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QRD #75
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about this issue
Featured Band Interviews:
M is We
Record Label Interview:
Records Ad Nauseum
Cartoonist Interview:
Larry Johnson
Touring Musician Interviews:
Chris Brokaw of Lemonheads
Mkl Anderson of Drekka
Nevada Hill of Bludded Head
Phil Dole of Chord
Rainstick Cowbell
Shane DeLeon
Alan Sparhawk of Low
Zach Corsa of Lost Trail
Short stories:
Takin' Care of Business
   by Phil Dole
We'll Be The Last Ones Here
   by Nathan Amundson
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Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
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Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
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Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
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Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
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Larry Johnson
Interview with Larry Johnson creator of Tales of Fantasy
August 2015
larry johnson
Name: Larry Johnson
City: Boston, MA
Comics: Tales of Fantasy
Websites: LarryJohnsonArtist.com

QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?

Larry – I was eight years old in 1962 when I made my first comic strips. I wanted to write stories & had no trouble with the dialogue, but the descriptive language was hard. I found it easier to just draw the people, action, & backgrounds. My first characters were Cloud & Fog (two atmospheric occurrences with faces on them & stick arms) & John Cry Jungle Adventurer. Many other characters followed, including Zooy, a little science fiction cartoon guy who turned out to be my most enduring creation. The following year I was producing my own homemade comic books & over the next decade I completed over 120 of them (including 72 issues of Zooy).
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Larry – I had an older sister so we always had comics in the house – Superman, Uncle Scrooge, Archie, Little Lulu, Patsy Walker – so these were among my early readers. However, the first comic book I bought with my own money was Spiderman #5. At age 9 I had never seen anything like it before & literally read that book to death! It survives in tatters. That summer I also picked up an issue of Gorgo & here was Steve Ditko’s art again! Mr. Ditko was a powerful influence on me & at age 10 I was copying his faces for my own comics. Flash forward to just last year when I sent Mr. Ditko an issue of my small press comic book Tales of Fantasy & received a nice note from him in return! I was thrilled!

QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?

Larry – I assume you mean my first published work. I was 18 in 1972 when I started doing the adventures of Jesse Stuart, a spaceman, in Jim Main’s book *PPFSZT! Mike Tuz had originated the character. (& this is drawing on spirit duplicator masters too!) The following year I came out with my fanzine The Comet which featured, among other things, some of my own comics. Tales of Fantasy was launched in January 1988 (almost totally comics in content) & currently I am working on #70. The main characters that have appeared in TOF are Lew Brown, a reporter, & Madame Boogala, a magical gypsy lady. They are just a few of the people who inhabit the city of Brookston where weird things keep happening. Let me also mention that in recent years Mike & I revived Jesse Stuart & have collaborated on his new adventures.

QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?

Larry – I am biased. I like the 1960s. I think in addition to the revolutionary Marvel Comics & the imaginative DC line at the time, there were so many other publishers coming out with a variety of quality work – American Comics Group’s anthology titles (Forbidden Worlds, Unknown Worlds, etc.), & Gold Key with Mighty Samson, Magnus Robot Fighter, & Space Family Robinson. & I have a special fondness for Charlton Comics with their great editorial freedom (or laziness) that allowed creators great expression – all the ghost titles, Judo Master, Captain Atom, Cheyenne Kid! Then of course Warren published Creepy & Eerie – carrying on the EC tradition (without the Comics Code Authority). I often cite examples from all these comics to my students in my How To Make Comic Books course I teach at my local arts center.

QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?

