Erik Larsen Talks 'Savage Dragon' #239, and Long-Term Consequences

Today sees the release of Savage Dragon #239, in which a number of long-running plots all start to boil over, promising mayhem for the coming months in both Malcolm and Maxine's personal life and in the superhero arena.

After last issue, in which the world at large learned of the healing properties of Malcolm's blood (the explosive side effects were not as well docuented), somebody gets their hands on some -- and a bloody battle (in more ways than one) ensues.

Larsen joined to discuss the issue, which deals with the theme of decisions -- even those made in the heat of a chaotic moment -- bringing long-term consequences.

This is a spoiler-heavy interview. If you haven't read Savage Dragon #239 yet, you can pick it up at your local comic shop now, or buy a digital copy on Amazon, B&N, ComiXology, or and read along with us.

We get a little blowback in this issue from Malcolm, which I think would have been expected last time out. Are the events of last issue going to continue to be a problem for him, or did this more or less give him a chance to get that out of his system?

Like Malcolm said, there’s no undoing this—it’s going to follow them around for the rest of their lives. It will never go away. Where the story goes from this point remains to be seen but it’s part of the fabric from here on out. It’s like being publicly shamed in a way. You can’t go back to how you were before no matter how much you might want to. Actions have consequences.

It has been a while since we saw Harry. Any particular reason you wanted him to be the guy doing the interview in this issue?

Mostly because he’s a part of the book and he’s got a reputation. Other late night hosts would be less likely to follow a celebrity up to Canada because moving their show would be such a massive undertaking. It made more sense for a guy trying to rebuild a reputation and a show. He’s also not the type to avoid talking about the elephant in the room. He couldn’t let that go—not if it meant ratings. My other talkshow option was Jerry Rivers but I’ve already established a friendly relationship there. Malcolm has been on his show. And Jerry’s not as likely to rock the boat. He’s less of a troublemaker. And having it be somebody new doesn’t have the same effect. I wanted that tension. I wanted Malcolm squirming in his chair and fearing the worst.

In the absence of the Savage Dragon Wiki (RIP), I can't quite be positive, but I don't think Norm Spiegelman is anybody to readers, right?

He’s nobody we’ve met before. He’s new. And he pretty much says all we need to know about him, rather succinctly.

Will there be somebody else to take over the Sex Dolls now that Norm has SPUTtered out, or is that chapter more or less closed?

We’ll have to wait and see about that. Malcolm didn’t catch his name so there’ll be a short passage until this is followed up on. It’s not entirely over.

I kind of love the idea that the kids are so used to seeing just spectacular quantities of blood at this point that they can walk it off and go back to bed. Are Malcolm and Maxine planning on sending THEM to therapy at some point?

I don’t think it’s necessary just yet. They’re kind of like children of horror actors who keep walking in on their parents in gruesome makeup. At a certain point it just all becomes normal. They’ve seen it all and it’s just not a big deal. It may not even register as blood — just — a mess of some kind. They’ve seen all kinds of action. A short while ago Sex Dolls crashed through their wall. That happened at the hospital as well. It just becomes this thing that happens every so often.

Speaking of that, are there elements of the celebrity superhero lifestyle that you are getting to play with more this generation, since Malcolm wasn't around during his early years?

There are a lot of them but it’s difficult sometimes to come up with different ways that can be manifested. If it’s a mob scene every time that these guys leave the house it would be a lot of the same thing, issue after issue and I don’t want it to get repetitive or boring. It can also be a challenge to come up with something visually compelling and yet different. But it’s definitely something that’s on its way. The reality show, the heroics—it all gets compounded. Simply making a real friend can be difficult when you’re that much of a celebrity.

I like that we get a little bit of a reason behind Angel's wardrobe change without getting too deep into it. Is Freak Force going to hang around Toronto for the foreseeable future?

They’ll be in the book off and on. SuperPatriot’s not giving up on America and some of these characters do have lives of their own. Mighty Man and Lightning Girl are still school-aged, after all. But unlike Malcolm and Angel, they do have freedom to travel back and forth.

The Demonoid threat has been developing for quite a while. Is it safe to assume the coming battle will be paying off a lot of those teases and not just a one-and-done like we have seen in the past?

It’s hard to resolve it neatly and tie a nice bow on it because it’s an underground race, dwelling below the surface but this is definitely as big and widespread as it’s gotten thus far. A few Demonoids have found their way to the surface here and there but this is bigger than what we’ve seen thus far.

Visually, are you at all thinking about how to try and top your last big Demonoid throwdown, a whole issues of double-page splashes?

It’s a very different kind of animal. That one was a ten panel long story. As big as it was and as spectacular and visually compelling — it was stiff ten panels and a few of those took place below. This gets more play because there can be more pieces of action. It was certainly a load of fun and a huge challenge to do a story entirely with double-page spreads but I can go into more depth this time because I have more shots.


It's one of those blink-and-you-miss it things, but Harry certainly seems very dead in the last couple of pages. Was that just a case of being done with the character, or was it a final case of karma catching up with him?

Harry is dead and there will be repercussions following that. There was a live feed and a studio full of people watching as Malcolm, rather flippantly, ignored his pleas for help. Actions have consequences. A big part of this book is setting up things like this and seeing where it takes us. Telling a beloved talk show host to “take a number” as he’s torn in two will have consequences.