Erik Larsen on the Violence and Politics of Savage Dragon #247

Today saw a bloody and somewhat downbeat chapter in Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. As the road to Savage Dragon #250 and what promises to be a brutal battle with a gaggle of villains heats up, the issue dealt with a Demonoid prince who returned to his home after journeys abroad to find his people slaughtered. Yeah, it was by Scourge, who Malcolm killed already, but the prince doesn't know that or much care. It's time for him to go to the surface world and take his pound of flesh, which of course means it's time for Malcolm Dragon and Angel Murphy to stop him.

Meanwhile, there's a subplot about what happened to the surviving Demonoids. While Captain Tootsie thinks keeping them in what amounts to a zoo is a humane way of dealing with them, Malcolm -- and, obviously, the prince -- disagree.

As usual, Larsen joined ComicBook.com to break down the issue and tease what's next. Spoilers ahead, though, so if you haven't yet read Savage Dragon #247, hit up your local comic book shop or buy a digital copy on ComiXology and read along with us.

Larsen is also doing some work for Marvel coming up! You can check out our conversation with him about Captain America: The End here.

That establishing page of the Demonoid Prince kind of feels like the cover to Savage Dragon Legacy. Is that an intentional callback or just a common enough pose that it's bound to show up again?

It wasn't intentional. I wasn't looking at it at all -- this sort of thing just happen every so often. I've repeated myself a few times over the years and sometimes I'll surprise myself. It can be a bit annoying because there are definitely times when I WANT readers to get the reference -- like in the previous issue where there's a splash of Scourge saying, "I've been expecting you." I'd done a similar shot with both Overlord and Emperor Kurr and pretty much nobody caught it. Ah, well.

One of the things that you kind of hit on in this issue but I feel has been true for a while now: there's never a really good ending for the Demonoid stories. For the Surface World, it's never fully resolved and for the Demonoids, things just seem to keep getting shittier. Is this kind of the ultimate expression of that or do we still have some steps left?

Things can always get worse. That much is certain. But there's this thing with serials like this which make it almost impossible for there to really be an end to anything. There's always a next issue and there's always something which can be followed up on forever and just like in the real world you need to deal with the mess you made the day before. In the last issue we saw the end of Scourge and yet here we are picking up the pieces he left behind. Nothing is ever really over. Since the Demon King is returning from some grand adventure we can hope that he wanders off with the survivors of Scourge's massacre to find a new home in a faraway land but we won't know until we do.

That said, even without the Demonoid threat, this issue feels like everything is closing in on Malcolm. Is Toronto beginning to be basically as stressful as Chicago was?

That's kind of how it has to work. If it's all sunshine and light then he has nothing to overcome. His adversaries and his challenges make him a hero. Those are as necessary here as they were in Chicago.

While the book unfolds in real time in the big picture, obviously month to month things can differ. How long have we as a culture been having the debate that we see played out here between the talking heads?

Forever, really. And it's a similar argument that vegetarians and animal lovers have with people who eat meat or are apathetic to their plight. I don't know that this will ever be resolved but it's still questionable to put a reasoning creature in captivity. These Demonoids can talk after all.

Captain Tootsie seemed a little put off by Malcolm killing Scourge last time around, but here, he is the one arguing in favor of caging these Demonoids who did nothing wrong. Is that just a question of his priorities, or are we starting to see his priorities change a bit?

He's erring on the side of caution and we skipped over the battle which followed the conclusion of our previous issue, so he has reason to believe that they may pose a threat. But remember, Captain Tootsie is a man of his time and a man out of time. He lived through World War II where Japanese Americans were rounded up and thrown into Internment Camps for the "safety" of the rest of us (never mind the fact that German-Americans weren't rounded up and caged like animals). This is what is done with "the enemy" in times of war. Ultimately, Scourge was "the enemy" and he "got what he deserved" and Demonoids are "the enemy" as well. Malcolm's more of a bleeding heart, I suppose.

The "they should have greeted us like liberators" line certainly feels like maybe Tootsie is a little set in the old ways?

Yeah, and that's something the Bush administration claimed when heading over toward Iraq. They anticipated being hailed as heroes by the Iraqis.

I like the running gag of everyone being too distracted by their phones to react to the action, but was there a reason you decided to do it this month in particular?

It was just to justify the cover gag. But more and more I'm witnessing this in the real world. People are so plugged in that they don't notice what's going on in the world. I know that I'm making a concerted effort to be in the moment and not get sucked into the virtual world wherever there's a slight lull. That dopamine addiction can be strong.

I'm not going to lie: even with some of the more gruesome stuff that's been in the book, I feel like the fin getting yanked off made my skin crawl the most. It also gave Malcolm a really unsettling look for the rest of the book. Was that kind of part of the idea?

Yeah -- and it seemed the obvious retaliation for him having broken the Demon King's horns. If I'm going to be perfectly honest, I broke them because I was having one hell of a time keeping them straight in terms of how they turned and what they looked like from various angles. When I decide just to break them off it made ripping of Malcolm's fin a logical follow up. And then I kept drawing Malcolm's fin into panels thereafter and erasing them again and again, so I'm not sure in the end that it saved me any time. In any case -- it did make Malcolm look particularly messed up.

Is there anything special about that panel truck with the letter "A" on it that's going by on the page where Malcolm's fin gets ripped off?

That's just what ambulances look like in Toronto. Angel was being hauled off to the hospital after having been skewered. That was a visual way of knowing that the paramedics were doing their job.

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That shot of him crawling around the wreckage at the zoo, with the black eyes and the bloodied face, kind of looks like the image you used for the cover of #251, which you released online recently. Is that an intentional mirroring?

It definitely influenced it. After drawing the end of this issue I was thinking it was kind of fun drawing Malcolm all messed up like that so I decided to just do another drawing like that. It just struck me that there was a good cover image to be found in there somewhere. It's also a way of not getting too specific for a cover. That makes it that much easier to surprise readers. There's no villain or even a location to tip my hand.

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