Erik Larsen on How COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter Protests Will Impact Savage Dragon

For 28 years, Erik Larsen has been writing and drawing Savage Dragon, the long-running Image [...]

For 28 years, Erik Larsen has been writing and drawing Savage Dragon, the long-running Image Comics title that centers on the Dragon family and their attempts to keep their hometowns and the world safe as superheroes (also sometimes cops or government-sponsored super-agents). The series unfolds in real time -- so Malcolm Dragon, whose birth fans got to witness in the early days of the comic, has now replaced his father (simply known as "Dragon") as the lead character of the series. And because the series plays out in real time and in a version of our "real" world, upcoming issues of Savage Dragon will touch on the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter protests that have dominated much of the discourse in recent weeks.

With Savage Dragon #250 right around the corner and #252 on Larsen's drawing board, we touched base with the veteran creator to talk about how the real world will encroach on the upcoming landmark issue, and shape the world of Malcolm and Maxine Dragon in the weeks and months to come. The answer, surprisingly, is that the pandemic has already completely reshaped Savage Dragon #250.

"Initially the thought was to make #248 through #250 one thing, and just to have it be, we're going to build to this big fight with the Vicious Circle and they're going to take over or whatever," Larsen told "And while I'm sitting there doing #249 and scripting #249, it's really clear that this pandemic is a big goddamn deal and if your comic is going to continue to be set in something familiar, you need to address it at some point. So I started, in that issue, to put in some dialogue that addresses it, but at the time when I was drawing it, it hadn't really been obvious this is what's going on, so while the dialogue is sitting there going, 'hey, you guys aren't concerned about this COVID?' nobody's got masks on, particularly. Then, by the time I was getting toward the end of it, I was like, I'd better just wrap this here and have people sheltering in place. A lot of it is just, I do think a lot on the fly, and I'm sitting there going, a lot of people are going to start reading this book with 250, who haven't been reading it before and didn't have the previous issue handy. So to start it in the middle of a battle and just be, 'hey, here's 22 pages of people kicking each other around, and then the cavalry comes in to save the day,' it's like, that's got be a super weird, unsatisfying read to deal with. Let me step back from that. Let's take 249, wrap it up, and then have 250 be a little more self-contained than that, and set things up for where things are going beyond."

Part of where it goes beyond that will be an acknowledgment of the social justice movement spurred by the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. Larsen was doing Savage Dragon #252 when the protests kicked off, and decided to acknowledge it.

"I'm drawing issues now, and there's all the Black Lives Matter stuff going on, and it's like, I can respond to that. I can have there be things where I'm addressing that as I'm mid-issue. Suddenly, it's like, 'hey, page six and seven, let's actually touch on that a little bit.'"

Savage Dragon #250 will be on the stands on July 15.