Larry young currently writes the weekly column Loose Cannon for Comic Book Resources. He has contributed the 22 installment True Facts to Savant, a "how-to" column for self-publishing. He also created and writes the Astronauts in Trouble series of publications, along with The Bod for Image comics' Double Image. As if that wasn't enough he's co-publisher of AiT/Planet Lar. I'd like to thank Larry for taking some time and answering a few questions for us.--Scott Eagan
SCOTT EAGAN: I recently finished reading AiT: Live from the Moon, and in each page there is a cinematic feel that cannot be ignored. It seems as if Live From The Moon could just as easily been a movie, or a television show, even a book, so why choose comic books as an outlet for your stories?
LARRY YOUNG: Well, I think we'd need a budget of around $150 million to do a decent LIVE FROM THE MOON flick. It's a lot more economically viable to pay Charlie Adlard's page rates and ask him to draw a guy in a spacesuit hanging on to the back of a running robot than to actually build and light and shoot such a thing with actors, props, and sets.
I'll say with conviction what R. Crumb has said with irony: "It's all just lines on paper." There's a purity of connection with a comic book audience that I imagine is more diluted between an actor and director and their film's audience. I love comic books.
SE: On Method: I once knew this lady who quoted--I think it was Toni Morrison--whenever she talked about the writing process: I do not write, I rewrite, she would say. Whereas Harlan Ellison's theories on process were as simple as: I start at the beginning, and end at the end. How do you go about writing your stories?
LY: I'm more in Harlan's camp. I think about the story I want to tell for so long before I actually sit down to commit it to script form that it's really just like transcribing the voices in my head.
SE: Who's your favorite writer?
LY: I like different folks for different things. I like Jim Thompson for hard-boiled crime stories. Harlan Ellison, for his take on the fantastic. Jon Krakauer's non-fiction adventure stuff is kick-ass. In comics I like Kurt Busiek for the superheroes and Warren Ellis for everything else.
But "favorite writer"? Gotta go with my dawg Shakespeare. It's all about The Bard.
SE: Do you consider what you write to be art, or entertainment, or both, and why?
LY: I'm just trying to tell a rippn' good story the best way I know how. If folks are entertained, right on. If they think it's art, God bless 'em. For me, I'm just telling a story.
SE: The Bod seems to test your range as a writer, moving away from the more action adventure-slash-science fiction stories of AiT, to a cautionary tale about Hollywood. Was it difficult making that kind of transition?
LY: For me, not at all. For folks following my stuff? Maybe. But this was always part of the plan. AiT: LIVE FROM THE MOON was a straight-forward science-fiction tale. As close as I could get to a Bruce Wills movie on paper. Gets my name out. AiT: SPACE 1959, the follow-up, was deliberately constructed as a three-part story that, while telling a complete arc, utilized three different story types: first, a film-noir crime kinda thing; second, a super-heroic adventure piece; and third, an inner mytho-poetic monologue. Three different pitches in one at-bat, to prove to those watching I could do different sorts of things. AiT: ONE SHOT, ONE BEER is even another beast, the ensemble-CHEERS-in-space sorta deal.
I have more of a facility for certain kinds of stories, sure; but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try to tackle other things. That's how you get better as a storyteller.
SE: How did you get involved with Double Image?
LY: Joe Casey asked me if I had time to fill out the back half of his two-in-one book with a story. I said sure. It really was as simple as that.
SE: Back to your publishing company AiT/Planet Lar. What prompted your decision to publish graphic novels instead of monthly pamphlets?
LY: I wrote about this pretty definitely last August for the lads at Savant. Here's a link:
SE: In the your Savant Column True Facts #11, you go on to say: "The comic book format in its serialized pamphlet form is a dinosaur whose body doesn't know its brain is dead yet." So why choose to publish The Bod in a serialized format?
LY: Of course, that wasn't MY choice. That's how Image publishes comics... I want to see my work under an Image logo, I play by their rules.
SE: Does this now mean that you might consider publishing a monthly through AiT/Planet Lar at a later time?
LY: No. Our business plan is different from Image's, as you might well imagine.
SE: What are two comics currently being published that you think deserve more attention?
LY: Paul Grist's KANE from Dancing Elephant and Gary Spencer Milledge's STRANGEHAVEN from Abiogenesis Press. Both of these are incredibly satisfying reads.
SE: You've added the reprints of Warren Ellis's Come In Alone, column, and Darick Robertson's Space Beaver, is there anything else we can expect to see form AiT/Planet Lar in 2001?
LY: Oh, yes. Warren's NIGHT ORBIT collection will be out; SKY APE: WAITING FOR CRIME is on the horizon; Steven Grant's WHISPER OGN; another FOOT SOLDIERS volume, at least; Brian Wood's follow-up to CHANNEL ZERO, called CHANNEL ZERO: THE WALK; another AiT book from me and Charlie, and a few other things that I can't talk about yet as we haven't signed any contracts. I'll give you a hint, though... one's a superhero thing and another's a licensed book, two sorts of projects you'd think I ordinarily wouldn't have anything to do with.
SE: And Lastly, you've made your views on the comic industry quite clear in your column Loose Cannon for CBR's website. The one I'm thinking about specifically is Issue 6 One Last Adventure, where you liken the industry to a cat on its last legs attempting to go home. So I guess in closing, with all the talk about comic activism--which I don't remember being around five years ago--do you think it's actually helping, or more to the point, how have you seen it helping the industry as a whole?
LY: Sure, it's helping; I'm not sure I can quantify exactly how, other than many more people are being exposed to quality comics now than they were five years ago. And that can't be a bad thing.
For more information on AiT/Planet Lar you can visit their website at http://www.ait-planetlar.com.
For more information regarding Larry's views on the monthly pamphlet check out http://www.savantmag.com/12/true12.html
You can find Larry's weekly column Loose Cannon at http://www.comicbookresources.com it appears every Friday.
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