Making Comics Better | Larry Young

The Astronauts in Trouble author talks what’s coming next from his publishing company AiT/Planet Lar in advance of a pair of St. Louis appearances on Free Comic Book Day weekend.

 

Larry Young, creative force of nature and general raconteur, is coming, St. Louis. One half of the team behind comics publisher AiT/Planet Lar, Young will be in town participating in both a talk at Lewis and Clark Community College on April 30th and a signing at Star Clipper Comics on May 1st to celebrate Free Comic Book Day; see below for further details. AiT/Planet Lar has published such books as the company’s eponymous Astronauts in Trouble series (by Young and Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard), Brian Wood and Rob G’s The Couriers, Mike Brennan’s all-ages adventure Electric Girl, the hair-raising Black Diamond, and Tom Beland’s Eisner-nominated real-life romance True Story, Swear to God. PLAYBACK:stl had a chance to have a conversation with Young about the past, present, and future of AiT/Planet Lar; the publishing career of the cutest toddler ever (Young’s son Walker, whom he refers to as “Little Dude”); and Doctor Who and philosophy. | Erin Jameson
 
Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to publish for Little Dude?
 
Nothing, yet, but Alex Grecian and Kelly Tindall’s Squeak!, our upcoming book about a rat who gets bitten by a werewolf, will be a fun book for him to enjoy. Walker and I went to the playground with Mommy after going to the zoo one day, and he told me a story called No, Giraffe! while in the little-boy swing that I think we might make up as a book, but that’ll be maybe an edition of ten or twenty for him and his friends. I really like the book-making abilities Apple has and the other after-market things like www.blurb.com and Lulu and whatnot that really puts bookmaking into the average person’s hand.
 
What do you think about digital comics? Now that you’ve been pulled, kicking and screaming, into the I-age, would you consider developing for that?
 
I haven’t really looked into digital comics that much yet, although, like you said, getting the iPhone was a real eye-opener for me and I should have the 3G iPad by the time I see you in Saint Louis. But I’m of the mind that comics are comics, you know, no matter the delivery system. Whatever gets the words and pictures to your brain is comics, to me, and I don’t draw any lines in the sand myself and I never paid much attention to lines in the sand other people drew, figuring that was for them and not for me.
 
What do you guys have coming out in the near future?
 
In addition to Squeak!, July will see Dennis Hopeless and Kevin Mellon’s Lovestruck and Mark Altman, Steve Kroziere and Jason Baroody’s Elvis Van Helsing. I’m working with an exciting young writer named Mark Espinosa on a long-running story I’ve been thinking about, and of course there’s the projects here and there in various states of completion that may or may not see the light of day. And of course there’s all the other-media stuff we have in the pipeline, like the movies and TV shows and novels and screenplays and sugared-cereals.
 
OK, not the cereal, but you get the idea.
 
How about long-term goals? Where do you see the company in three years? Ten years?
 
The economy is so broken that I can’t answer this question. I could be living on the moon on a base of my own construction, or in a refrigerator box over a heat grate downtown. Three- and ten- years out will probably end up somewhere in-between, if nothing if not statistically.
 
How did your company get started?
 
I cracked open an Anchor Steam, waved it above my head and said: "Now, we are publishers."
 
What’s with the name?
 
Simple, really: I used to play the B-52s song "Planet Claire" quite a lot and really loud at all hours out the window of my dorm room when at college. People started calling me "Planet Lar" and when I was doing my acetate-covered comic book review zine in the mid 90s it seemed like a natural name for it. Like The Comics Journal‘s Tom Spurgeon wrote, "…named for the flagship title Astronauts in Trouble and, one would guess, the idea of a planet centered on Larry Young," that’s not so far wrong. I wanted to call it "Big Time Comics" but Mimi nixed it and said we should leverage the small amount of notoriety I’d built with the "Planet Lar" name already.
 
What’s the driving philosophy behind AiT/Planet Lar?
 
We call it:
Intelligent but not High-Brow
Boisterous but not Obnoxious
Intimate but not Cloying
Humorous but not Slapstick
Unconventional but not Obtuse
…on the website, and it’s hard to improve on. We want to Make Comics Better, by virtue of our being in the scene.
 
What’s the most satisfying part of what you guys do?
 
I like publishing comic books.
 
Doing anything exciting while you’re in town?
 
You tell me.
 
[Interviewer’s note: Bless. Larry will, once again, be giving a free talk at Lewis and Clark Community College (Olin Theatre in Hatheway Hall, 5800 Godfrey Road, Godfrey, IL, 62035) at from 1 p.m-2p.m. on Friday, April 30th and will be doing a signing at Star Clipper Comics (6392 Delmar Boulevard Saint Louis, MO 63130) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, May 1st to help celebrate Free Comic Book Day.]
 
Why did Doctor Who cross the universe?
 
There is a vessel in your world where the days of my life are pressed together like the chapters of a book so that he may step from one to the other without increase of age, while I, weary traveler, must always take the slower path.

 

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