For Tommy: Erik Larsen
is really about giving creators a chance to do things for
themselves--if a creator bring us an uncommercial book and
it fares poorly--are WE to be blamed? I think the creator
needs to take some responsibility for their own success. We
take a small flat fee off all of our titles. A person who
sells a million copies puts as much money into Image as the
guy who sells 5000. You're not punished because of your success.
We do the same work for both books--why should we get more
money from the more successful creator?
same front--IF we start fronting money--it would not be unreasonable
to expect something MORE in return. If I'm risking thousands
of dollars on a book I'm going to want a piece of the action.
I think, ultimately, that the standard Image deal is a better
deal--but a second deal is not impossible in the future. I
know that there are folks here that would like to make that
Does that include yourself, or are you more minded towards
the classic model?
ERIK: It does not include me. I like the sink or swim
aspect of the Image model--take the risk--reap the rewards.
Creators have become incredible wimps recently--they're too
timid to take any kind of risk. Image was formed by six guys
with balls the size of grapefruits--and it paid off.
I've got to agree, it's an admirable trait of the company.
A structure that ensures the fruits of labour are enjoyed
by the workers, coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit of
capitalism. Do you believe the Image model could (or should)
be applied to other industries or economies?
ERIK: That's not for me to decide. It works for me.
Shame. I'm sure Tony Blair and yourself could have fun chats.
Proponents of the old model, Marvel and DC have recently proven
adept in tapping into the fanboy mentality and rocketing certain
titles to the top of the chart - a place they may not have
been for years. Image on the other hand have proved particularly
lacking in this ability. The Image team book recently announced
seems like a long overdue answer to this - seems a bit of
a no-brainer. Why has this kind of project taken so long?
ERIK: It was something I've wanted to do for years
but it took being in charge to really get that going.
Are you expecting this to be a 'big existing talent' book
or something to launch fresher faces?
ERIK: Initially, established talent--but we'll see.
I don't think it makes a lot of sense to launch this book
with unknowns but we're expanding our content. A lot of books
are adding back up stories by new talents, using Savage Dragon
as a model--it's not inconceivable that fresh new creators
will come to the forefront in this sort of apprentice program.
I'm glad to hear that. Savage Dragon has been performing the
kind of role Cerebus once did, it seems, targeting the die
hard fans with new material from creators they may not know,
and giving a real bang-for-the-buck experience (as if Savage
Dragon wasn't enough). I've been a reader from day one, and
it's one of the few titles that I don't just read in trade
paperback, for this very reason. Do you feel Image has a duty
to foster fresh talent in this way, in the way Dave Sim clearly
did? Or is it just a way of giving the reader more for their
ERIK: All of the above. iI's good for those who want
to break in. There is nothing that helps a new guy grow more
than seeing their work in print. Seeing work in print helps
them to SEE where they need improvement and allows them the
chance to work out the bugs. If they were thrown onto a new
title and they needed to carry it right out of the gate, they
might not be able to--but this gives them a place to grow
and learn and mature without the pressure of having to sell
the book. That, and it adds value to the books themselves.
It's a situation where everybody wins. The fans get more comic
book for their money and new creators get a chance to show
people what they can do.
Marvel and DC are enjoying current success luring in big names
to work on big properties. Is that likely to be Image's way,
or is it to nurture fresh talent into big names?
ERIK: I think it simply makes good sense to do work
at Image. The big companies get their hooks in you. Image
doesn't. If somebody wanted to develop their own property
that could be turned into a movie, TV show, cartoon, toy or
whatever--where can they take it? Most companies want a piece
of the rights--a piece of the action. Image lets creators
own their creations and keep ALL of their rights intact--ALL
of them. John Romita Jr. is doing the Gray Area at Image--and
already there is interest in this property. In a few years
time a Gray Area movie could be a reality. At any other company,
that company would be seeing a big chunk of that money-at
Image--we take NOTHING. For a big name creator that wants
THAT--we're pretty much the only show in town.
the place the big guys go when they want to do their own thing
and own it outright. In addition to that--we develop a LOT
of incredible talents and that will continue--that will grow.
So BOTH, in a way. The attraction is creative freedom and
complete ownership for the big boys and the opportunity to
work at a terrific company and get your story told for the
others. It's just a great place to be doing comics.
Larsen is Publisher of Image Comics and writes, pencils and
inks Savage Dragon. Rich Johnston writes Lying In The Gutters
and Holed Up.
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