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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:


I first interviewed Larry Young, head honcho of AiT/PlanetLar, back when I worked for Movie Poop Shoot. He was an easy subject, free and easy with his opinions and gregarious with his humor. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Larry again. Five years have passed, and nothing has changed about the man. Except for that one particular detail he and wife Mimi added to the mix last year…

MM: You had your first kid recently- how's that going? Getting any rest?

LY: I'm glad I was 43 when he was born, instead of 23 or even 33. I have a real centered outlook that I didn't have when I was younger. Whether this is because of him coming along or not is sort of a chicken-and-the-egg question, though. It *is* real interesting to me that there are few times in your life when you can point to the exact second when your thoughts changed about things. At 8:30 am on June 24, 2007, my idea of what "a big deal" is became completely redefined. As long as that little dude is OK, everything else can be dealt with.

MM: Does having a child change anything about your philosophy as a comics publisher? Or are you able to keep business and personal life completely separate?

LY: Well, I'm not sure it changes our philosophy about the things we like to put out into the world, and the various tenets Mimi and I hold dear for our company, but having a kid has made me much more efficient in terms of time management for the administrative stuff as a publisher and less likely to blue-sky or daydream when I'm completing some creative work as a writer. I'd much rather take him to the park and run around with a ball than mix it up with somebody on the Internet about how Minx was a noble experiment or the relative propriety about writing comics reviews under an assumed identity on the lawless anonymous highways and byways of the stray ones and zeroes that is the comic book message board zone.

So, yeah, I never was one for mixing my business life and my personal life anyway, but you never know. Walker's been playing around with this rubber tub drain and a square magnet we had, and I started telling him the story about how they met... back on the force in the 70s... one sticks to metal, one sticks to walls... together they fight crime... as SUCTION CUP AND MAGNET! I'll teach him Photoshop and let him play with the idea and that'll be his first graphic novel. :)

I dunno. Maybe it *is* better to keep business life and personal life as separate as possible.

MM: The past year saw the completion of BLACK DIAMOND. One of the most notable things about that series was that you produced it in pamphlet format first, something extremely rare for AiT. Will you continue to dabble in that format or was this the final time?

LY: Well, it's not all that rare, really. COOL ED's and 1959 were monthlies, DEMO ran monthly for a year, of course, and then BLACK DIAMOND. We've checked in with the form every two years or so, but in terms of the resources we have available to us, and just a personal taste for graphic novels, I guess I'd have to say that I prefer GNs over floppies for all sorts of reasons. It's the difference between watching a movie and catching a TV show. When we put out a GN it's an event, and the thing's in print for as long as it's contracted for. That's sort of a big deal for a small press like ours with a hundred titles available. We take the economic risk so the retailer doesn't have to. Our retailing partners and distributor and me are making money today on an idea I had in 1998. By contrast, monthly books have about a five day sales window, on the racks. Sure, a retailer pays his rent with the latest iteration of BATMAN, but no one's coming in to buy DETECTIVE #237 because they read an article about it in VARIETY or online somewhere. But a retailer can get 13 bucks for a copy of, say, WHITE DEATH, just by showing it to the kid who just brought up the latest WALKING DEAD to the counter.

So, yeah, if Mimi and I had old New York publishing money behind us or had a different view of what makes the scene, maybe we'd do more monthlies. But as of right now, I think we're done with the format. But who knows? Comics is an industry in flux, and you have to ride the ups and downs.

MM: The reaction to BLACK DIAMOND was pretty solid. Was it gratifying to see that you could do a book like that and make it work?

LY: Well, sure, it's always nice to have folks appreciate what you do. But I've had ten years to get used to the fact that the books we publish in general and the ones I write in particular are a little on the polarizing love-it-or-hate-it side. I kind of think that's a little funny, myself, because the stuff we do is the most mainstream, high-concept stuff you can think of... in the regular pop culture world. It's only in comics that our stuff would be considered "alternative" and "envelope-pushing" and whatnot. Sure, when the bills are paid with the superheroes, and when Marvel and DC and Dark Horse and Image account for 92% of the sales from Diamond, a book about reluctant astronauts, or a fast-driving dentist, or giant rampaging monsters, or a millionaire talking gorilla with a jetpack, or a World War I story, or a coupla books about baseball, or whatever... yeah, we look nuts.

But the people who love our work really respond to it, so that's awesome. I guess I always say we publish the books for the people who like them, and if someone doesn't like the latest, maybe the next one will be more to their liking. It's not like we're stuck doing issue after issue of GREEN LANTERN or whatever. Little something for everyone, over here, and it was just time for a full-color love letter to the 70s drive-in movies of my youth about an orthodontist getting in an illegal car and on to an elevated highway of the future to go save his kidnapped wife.

