Big ups to Gavin Higginbotham, who once again did all the heavy lifting for this month’s Dragon questions. A crippling computer virus took me out of the game and by the time I’m back at 100%, Christmas will have passed. I am therefore going–with an extremely heavy heart, since this was probably the single most exciting issue of the title since we started this column–to go ahead and run his interview uninterrupted by anything from me except formatting. Spoilers on, folks, as this month’s issue was a huge one for Savage Dragon continuity. So huge that even the COVER will be held until after the jump.
Gavin Higginbotham: I think keeping this cover a secret was a brilliant move. When I saw it I literally thought, “Holy sh–!” I knew that this was going to be something special. Was it difficult keeping this to yourself or did you know that it would have this desired effect upon your readers?
Erik Larsen: It’s not hard to keep a secret. There are a few folks I confide in and that’s enough for me. A couple guys in the office see stuff as it’s being put together and other than that–nothing. It was a complicated cover to actually draw. I blew up panels and re-inked them and then combined two separate pieces of art in Photoshop. I wanted the Malcolm face to read like that specific face from #29–and WildStar too. It was a callback and to make it work it needed to look right. It’s a cover that, to longtime readers, means something but it’s a huge spoiler. that in itself is a bit strange because the actual scene is pushed all the way to the last page–so in a way, it’s something of a red herring as well–because the actual book is more about Angel and Mr. Glum invading earth and Kurr murdering everyone on it.
GH: Angel’s costume was a nice touch. Was her wearing a costume inspired by her mother’s a way for her to honor Jennifer? The guilt over killing her when brain-washed, or was it simply inspired by Jennifer’s costume?
EL: It’s a way of honoring her mother–of making her feel closer to her mother. Her mother had a huge impact on her and Jennifer’s death resulted in this girl’s self-imposed exile. Wearing it says that she still loved her mom–despite having killed her.
GH: We finally see the WildStar left in Dimension-X eight years ago in issue 103. It doesn’t look like the years have been kind to him. Perhaps even less so for his companions. Will we be seeing the fates of HotWire and SkyLark? And the older WildStar? It certainly doesn’t look good for them at present.
EL: We will see them at some point, yes. WildStar and company are somewhat tricky to use because they’re not my characters. Yeah, I do have the multi-universe dodge of “this is MY version” but that’s not really playing fair, especially given that WildStar doesn’t have his own book at this point. My dilemma was that I couldn’t age WildStar in a natural way–he simply couldn’t grow old with Malcolm–plus he really shouldn’t be an old man while Malcolm’s a teen anyway. Mickey was a young character to begin with and if anything he’s be in his 30s by now–hardly the guy we saw in the flash forward in #29. That’s why I ended up having Kurr’s attack age people. If I did anything else that scene could never work–not even if Malcolm grew up and had kids because I couldn’t have WildStar grow old!
GH: Toady/Lackey’s compassionate side is given a chance to show through his interaction with Angel and Malcolm. His reprogramming as the loyal servant of Kurr is not complete as he helps out the children. Betraying Kurr probably wasn’t a smart move on his part.
EL: There does seem to be, however, some loyalty Kurr has for his children. Both were spared earlier on. It’s not inconceivable that he might want Malcolm at least, to stay alive. He’s even said things like, “Malcolm will thank me for this one day.” So it’s possible that he wasn’t betraying Kurr but rather doing his bidding by helping insure that Malcolm lived through the chaos.
GH: Kurr’s plan is pretty terrifying. Seeing him look out over the dying citizens of Chicago shows just how far he has fallen from his days as Dragon. If all of the humans really are doomed, it looks like you may have to create an all-new cast from scratch!
EL: It wouldn’t be the first time. Not to be callous or anything but creating characters has never been a problem for me.
GH: Mister Glum and Angel’s relationship is a fun one. Glum’s loyalty and concern for Angel is touching for such an evil bastard. Their bickering is amusing to watch, to the point that you forget that Angel is only 16 and that Glum is in his 40’s. Quite disturbing, really.
EL: Well, don’t forget–Glum comes from Dimension-X–so his “year” is not necessarily the same as Angel’s year. I don’t actually think of him being THAT old.
GH: With Angel’s death, we bore witness to the death of a character we’ve seen since she was an infant. Although we have another version of her still around, it was still harrowing seeing it. This has to be a first in superhero comics, right?
EL: It may be. I’m not really keeping track.
GH: If someone as powerful as Angel can be dissolved by Kurr’s red mist, it doesn’t look good for any character that isn’t a God or alien right about now?
EL: That’s for sure.
GH: It’s been over 14 years since you depicted Wildstar’s flashforward in Savage Dragon #29. How satisfying is it to have been able to have your book coming out this whole time in order to reach that scene? Has such a thing ever been set up that far in advance before? A friend informs me that something similar happened in Cerebus but not that far in advance? It’s truly an impressive achievement.
EL: It’s actually a relief to get it out of the way. It’s been in the back of my head for years. I knew that I needed to work toward that. I brought WildStar and company into Dimension-X because of that scene–because it was THAT WildStar’s vision and I knew I had to pay that off, eventually. At this point the sky’s the limit–I can go anywhere and do anything–there’s nothing tying me down to any specific future and that’s pretty exciting to me. Getting to this point has been a goal for years and with the market being what it is–it was a goal I wasn’t sure I could ever reach. I’m just thankful I was able to pay this off. Unresolved subplots drive me nuts.
GH: Ever since Angel fled with Glum to Dimension-X, her face has been obscured. Captions, shadows, dialogue bubbles… all conveniently placed over Angel’s face. This led to all kinds of speculation that Glum had been turning Angel’s face to resemble his own or some other horror. But nothing seemed to come of it, was there never really something to hide? Or were the readers’ minds just cleverly manipulated by you?