Larry – Comics are a form of storytelling, a step between the written word & film (think of storyboards). & I love the medium. Regarding the premise of your question, comics are not an exclusive form of storytelling for me. About 15 years ago I started writing short stories (prose fiction) & began a series about an android hunter, “Bart Rover,” that appears periodically in Tales of Fantasy. This is an exercise in describing the action & atmosphere in just words, a real challenge. You can also get into the character’s thoughts & feelings a lot more than in the visual medium of comics. I might add that about the same time I began a dream diary with daily entries each morning (& this too is a writing exercise, acting like a reporter, just describing what I remember from the dream without embellishment). & also now & then I print a “Dream Diary” one-pager in my comic based on these writings. As for just drawing, I have long been in the habit of doing fantasy-themed paintings based on mythology & my own imagination. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Allow me to digress a little here if I may. Comics were a primary interest of mine as a young person, but by high school I started to get interested in all kinds of art. One day (in the ninth grade) two students showed two issues of my Zooy comic (#18 & #19) to our art teacher Mr. Sather. “Why didn’t you show me these before?” he asked. “Because they are not school work,” I replied. He was impressed with my dedication to my own project & from that moment on pushed me into all kinds of art. He didn’t know much about the craft of telling a story in sequential pictures; however he did know about basic drawing skills – anatomy, perspective, light & shadow. He also pushed me into different mediums – paint, ink, plaster of Paris, printmaking, clay, etc. Also I gained an appreciation for all kinds of artists – Goya, Velasquez, Picasso, Jackson Pollack, & others.
Years later I attended art school in Boston & although I still had an interest in comics, I liked painting too & went through a fine arts program. To this day, aside from making comics, I am a landscape painter & nature artist, often doing on-site drawing. These skills actually help my comics work & understanding the environment my characters move through & the concentration on working from life studies in art school is a discipline I try to impart to my comic book students as well. Posing an action figure & drawing him, or using matchbox cars & dinosaurs as models works great for making comics.

QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?

Larry – I used to think they were paths to a career in mainstream comics, but now I would think they are their own unique media. & considering how easy it is these days to come out with a print on demand book on Amazon (& let me do a little self-promo here. I have a 200+ page Best of Tales of Fantasy collection for sale on Amazon. There’s a link to the listing on the homepage of my website). Print services like Ka-blam also offer a quality product these days.

QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?

Larry – 24. I do mine at a local copy shop.

QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?

Larry – Cost? I am at a loss on pricing Mainstream comics because I don’t buy any of the current titles. Small press – it is based on your printing & mailing costs (forget about the hours & hours of work you put into producing them). Consider the fact that I can find reader copies of my favorite comics from my youth in the dollar boxes in comic shops these days, that’s quite a bargain (& it’s ironic that these 40-50 year old comics cost about a third of the current titles).

QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?

Larry – I come out with Tales of Fantasy 4 times a year. Each issue averages around 40-48 pages & I am fine with that. A lot of people are hung up on schedules, & believe me, after a 25 year career in newspaper production I am intimately aware of that discipline. & since I tend to be a little obsessive/compulsive (not a bad thing for an artist) I just “let go” with these time restraints & deadlines for my own work & manage to get a lot done (including painting & drawing too). I must admit that I work part time so I have a lot of time to work on my own projects (& although a commercial art job comes along now & then, I don’t actively pursue that career). I am wary of creators who set themselves up with quotas, to write & draw something every day. Are you always motivated? Are you inspired to create your best work every day? Quality, not quantity! & I might add that I write a lot of scripts for stories during this time too.

QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?

Larry – I’ve done both. For a long time I wrote complete comic book stories in short story format, but just a few years ago I came up with a serial of eight chapters (totaling 138 pages). It was entitled, The Hand  – one of my first forays into the superhero genre about a young man who dons an electronic glove & is addicted to it & experiences some pretty bad consequences. The trick in writing in this long form is that each chapter should sort of stand alone with enough information so you get an idea of the larger plot & a bit of resolution to be satisfying & of course enough teaser to propel you to read the next chapter. I intend to publish this all in one book within the next year, a real “graphic novel.”

QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?

Larry – The bulk of my own experience has been in working in the comic book form. My earliest comics as a kid were in strip form & of course there are two kinds of comic strips (the traditional ones that run in daily newspapers) – the gag-a-day strip (like Mutt & Jeff) & the continued story (like The Phantom). When I do a 20-30 page comic book story I have a story arc in a short story format & the action can play out at a certain pace with little reference to what has occurred earlier as I go along. In a continued story daily strip there’s a certain rhythm to the storytelling with each episode. You need enough reference & foreshadowing each day to keep your readers reeled in. I’ve been reading a lot of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy lately & the stories – read in the daily (& Sunday) installments – come across as very close, with an almost obsessive/compulsive attention to detail. There’s a certain redundancy, an overlap, each day to remind the reader where the story has been to remind the reader what is going on. Now I’ve also been enjoying Sunday comics pages from collections of the history of the comic strip, going back to the turn of the century: Mutt & Jeff, Krazy Kat, Polly & her Pals, Barney Google, & loads of others – all beautiful one page creations. I did a series of one-pagers myself (in the inside back cover of my comic book Tales of Fantasy) called “Space Cat” (you can find these on my website) for a long time. They were surreal wordless fantasy pieces.

QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?

