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WAITING FOR TOMMY: LARRY YOUNG
By Richard Johnston

Larry Young reinvented comics for the twenty-first century. Comic book retail worker turned publisher, his emphasis on creator-prominence, creator-owned work, keeping back-stock available and selling titles on the creator over the concept, he pre-empted DC and Marvel's move in that direction, and the rise of companies such as IDW, New Avatar and Image Central. After so many companies started and fell, the survival of AiT/Planet Lar is not only remarkable but a tribute to a man with enough business sense to survive the whims of the market and produce work that has prospered in spite of the direct market. A target for comic activists and always happy to stick his head over the parapet, his public statements have shocked as much as they have delighted - he is clearly a man who not only speaks his mind, but is happy to be the arbiter of his own taste.

RICHARD JOHNSTON: How much do you value your own personal profile as a way of selling AiT comics? You've certainly put yourself forward, seemingly as a figurehead for the company. Yet the response to such a brazen figure hasn't always been positive. Is there such a thing as bad publicity?
LARRY YOUNG: Right, let's drop right into the thick of it, then? Honestly, I find it an unending source of entertainment and mirth that people seem to think that my personal behaviour, word-choice, or temperament has anything to do with the comic book stories that they, themselves, choose to purchase and enjoy. To tell you the truth, I'm just a guy who likes comics. A guy who likes comics so much that he has to make his own, yes? And I'm lucky enough that my own comics, originally, were so monetarily successful that I now get to help my pals produce comics of their own that I personally enjoy, as well, using those cash dollars I was able to elicit from people who enjoyed the same sort of comics as I do. Or did. Whatever. Dang! That was tortuous, verb-wise.


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But you see what I mean? What others consider to be "my personal profile" doesn't have anything to do with how I see comics. Me, I'm just a guy who wrote a comic book (ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: LIVE FROM THE MOON) that, back in 1999, no other publishing house would publish so I just went ahead and published it, myself. I'd had more than a few years experience in marketing, and advertising, and promotions; I figured I could hit the ground running in comics, if I had to go it alone. My wife had an MBA in business administration, and between the two of us, we knew what we were doing. If you've got creative and administrative covered, there's no harm in swinging for the fences, yes?

So, yes, to the comic book world, I'm the figurehead and target and bull's-eye for our company. I mean, the friggin' thing is called AiT/Planet Lar, yes? It's not Planet Claire or Planet Meem or Planet Ry or Planet Whatever... I'm in the bull's-eye and that's my fate. If Mike Carlin or Jim Valentino or Stuart Moore or Phil Amara had said YES to publishing LIVE FROM THE MOON, well, I'd be writing for DC or Image or Vertigo or Dark Horse, now. But they gave it a pass back then and I was forced to launch my own publishing house. So, now, for better or worse, I'm the guy in the cross-hairs. When people take shots at me, they're not taking shots at our creators, and that's all right with me; I can take it. I guess I'll say I'm the guy who has to act brazenly so our other folks don't have to.

RICHARD: Do you see that role in a different light to, say, the one that Bill Jemas used to present on behalf of Marvel? Aside from the fact it's called Marvel Comics not Planet Jem (and believe me, I bet he suggested it). And is it na´ve to believe that people don't make judgments on personality instead of content?
LARRY: Well, it's a bit different to that in that it wasn't Bill's money that paid the freelancers, so I have a more visceral stake in whether things fly well or not. I work with people as best as I can, and I quite enjoy the give-and-take that publishing entails. But at the end of the day, it's Mimi's and my call. It seemed to me Bill's thing in public was a bit of a calculated pose, playing the carnival barker and rabble-rouser. Me, I own the circus.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 Continued Here...

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