As Erik has announced on Facebook and Twitter a few days ago, Chris Eliopoulos — long-time letterer of Savage Dragon — is leaving the book… once again.
Chris initially started working on Savage Dragon with the original mini-series and stayed onboard ’til issue #106. Up to that point, he had hand-lettered everything onto the original art-boards — from speech bubbles to thought balloons and even all those amazing sound effects.
Erik had always preferred to have the letters on the original artwork, the way it used to be in comics for the longest time. But digital lettering had long since become the standard and eventually it became too time-consuming for Chris to keep working the old way. (Below is an excerpt of the letters page from Savage Dragon #106.)
Following Chris’ departure, Erik worked with John Workman, who took over from Chris and later Tom Orzechowski. At one point Erik even lettered the book himself, but it took up too much of his time and the results weren’t what Erik was aiming for.
Eventually, Erik decided that hand lettering just took up too much time. He had to mail the original art to the letterer and then wait for them to do their thing and mail the pages back. So, reluctantly, after 21 years of hand-lettering, he agreed to turn to digital lettering.
On the plus side, that meant that Erik could work with Chris again! Chris came back with Savage Dragon #186 and worked his magic using a font based on his own hand-lettering.
Lettering isn’t Chris’ only profession. He’s a talented cartoonist and writer himself and has made a name for himself over the years. He is known for his work on books such as Marvels “Franklin Richards – Son of a genius”, his web comic “Misery Loves Sherman” and the comic strip “Desperate Times” which ran as a backup feature in Savage Dragon and was later released at Image Comics.
In 2014 Dial Books published “I am Amelia Earhart” and “I am Abraham Lincoln”, the first two books in writer Brad Meltzer’s “Ordinary People Change the World” series of picture book biographies for children, which are illustrated by Eliopoulos. The books were a tremendous success and more books were and are being released.
And that’s keeping Chris busy. It’s understandable that he want’s to concentrate on his illustrating and writing career — but unfortunately it means he has less time for other things. His last issue as letterer is Savage Dragon #230.
I think I speak for us all when I wish Chris all the best for his future projects (fingers crossed for some more Desperate Times) and who knows — maybe he’ll be back one day… once again.
The latest Savage Fincast Mei is Bae is online. The poor guys lost the original recording of their show and had to take the time to re-record the whole thing. It’s fun nonetheless. Listen to them discussing Savage Dragon #229, the pros and cons of working on small artboards and other shenanigans.
In case you guys missed it, we have the official solicitation text for Savage Dragon #232.
“TERROR IN TORONTO!”
Enter: the Wraith! He can walk through walls! Nothing can hold him! Nothing can stop him! And only one man dares to try: Malcolm Dragon!
I don’t think we had a character with the superpower to walk through walls before but it reminds me of the time Glum saved Angel with that device that made people intangible. A no-prize to the first person who tells me which issue that was in…
Part of the 2017 Inkwell Award is the “Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight on Erik Larsen” where 30 professionals ink a pencilled page by Erik himself. The first results have been posted online and we want to share these with you. It’s quite fascinating to see the different results and it really helps to understand the work of an inker, how important it is and how much of a difference it can make…
Click on the image to see all the single images.
It seems some of the artists have slightly rotated the original artwork for their inks — For better comparison, I have taken the liberty to re-rotate the pages so they all sit firmly above each other and the original pencils.
I’ll keep adding the newest entries so keep checking back to see more of the challenge contestants.
01 – Andy Smith
02 – Richard Clark
03 – Neil D Vokes
04 – Chris Madd
05 – Lebeau Underwood
06 – Joe Prado
07 – Tom Schloendorn
08 – Dee Fish
09 – Keith Williams
10 – Scott James
11 – Geof Isherwood
12 – Rodney Ramos
13 – Andy Owens
14 – Mark McKenna
15 – Scott Rosema
16 – Keith Champagne
17 – Mark Stegbauer
18 – Richard Bonk
19 – Rudy Nebres
20 – Idan Knafo Kerbis
21 – Rusty Gilligan
22 – Mike Sellers
23 – Kevin Conrad
24 – Don Hillsman
25 – Alex Saviuk
26 – John Floyd
It’s hard to keep up with Erik’s release schedule these last few weeks. Savage Dragon #229 came out a mere two weeks after the last issue and Savage Dragon #230 is about to hit the stands just three weeks later (this coming Wednesday, right after Christmas). High time we take a minute and take a look back at the current issue.
First things first. If you take a peek at the cover you’ll notice the button of the Inkwell Awards. The Inkwell Award is a trophy given in the field of inking in American comic. The Inkwell’s mission statement is, “To promote and educate about the art of comic book inking.”
In June 2017 Erik was announced Winner of the 10th annual Inkwell Award in the category “ALL-IN-ONE (pencilling and inking together)”. I don’t think we properly mentioned this before but it’s high time Erik Larsen gets a little love from the various awards in the comic business for his continued labour of love. Well done Erik!
Erik had originally drawn the cover on twice-up paper and based it on an image of his wife. He wasn’t satisfied with the results though and drew another more cartoony version on an artboard from Image Comics. Those artboards are smaller than your standard-sized comic art board and don’t really allow to work in that much detail which actually helped with the cartoony style Erik was aiming for.
