ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE Return At IMAGE

"Astronauts In Trouble" cover by Charlie Adlard
Credit: Image Comics
Credit: Image Comics

Seen Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, and consider yourself to know how man made it into space? Well, you only know half the story.

This Wednesday, The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard and indie press pioneer Larry Young's early 2000s series Astronauts In Trouble is coming back into print. Re-serialized as a monthly series with new covers by Adlard and new lettering by Comicraft, Astronauts In Trouble was originally published by Young's AiT-PlanetLar company, which fostered early works by some of today's top comic stars like Rick Remender, Becky Cloonan, Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon and Brian Wood.

Spanning from the 1950s to the near future, Astronauts In Trouble tells the story of secret moon races, hot shot pilots, space bars and a critique on the media ala The Newsroom. Newsarama talked to Young about the series finding a new home at Image and what it means for the series and the publishing company it helped found.

Newsarama: Larry, how did Astronauts In Trouble land at Image?

Credit: Image Comics

Larry Young: Rich Starkings of Elephantmen and Comicraft fame is a very good friend of mine, and he had the idea that since Astronauts In Trouble is the book that brought Charlie Adlard to Robert Kirkman's attention and got Charlie in to The Walking Dead, that maybe a remastered version of the early classic would find a new audience at Image. He pitched that to Eric Stephenson, who agreed immediately. Honestly, I'm just talent on this one. 

Nrama: Is Charlie or any of the other artists involved doing any new work for this re-serialization?

Young: Charlie is doing new covers, and Rich and JG and the Comicraft team are relettering and doing graphic design so it doesn't look like some writer in his house is doing production.

Nrama: Do you have any plans to do new Astronauts In Trouble stories at some point?

Young: Well, you never say never, right? I know what happens in Astronauts In Trouble: Citizen Dave and maybe that will happen, but Charlie has a lot of demands on his time and I don't want to do it with anyone other than him. Go camping with me and over S'mores and the campfire I'll tell you what happens when Dave is President.

Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: What does this mean for your company, AiT-PlanetLar?

Young: We haven't published anything since my son was born, and he's eight, now. AiT/Planet Lar is just a holding company for my IP, now. It was always designed as a creator-driven thing; we contracted with creators for five years. We would thrash your project like it was one of our children  for five years and you could re-up or take your thing to another, bigger publisher. It was yours; that was the point. I never understood when observers of the scene would say “Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan Are Taking DEMO To DC” or “True Story Swear To God Is Going to Image” because all I could think was of course they are. That's the point of creator-owned projects, to do what you will with it. I can't think of a better illustration of the idea that Astronauts In Trouble is flying under the Image banner now, myself, and I couldn't be happier. They're awesome.

Nrama: For a time, you were front-and-center when it came to creator-owned comics and helped start the careers of Matt Fraction, Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba and others. Can you talk about your decision to step back from publishing in those intervening years?

Young: My wife just had a kid, and we started a family. AiT/Planet Lar was always a one-man shop, and I just wanted to play with my kid and make sure we raised a tax-paying citizen. Comics would just have to struggle on without me. He turns eight this month, and has got friends of his own and opinions and tastes and whatnot, and even though I drive an SUV now, seems like it's OK for me to dip my toe back in it. I've always been writing, but it has more of my attention, now.

Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: If I may ask, what are you up to now professionally?

Young: Just slumped over the keyboard.

Nrama: Some AiT-PlanetLar titles have seen print elsewhere, but others -- those you've written and those by others -- has remained out of print and in high demand. Could we see some of those back to life as Astronauts In Trouble returns this month?

Young: I think the only book of mine that is out-of-print is True Facts but it's getting reprinted in the back of the Image edition of Astronauts In Trouble , mainly through the championing of it by retailer Mike Wellman and the Swiss army knife of comics, Rich Starkings. I am humbled by how much those two guys like that little confection, that started out as a self-defense mechanism for me personally because I just didn't want to answer the same questions over and over by email. I really like that little tome, because people run across it and are inspired by its message, even if they don't want to do comics. It's sort of a little DIY bible you can apply to any endeavor, and I love that folks embrace it like that.

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