As part of our 5th Anniversary we are launching a new feature called "Catching Up With…"
In the course of our 5 years here at AFi we have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of great people in the toy industry. Some we meet at Toy Fair, some we meet at Comic Con, and some we were introduced to by other people. Over the past 5 years things change, people move on, people switch jobs, sometimes companies close down, sometimes new companies are formed. It’s hard to keep track of it all. We thought it might be fun to catch up with some of our old friends and contacts, the people who helped make us who we are and see what they are up to these days. We will be running this feature all week and updates on and off as we get them
For our first entry in our new "Catching Up With…" feature we catch up with former President of McFarlane Toys. I first met Larry 4 years ago when he was on one of my panels at San Diego Comic Con. He did my panels two years in a row, and from what I know of him he is a class act. He answered every question honest and thoughtfully, there was no corporate speak and you really got the opinion that he could make the hard decisions.
Before he started at McFarlane Toys, Larry was one of the pioneers in the self-publishing world. His Beanworld comic features stories about the life and times of the Beans, minimalistic characters which Marder has been drawing since childhood. The stories borrow concepts from various world mythologies, popular concepts of ecology, and pop culture. The first issue was published in 1985, and the series ran 21 issues until 1993.
Let’s Catch Up With Larry Marder….
Name: Larry Marder
Previous occupation in the toy industry?
President of McFarlane Toys: 1999-2007
What are you up to these days?
What did you learn from your time at your old position that you use in your new position?
Not much. I was a cartoonist and an executive in the comic book business before Todd McFarlane asked me to join him on an eight year detour into the toy business. When my work with him and the toy business was concluded, I went back to what I know best: Beanworld– in the world of comic books.
What do you miss about your previous position?
The people in the Tempe office. Ironically, virtually all of them have moved on to new horizons also.
I miss talking and working with the folks at McFarlane Design in New Jersey, particularly Ed and Andy Frank.
What DON’T you miss?
The necessity for running changes.
How closely do you still follow the industry?
I watch from the corner of my eye. If something really cool happens, someone will tell me about it.
What trends in the past 5 years have you been the most impressed/surprised/
The drift towards electronic and digital platforms as things-to-play-with has accelerated and re-inventing the purpose of action figures doesn’t seem to be happening at all. Everyone seems to be making more or less the same sorts of figures as 15 years ago. Clearly innovation is long over due. A new Todd McFarlane needs to arrive out of the blue just like he did.
If you did get back into it what line/license would you love to work on?
I pretty much always liked everything I worked on. I wish I could go back and work on the Hanna-Barbera line with Scott Shaw! again. That feels like unfinished business to me. Same with the REH literary Conan figures.
What does the future hold for you?
FREE Beanworld Action figures have always been a great parody and marketing tool and will continue to be part of my convention set-up. Mass manufactured Beanworld toys….both in plastic and in plush would be a fun thing to do. At this point it doesn’t seem so much question of "if" but of "when."
We’d like to say a big "thank you" to Mr. Marder for being our fist volunteer for AFi’s Catching Up With…."
You can read more about Larry Marder and Beanworld at these links, and you can buy collected editions of Tales from the Beanworld here.
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