Eventually, Erik drew the entire book on those small artboards from Image Comics. I think he said that it’s just a lot faster to work on smaller paper and he wanted to get the book out in time. But Erik is also always very interested in different approaches to his work and wanted to find out how this would affect the layout and artwork for Savage Dragon #229. If you keep that in mind while reading the issue you might see some pages where this shows. Some panels definitely have a more cartoony feel to them.
Malcolm, Maxine and the kids moved to Toronto in Savage Dragon #227 and Erik felt that he had to do some research before portraying the city. With Chicago, he just went with what felt right and hardly ever used photos to base his art on. But with Toronto Erik somehow felt he wanted to get things right…
I know I said earlier that Savage Dragon was not supposed to be a tourist’s guide but I’m finding compelled to include actual Toronto locations in this book. It’s getting out of control.
If you look at the current issue (and also the last one) there are a few actual places that get referenced: Tim Hortons, the CN Tower, St. Michael’s Hospital and of course the Poop Café which — I know it’s hard to believe — is an actual place. They also have a facebook page
REVIEWS OF SAVAGE DRAGON #229
I think most pages are completely overwhelmed by Erik’s erratic schedule and haven’t even managed to deal with the latest issue. Russ managed to get his interview up and Bleeding Cool talks about the issue as well but that’s pretty much it. Oh and there’s a review on this french website — maybe somebody can chime in and translate the thing for us…
With #229 coming out next wednesday, a mere 2 weeks after the latest issue, it is high time we take a look at Savage Dragon #228.
The Seeker. Savage Dragon #228 is supposedly all about the Seeker. A villain that fans have been clamouring to see again. A character we hardly know anything about. It has been nearly 15 years since his last appearance and the solicitation promises: “At long last — all of his secrets are revealed!”
Something big came up
Yeah, reread those speech bubbles carefully: “Something big came up” and “You knew this was going to happen eventually”. It’s not just a funny pun, it seems as if Erik is hiding a meta-comment on the issue itself in the dialogue between Malcolm and Maxine.
A couple of months ago Maxine’s nip-slip would most likely have raised an eyebrow or two but by now it is pretty obvious Erik has raised the bar…
The new status quo
A few weeks ago Erik went onto Facebook and posted the following:
Wondering how many Savage Dragon readers are straight up onboard with whatever the hell I do?
How far can it stray before I’d lose you?
What if it was funny animals? Animated style? Pornography? Romance comics? A Western? Those left seem to be enjoying the ride immensely.
A big part of the joy of doing this book is following my muse — be it Jack Kirby, Frank Miller or R. Crumb.
So what (if anything) would have you saying, “okay — I’m done here.”
It seems this wasn’t just a rhetorical question… The XXX cover variant for issue #225 had already reached new grounds, so to speak, but Savage Dragon #228 did something no other comic book (I can think of) has ever done before: introducing the graphic depiction of sex to a classic super hero comic book.
Let’s not beat around the bush here — no pun intended — those pages are clearly pornographic. They are openly displaying (some pretty absurd) sex scenes and Erik is doing it just for the heck of it. He stated a couple of times that he is currently influenced by Robert Crumb and anyone slightly familiar with Crumb’s work knows what that might allude to…
Sometimes I do stuff just to do stuff. Been on something of an R. Crumb jag lately and admiring his complete lack of self-restraint. That doesn’t mean that this is what the book will be like from here on out.
To what extend Erik will keep displaying sex and erotic content remains to be seen. The latest solicitations suggest that sex will remain a topic in the next couple of issues. What’s interesting — to me — is the fact that the pure display of body parts is losing its shock value and is actually adding to the storytelling. When Erik displays a topless Jennifer (after months of fighting in Dimension-X), it actually feels more realistic and believable.
So, in a way, this is liberating and, down the line, will become more natural and easier acceptable. And who knows, maybe it will help bridge the gap between the graphic display of violence and sex in american comics in general — a topic that keeps coming up…
As for the Seeker: The big reveal is — as it seems — there wasn’t much of a story behind him. Not every character is connected to someone else. Erik recently addressed something similar on Facebook regarding Star Wars — saying that connecting all the dots eventually makes a universe smaller and less believable. It’s no less true when it comes to Savage Dragon.
So while we may not have seen the last of the Seeker’s tech, the character himself was most likely really nothing more than a bounty hunter working for Cyberface — who never got the memo that the former world leader has long bought the farm…
On a closing note: that panel of the Seeker attacking Malcolm looks like a nice homage to the cover of Savage Dragon #87
Erik has released the covers for Savage Dragon #232 and #233!
The cover for 233 has already gotten some attention on social media and while a lot of people seem to get the joke, there were also voices of concern. Apparently displaying a comic with a cover like that can still cause trouble in this day and age – at least in an “all ages” section. But, Savage Dragon isn’t an all-ages book and it has officially been rated as “M/Mature” for a while…
Erik also has a slightly different version of the cover online and asked people which they prefer. What do you think?