Posted 26/11/2013 by Brainfreeze in Comic Cons

F.A.C.T.S. 2013: Interview met Erik Larsen (The Savage Dragon, The Amazing Spider-Man, Supreme)

Erik Larsen was one of the biggest comic guests at F.A.C.T.S. 2013. He’s well-known as the creator of The Savage Dragon, a series he started in 1992 and both writes and draws up to this day (something you rarely see in the American comic book medium) and worked as a writer/artist on Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine, Fantastic Four and Nova, DC’s Aquaman, Extreme Studios’ Supreme and much, much more. He was one of the seven founders of Image Comics in 1992, and held the position as Image’s publisher from 2004 until 2008. Brainfreeze caught up with Larsen at F.A.C.T.S. and you can read our interview below, in which we ask him about the Savage Dragon’s new direction, the state of the industry, digital comics and creator-owned versus corporate-owned comic characters…

BF: Savage Dragon “died” a lot of times. What makes this time so different than the others?

EL: The next time Savage Dragon dies, it’s for good. I won’t say what happens in this story (Savage Dragon #192, out now). But next time it’s for good. I’ve pulled the rug from under the people and did things they didn’t expect. But next time for sure!

savagedragonobamaBF: You don’t avoid any controversy in The Savage Dragon. You write about politics, gay marriage, under-aged sexual relations, … Is there any theme you find off-limits?

EL: It’s anything goes. There is stuff where you think this is just boring. Like “who wants to do a fishing trip!” That’s visually not interesting, nor storywise. That’s one reason I won’t take a specific theme. In terms of the other stuff, if it’s a good story I will think about it. People may say: “you aren’t going to do a story about necrofilia”, for example. And I would go: “Hmmm… let me think about it!” If I find a good story where it fits, maybe I’ll go there. But I won’t  start from the point where I start with necrofilia and work around that, but if it fits the story I’ll use it. Anything can be interesting if you do a good job with it. It’s just finding the story to tell in the midst of all that. That’s the challenge in all that.

BF: Savage Dragon received an animated series in the mid 90s. With all the interest Hollywood seems to have in comic book adaptations today, how would you feel about a live-action Savage Dragon movie?

EL: I’m gonna do something. There is definitely stuff going on. There are people that are knocking on the door saying: “let’s make this happen”. But when it totally does happen, you can’t say …

BF: Well, if it comes to that, who would be your ultimate dream actor to play Savage Dragon in a movie adaptation?

EL: At this point I don’t have an answer for that. Until recently I was leaning towards a guy named Mark Valley (Human Target) … because facially he looks like he could pull it off. But part of that is that Bruce Willis is the go to guy for that. At this point Bruce is getting kind of old. And when you’re starting a Savage Dragon thing you want to start at the beginning and not at the end. And it’s tough to go with a guy who’s in his late fifties by now. So you don’t really have many places to go with that.

BF: You’ve been publisher at Image Comics for a while. What’s your opinion about the industry today? And how do you see comics evolve as a medium?

SavageDragon-GodEL: I think that what we will see happening over time, is that when things go on that people will see the potential of digital. Something that hasn’t really been explored nearly enough. Right now, it’s sort of been “let ‘s reprint what we’ve already been doing”. I think that, eventually, what we’re gonna get is that you get a digital comic and when you’re gonna click the word balloons will disappear so you can look at the art. You click again and the colors disappear so you can look at the black and white line art. You can peel of that layer and see what the pencils look like. To be able to go behind the curtain and see the plot or the script that the writer wrote and the artist worked from. I think that those are the sort of things that could be fascinating for someone on the creative end of things. People constantly ask things about the proces. You can show the “behind the scenes” immediately. The best thing about digital is that there’s no cost, like you have with the other stuff.  With print you can’t really show that many steps. Because suddenly your 20 page comic would become a 100 page issue. It would be cost prohibitive to print a 100 page comic each month. When you do it digitally there aren’t any costs at all. It’s just a matter of scanning and describing the process. It’s just one of the things that potentially could happen with it.

So when a character is referenced it would be nice to go, you know, Dragon is fighting Mako here. They are talking about the last time they fought. And then to be able to click on that and buy the issue… That would be really convenient. The nice thing about digital is that all the back issues are readily available. Or a button that says “complete my collection”. Just like you can with an album. You buy one or two songs and decide that you should have bought the whole album. You can do that with iTunes already. Were getting there. It’s gonna take somebody to finally go: “I guess it’s digital and it’s here to stay”. And it has the potential to do something else with it…

savagedragonBF: So Image Comics is going to have an awesome digital platform?

EL: Oh, I think so. I think that it comes from creative people. Creative people have creative ideas. There is just a lot that can be done there. It could strive.

BF: In US comics you’re pretty unique with your one-man run on Savage Dragon. Here in Europe stuff like that is more common. Can you explain that?

EL: Most comics in America are work-for-hire. Most people don’t own their own characters. Because of that they don’t have the investment in those characters that they would have otherwise. And at the same time the publishers can go: “this artist is falling behind”. It’s easier to replace an artist that’s falling behind when they don’t own the characters. It’s really easy to go “let’s get another Spider-Man artist because Todd McFarlane can’t get his act together”. In Europe or on Savage Dragon here is the guy that created and owns the character. And isn’t about to let someone else touch it. It’s this guy or no one at all. I would like to see more of that. I like to see more people be on a book that are essentially married to the book and commited to bring us more adventures. I don’t think that it’s likely to change in the United States at Marvel and DC. The only place were that happens is at companies like Image where you own your characters and do what you want with them.

savagedragon_makobiteBF: In Belgium we have Spike and Suzy..

EL: I don’t know that one.

BF: Are you familiar with the Franco-Belgian comics scene?

EL: Tintin is big over there. Everybody knows Tintin. And The Smurfs. But we really didn’t get the comics. The cartoons were popular. But I guess that most people don’t know that the Smurfs started out as a comic book.

BF: Spike and Suzy is pretty old and had a very long run here. It still does. But when the creator died he had some very strict rules about what can or cannot be done with the characters. Do you have something in your will for Savage Dragon?

EL: Once I die? I don’t think I should…Well at that point it’s: “I don’t care”. I’m out of this Savage Dragon business at this point. If my wife or my kids want someone else to work on it: have at it guys!

BF: Thank you for your time!

The Savage Dragon #192 is in stores now. Next month, the series will undergo a radical change and a “new beginning” with The Savage Dragon #193.


The Savage Dragon #193 bij archonia.com

The Savage Dragon volume 1 – Baptism of Fire TP bij archonia.com

Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six Prem HC bij archonia.com