Savage Dragon #156, out this week, was the culmination of not just the last year of storytelling in creator Erik Larsen’s epic superhero saga, but also final and clinching proof of some of the things many fans have suspected since the storyline began in earnest a few issues ago. The issue was essentially one long knock-down, drag-out fight between “our” Savage Dragon and the one who had come here from Darkworld a while back. Then, in the last few pages, there was not one but two major story beats that will doubtless come into play in a big way over the next few months.
After a number of technical problems, I’m going to present my conversation with Erik Larsen largely uncommented-upon, in order to get it out there tonight.
Blog@Newsarama: When scripting a sequence like the one that starts this issue, do you ever worry about the old adage that “every comic is somebody’s first?” You pick up with a line that more or less takes for granted that the reader read last issue.
Erik Larsen: I always keep that in mind and as a reader goes through the issue there are bits and pieces, which help fill them in. There’s not as much as you might get in an ordinary issue but a new reader could get the gist of who’s who and what’s at stake.
Blog@: That said, it should translate really well in the trade because you won’t have that problem of the beginning of every “chapter” recapping the book so far. Is that a factor in your scripting?
EL: I don’t plan for the trade as much as some writers do. I think this’ll make for a pretty great chapter in a book but my primary goal is, always, to make these issues work without the issues around it.
Blog@: What’s interesting is that as insane as Darkworld Dragon sounds, a bit of what he’s saying makes sense. If Darkworld were our home, wouldn’t our Dragon be more or less just like this in a similar situation?
EL: Well, sure. And that’s part of what makes him sympathetic. He thinks he’s doing the right thing. Every character is the hero of their own story. They all feel their cause is just. Both versions of Dragon in this tale have, what they feel is, a noble cause.
Blog@: I can’t tell you how happy I was that you quickly and effectively wounded “our” Dragon so that the blood streak on his face differentiated the two. Was that something you wanted to be really conscious of, going into “Dragonwar”? Being able to differentiate whatever Dragons may pop up?
EL: I had a couple ways of going here and I had briefly entertained the idea of making the fight confusing and its conclusion unclear by making the two indistinguishable from each other but I’ve seen that kind of thing too many times in the past. It’s a standard-issue story to attempt a switcheroo like that and I’m not fond of taking the path well-traveled so I opted to play it straight and make it pretty clear from the start which one was which.
Blog@: Is there a balance to believably writing a dialog-heavy fight scene? These guys talk as much as Spider-Man in a fight, but hardly any of it seems out-of-place.
EL: Thanks for that. I did the best I could with it. The places where it seemed natural to stow things down I laid it on thicker but when things were moving I made an effort to keep it light. I thought I pulled it off pretty well.
Blog@: Throughout this issue, I wondered if Emperor Kurr would ever actually acknowledge his name or whether we’d be kept on pins and needles about it for a while longer–is his “return” a story that you’ve wanted to tell when you first wrote the origin story?
EL: Originally the plan was no never touch on it. I thought it would be cool to have him never find out. But things don’t always go the way I planned them to go. Sometimes it seems like I’m not calling the shots and these guys have a life of their own and I’m just taking dictation.
Blog@: Given Overlord’s more rational approach than his predecessor, is there a chance we’ll have him working on the side of the angels by the time this is done? Or is he the kind of guy to just hang back and take advantage of the situation?
EL: “Side of the angels” is a tenuous thing when you have a number of characters with different agendas. If Overlord saw an opportunity to advance his cause by making an alliance with the authorities of course he’d jump at the chance. If one wanted to take over the world they can do it by force or through channels, which make it appear as though they were chosen for the task.
Blog@: Hmm…it’s interesting; I never thought of the idea that with Kurr’s knowledge of himself, would come knowledge of the culture and, therefore, a weakness for Dragon that we’ve never really had before. Is that the kind of information that’s likely to leak at some point and cause us headaches?
EL: I don’t know about us–but it may be for any number of characters in this book.