Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Larry Yakata

Hoo boy, this has been a looooong time in coming. Forget recent blogging delays - this subject came up on Twitter back in FEBRUARY. I promised myself I would write about it in more depth one day. Well, it's now June, so maybe I ought to get around to it.

It all began with a discussion with Igadevil about those Ultraman comic books that came out from Nemesis Comics (Harvey) in the 1990s. They were pretty crazy - especially the "regular" series (it, uh, included a -1 issue) which I didn't follow. I seem to recall that I asked Iga if Dwayne McDuffie wrote that series as he had the earlier mini-series (Ernie Colón being the artist on all of it). No, it turns out the regular series was instead written by Larry Yakata.

Who in the world is Larry Yakata? It's a question no one has cared to ask, apparently. But I did, especially since he got a gig writing for a long-established company on a licensed property. There had to be more to this "Larry Yakata" than just a handful of Ultraman comic books.

Well, the GCD doesn't have his Ultraman stories logged, but it does have an overview of credits for the mysterious Mr. Yakata. Most of it is Conan for mid-80s Marvel. That was...unexpected. There's also a story (fill-in? miscredit?) for a YOUNG MASTER comic primarily written by Larry Hama. That indicates my original line of thinking. I suspected Larry YAKATA was really Larry HAMA working under a thinly-veiled pseudonym.

That didn't really explain the Ultraman thing. Though Hama is identified heavily with G.I. Joe, Ultraman doesn't seem up his alley. Besides, the stories just felt so out there for Hama. I let my mind wander a bit about it, especially the idea that Yakata might have gotten the assignment because of a connection to the prior writer. That was when it clicked for me.

There is a known writer out there with a connection to both Dwayne McDuffie and Larry Hama. He has written about the influence Hama had on him at Marvel, and I could believe he adopted the "Larry Yakata" nom de plume in tribute to him. He was friends with McDuffie and was even an early part of Milestone Media. I could absolutely see McDuffie recommending him as his replacement.

I'm talking about Christopher Priest, though I believe he was still going by "Jim Owsley" professionally at the time. Now, Priest is definitely the sort of guy I could see writing those wacky Ultraman comic books and Conan stories, too. Does that mean he is, in fact, Larry Yakata? I don't know, but he seems the likeliest candidate at this point.

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