Nerd City Interview: Erik Larsen

June 30, 2009


Erik Larsen is the man. A founding father of Image Comics and the writer and artist of the long-running Savage Dragon, Larsen is one of, if not the most, influential comic creators of the last twenty years. As his book approaches yet another milestone, Larsen spoke with Nerd City’s Max about his work, his achievements, and the future of the Dragon.

This has been a huge year for Savage Dragon, including a relaunch, consistently sold-out issues, a presidential endorsement, new merch, and the upcoming 150th issue. How does it feel to know that a character you’ve created is still so popular years after his original appearance?

It’s pretty great actually. I’m just happy to be able to continue doing the book after all this time. It’s something I wanted to do and it’s nice that enough people are into it to make it possible.

Why do you think Dragon continues to endure?

People seem to really like the character but I can’t but think that a good reason for its longevity is its consistency. A reader knows what they’re getting. They know that month after month, year after year, the book will be there and the creative team will remain committed to it.

Dragon recently returned to his home on the Chicago Police Force (and Nerd City could not be happier), what brought about the decision to return him to his roots?

It was something fans wanted and at a certain point it just made a lot of sense story-wise to go in that direction. It’s funny but for me that isn’t his roots. I came up with the character as a kid and he was pretty much a superhero from the beginning. When I started the book at Image I wanted to get the character to the point where I’d left him as a kid but take a different path getting there. I chose to start with him as a cop but having made that choice, for a lot of fans, that become the definitive Savage Dragon. Getting him back in blue was akin to getting Superman back into his costume after that Electric Superman period. It just felt right.

Without a doubt, S.D.’s endorsement of Barack Obama was the turning point in the election. Any word from the President on what he thought of the book?

No. It’s really not something I’d expect to hear about. He’s got other things to concern himself with.

Your work on Savage Dragon as writer and artist for 150 issues is nothing short of prolific. What has drawn you to continue to work with this character for so long?

It’s never boring. I have a lot to say with the character and because the book is set in “real time”, things are always changing so it always feels new to me at the same time that it feels very familiar. It’s a good fit.

Until recently, you served as publisher @ Image Comics. What did the job entail, and what was your reason for leaving?

It entailed a lot of e-mailing and talking on the phone and the like. A lot more meetings and planning and organizing. It got to a point where Image was going in the right direction , the books were better and were getting more positive attention and it didn’t seem that it was as necessary as it was that I stayed in that job, and I really missed doing comics. I wanted to be doing comics. I got into this business to create, not to administrate. I really haven’t looked back.

More and more comic books are being optioned for movies every day. What are the chances of seeing the big green guy on the silver screen?

We’ll see. There’s often talk and there’s been some movement in that direction. But I don’t want to say too much.

What does the future hold for Erik Larsen and Savage Dragon?

Hopefully a few more decades of comics. It’s been 150 issues but in many ways it feels as though I’ve just started. There are a lot of stories left to tell.

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