Supreme After Alan Moore: Erik Larsen on Drawing (And Following) A Legend

Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen has taken on the unenviable task of not only drawing the final installment of Alan Moore's fan-favorite Supreme run (ten years on), but also following up Moore's run with new content coming beginning in June.

He talked to us today about the unique challenges he faces in filling Moore's shoes, and will talk with us more tomorrow about this specific issue.

You so rarely draw anything that you don't write anymore, is it kind of like diving into the deep end of the pool to pick up somebody else's script one day and have it be an Alan Moore script for Supreme?

Yeah. It's a whole different kettle of fish. Even when I have drawn other scripts it's generally been "Marvel style" where it's a relatively loose plot that I can play around with. Alan's script here was very dense and the only places I strayed were the few places where the reference didn't match what Alan was describing. Some previous artists took a few liberties and I was trying to keep things as consistent as I could.

Have you looked back at the old Supreme work by Rob, or Chris Sprouse, or whomever, just to kind of get a feel for where the book was, or are you approaching it fresh even though it's #63?

I did. I've tried to model Alan's Supreme on what Chris Sprouse did to some extent. Just as a visual frame of reference. I'm far less concerned with "making this book my own" than I am with trying to have the characters look on model. I come at it with the question, "what is that character supposed to look like?" rather than "what can I do to put my stamp on this?" My style is going to be there, regardless. I can't shake that off but I can look at the characters and note how their faces are constructed and whatnot. It's like doing a caricature, in a way. You can do a spin, sure, but at the end of the day it has to look like who it's supposed to be or you've failed. You can see it more on the cover I did than inside because I inked that.

The other Extreme books have, to varying extents, been able to basically reboot everything and tell whatever story it occurs to them to tell. Notably, Prophet doesn't even follow the same character anymore. What led you to decide to keep this one going, or was it just the irresistible nature of having an unpublished Alan Moore script kicking around?

I was given the option to do that. But I'm an anal fanboy at heart and I really don't like having things tossed away like that. That's not to dis what others have done but unlike those titles, Supreme has had a pretty straightforward run. It hasn't stopped and started numerous times so it really wasn't this mess that needed to be cleaned up or ignored. Plus, I thought it would be a shame to toss out Alan's last Supreme script. And not only that--he left with a great cliffhanger that set things up in a way that I could totally take advantage of. I had told Eric Stephenson and Rob Liefeld what I wanted to do and this script was the perfect way to segue into that.

Obviously it's not the same thing at all, but since Moore has been so critical of the American comics industry in recent interviews about Before Watchmen, did Image/Extreme make any efforts to reach out to him when they decided to use this script?

They did. It's not my place to talk about what was said but my understanding of it was that it was very cordial.

Has the success of the Extreme relaunch feel like it's given you a little wiggle room with this book? Suddenly it feels like a guaranteed sell-out for the first three or four issues!

That would certainly be nice. But I don't think anybody is taking anything for granted here. We all know that we have to do the best we can each and every time. That's my intention.

I think a lot of fans are really excited to see this script finally drawn and published—did you feel any pressure in light of the mythology that fans have built up around this first story arc over the years?

I try not to think about things like that. I just do the best I can. Alan made it quite challenging. It was all I could do to try and make his script sing.

What do you think it says about the comics industry that in 1992 I bought all my books for $1.25 or so, and by the time the last Alan Moore Supreme issue was printed more than ten years ago, the cover price of $2.99 settled in and has stayed there ever since?

Well, not all comics are $2.99, of course. Most Marvel titles are $3.99 as are a lot of independents. I think it says that we're trying to do the best we can to keep prices down. I f we'd have launched all of these books at $3.99 I don't think most readers would have batted an eye. But we wanted to keep the prices down. Hopefully that will make a difference.

This is going to be the first Supreme issue to go digital day-and-date. Will it be the first-ever Alan Moore comic to do so? That's a little crazy.

Welcome to 2012, Alan Moore.