millarworld.tv Comics Creators

Reading Savage Dragon

#1

Hey folks,
This thread could quickly disappear, but it’s a subject I’ve wanted to talk about for a while and know there’s a one or two on here who are loyal fans to this book, so I’ve started this thread and I’ll see where it goes.

Why a full thread and not just the ongoing comics or other comics threads?

Really because a general topic before I delve into any specifics, and this might be a bit too long and sporadic for single posts.

The timing of this is pretty coincidental, I’ll explain why.

Savage Dragon has been a book long championed by Vince B on the 11 o’clock comics podcast, but in the last year or two he’s turned up the focus on it and the other co hosts have started reading it again.
I’ve been meaning to pick it up for quite some time but couldn’t find the right jumping on point, as it sounded like I missed out on a lot of good stuff.

They’ve said that Larson is giving increasingly less of a fuck and has been putting out a no holds barred anything goes book for a couple of years now - mainly due to so few readers that the controversy seems to escape the attention of the bedwetters on social media, and it goes under the radar.

I didn’t like Savage Dragon when it came out. I didn’t really like any of the Image books back then, part teen snobbery on my part.

I picked up the first omnibus a few years back, really struggled to read it. It was a lot of punching and I got about 10 issues in and sold it on eBay again.

Some serendipity recently with a lot of chat on 11 o’clock comics, bit of chat on here and a comixology sale, selling each issue for 69p, combined to make me take the leap.

I picked up a couple of random issues, read them, thought they were fantastic, and decided to go back further and I found the kind of jumping on point at 192-193 where Malcom effectively take over. So I’ve got issues 192-243 and I’ve added it to my monthly Previews order to start picking it up in singles.

Having only read a few issues I can’t go in too deep here, but a few general points then some specifics on 192, which contain spoilers.

First off, despite there being a fairly large amount of word balloons, it never feels a turgid read - it’s a really enjoyable and engrossing book which keeps you turning the pages.
Larson has a lot of messages about how to treat people and the characters feel completely 3 dimensional
There’s a helluva lot going on in each issue but it never feels too much, just really rich.
His art does change from page to page, gets tighter and looser, style varies a bit but I throughout I can’t shake the feel that there’s a mash up of Frank Miller, (Marshall Law era) Kevin Oneill and Keith Giffen in here, sometimes even Neil Adams.
Not that I’m saying Larson doesn’t have his own style, he’s been doing this a long time, it’s just what I think of as I’m reading it.

In issue 192 Dragon is effectively depowered and due to spend another 10 years in jail appealing a death sentence, the depowering being a conscious decision so that he can keep his race going with only him and 1 female of his species left to breed, and she would be unable to give birth to his kids if they were superpowered, due to the damage the baby would do, as she herself does not posses superpowers.

Malcom pretty much takes on the mantle but decides to take a softer approach to dealing with villains, much to the disdain of his stepsister who he also seems to be having intimate relations with, although I may have picked that up wrong.

I know some of the stuff that will come up in the next 50 or so issues and I’m looking forward to seeing how that unfolds here.

What I’ve also enjoyed is the letters page seems to be well used and gives the impression that although this book doesn’t sell well it has a dedicated bunch of followers.

More later…

8 Likes

#2

How many Hellboys out of ten does it get?? :wink:

The letters page has always been one of the best things about the book. The thing about SD is it’s pretty much been about defying convention from the begining - so the first, say, 20 issues built up this basic superhero world that seemed to be just a slightly more salacious and violent version of everything in DC and Marvel and sort of a bit of a piss take. Then when Larsen had sufficiently built that world up, he proceeded do rip it all down in a whole pile of different convention ignoring ways and that has pretty much continued throughout. Some of its phases have been better than others, for me that first demolishment of the superhero world he’d built is probably always going to be my favourite, but the fact he just trundles on in his own way is admiral no matter whether you like the book or not. He simply doesn’t give a fuck and does what he wants with the characters when he wants to.

I wrote a piece for Bleeding Cool a few years ago saying that everyone should buy it even if they don’t read it as someday they will decide to tuck in and love it. Bleeding Cool never paid their editors enough to actually edit and Larsen shared it while having a go at a grammar mistake. That’s the kind of guy he is, and I guess I respect that. He’s still, however, majorly wrong that Andrew Garfield is the best on-screen Spider-Man.

