Erik Larsen on 'Savage Dragon' #229, Tim Horton's, The Next Dragon Baby, and Shazam!

The Savage Dragon issues are coming fast and furious, and last week saw the release of Savage Dragon #229, and the revelation that Maxine Dragon is pregnant (again).

How will she -- already stressed beyond reason by the triplets -- handle this new revelation? Series creator Erik Larsen joined for his standard commentary track-style interview to discuss it -- and of course, we forgot to run it because it seemed unlikely that we would have another column just a couple of weeks after #228 ran!

There are spoilers ahead, so if you have not yet read Savage Dragon #229, go buy a copy and read along with us.

Team Dimension-X seems to be tantalizingly close to potentially discovering Glum. Is that a serious possibility or are the odds basically astronomical because of the size of the area they would have to "canvass?"

It's a possibility, surely, as is them simply discovering that he is alive out there somewhere. A lot of my thinking here is just to open things up to more options and more possibilities. They can go this way or that and I'll decide on the fly which way to go. Like real life—you make plans to do one thing and constant obstacles get in the way.

We get a really 1:1 look at how the stress of the Dragon kids leads to sex as stress relief here, between Kevin and then the page of Malcolm and Maxine. What will ANOTHER kid mean?

The family dynamic charges. It has to. If there's another son or daughter it's another person to be concerned with and while the triplets have all been on a pretty even level—all being roughly the same age and size—suddenly there would be a little brother or sister. And another baby in the house just as they'd finally got past changing diapers.

Are Sterling Morris and Joan Jameson public domain, or was that just kind of a fun one-off gag?

It wasn't really them. They're not quite on model. I was just thinking of names and it crossed my mind that he did look a bit like Sterling Morris and that it might be funny to call him that for the small number of readers who might get the reference. But I'm not thinking that it's really Billy Batson's old boss. Station WHIZ wasn't in Canada, after all. I just needed a name that sounded like a boss's name. But as far as I know all of these Fawcett characters are in the public domain.

Is the butler being left to die from an actual Captain Marvel story and you just gave him a name, or did you make it up out of whole cloth?

Sterling Morris had a butler named Eric in the old Captain Marvel comics. I don't recall him appearing much. I didn't go back and read all of the old stories to see for sure if he was recurring or just a one-off. t don't know if he ever had a last name so I just made one up. Again—it's not really important what his name is or was. He doesn't look like Sterling's butler.

Kevin is rushing right into a commitment mindset. Is that just where he has been for a while but has had bad luck?

I think it's natural to try and prolong a relationship that might not work out over the long haul simply because it seems to be going fine now. Unless there was some other viable prospect—it might seem like the thing to do. And Kevin has had a few major setbacks in his life and at the moment—this seems like a good thing.

Could the Kevin/Angel chemistry disrupt any potential relationship that forms when Angel comes back?

I would imagine so. But even so there's the actual relationship vs. prospect aspect. And Angel's been known to be somewhat hot and cold when it comes to relationships. She was all about Daredevil and then completely cold on him and the same with Frank Darling, Jr.

Everybody wrestles with this to some extent. Even if you dated a different person each night for ten years you'd still have gone out with a small fraction of the population and how is anybody to know that this is the one for them with absolute certainty? At some point you just have to make a choice or risk spending your life forever searching and dying alone. It's a big decision, no matter how you slice it.

I feel like you have had a fair share of these one-off or short-term villains who are revenge-driven. Is that just a matter of the backstory being more interesting than just "got powers, went bad?"

I do find them interesting to some extent but I would draw a big distinction between villains specifically targeting the hero and those going after somebody else. If a hero is simply defending himself—that's not especially heroic and he might even be endangering the lives of others in the process. If a hero is trying to save a life or catch a killer—he is being heroic.

But like anything—it all comes down to the particulars. There's also some moral ambiguity here because we don't really know to what extent the hero was wronged. He may have a perfectly valid reason to attack his old boss. In any case, I do prefer that to another bank heist.

The cover here depicts something from within the story — but I know you had said it was surprisingly difficult to get the way you wanted it. Can you talk about the process?

I just had that image in my head—of Maxine picking one of Malcolm's green fingers out of her hair—and then I went about drawing it. I actually took a bunch of pictures of my wife picking something out of her hair and I sketched out a couple dozen variations. I drew one on my now-standard twice up paper and it just did not work. The proportions looked weird and I simply didn't have the control I needed to make those long swooping lines in her hair.

I ended up bailing on that and drawing the final cover on this tiny Image paper, which is printed on 8 1/2" X 14" sheets. Considering how simple the final cover looked I put way more time and effort into it than you would imagine. I frequently put a disproportionate number of hours into creating covers and this one exceeded most. I wasn't 100% happy with the end result but I couldn't work on it forever. I have interiors to draw.

They are obviously leaving the door open to bringing back Dragon, but the vote to go home feels like a bit like they are coming to terms with his loss, or at least that the emotion is less raw. Is that fair?

I would imagine that the more time that passes the more reality sets in. But in a reality like this—is it ever really over? They could literally obsess on this for the rest of their lives. In the short-term though, they need to make sure they can get home or they risk never being able to get home.

For those keeping track at home—there are four Toronto-specific locations in this issue. You had said you didn't want to become a Toronto travelogue, but it's looking more and more like one.

You can't set a story in Canada and at least mention Tim Hotons. And rather than make up another hospital as I did in Chicago, I decided to go with St. Michael's because it's so visually distinctive. And the CN Tower really is Toronto's most distinctive landmark, so it was inevitable that I'd have to at least show it from time to time. As for the Poop Café—how could I not? I swear I won't be doing this sort of thing every issue. This was a bit excessive.