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Guide to the Larry Hama Comic Book Collection
1967- 2011

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
3rd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2596

Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Caitlin Klein, 2012.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 19, 2017
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Comic book writer and artist Larry Hama (b. 1949) is the creative force behind comic book titles like G.I. Joe, The ‘Nam, and Bucky O’Hare, but his creative influence extends to other titles and fields.

A third generation (sansei) Japanese American, Hama was born in Manhattan and raised in Queens, New York. As a youth, Hama hoped to be a painter and attended Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design, where one of his instructors was former Entertaining Comics (EC) artist Bernard Krigstein. Hama’s talent was evident from an early age. He was able to sell his first work in comics to a fantasy film magazine, Castle of Frankenstein, when he was only 16 years old. Upon graduation from high school, Hama worked as a catalog illustrator.

From 1969 to 1971 Hama served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, an experience that would inform much of his creative work. After his discharge, Hama found a job as an assistant at EC, and joined the Basement Workshop, a grassroots activist organization in Chinatown. After leaving EC, Hama joined comic book and commercial artist Neal Adams’ Continuity Associates studio. Along with other artists like Ralph Reese, Frank Brunner, and Bernie Wrightson, Hama became part of an inking group, collectively credited as "Crusty Bunkers" and known for their distinctive, rough-hewn style. During his time at Neal Adams’ studio, Hama created Bucky O’ Hare, a comic character that later went on to have a television cartoon series, a video game and toy line. He became a "penciler" working on titles like Iron Fist, Wulf the Barbarian, Planet of Vampires, and Big Apple Comix.

Hama became an editor at DC Comics in 1977 before joining Marvel as an editor in 1980, where he edited acclaimed titles like Conan and The ‘Nam. It was at Marvel that he began writing stories for G.I. Joe. Although the GI Joe series was originally meant as a short-term vehicle for the Hasbro toy line of military action figures, Hama created engaging storylines involving complex characters and details based on his knowledge of Eastern philosophies, martial arts, and military history. G.I. Joe became an unexpected blockbuster hit. In addition to creating an enormous catalog of toys, the title inspired, and continues to inspire, a number of comic book series, television shows, and movies.

Other works to which Hama has made significant contributions as writer or artist include The Nth Man: the Ultimate Ninja; Wolverine; Daredevil; The Punisher War Zone; Moon Knight; Before the Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm and Logan; Savage Tales; Generation X, and Batman. Most recently, Hama has written a new G.I. Joe short series called Barack the Barbarian, a fantasy-parody based on President Barack Obama and other major political figures.

Hama is also an actor and musician. He was the guitarist for the band K-Optics and, in the 1970s, was seen in minor roles on television shows like Saturday Night Live and M*A*S*H. In 1976, he was cast in two roles in Stephen Sondheim’s original Broadway production, Pacific Overtures.

Biographical Note adapted from the Asian/Pacific American Archives Survey: