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Waiting For Tommy: Erik Larsen
By Richard Johnston

ERIK: We'll see.

Image 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?

On that 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 happen.

RICH: 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.

RICH: 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.

RICH: 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.

 

SAVAGE DRAGON: A TALK WITH GOD TPB

RICH: 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.

RICH: 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 money?
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.

RICH: 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.

We're 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.

Erik Larsen is Publisher of Image Comics and writes, pencils and inks Savage Dragon. Rich Johnston writes Lying In The Gutters and Holed Up.

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

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