G.I. JUNIORSMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1964
Creator: Jack O'Brien
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When Harvey Comics had a lucrative property going, they had a tendency to exploit it to the hilt. Richie Rich was undoubtedly Harvey's king of the ancillary title, with Richie Rich Zillionz, Richie Rich Bank Books, Richie Rich & His Girlfriends and dozens more competing for space on the newsstand with which to cash
in on the "Poor Little Rich Boy's" popularity. Second was probably Sad Sack, whose fans were able to read his adventures in Sad Sack's Army Life, Sad Sack's Funny Friends, Sad Sad Sack World and many other comic books, as well as in Sad Sack Comics. Spin-offs included his sister, Sadie Sack; a child version, Little Sad Sack; and even a dog, Sad Sack's Muttsy (no relation). Non spin-offs aimed at a similar audience included a Navy version, Gabby Gob; and a bunch of kids, G.I. Juniors.
G.I. Juniors began in the 86th issue (November, 1964) of Harvey Hits, that company's answer to DC Comics' Showcase, where characters like Rip Hunter and Challengers of the Unknown were tested before the launch of their titles. Prior hits in Harvey Hits included Wendy the Good Little Witch and Little Audrey, both of which enjoyed lengthy runs once they'd moved out into their own titles. The cartoonist behind G.I. Juniors was Jack O'Brien, who produced much of Sad Sack's own material, as well as having created a beatnik called Cool Cat (no relation) for another venue.
The series began with the arrival of a busload of "new recruits" to Camp Wacky Wee. Sarge (no last name), himself freshly arrived, was surprised to find they were all children; but his new boss, Col. S. Polish, expected no less — he was running a military academy, not an army camp. The installation had been a lucky acquisition for him, a "surplus" Army camp that he could use for his school. Aside from him and Sarge, whose gruff exterior concealed a heart that truly hated dealing with the kids, the only adult present was Cookie (no relation), the camp's unofficial "Mom", who was sweet on Sarge.
The boys included Ape (who had a thyroid condition making him almost as big as Sarge), Junior (the boys' leader no matter what Sarge thought), Chubby (the fat kid), Tuffy (the short kid), and several others who may or may not have had names, but existed mainly to fill up the background. The basic scenario was that the boys would be boys while Sarge would attempt to establish military discipline. Cookie liked them, but that didn't save her from being their victim when they felt like making her one. The Colonel was mostly unaware of any problems but still suffered occasionally from them.
G.I. Juniors never graduated into a title of their own, but they did appear repeatedly in Harvey Hits. In fact, they were in no less than 13 issues, which averaged one every three months. Their last appearance was also the last issue of Harvey Hits itself, #122, which came out exactly three years after their first. Jack O'Brien continued to handle them throughout their run.