Savage Dragon Version 2.0: Erik Larsen on The First Day of Malcolm's New Life


With this week's issue of Savage Dragon, creator Erik Larsen has fashioned the easiest jumping-on point in the series' history.

Malcolm Dragon, having just taken over from his father as the title's lead and Chicago's biggest superhero, starts the issue with a flashback to establish just who this different-looking Dragon is before the issue really gets moving; Malcolm, with a father in jail and a sister working for SOS, is left alone, and he's had to move to a new place--a crappy one, where the landlord hopes Malcolm's superheroics will just topple the tenement and leave him with an insurance windfall.

He's also starting at a new school where, for the first time, his notoriety is a real issue. At Malcolm's previous school, it was always there in the background, but he had been attending for long enough that by the time the "Emperor Dragon" storyline rocked the world, his friends and foes had already developed their opinions of him independent of his fame. Now, he sits down in class and is asked, "Isn't your dad in jail? Does your d--k have scales on it?"

Erik Larsen joined us to talk about the new issue and the new status quo. Check it out below.

Remember, this is a SPOILER-HEAVY conversation. Don't read on unless you've already read Savage Dragon #193--which you can buy here, DRM-free, and read along with us.

Those who don't? Well, we feel pity on you for missing out on the awesome--and we'll be giving away a number of digital copies of the book on Twitter this week. Follow @comicbookdotcom, @russburlingame, @erikjlarsen and @gavhigginbotham to watch for more details. Why start the issue off with a flashback? The BOLD NEW DIRECTION on the cover seems a little at odds with having Dragon on page one splash!

Erik Larsen: Malcolm is still his father's son and I wanted to establish that and to establish that Malcolm Dragon had fought at his father's side. Gavin is better at stuff like this than I am: Is this fight supposed to be set at a specific time in the timeline or more of a general "back then?"

Larsen: It could be inserted somewhere in the timeline around #144, which covered a lot of ground. Malcolm seems just generally glum (not that kind of Glum) this issue. Is there hope for him to pull out of his funk soon?

Larsen: Oh, sure. At this point he just moved out on his own and is going to a new high school and he doesn't really know anybody. It's going to take a little time for him to settle in and make friends. But I wanted the readers to be there for that. I'd considered just jumping ahead a few months and having him be long settled but that's kind of cheating and I thought it'd be nice for us to be there to meet characters as they're introduced. We got a glimpse of a number of potential new supporting characters this week - any of them around to stay?

SD193_01Larsen: Some will and some won't. Not everybody we meet becomes an important person in our lives. But they're just the tip of the iceberg. There'll be a lot more characters to be introduced. I can't tell: is he trying to let Denelle down easy or is he unaware of her advances?

Larsen: A little of each, I'd assume. Malcolm has to be somewhat wary. He's somewhat famous and he has a very famous father and anybody coming into his life needs to be scrutinized to some extent. Why are they there? What is their motivation? What do they want from him? I would also think he'd be wary about a potential threat worming their way into his life. Obviously changing districts right now is weird for Malcolm. He's stepping into his dad's shoes just as he's having to meet new people, whereas at his old school everyone already knew him and as he started to grow in size and fame it wasn't as huge a deal. Will we see a lot of that?

Larsen: Oh, sure. There's a lot left to see and often people in high school make friends for life--especially if they don't move on to college. So we'll see a huge influx of new characters--some will stick and some won't just like in all of our lives. Is that kind of what the teacher is acknowledging in letting people bug Malcolm?

Larsen: I think in a situation like that--sometimes it's best just to clear the air so folks can get back to concentrating on other things. Sometimes you need to get things out of the way or it becomes a huge distraction. That said, you've got a couple of transfers from Malcolm's old school, right?

Larsen: Thus far--we haven't seen any. But really--there aren't a lot of kids we got to know very well. Of those we do know--I can see Malcolm still hanging out with them from time to time. Referring to himself as a bounty hunter and going brutal, very fast. Is that indicative of a tonal shift from the cop/superhero stuff?:

Larsen: lt's necessary at times. But I did want to establish right out of the gate that's it's not going to be any less harsh than it has been. Things got brutal with Malcolm's dad and they're not slackening up just because his kid is handling things. Is he upset with Dragon at the end of the issue?

Larsen: No. Part of being a kid is just being impatient. He'd like his dad out of jail now--today--and that's not going to happen. It seems you've done better than most Big Two books do with keeping the title focused on characters: a supporting cast and secret identity time are the rule rather than the exception. What about that concept is so appealing?

Larsen: Part of the experience is wish fulfillment and it's hard to put yourself in a character's place if that reality is too far removed from your own or their actions are too alien to your own. A reader needs to be able to put themselves in a character's shoes and imagine what they would do under a similar circumstance. Grounding a book in some kind of reality helps facilitate that.