterson, Frank Miller, Eric Burden, CaryBates, Vicente Alcazar, Sal Amendola, Greg Theakston, Bob Wiaceck, BobSmith, Cathy-Ann Thomas, and probably hundreds of others. I already knew Kaluta, Wrightson, Jones, Vaughn Bode, et all from Gothic Blimp Works and First Fridays.
Stroud: How long did you spend time there?
Hama: I kept my desk space there for something like five years. In the beginning, I had the drawing table in the front room next to Neal.
Stroud: What did you learn?
Hama: Everything. I was at the font. The single most important thing I ever learned about drawing was from Neal: “Stop settling.”
Stroud: Was there any payment for your work?
Hama: Absolutely. There was a per-panel rate for storyboards and a complex system of divvying up the Crusty Bunkers money. Advertising paid way better than comics in those days!
Stroud: Legend has it you were the first to coin the term "Crusty Bunker." True?
Hama: Not true. I designed the t-shirt- actually, I think I penciled it and Neal inked it. It was Kris, Neal’s daughter who came up with the name.
Stroud: Any particularly fond memories?
Hama: Too many to recount here. I spent 12 to 14 hours a day there, seven days a week for years.
Stroud: Did the gathering at Continuity start informally or through renting of space by other artists?
Hama: Neal encouraged people to stop by. (All the bad coffee you could drink - it put me off Cremora for life.) The original Continuity @ 8 E. 48th St. (the building no longer exists) was only three blocks from DC and nine blocks from Marvel at the time, so it was easy to make the side trip if you were coming into town to go to either. National Lampoon was close by, too. Warren was only two subway stops away as well.
Stroud: Was it pretty much a 24-hour operation?
Hama: Pretty much. Most advertising jobs came in with a deadline of “yesterday.”
Stroud: Did you interact much with Neal?
Hama: If you sit next to somebody all day, every day, you end up talking about a lot of stuff. I owe Neal a lot. If he called me at 3:00 AM and said I had to come help him get rid of the body, I’d have to show up.
Stroud: What, if any, benefit was your association there to future work?
Hama: Everything. Neal got me my first DC pencil job by promising to ink it. Working at Continuity got my foot in the door throughout the entire comics biz. Neal’s influence on comics goes way beyond his drawing skills. It’s largely because of his efforts that incentive payments and other artist’s rights that we take for granted exist. Neal also spearheaded the fight for (Jerry) Siegel and (Joe) Shuster.