Joe Bradford's Tribute to Alan Roach
I met Alan Roach on day one of my first internship at Hasbro back in 2010. At the time, Roach was 18 years into his toy and game design career at Hasbro, then serving as design director overseeing the GI Joe and Battleship
Joe Bradford's Tribute to Alan Roach
I met Alan Roach on day one of my first internship at Hasbro back in 2010. At the time, Roach was 18 years into his toy and game design career at Hasbro, then serving as design director overseeing the GI Joe and Battleship brands.
When I arrived at his office, he stood behind a messy desk scattered with an assortment of collectables, oddities, and action figures, next to a wall covered floor-to-ceiling with sketches, post-it notes, and torn pages from magazines, all held up with painters’ tape (he wasn’t allowed to poke holes in the wall, but sometimes after a tough meeting, he would passive-aggressively pin something up using a thumb tack to ‘stick it to the man’, as I would come to find out). At the back of the room, an enormous green ‘Philadelphia Eagles’ banner, and a shelving unit filled with boxes of toy parts - ready for a spontaneous brainstorm or kitbash.
Alan was a big guy, a former high school athlete, but the type who also used to draw cartoons for the school newspaper. The friendly, jovial jock. He introduced himself as ‘Alan, but you can call me Roach’, with a big smile and a firm handshake. I introduced myself as ‘Joe, the G.I. Joe design intern’, which he dismissed instantly, insisting that there would be confusion between the brand “G.I. Joe”, and my name Joe, and so the team would call me ‘Parker’, a reference to Peter Parker from ‘Spiderman’ comics. I asked if that made him J. Jonah Jameson, Parker’s boss who would often be seen in the comic panels blaming Parker for just about everything, and he guessed that he could play that role just fine. He told me that the best thing to do in my first few days on the job was to get to know everybody, because an intern that no one knows is an intern than no one remembers. He then proceeded to spend the rest of the day introducing me to all of his friends around the office. He had a lot of friends, and he introduced me as Parker to each one.
Over the course of those four months, Roach treated me like a core member of his team. He’d gone out of his way to include me in meetings, brainstorms, line reviews, and concept pitches. If at any point he needed to bounce an idea off of someone, I’d often hear him yelling from his office, “Parker! Get in here!”, just like his role of J. Jonah Jameson dictated. He was always chasing that next ‘thing’ that so many are after in the toy and game industry. Alan had a special creative foresight to identify a great concept in its primordial stages, and the ability to rally everyone around with vision, excitement, and passion. His natural ability to lead extended beyond proficiency with product development, he was also a masterful manager of people, and applied his skills to find the best in the people that he worked with. At an early brainstorm when I admitted that I was hardly familiar with the characters from the G.I. Joe universe, he saw it as an opportunity to kick off a side project he’d had in mind and tasked me with putting together a pitch for his concept. By the end of the semester, he invited me to pitch the concept alongside him.
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