April 5, 2019

In review: Savage Dragon #236

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsno comments

Savage Dragon #236 came out in July 2018.

This issue focuses on Dragon’s kids and if the coverfont isn’t a giveaway this issue pays homage to one of the greatest cartoons ever: Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. The book features 5 spreads in the style of classic Sunday funny pages.

It is not a sideways issue though. The spreads are doublepages which made the layouts a bit more complicated…

Added complications included having to avoid the center of pages with text (because of possible alignment issues) and making sure all spreads were clearly spreads, which meant at least one panel had to clearly cross over from one page to the next–in this case panel four.

Erik roughly based the panel configuration of the above spread on an actual Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip. In addition to the familiar panel layouts, it is Ferran Delgado’s great handling of the fonts and lettering that make these pages work so well. Ferran also suggested to run a little caption at the start of the issue to point out the connection to Calvin & Hobbes but in the end it wasn’t used and I don’t think it’s really necessary.

Ferran had suggested running THIS caption on the splash. I explained that I thought it would be weird to credit Bill given that I didn’t exactly nail his style or tell actual funny jokes. I do a very mild Watterson imitation. Just similar panel arrangements (most aren’t the same as actual Sunday pages) and lettering. There are no Calvin or Hobbes type characters in the mix. I figure that readers will either get what I’m doing or not.

One more interesting tidbit Erik mentioned on facebook is the possibility that Watterson might just have been influenced by Savage Dragon at one point…

I always wondered if this Calvin and Hobbes Sunday page had been inspired by Savage Dragon. It came out shortly after Dragon had a hole blasted through him.

Reviews of Savage Dragon #236

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February 19, 2019

In review: Savage Dragon #235

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviews2 comments

Cover Savage Dragon Vol.2 #235Savage Dragon #235 came out in July 2018.
Back cover of Savage Dragon Vol.2 #235
As you can see on the cover the book introduces a great looking new villain — I’ve seen fans talk about Malcolm’s relatively small rougues’ gallery ever since he left Chicago so this is a welcome addition to the roster. I also love the title of the book “Nothing beats Buffalo Stu”. I have a hunch Erik heard someone talk about buffalo stew and got inspired…

Find out more about Buffalo Stu in the pages of this epic issue.

This issue also features a “Big Bang Comics” backup with two short stories. Here’s the great back cover by Frank Fosco. I think it look awesome and the vintage treatment by colorist Adam Pruett makes it even better.

Reviews of Savage Dragon #235

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February 11, 2019

In review: Savage Dragon #234

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsone comment

Cover of Savage Dragon Vol.2 #234

Backcover of Savage Dragon Vol.2 #234 Savage Dragon #234 came out way back in May 2018.

I’m still trying to play catch up with my little reviews so I’ll make this quick and just leave this here with the usual collection of links and the beautiful backcover of this issue: Chris Giarusso recreation the classic cover for Savage Dragon #30.

And there’s more: Inside the book you can find Chris’ rendition of the three iconic covers of the original Savage Dragon miniseries and three pages of G-Man!

Oh and before I forget it — 4 issues into the book letterer Ferran Delgado is doing an outstanding job. I wonder though who’s idea it was to use that particular sound effect on page 15… I love it!

Reviews of Savage Dragon #234

Enjoy.

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July 31, 2018

In review: Savage Dragon #233

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsno comments

Savage Dragon #233 came out in april 2018.

The cover had been solicited month before and had caused some interesting conversations among fans and interested bystanders. At that time Erik had just decided to take the book to an even more explicit direction and the media was paying close attention to what was going on in the book.

Even a cover that doesn’t really show anything stirred up some heat and I remember seeing someone post a picture of his comic shop selling this issue in black(ened) bags.

Some might recall that the cover originally looked slightly different and that Erik – at one point – even had two version up for a vote on twitter and facebook with different texts on Maxine’s shirt.

Here are the two early cover designs. As you can see Erik went with the “Bald is beautiful” version but changed the background color. He also added a little cover blurb that addresses the start of Malcolm’s and Maxines reality TV show in this issue. If you think you’ve seen something like that before: roughly 200 issue ago Erik released a variant for Savage Dragon #30 with a very similar eyecatcher…

The issue also comes with a backup feature starring Switchblade by Ben Bishop and the story actually is connected to the main feature which makes it even better.

As usual, here’s a list of articles regarding #233. Feel free to drop me a message if you dicover anything that should be added.

Reviews of Savage Dragon #233

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July 17, 2018

In review: Savage Dragon #232

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsno comments

Savage Dragon #232 came out in march 2018.

