Dragons, dragons everywhere! The She-Dragon has returned–looking ten different kinds of creepy–and finds herself facing off against a revived Savage Dragon who may be suffering from acute amnesia–or may have Emperor Kurr’s memories restored to him. All the while, there are bad guys trying to use Dragon’s blood to turn some of their B- and C-listers into Dragon-baddie hybrids, and a dark, ominous dragon calling some of the other ones names.
Blog@Newsarama: From a literary standpoint, is this issue kind of a bookend with the beginning of the series? I mean, Dragon is physically Dragon but he has no memories at the start of the issue.
Erik Larsen: That’s kind of the idea–but of course there’s no actual “end” at this point but it is hitting some of the same notes as it did at the start of the series with wildly different results.
Blog@: Does Erik Larsen draw Savage Dragon comics, IN the comics? I mean, that cover looks familiar!
EL: I’d actually done a story where Dragon met a couple creators and they’d talked about doing a Savage Dragon series–it was in Savage Dragon #105, I think, but I wasn’t one of them. I don’t really want to go there. Stan Lee used to insert himself into the comics and that was fun but I don’t want to be a character in my own book. There was a guy who looked somewhat like me at one point but that’s as far as I’d like to go. It could get too self-indulgent and self-referential. I’m not into that.
Blog@: Dragon’s language seems oddly stilted….Is that something we should be reading into?
EL: I’m trying to be somewhat cagey here and hint that either he’s a blank slate or that he’s reverted back to being the guy he was prior to waking up in that burning field 17 years ago. You can read his dialogue either way, I think but the most important thing I wanted to pull off is for him not to sound like he usually does. I didn’t want it to seem like fixing him is easy or he just becomes Superman. I don’t want readers to think he’s invincible–that he can’t be screwed up for good.
Blog@: Anarchy/Dragon seems to have no body hair! What’s with that?!
EL: He’s not becoming Dragon–he’s just taking on aspects of Dragon. Dragon’s son doesn’t really have that either.
Blog@: That makes me think: If all their experiments keep failing miserably, and the Kurr body version of Dragon is brought back from the dead with Malcolm’s blood, does that put a bull’s eye on the boy?
EL: Oh, sure it does.
Blog@: Powerhouse seems pretty defeated here. Is this just another example of your earlier comments that Dragon and the people around him are aging more like real people than like superheroes, and maybe at some point people just don’t have the energy for all that crap any more?
EL: Powerhouse has always had it tough because of his physical appearance and that takes its toll. Because he’s a descendant of a god he doesn’t get much older looking physically, but things still wear on him. He wants respect and at times he’s commanded respect but the others see him as a guy who’s been knocked off of his perch thanks to the advent of the new Overlord and they’re only to willing to needle him a bit now that he’s no longer in a position of authority.
Blog@: Erik, nothing personal…but did you have a big sister who beat you up as a child or something? There’s like ten pages of dudes getting kicked around by girls in this issue!
EL: Readers have asked for me to use more women villains for years and for some reason I never got around to it. Well, now I have. I’ve been making an effort to do more of that. It’s hard to pull off without making the guys seem like bullies but I’m doing what I can. I like that Dart, who’s physically very small and nymph-like, flits about with casual ease like a ballerina and just destroys whoever she’s facing no matter how powerful they are. She-Dragon is another story entirely. At this point she’s a powerhouse in her own right.
Blog@: I kinda like the idea of having Curley (or any of the kids, really) be the ones to put Alison down for the count. How long will the subplot with those guys be running?
EL: My thought was to have them be pretty much permanent fixtures in the book and treat them as I would any of my characters.
Blog@: Is there a different approach to the art taken when you’re drawing Golden Age Daredevil and the Li’l Wise Guys as opposed to the Dragon pages?
EL: Not really. I don’t want those worlds to seem too different from each other. I tend to lean more toward the Frank Miller aspect of my style than the Jack Kirby aspect but since all of my influences have merged together at this point it doesn’t look all that different to me.
Blog@: When you said last month that the She-Dragon’s transformation wasn’t finished yet, I don’t know if anyone had where she ended up in mind. Are there plans in store for her in the near future?
EL: I actually was thinking that it was time to close out her story. I didn’t want her to get killed off but she grew out of her role. Now that she’s in her thirties, she really can’t be that cute little girl who followed Dragon around like a puppy anymore. It was time to bring her story to its end. I’ll touch on her from time to time but I don’t see her playing a major role anymore, which is kind of strange in a way because she took over the title at one point.
Blog@: Is one of the nice things about working on your own, creator-owned title that you can DECIDE to retire a character? When Geoff Johns ended The Flash and gave Wally West that terrific send-off to fatherhood and family, it lasted like fifteen minutes because the publisher wasn’t on board…!
EL: Yeah, that is a big part of the beauty of it all. As much as a creator at Marvel or DC might try to “make that character their own” they will never be THEIR character and they can NEVER fully control that character’s
destiny. Fans used to use the term “Bucky dead” to mean a character who was actually dead and would never come back–ever. Now that term is meaningless because Bucky has been brought back to life like so many other characters. Between Aunt May, Norman and Harry Osborn, Colossus, Jean Gray, Bucky, Superman, Batman, Captain America, Robin and all the rest–it’s no wonder that fans get tired of feeling lied to and jerked around.
But that’s the nature of the beast. The companies have this corporate mandate to make money and administrators and creators get shuffled back and forth in an effort to do that. And I’m not saying “these fuckers are evil” but it does make it difficult to have any kind of story integrity when the next creator in line is rubbing his hands together, anticipating the chance to undo everything the last guy did.
That doesn’t happen with me. Love it or hate it– there’s nobody in line who can put a lie to anything I’ve done and dig up any characters I’ve bumped off.
Blog@: So…how many Savage Dragons are there right now? And is there like a Dragon Equilibrium in the universe where one has to blow up or become human in order for another one to show up?
EL: That’s what we’ll be exploring in the upcoming Dragon War. Up until this time we’ve seen two—our hero, who’s not in his right mind, and one from an alternate earth called Darkworld. Now, there are other characters who have sported fins: Malcolm, Mutation, Virus and Flash Mercury among them but they’re not Savage Dragon, strictly speaking. With Dragon’s blood being passed around like candy on Halloween things will be different over the next few months but if one was to strip away all of the pretenders, there are really just two Savage Dragons—the original and this alternate version.