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WAITING FOR TOMMY: LARRY YOUNG
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: Now, you see I like that. I like that a lot. Does this bring out the patron in you?
LARRY: Well, not exactly, since we still have to make money on these things to stay a viable, healthy company. Comics is a commercial art, and not an art-for-art's-sake sort of thing, after all. But I have to say it's fun to see the faces on creators who first get sprung on the world by us, and how happy and proud of themselves they are when they're holding a printed copy of their sweat and toil in their hands. They have pride-of-accomplishment, and I have a kind of parental pride in them.

RICHARD: 2003 saw original graphic novel vs. single issues as Scurvy Dogs weighed up against Demo. Have you come to any conclusions by comparing the results of the publishing model for each?
LARRY: I'm not sure what you mean, here. The Scurv and DEMO (and AiT: SPACE 1959, for that matter) were all monthly issues. The publishing model for all is what each project demanded. One is not superior to the other. Format doesn't indicate sales, nor does it preclude it.

RICHARD: You'd previously been thought of as the champion of the TPB and the OGN. So it felt strange for some people to buy single issues from you - and your language did little to assuage that, seeming inconceivable to you that people might want to wait for a trade that had no guarantee of being published, for a project that was designed for single issues. Can you understand why there was some resistance? You'd created and acclimatised an audience for a book format, then castigated them for not being as keen for a format they'd learnt to reject. Can you see why that might have grated?
LARRY: Business realities change all the time. We have to turn down DEMO because it's not an OGN? I mean, it's a comic book; it's not like I'm asking people to buy cuts of meat or something from us all of a sudden. I have to say that if I have some sort of Jedi marketing powers and have mass-hypnotized our audience into buying our books, well, then, sure, I can see where someone might feel badly upon awakening to see that all of a sudden they've purchased a bunch of comics they didn't want. But of course that's not the case at all. So, someone thinks I'm the champion of the book format? Leaving alone whether or not I agree with that characterization, does that mean we can't do a project or two in a format we're not known for? How does a company grow, if not by challenging their own status quo?

And, honestly, we haven't seen any resistance from retailers and readers to buying DEMO and SCURVY DOGS, and I'm quite sure I haven't "castigated" our audience. Maybe a single jackass or two on a message board here or there, but, hey! I'm just a guy making comics and minding my own business.

RICHARD: Got to say, Larry. I've moved my buying preferences to a thicker format, away from the longbox to the bookshelf. So, even given the word that there were no plans to collect Demo, a comic intended for the single format, it didn't end up on my pull list.. Am I scum? Or just missing out?
LARRY: Comics fans see things in black-and-white; I think it's because of the good/bad dichotomy of superhero books. Superman good, Lex Luthor bad. Captain America good, Red Skull bad. It's a short leap to continue that sort of binary thinking: creator-owned good, corporate comics bad. OPTIC NERVE good, AQUAMAN bad; graphic novels good, floppy pamphlets bad. And of course the reality is much more complex than that. Somebody doesn't want DEMO because it's not in a format they prefer? All I can muster up is that they don't want DEMO, because it's not in a format they prefer. I don't have any value judgment on that whatsoever. Buy stuff you read and enjoy. You don't want to buy single issues? Don't. You don't want to buy comics with lots of blue in them? Don't. I'm fine with all of that. The only time I get a bit bristly is when somebody tells me I'm Comics' Great Satan because I personally didn't deliver them something that they wanted. Life is full of these little disappointments, right? Mick and Keith wrote a song about it. You can't always get what you want, and it's honestly not my fault.

RICHARD: Well, I want monkeys. Sky Ape vs Rex Mantooth. Talk us through the battle, and tell us who'd win.
LARRY: Oh, stop. Talking monkeys is talking monkeys. You can't get me to choose one over the other. I love both of them equally.

RICHARD: Larry Young, monkey lover?
LARRY: Who doesn't love our friends the monkeys? And if one of 'em beats up zombies and the other flies around in a jetpack, so much the better. There but for the grace of God go we.

RICHARD: Hell, I'm sure some of them were drinking down the pub on Thursday. One of them, through semi-advanced sign language between vodka banana splits, asked me to ask you "Do you find your creators sell out before their books do?" Any idea what he's on about, apart from being a smart-arsed monkey?
LARRY: I'm honoured to have a bunch of talented friends, and sometimes we get together and put on a show. Comics creators are like actors; nobody asks Johnny Depp if he's sold out because he did PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN instead of LONE STAR II, right? No one serious, anyway. It's all part of his choices as a storyteller. Did Warren Ellis "sell-out" when he signed an exclusive with DC? Of course not; just part of his choices as a storyteller.

RICHARD: Okay, Diamond solicitations are due out any day now, anything going to surprise us in there? Something to reward those who've made it this far?
LARRY: I'd sure like to tell your folks about HENCH, our June book from animation writer Adam Beechen. If you follow cartoons, chances are you've seen some of Adam's work; he's a prolific writer with many episodes of JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES, TEEN TITANS! and several episodes of the new THE BATMAN to his credit. The art is by an exciting new artist that James Sime turned me on to, Manny Bello. Hench is the story of Mike Fulton, a guy who reluctantly makes his living "henching" for supervillians. But, as befitting an AiT/Planet Lar book, Adam and Manny have turned in a work that goes right up to the superhero cliches you're expecting and takes a ninety-degree turn into CrazyTown. I really think this is a book that's going to be talked about for a long time by fans of superhero comics as well as serious aficionados of the form.

 

 

 

RICHARD: What an opportune moment to show some pictures. Larry Young is publisher of Ait/Planet Lar and writes Astronauts In Trouble. Rich Johnston writes Lying In The Gutters

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

The Waiting For Tommy Archive

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