Erik Larsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a child growing up in Bellingham, Washington and Albion, California, Erik Larsen created numerous comic books featuring versions of a character named ‘Dragon’. At the age of 19, Erik self-published a fanzine called Graphic Fantasy along with several friends, which featured his character the Dragon and it led to his doing professional work on a comic book called Megaton for publisher and creator Gary Carlson. It was here that he introduced the Dragon, a super powered superhero, to the larger comic-reading masses and co-created the character Vanguard with Gary Carlson.
After a multitude of submissions, showing his work, Erik became acquainted with Jim Shooter, who was, at that point, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief. Erik eventually met Jim at a convention in Chicago and Jim was impressed enough with Erik’s work that he consented to co-plot a story with him at the convention. That story was an epic battle between the Hulk and Thor. Although it wasn’t actually published until years later, it did impress a variety of Editors enough to get Larsen some more high-profile work in the funnybook field.
Erik jumped around various books in this part of his career. He did an Amazing Spider-Man fill-in story at Marvel, a few issues of DNAgents for Eclipse, and he eventually took over the art chores on DC’s Doom Patrol. After a year of working on the Doom Patrol, Erik left DC and moved on to the Punisher for Marvel, but it was an uncomfortable fit. When Larsen’s proposal to write and draw a Nova serial for Marvel Comics Presents was given the green light, Erik left the Punisher. But it was not to be! The powers that be had other plans for Nova and Erik’s yarn didn’t fit in with the impending New Warriors series. Editor Terry Kavanaugh gave Larsen an Excalibur serial to draw for Marvel Comics Presents while the poor bastard waited for his big break.
When artist Todd McFarlane left his artistic duties on The Amazing Spider-Man, Larsen was chosen to be his successor. That run was astoundingly well-recieved, and included popular stories like “The Return of the Sinister Six”, “The Cosmic Spider-Man”, and “The Powerless Spider-Man”. Although he was comfortable with his position as The Amazing Spider-Man penciller, he was frustrated drawing other people’s stories. Larsen found that his ravenous desire to write had only gotten stronger. He left The Amazing Spider-Man, looking for other opportunities to both write and draw.
By this time, the New Warriors was going full tilt and Erik tossed together a proposal for a Nova ongoing series. While he waited for it to get the nod, Todd McFarlane left the new Spider-Man title that he had launched. Erik was called upon once again picked up the torch – and he ran with it. Larsen created a memorable albeit brief run on that title, despite a traumatic event in his personal life – his house burned to the ground, destroying all of his childhood drawings and comic books.
In the early 1990s, Erik Larsen along with creators Rob Liefeld and Jim Valentino had dinner with Malibu Comics editor-in-chief Dave Olbrich. Malibu was a small but established publishing company sympathetic to creator-ownership, and Olbrich expressed interest in publishing comics created by them. These three and several other popular freelance illustrators who worked for Marvel Comics were frustrated with the company’s work-for-hire policies and practices, which they felt did not sufficiently reward the talent that produced them, as the company heavily merchandised their artwork, and compensated them with modest royalties. In 1992, Larsen help found a new comic book imprint called ‘Image’ at Malibu comics, alongside creators Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and Jim Valentino. Image split off from Malibu and 1993 and has established itself as the third largest comic book publisher in the United States.
Erik’s flagship comic book at Image was an updated version of his childhood creation – “The Savage Dragon”. Larsen has been succeeding with his ideas ever since, through his creations Freak Force, Star, SuperPatriot and the Deadly Duo as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which he helped revitalize and bring to Image.
Erik Larsen was Publisher of Image Comics from 2004-2008.
In 2012 Erik wrote and drew a short run on Rob Liefeld’s Supreme, initially pencilling Alan Moore’s final Supreme story, before going off in his own direction on the title. That same year he bought the rights to the character ‘Ant’ from creator Mario Gully. Ant was a book that was at one point published at Image Comics and Erik always thought that the character and its iconic design had potential.
In 2015 Erik started working on Spawn as writer and penciller with Todd McFarlane co-writing and inking the book. The collaboration lasted from issue #258 to #266 and ended in a crossover with his book Savage Dragon, which guest-starred Ant.
2017 saw the release of Savage Dragon #225 celebrating 25 years of the Dragon and Image Comics in an epic 100 pages extravaganza.