4 Likes

#3

You have no idea how much respect was lost.

2 Likes

#4

I wrote for the magazine too. I tried to do stuff that was actually bleeding cool. I don’t think that’s their thing. It’s a shit show over there.

3 Likes

#5

ikisU3N

3 Likes

#6

Fuck you, Chris.

To add some context, I bought a handful of issues one of the last time there was a sale on ComiXology. Starting after the crew moved up to Canada. I liked them, but didn’t really form a connection to the series. Now you go starting this thread, forcing me to buy some more.

2 Likes

#7

As some MWers may know :wink: , I’ve been singing the praises of SAVAGE DRAGON for years here on the board. Long after I gave up on the Marvel and DC books, SD is one of the few (possibly only) superhero books I still read. Some reasons:

  1. The book moves in “real time”, so that a year’s worth of issues sees the characters getting one year older. As a result, the status quo is constantly changing, which is a refreshing change from the Big Two where real change is rare. The original Dragon who we met in 1992 became a father, whose son Malcolm was born with his dad’s powers as well as those of his mother; and when he was in his late teens, Malcolm took the reins from his dad to become the star of the book; and eventually the original Dragon died. And now Malcolm is married with children who get a year older every 12 issues or so.

  2. In order to keep from getting bored with the book Erik Larsen is constantly trying different storylines and ways of telling his story, experimenting with page layouts, drawing or inking styles, pacing within the issue, and other techniques. As a result, he gets energized and that excitement and energy transfers to the reader who gets excited and energized by these changes.

  3. Erik loves his characters so much that he continues to write and draw each issue of the book; at some points he even tried lettering the book himself, but thankfully he went back to using a professional letterer.

  4. For $3.99 we get 20 pages of a new Dragon story, 2 pages of letters, and various backup tales (usually) featuring other Dragonverse characters or up-and-coming creators with their own characters. Even though some of those writers and artists are not ready for prime time, I still appreciate the value I am getting for my $4.

10 Likes

#8

Thank you all for self identifying in one thread so I don’t have assemble a list on my own. :wink:

Honestly, I’ve tried to get into Savage Dragon a couple times because of how passionately its fans describe it but the book itself never quite lives up to that for me. The one issue I did like was the #0 issue as it finally answered the question from the very first issue.

2 Likes

#9

Great post Jerry, you’ve added a bit more colour to what has gone on before. I’m exited to read on.

1 Like

#10

I understand that, Ronnie, no one is going to like everything. At least you’ve given it a try.

Personally, when I was reading DC comics in the 70s I liked JLA and World’s Finest, but had no interest in the Superman solo books. I found them uninspired and uninteresting at that time.

2 Likes

#11

I’m honestly still curious and want to like it more.

Tell you what, give me one issue of Savage Dragon that you feel exemplifies the series. I will read it and give it my honest review. I promise (to try) not to shit post. :wink:

1 Like

#12

One of the ones with shaggin in it

3 Likes

#13

I was going to recommend that it not be one of those but if you truly feel that is representative of the book, I’ll read it and give an honest review.

0 Likes

#14

Give me some time, I’ll try to decide on one issue that represents the definitive Dragon story.

3 Likes

#15

Take the time you need. I’ll look forward to it.

0 Likes

#16

I think there were a few he coloured too.

It’s maybe too far back to count, but I’d recommend issue #14 as a great starting point. That happened to be the first issue I read, having been handed a free copy of it along with a bunch of other Image books from the Image booth at my first ever convention.

0 Likes

#17

Which issue was originally done by Jim Lee with the switch month that he went back and redid to keep his unbroken run?

0 Likes

#18

SD #13, but Larsen’s issue wasn’t a replacement - it referenced Lee’s issue, but built upon it.

1 Like

#19

I own Savage Dragon 1-3. I thought I’d look them up on ebay to see what they might be worth. You can buy all 3 for $1. Great investment. :+1:

8 Likes

#20

There was an interesting point made by Jonathan Hickman a while back. He said that his first books for Image sold like shit (at least originally before his name picked up) but he still made a small amount of money on them because he did everything himself. It’s a lot more sustainable for a cartoonist than when the likes of Millar or Brubaker or Rucka go and use A grade artists and colourists.

2 Likes