Larry – That’s a hard question because I usually have a number of projects going on concurrently. I would say, however, producing an issue of TOF – let’s say containing about 27 pages of comics, covers, editorial, letters column & filler pages – takes around three months. I don’t really plan on it, but I average a quarterly schedule for my publication.

QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Larry – I would hope I do better, in general. Some of my first homemade comic books go back to 1964 when I was 10 years old. In fact the title of one of my first comic books was Tales of Fantasy. I look at these childhood efforts now with an objective eye & I would say aside from a lot more sophistication in drawing & plotting stories these days, there’s a basic approach I have always had. I may not have been the best artist, however my characters had distinctive consistent looks, enough to tell them apart & the action was always depicted clearly so there is never a question as to what is going on. & the stories made sense, there’s a problem & there’s a solution at the end. I was emulating the comics I read as a youth created by masterful storytellers like Carl Barks, Chester Gould, Steve Ditko, & Jack Kirby, to name a few.

QRD – Do you do thumbnails?

Larry – Yes, I work from a handwritten script containing little “descriptive” drawings & then do little page layouts (2 ¼” x 3 ½”) in my sketchbook. I scan these into the computer & print them out at a large size so I can trace them onto Bristol Board.

QRD – At what size do you draw?

Larry – 10” x 15”. I reduce these pages down to 5” x 7 ½” for my digest-sized comic.

QRD – What kind of pens do you use?

Larry – I like Micron #8 (for most the lines) & #3 (for the fine lines). When I ink I put a newspaper under the board so the pens can dig into the paper a bit, giving them character. You can erase right away without smearing, & the ink doesn’t fade. I also use Sharpies for the large black areas (& sound effects like “SLAM” & “CRASH”) & lately I’ve been using some cheap Sharpie knockoffs from the local dollar store that work just as well.

QRD – What does your workstation look like?

Larry – A mess! Well, I straighten it up when not working on comics pages. I have a flat kitchen table in my studio that I draw on. I used to prop up my board, but now I use a horizontal surface. My pens & pencils are in a pile to my right, & folders to my left. When working on a comic I have my completed pages in a chair next to me so I can refer to them & I have plenty of reference material strewn about, including print outs from Google searches (actors, scenes, buildings, etc.), comic books I refer to, & a number of little “toys” used as models for my drawing – action figures, horses, cars & other vehicles, dinosaurs, etc. & I have a mirror propped up before me as I draw, a handy item for I sometimes need to get an exact facial expression or hand position (Disney animators did this). & if I can digress a little, I also pose myself for photo reference using the self-timer & print these photos out. This is very handy for drawing characters doing various bits of action, including walking downstairs, talking on the phone, drinking coffee, pointing at something, looking at a book, running, etc.

QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?

Larry – I use the computer during various stages in creating a comic, the aforementioned early stage of scanning & printing out my roughs for tracing, & then I will scan in the finished pencils, & import them into WORD to type the lettering (in Comics Sans) so I can hand draw the balloons on them. I then use these print outs as a guide to proportionately draw the balloons on my originals. I dislike the computer oval-shaped balloons. They are limited in layout options I think & there’s a sameness to all these balloons in all the comics these days. I prefer a more individual look conducive to the art by drawing my own balloons. Once my inking is completed I scan all these pages in. I must admit that my scanner isn’t big enough for the 10” x 15” size so I take them to a local copy shop to make reductions first. This actually is a good thing because this process marries up all the blacks. Then I scan them into my own computer, using the tonal adjustment feature to blacken them more & thicken up the lines. This really improves the look of the originals. Next in Photoshop I do all the correction work, including erasing all those little errant lines that go over the panel borders & mistakes I have made. & on occasion I’d forgotten to put in a black area & use the bucket fill to correct that. Then I import these pictures into the same WORD document that I put my penciled pages with the lettering on them. & now I’m just about done. Some publishers use print services by sending a digital file to them, but I print these pages out & create flats & take them to my copy shop to print up my comics by this process. I do the color covers on my own printer at home. There are those who have criticized me for not utilizing the digital print services (& even in a demeaning manner, in my opinion). I’m far from being a luddite & I plan on using these digital services later this year to print a Western comic I am currently working on (in color).

QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?