It is the second issue with Ferran Delgado as letterer and it is the second time he added letters to the cover!

The book had originally been solicited without the copy on the cover but Erik often keeps reworking his covers until the last possible minute and it seems he is aiming for a more classic comic book look.

More cool cover copy by Ferran Delgado. Something about cover makes a comic book look like a comic book. It’s weird to poke through the bundles of books I get from Image and see my book amidst all the others. It’s like–“how did this COMIC BOOK get in here?”

This also shows in the return of classic title pages. Readers may remember that Erik frequently used them during his “Savage World” storyline where he was emulating the look of classic comics of the silver and golden age.

And now titles are making a comeback and Ferran Delgado letters on them look amazing!

As of Savage Dragon #232 I’ve returned to titles and credits. I do love the way these things look but I have a bear of a time actually coming up with titles for stories.

Oh, and here is an initial design for the Wraith that Erik eventually dropped because “he was too Kirbyesque for the part”. Who knows though — maybe we’ll see a character like that down the line in some other context. He looks way to cool to disappear in some drawer.

Reviews of Savage Dragon #232

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April 10, 2018

In review: Savage Dragon #231

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsno comments

I’m very late with this so I’ll make it quick. Savage Dragon was the first issue with Ferran Delgado as the new letterer so let’s all give him a warm welcome.

I think he did an amazing job on the book, I love the sound effects and I thought it was nice that he left his first mark right there on the cover.

The cover was originally solicited without the typo on it but I think it’s a nice change and it looks super cool. I’m sure Erik and Ferran will need some time to adjust their workflow, but the end result looks great already and I’m sure it will become even better once the two of them get into a groove.

Reviews of Savage Dragon #231

Here are the usual suspects with their reviews and whatnot. Make sure you listen to the podcast – it features Erratic Erik himself!

Enjoy
Stef

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January 22, 2018

In review: Savage Dragon #230

Posted by Stefan Kalscheid in News | Reviewsone comment

Sooo, December gave us two issues of Savage Dragon which is great for us fans. But — it’s hard to keep up with Erik’s schedule so this review is a bit later than usual. Let’s dive right in…

Size matters

If you are keeping up with Erik’s work you might know that he likes to experiment. He likes to challenge himself and he’s always looking for ways to improve his art and to keep it fresh — for himself and the readers.

For a while now Erik had been working on twice-up art boards that are considerably larger than the industries standard. Last issue though, he used some artboards that were barely half the size of the standard paper. It helped draw the book quicker — Erik wanted to get it out in time for christmas – and it also made the drawings a bit more cartoony. With Savage Dragon #230 he tries something new…

“With #229 I drew an entire issue quite small. With #230, I’m going freestyle, drawing pages at a random size. Trying to take advantage of the strengths of each option.”

Here’s a look at all the art boards for Savage Dragon #230. Erik has blurred and retouched the image to avoid spoilers — but you get the idea…

Erik went into detail on the different sizes: “Depicted here, the smallest Image art boards are 7.75 x 11.75. The interior box is 6 11/16 x 10. The other is a twice up page (full bleed is 14.5 x 22, the interior box is 12.5 x 18.75). I also used standard art boards (10.25 x 15 3/8, interior box 8 7/8 x 13.5) and in between 11 3/8 x 17 3/8 interior box 9 13/16 x 15 1/8. Added to that is a double page spread at 22 3/4 x 17 7/16 and a single non-bleed page (10.25 x 15 3/8) which I added a bleed to in Photoshop.”

So — most pages are standard-sized or bigger but there are a few of the small boards in the mix. The small boards seem ideal for full page closeups or figures or simple action with limited backgrounds.”

Eventually all pages were scanned and re-sized in photoshop so that Chris Eliopoulos didn’t have to deal with different font-sizes during lettering. The panels were also given a consistent border thickness.

Goodbye to Chris Eliopoulos

As we have reported before, Savage Dragon #230 is Cris Eliopoulos’ last work on the book as letterer. Chris is concentrating on his own writing and cartooning and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours. New letterer will be Ferran Delgado who already had a couple of stints on backstories in the book.

Live Savage Fincast

Logo of the Live Savage FincastThe guys from the Savage Fincast tried something new this month and held a live Podcast on Youtube. The edited recording hasn’t been posted yet but you can listen to the live recorded version on their Youtube channel. They have also started to implement games into their show, which actually is pretty funny. So check it out and let them know their hard work is appreciated!

Reviews of Savage Dragon #230

Enjoy
Stef

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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…

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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

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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… ?

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