December 22, 2017

In review: Savage Dragon #229

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsno comments

Panel from Savage Dragon #229

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.

Inkwell Awards

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.”

Inkwell Award Trophies

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!

The Cover

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.

Various versions of the cover to Savage Dragon #229

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.

Tourist guide

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

Panels from Savage Dragon referencing Toronto

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…

This post currently has no comments - leave a comment

November 28, 2017

Review: Savage Dragon #228

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviews3 comments

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 attacking Malcolm Dragon

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!”

But then…

Something big came up

Savage Dragon #228 Page 9 Panel 2

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.

Savage Dragon #228 Page 7 Panel 3

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.

Savage Dragon #228 Page 4 Panel 2To 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…

The Seeker

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
Savage Dragon Vol.2 #228 Page 15 Panel 4

REVIEWS OF SAVAGE DRAGON #228

Here are some reviews of the book

This post currently has 3 comments - leave a comment

November 3, 2017

Oh Canada! A New Beginning

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in Reviewsno comments

Savage Dragon #227 came out a little over 2 weeks ago. Let’s take a minute to take a look at the current issue.

Captain Stewart to the rescue!

Panel from Savage Dragon #227
We knew from the solicits that Malcolm and family were eventually going to end up in Canada but it wasn’t clear yet how things would go down and if they’d have to fight their way to freedom. As it turns out Malcolm’s former boss Captain Stewart stands up for his fellow policeman and smuggled the Dragon family over the border – regardless of the consequences for himself.

Back in the states Jennifer, Angel and Alex are in Dimension-X looking for DarkLords technology to bring back the deceased Dragon only to have their way home cut off due to President Trump’s new law against aliens.

So while Dragon, Maxine and the kids have to come to grips with their new surroundings in Toronto – Jennifer, Angel and Alex have to deal with the reality of Dimension-X.

Change in perspective

The book keeps switching from one scenery to the other and puts the different kinds of ‘threats’ into perspective.

Panel from Savage Dragon #227The soft horror of a filled cloth diaper on one side vs. the hard reality of fighting giant rock monsters on the other. Meeting new people vs. meeting new monsters. Trying to make yourself a new home vs. trying to find a way back home. In the end, the reader realizes that moving to Canada isn’t all that bad and that things could have been worse.

Panel by Panel

In case you hadn’t noticed, Erik pulled one of his “let’s-try-his-crazy-thing” things again with Savage Dragon #227. A while back he posted a little scribble on Twitter and teased:

Savage Dragon 227 grids

This is what it looks like when a crazy person plans out their comic book. A which point did that become me?

He explains what he did in the letter pages:

…I tried this crazy thing with this issue – every page has panels of uniform size but no two pages are the same…

Erik figured out panel configurations that would work, calculated the panel dimensions and drew all panel borders before he started working on the issue. That’s not his usual work progress but, as he put it, “every so often I get a wild hair to try some strange challenge”. Loyal readers will remember that he has done stuff like that in the past. Stay tuned for a post dedicated to all of Erik’s experimental issues in the future…

Reviews of Savage Dragon #227

The book is a great jumping on point for new readers. It’s not only a change in a new direction but Erik also did a great job of catching people up to speed with this issue. If you want to (re)join the Savage Dragon bandwagon – this might be a perfect time.

Naturally, Savage Dragon #227 didn’t receive as much attention as last issue with its controversial Trump cover but we have gathered the reviews we could find so far for your further reading convenience.

 

That’s it for now. We’ll be back soon with a preview for #228. Until then
Enjoy
Stef
PS: BTW, Did you guys realize that Erik actually drew a dog this issue… ?

This post currently has no comments - leave a comment

October 5, 2017

The Torment and the Tyrant

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in Reviewsone comment

Cover of Savage Dragon #226

Cover of Dardevil 96 A little over a month ago Savage Dragon #226 hit the stands. Since we still have to wait a couple of days for the next issue, let’s take a look at the book and how people reacted to it.

As most of you probably know by now, the cover pays homage to Gil Kane’s classic cover of Daredevil #96 that came out way back in 1973.

When Savage Dragon #226 was solicited in April 2017 the book got a mixed reception – obviously based on the depiction of President Trump and the solicitation text which reads:

“TRUMPED” When a tyrannical madman assumes command of the United States, aliens are deemed a threat to national security and targeted for elimination — and that includes Malcolm Dragon and his family! With a country turned against him, Malcolm Dragon fights as he’s never fought before.

To those who follow Erik’s posts on the social networks, his opinion about Trump most likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Readers of Savage Dragon also know Erik doesn’t shy away from making politics a part of his book and while Savage Dragon isn’t about politics most of the time Erik has addressed political issues in the past and he has depicted other presidents over the years.

In this post at Comicbook.com about the latest issue, Erik is quoted saying he always enjoyed seeing the President show up in The Incredible Hulk.

“It seemed like there was a presidential portrait of sorts with every new administration. I’ve made it a point to do that as well and I kind of wanted to just get it out of the way.”

Take a look at these previous covers featuring presidents in the spotlight:

Presidents on the Covers of Savage Dragon George Bush Jr. got ’bushwhacked‘ in #119. He had been replaced by the villain “The Impostor” back then.

Erik had been the first to solicit a book with Obama on the cover for his variant edition of Savage Dragon #137 but Marvel beat Erik at the printers and released an issue of Spider-man featuring the presidential candidate a bit earlier which lead to some heated debate. Erik’s cover was a huge hit nonetheless and saw three (!) reprints.

A couple of months later #145 got two variants — one featuring President Obama giving a fistbump to Dragon and the other serving a knuckle sandwich to none other than Osama Bin Laden.

Now the current issue features Trump and it’s pretty obvious Malcolm and he won’t become friendly with each other. In the aftermath of the three-issue epic “The Merging of Multiple Earths” President Trump issues an executive order that outlaws all extraterrestrials in the United States. That includes Malcolm Dragon and his three children and the issue ends with Malcolm being put under arrest…

If you’ve read the solicitations for the upcoming issues, you know the Dragon family is moving north, but we’ll have to wait a wee bit longer to find out if Dragon actually flees from the law or if he is deported.

The self-contained issue got some good reviews all over the net but the cover also attracted a couple of people who don’t usually read the book to voice their criticism.

What other had to say about Savage Dragon #226

Here’s a collection of articles, interviews and reviews on #226.

Enjoy
Stef

This post currently has one comment - leave a comment