Larry – Personally I have difficulty reading digital comics on my computer screen, although there is a dedicated & growing audience for them. One of my comic book class students showed me how the pages of the Marvel Comics he subscribes to look on his digital tablet. They looked pretty good – one page at a time. You can also increase the size of each panel to full screen. Impressive, yet this format limits the layout of the two facing pages you get in print. I cite the Classics Illustrated version of War of the Worlds that used the turn the page moment to full effect. Boom! There’s the tripod as a full page, turn the page again & it’s attacking a ship! & then the double page spread in the middle depicting soldiers attacked by the Martians! Granted, you can get the horizontal layout on your screen, but how about on your phone (that’s mighty “wee!”).
Web comics: I have little interest in talking heads, cloned over & over again to make a statement. Doonesbury did it with a lot more flair. I like lying in bed reading comics & it’s pretty relaxing. I can’t handle a device shining at me while doing so. So I must admit enjoying a single panel cartoon or a gag strip on Facebook is fun, but long stories, no. These are my personal feelings, & I have no intention of wanting to sway anyone else. I belong to the UFO (United Fanzine Organization) a group of publishers who trade & critique each other’s publications. It’s been around for decades. I would say a good 90% of the books in I print form, even though a few years ago we voted 85% for admission of digital publications. I have heard from publishers that they are more apt to receive responsive letters of comment from readers of print publications than in digital form & I must confess that when someone sends me a PDF I promptly forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind.

QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?

Larry – I do the majority of my comics in black & white & a very small portion in color. For my inside back cover for Tales of Fantasy I’ve done one page color strips – Space Cat & Dream Diary. & on occasion I have done some color comics utilizing Photoshop for the colors. Jesse Stuart in an issue of *PPFSZT! & a Madame Boogala Strip entitled “Oink” for Dan Burke’s Slam Bang (the latter can be found on my website). I really enjoyed doing these, working up color schemes & tones. One reader said the color of the Madame Boogala story reminded him of a fairy tale & I took that as a compliment. When working in color (coloring line art in my case) you have to be aware of tonal range & contrast, the inherent lightness & darkness scale of each color & use of grays. You want to have your figures stand out from the background. My years as a painter & landscape artist have taught me that. Now this same sort of illusion of form & space needs to be achieved in black & white inked work as well. Aside from all the black & white areas, tonal ranges on people’s clothing & objects can be indicated by the use of dot pattern & cross-hatching. When working in color I am less apt to use those patterns, allowing the color to work as tones, imitating the effect of light & shadow. I really have no preference although the majority of my work has been in black & white. Think of Chester Gould & Will Eisner. Their strips look good either way.

QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?

Larry – To clarify your question, or to tailor it to my experience, let’s concentrate on independent or self-published works. A good writer/artist team up works well & if the artist is also the publisher that’s all you need.

QRD – How do you find collaborators?

Larry – I’ve teamed up with writers & artists whom I’ve known for years through small press publications, pre-internet people like Mike Tuz, Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, Dan Burke, & Perry Lake. Facebook is a good connection for newer folks. I think in the case of the aforementioned people, they are familiar with my characters & concepts & we worked well together.

QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?

Larry – We are all familiar with the traditional comics script – where the dialogue, descriptions & action & background for each panel, each page, is all spelled out. Well, I eschew all of that & instead write more of a “shooting script”. That means just going along without delineating any of those panel & page divisions. I did this for Zero Man (a faux Golden Age hero story from Tales of Fantasy #47). Larry Blake did the art, & he had complete freedom in layout & paging. I included thumbnails of the action throughout the script so he had an idea of how the characters & background should look (I also sent him a lot of reference photos – the story took place in a circus). Mike Tuz writes scripts for me this way & I visualize all his stories in my own fashion. Mike & I worked on a Jesse Stuart story, “A Day At The Zoo” (TOF #60) a few years ago in a unique collaborative way. I wrote a very loose outline of the story with some dialogue & gave it to him for “editing”. Well, he tightened it up, taking the liberty of moving scenes around & combining some of them creating a better product than I started out with. The finished product was much more engaging than my original plot. Sometimes with a good collaborator the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

QRD – Do you think it’s important to have a full story arc completely written before starting to draw?

Larry – I think it’s a good idea in the short story format, let’s say 20-25 pages. I will admit that as a kid I did 98% of my comics page after page, writing my story along the way as I drew it out. You really have to keep a lot in your head working that way. Now, however, in a long form story like the aforementioned Hand serial it wasn’t until chapter 6 that I got an inkling of how to reach a climax at the end of chapter 8. Of course that’s the luxury of having all those chapters to involve you in all that plot development.

QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?

