Savage Dragon's Gavin Higginbotham Talks His Backup Feature, Joining the Team

SD186_Zeek_Cover Gavin Higginbotham is living the fanboy dream; after years of curating a Savage Dragon fan/resource site, and communicating back and forth with series creator Erik Larsen, he gradually slid into a role as a trusted assistant to Larsen on the book. When, years ago, my commentary column kept rehashing points of trivia that the hardcore fans would remember, Larsen suggested that Higginbotham was the guy to bring aboard to keep my sieve-like memory from affecting the column.

And, recently, he was named editor of the comic officially with his name in the credits and his behind-the-scenes role expanded a bit, mostly to include seeing things that even the best of friends and fans don't generally get to see.

And right now, he's got a backup feature in the title, centering around sweet-natured hulk Zeek. The second part of the story appears in tomorrow's Savage Dragon #187. Higginbotham joined to talk about the transition from super-fan to being an official part of the Dragon team. How'd you get hooked up with a backup feature?

Gavin Higginbotham: Essentially, I bombarded Erik with backup proposals until he finally caved in. Ha!

I'd been wanting to get my name in the story credits for years now. I had come up with various stories over the years but I guess they weren't right for the series or just plain sucked.

I even once wrote a huge 48 page one-shot idea that was to tie up numerous loose ends that were created when Erik started up the "Savage World" storyline in issue 76. It would explain more about what happened to Chicago before we saw it in 76. There'd have been underground freaks, gods, monsters, the Vicious Circle and all kinds of death and destruction.

That went nowhere too. So... I just kept plugging away. Then talking to Frank Fosco about my fondness of his rendition of Zeek, an idea came to me in an instant. Frank liked it and offered to draw it. If Frank hadn't have been involved, it may not have ever happened. I can't thank Frank enough for his input. Why Zeek? Is it his character you like or was it really more about getting to God Town?

Higginbotham: Both.

Zeek is one of my favorite characters in the book. He was a fairly major presence until issue 75 and then had barely appeared since except in the background or a few backups.

The gods are fascinating to me and, again, have barely been used. I'd love to do a follow up featuring the Gods somewhere down the line. God Town has suffered a huge catastrophe recently during the recent alien invasion and they're ripe for story fodder. Obviously we haven't seen a ton from these characters in a while. Is this something you've had festering for a bit in your head and you just knew that you'd get to it sooner than Erik would with everything that's going on in Dragon?

Higginbotham: Yeah, pretty much. I'm lucky enough to know roughly where the book is heading and knew that Zeek wasn't going to feature heavily in that. He's a bit of a fan-favorite from the SOS era and was one of the major heroes not currently involved in the main series. It made him an ideal candidate for a backup.

Also, I hate comic book limbo. I love it when guys like Erik or Kurt Busiek or Dan Slott or Geoff Johns plucks an obscure character out of limbo and uses them again. If I'm ever lucky enough to write a Marvel series one day, expect to see all kinds of neglected characters being brought back. Heh. Was there a particular reason for using Absorbing Jr. or was it really just a question of finding a villain you could use to set the stage for the larger story beyond the first issue?

Higginbotham: Absorbing Junior is (or was, I guess) one of the few villains left in the book that wasn't designed by Erik. He's barely shown up and I figured Erik wouldn't have much attachment to the guy. So I figured if I wanted to show how deadly Zeek can be to set up the next chapter, having such a character be Zeek's victim made more sense.

It also ties into what I mentioned above about obscure characters being brought back. Absorbing Junior got one last shot at glory and now his story is over. Better that than never getting an ending. I've actually never interviewed you, since we're generally teaming up on Erik! After all these years helping him out, how do you like being the nominal series editor now?

Higginbotham: I love it! It's exciting just seeing my name listed next to Josh Eichorn on the inside front cover!

It's pretty cool. I mean, it's not like I do a whole lot more than I did before it's just that now it's more official. The best part is getting Erik bouncing ideas off of me. On the rare occasion that something I suggest shows up in the series, it's a genuine thrill.

Plus, I get to see the book in its various stages. Those rough pencils are unique!