MM: Jon Proctor was an amazing find. Will you work with him again anytime soon?

LY: I love Jon's work. He is one bad-ass colorist, and his design theory is just nuts. I'm dying to work with him again. I gotta come up with something that'll do his work justice.

MM: Do you ever get the urge to dive back into the ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE pool? Or are you done with your spacemen?

LY: I always want to do another astronaut book. I have one more big story with the characters in me, but Charlie Adlard's pretty busy lately with his projects. This March is the tenth anniversary of the publication of LIVE FROM THE MOON #1, so you never know. Maybe we'll get the band back together.

MM: There have been some obvious changes at AiT/PlanetLar over the past few years, perhaps the most significant being a reduction in the number of books you're producing. What led to that decision, and do you expect that you'll ever ramp up production numbers again?

LY: Well, we *did* have a kid. It's just Mimi and me over here, and I'm doing a lot of non-comics writing lately. I can't imagine we'll be doing 14-16 books a year like we did a few years back. Just a few big ol' GNs, and a thrashing of the backlist. Since there's no economic imperative for retailers to order our books up-front, relisting MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK when the Disney announcement shines a light on the book makes the retailer the same amount of money now as it would have if it'd been on his shelf last year at this time. And if it was on his shelf last year at this time, and he restocked every time it turned, he's been making money this whole time. Slow and steady wins the race.

MM: The other major change is sort of in the area of identity. I think it's fair to say that writer/artist Brian Wood and your company were fairly synonymous for a few years. What has his departure meant for you personally and for the company? Is it ultimately a good or a bad thing?

LY: I'm not sure there's been any change of identity with the company; what we're about now is what we've always been about: Making Comics Better. Bri sure had a good run here with us in the early days, and personally, I can't wait to have a beer with him on the set of THE COURIERS feature, which starts shooting this spring. I couldn't be happier for him, and for Becky Cloonan, and Matt Fraction, and Adam Beechen, and all the other cats we've first published before anyone else had really heard of them. I guess I feel like we provide the comics industry a farm team, or a feeder league, or, jeez, the powerful third stage of the Saturn rocket that gets the boys to the moon. I fully expect that in a year or two, when Jason (FIRST MOON) McNamara and Matt (THE HOMELESS CHANNEL) Silady are writing CAPTAIN AMERICA and drawing METAMORPHO 2.0 or whatever that you'll be asking me the same question. So, yeah, ultimately, I think it's a good thing, because to the people paying attention it shows we have a really good eye for talent, and Making Comics Better isn't just a marketing slogan. Tomorrow's stars today, and all that.

MM: What is the status on the NOBODY pilot?

LY: ABC Family turned it down, as far as I know. Honestly, I'm the comics guy; I don't pay that much attention to the other-media until it's time to visit the set or buy a ticket. That's all Mimi and our producing partners.

MM: You've had a number of terrific books over the past couple of years that screamed for a sequel, such as MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK. Will we be seeing any followups on the publication schedule ahead?

LY: I can't wait for the next ELECTRIC GIRL book, and I'm sure there's another JAX EPOCH waiting in the wings. I've been talking to Adam and Marc about doing the M.A.N. handbook as a follow-up, but those guys sure are busy now. Those two are another one of our early AiT success stories.

And I'm airing out one of the PROOF OF CONCEPT stories to full size, and, like I said, maybe another astronaut book, if the stars align.

MM: Is AiT/PlanetLar open for submissions or currently a closed shop?

LY: It seems like only writers pitch me, and, since all my friends are writers, we don't exactly need any of those. And artists all seem to want me to OK their 20 volume epic about the reanimated zombie half- monkey astronaut with a jetpack. I mean, just look at what we publish. If you see something there that's a little similar to your project, THAT'S NOT A GOOD THING. We've done it already. It's not marketing synergy; it's repeating yourself, and if there's one thing we do well it's zigging when everyone expects us to zag.

MM: As you move ahead, what matters most to you when you choose to publish a book? Are you concerned most with content, creative team, or the ability to draw interest from other media?

LY: Me, I just like to see a quality story, well-told, by creators who are psyched to entertain the audience. All that other stuff takes care of itself.

MM: Just how much consideration do you have to give to the other media question? Is that paramount for a smaller indy publisher like AiT?

LY: Well, we're represented, and I have some pretty good commercial instincts, so there's that. Maybe one out of five of our projects are in some stage of option or development or production or whatever. So I wouldn't say it's "paramount" but it sure is *fun.*

MM: What do you want on your tombstone?



Marc Mason










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