Larry – Steve Ditko. His work has had a profound influence on me. & I’m not so interested in an imitative style of hand gestures & facial features. My comics have reminded readers of Basil Wolverton & Chester Gould, which I think is high praise! Some year ago my work was compared to Robert Crumb. I respect & admire his work a lot, but I felt the readers were referring to a messy inking style (been working on smoothing my lines out in recent years). Recently, however, my story telling approach has been compared to Mr. Crumb’s – pointing out our practice of using seemingly random incidental events in our plotting.

QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?

Larry – My family was always supportive. I am involved in my local art association so the response to my comics has been varied among the different artists. Sometimes people who aren’t particularly into comics have enjoyed my work.

QRD – What do you think of superheroes?

Larry – I’m not much of a fan. I enjoyed the Marvel Comics of my youth & these days I like reading DC comics from the 1960s like Superboy. Among my students in my comic book class we have discussed motivation. Just what would spur on an individual to dress up in a costume & become a self-appointed vigilante? Bruce Wayne & Peter Parker seem to be the only two who have just reason to fight crime, having family members killed by criminals. Throughout my lifetime of doing my own comics I have rarely done a superhero series, but in recent years in The Hand I explored the concept in my own fashion. A young man acquires a cold war weapon, an atomic powered glove that can expel a stunning force through sheer force of will. He dresses up in a costume zapping muggers, but the downside is that his victims suffer brain damage & his actions result in a few deaths & in addition he is addicted to using this glove, which is leaking out radiation resulting in a dangerous burn to his hand. My readers have remarked that this is a unique take on the genre.

QRD – Marvel or DC?

Larry – I’m a DC guy & this is based on my 1960s collecting experience. I can’t speak for today’s fare because I don’t read it. I just think that back in the day DC had a wider range of genres & imaginative concepts than Marvel (which of course is credited for bringing a sense of “soap opera” realism to comics). I like Haunted Tank, Tomahawk, Metal Men, Time Master, Sea Devils, Adam Strange, & Atomic Knights, to name a few.

QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?

Larry – Rawhide Kid. I’ve been studying a lot of Jack Kirby’s Marvel Westerns lately as an approach to emulate for a new western series I’m doing. The Kirby/Lee years on Rawhide Kid stand out for me. He’s a kid, a teenager on the run, a reputation of being a fast gun – & dogged wherever he goes. & much like Spider-Man, he too had an Uncle Ben who was killed. There’s a picaresque sense to his adventures wherever he goes. I would like to emulate that tone of these classic western stories; a young man trying to navigate through this tumultuous time in history, dealing with rough & tumble types in start-up Western Towns, encountering Native Americans, the romance of the west (as I sit here typing this from Boston, MA).

QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?

Larry – I do self-publish.

QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Larry – I don’t attend conventions. I went to some local ones in Boston in the 1980s.
QRD – How do you feel about doing work for anthologies?

Larry – On occasion I’ve done work for a theme assignment comic, for example Mark Innes’ Comic Eye. The theme was personal experience with comic books. I did a strip Not School Work about my experiences in my high school art class. I guess when you are doing your own book you are controlling all the content. In an anthology – it’s the editor’s taste, & some collections are more successful blends than others.

QRD – What do you do to promote your books?

Larry – I don’t do a lot. I put up Facebook notices & get some response. I am also involved with the UFO, a co-op, & trade books with members. I have, in the past, sent comics to review sites but the response has been ZERO in sales & even contact as a result.  I have to be respectful, but these days anyone & his brother can set up a review site & receive loads of comics & books for free. Now, here’s my opinion on this current information age. People are confronted with too many conduits & can’t possibly pay attention to all of them. So much comes along in the steady stream of postings on various sites all the time. Back 25 years ago we had two print review zines – Tim Corrigan’s Small Press Explosion & Mark Gunderloy’s Factsheet Five. Whenever a review of my book appeared in either of them I would get 10-12 orders in the mail the next week. My point is that there’s so much saturation these days, as opposed to a few venues back then. The old timers like myself remember the RB-CC (Rocket’s Blast/Comics Collector). This was a bi-monthly publication full of ads & information for collectors & self-publishers. A 1971 issue notes its print run as 7000. It was the internet of its day & whenever I put an ad in it I got results. Of course at the same time Alan Light came out with The Buyer’s Guide with similar results. I am not necessarily promoting print publications here. It’s more the rhythm of the information delivery. You had a bi-monthly publication you could refer to until the next issue. There it was, at your fingertips. The information doesn’t get buried down the scroll on a webpage, archived in the vast catalog of information each site contains. Your message gets lost pretty quickly unless you are persistent about getting it across – advertising or getting your zine reviewed on a consistent basis.

QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?

Larry – Well, I think my collection The Best of Tales of Fantasy Volume One, as a large size square bound paperback would display well in independent bookstores. Comic shops that have display space for non-mainstream material would be good too. There’s an appeal to an audience that appreciates an individual approach & that’s why I’d say an independent bookseller would do better than Barnes & Noble.

QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?

Larry – My stories don’t necessarily have that “epic” feel that is so well-suited for the big screen (like The Avengers or Iron Man). If anything my close focus stories are more like Will Eisner’s The Spirit in tone. A small film treatment or television series would fit my concepts I think. However, I’d want a tight, small, dedicated crew to honor the integrity of my characters & series. I had a dream about a Madame Boogala television show produced by Disney & they RUINED HER! & without my permission too! In the dream I was about to call my lawyer to defend my copyrighted property when I had second thoughts. “Hmm, Disney will probably pay me big bucks for the rights!” I thought. Would I sell out? Having been the main conduit for my creations & enjoying the freedom of self-publishing for years, would I be able to handle changes a large corporation would inflict on my characters & concepts?

QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?

Larry – Is there a difference? Every book I buy I read! & in recent years I’ve been reading comics like a 10 year old. What does this mean? It means I re-read my comics, my current acquisitions 2-3 times within months of purchase. I am really studying them – the result of teaching my comic book course for the past five years. I am intimate with the craft of making comics. Collector? Well, that’s an offshoot from my reading habit.

QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Larry – This is not necessarily for me, but the digital medium of reading comics on tablets, electronic reading devices is gaining in popularity. There may always be the print medium, but like newspapers the audience is diminishing. Presently I like the print medium. There is the danger of “putting all your eggs in one basket.” You can have a digital file of your collection on your device, but what happens when that device becomes obsolete? I can pick up a 50 year old issue of Batman or Spider-Man & read it – just like that! No device to power up, no batteries, no light shining into my eyes. 50 years from now…?

QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?

Larry – I really like reading the annual Best American Comics hardcover series which features non-mainstream material other than Marvel or DC. Some of these stories are more adult in nature (not necessarily sexy) & experimental in layout. Chris Ware’s work is an example. There are several comics artists telling stories in sequential pictures that go beyond the usual format of mainstream comics. As an obtuse example I would cite Shaun Tan’s (ostensibly) children’s book Tales From Outer Suburbia. These are illustrated stories, some of them in sequential picture form made from collages & other media taking full advantage of the double page spread. Henrik Drescher, who gained his reputation as an illustrator for The New York Times Book Review & Rolling Stone, & who has had a lot of experience as a children’s book artist came out with a unique book a few years ago. This picture book, Turbulence is a story of a man’s journey, starting out on an ocean voyage. This book, utilizing Hindu scripture is a unique experience. Through the use of pen & ink drawings, collage, & even lace work cut out pages (seeing an image on the next page) & tissue paper obscuring the next image this is a highly unique presentation. Is it a comic book? Is it a picture book? There’s a story, but told in a non-traditional way. In my own experience I’ve been working on a series of 5” x 5” cards, each one depicting a random scene of a story from five different points in the action. I may shuffle them one way to tell a story or re-order them to tell another story. My point is that non-traditional experimental work is out there & I’d like to see more of it.

QRD – Anything else?

Larry – If you’ve read American Artist Ben Shan’s book The Shape of Content you are aware of his exhortation for each artist to have well-rounded experiences in the world. He should work at different jobs & travel & experience all the art he can. I would recommend comics artists not to be so insular in their focus, just paying attention to their favorite titles & watching superhero movies & TV shows. For example I am fond of opera, especially Verdi’s works – Rigoletto, La Traviata, It Trobadour, etc. How can I translate that feeling & tone of those presentations into my comic book work? I paint. I do on-site landscape drawing & these two disciplines inform my composition, drawing, & tonal work in my comics as well. I had a small role in a play last year. I played a snooty waiter in a restaurant. Acting is something I haven’t had any experience in since the sixth grade. When working on this role, a character completely different from my normal every day self, I was thinking of how I develop an individual character in a comic book. My point is to have different kinds of experience & be open to new things. Your comics will benefit as a result.