This week saw the release of Savage Dragon #209, featuring the marriage of Malcolm Dragon and Maxine Jung Lai.
It was a wedding that went off largely without incident -- a rarity for any event in Savage Dragon, let alone one that has any kind of build-up. It just goes to show that, even when you're erring on the side of everything going right, you can't predict what's going to happen in this comic.
Erik Larsen, as always, joined us to analyze the issue and give it some context...and also to preview what's to come with marriage and kids.
Remember that these commentary track-style interviews are spoiler heavy. If you haven't yet read Savage Dragon #209, buy it here and read along with us.
Given the fact that we just lost Rex, will we get an idea of where that belly band came from?
It's from Lorella. It's something that she devised. While Dragon's race was quite religious, and tampering with the chosen one's birthing process was strictly forbidden, her time with Dragon has all but drummed that out of her. I'd intended to have some dialogue in there addressing this but it came off a bit too cumbersome and awkward so I put it off. It'll be mentioned in an upcoming issue.
How much thought went into the design of Maxine's dress itself?
I did some research. It's always a bit weird with a pregnant bride. I found a dress online that seemed to work. I kind of mixed and matched a bit. I liked the headdress, which simulated cat ears, and gave her a kind of Hello Kitty look
Both the Maxine/Angel and Malcolm/Frank Jr. conversations included lines of dialogue that Maxine was a "troublemaker." Is there something you have planned to play that up, or was it just kind of a reminder that marriage won't significantly change who these characters are?
A bit of both, really.
Will Malcolm feel bad at all about pushing Maxine not to invite Tierra? I mean, it's going to be pretty obvious what happened, I think, and had she been there they might have been able to help her.
Time will tell on that front. It was going to be a disaster either way and Tierra could certainly have been a major disruption even if she didn't explode during the ceremony.
Maxine's suggestion that they invite Tierra was not in earnest, anyway. It was more of a thing where Malcolm had pushed to invite Maxine's parents, and she felt that had the potential to embarrass her so why not invite Tierra, while they're at it, and potentially embarrass him? Maxine really had no interest in inviting Tierra for any reason beyond that.
Once Malcolm explained that Tierra's presence had the potential to embarrass them both--she backed off. Of course they will both feel terrible about what happened to Tierra.
Angel is still a little worried about what the general public would say about their foursome. Is there a bigger chance that could get out at this point, with Tierra dying in childbirth?
Not really, no. There's nothing about that which ties her to any kind of event directly. It just tells the world that Malcolm messed around before getting married. Nothing about it puts them all in the same room.
A few particular pages notwithstanding, this is probably the lightest and "happiest" the book has been in a really long time. is that indicative of a shift of tone a little bit, or just a break before reality sets back in?
It's been a long time since I've done an issue which didn't contain some sort of fist fight and I wanted to give that a break for an issue. There are enough little events and emotions which go into a wedding that I thought having the wedding itself take up most of the issue would make for a satisfying read.
Given the larger-than-life characters you have in the series, did these things with all the big wedding moments come really naturally to you or did you have to put a lot of thought into just what note you wanted to hit?
This one took a bit longer than most. There is a lot to it. It's logistically complex. There's a lot to keep track. I made a long list of things I wanted to include. And whittled away at that. There were a lot of things I had to cut out for space reasons and there are quite a few jumps in the book. Maxine and Malcolm go from table to table in rapid succession and we just get a few glimpses of that. It was hard to boil it all down.
I really liked the exchanges between Malcolm and MJ in this issue. Will the marriage mean we'll get a little bit more time for them together? Obviously Malcolm has been keeping pretty busy lately and we've seen mostly action, then then a lot of fooling around.
I hope so, yeah. I had a hell of a time finding the perfect woman for Malcolm's father and all of his relationships seemed a bit strained and forced. Maxine is just a great fit. She's so bouncy and fun and full of mischief that it keeps things entertaining. It's one of those relationships which write themselves. It's like Angel and Mr. Glum--I'm never at a loss with what to say.
If I couldn't include any more super-heroics in the book and it was just those two running around having fun that would still be a blast to work on. And, ideally, that's what makes for a great book: where nothing could happen and it would still be highly entertaining.
Between the vows and the toasts, there's a lot of BIG word balloons in this issue. Does working twice up help you at all in terms of being able to get a little more detail into those kinds of panels?
The danger with word balloons is that they take up a lot of real estate and if there are too many of them it can look like a guy in a phone booth full of volleyballs. I actually chopped down the priest's traditional wedding speech quite a bit because it was just too much and the page looked ridiculous. The size the art is drawn on really doesn't make much difference because the printed font size stays the same. If the pages are drawn bigger then the balloons are bigger too--they're proportionately the same.
There is, that said, a rather JARRING tonal shift that comes up for a few pages. Did you consider leaving the Tierra story until another time, or was it always meant to be this kind of disturbing, especially juxtaposed with the happy occasion everywhere else?
It was absolutely intentional to include it in this issue. I didn't consider leaving it until later for an instant. I wanted that jarring juxtaposition of good times and bad and the page turn from Tierra being depressed as that group gushed about Malcolm and Maxine's wedding was very deliberate. It's all part of making a good drama. Triumph and tragedy.
Will we be dealing with how Laila gets along without her mom?
To some extent but Laila is very young. Her mom took off a while back so she really doesn't have strong memories of her at this point. She's two years old.
Going back a bit, what went into the decision to not show the conversation with Maxine's parents?
I thought it worked better, left to the readers' imaginations. And pacing-wise, I needed Maxine and Malcolm to get out of town. If they found out about Tierra before they had left the two probably would have cancelled their plans or at least been seriously bummed out about it. I wanted to give them some happy time together.
Do you think Tierra knew she was going to die, or was she in denial?
She was in denial. She hoped it would work out. I would think she was pretty depressed about the way it all went down. I would think she was planning to confront Malcolm once her pregnancy was undeniable. She was certainly warned of the dangers and she screwed up by telling the Gossip Rag publisher that she wasn't pregnant. Likely she wasn't thinking that her message could have been passed on to Malcolm.
And now of course we have a Dragon Baby kicking around. Will we be dealing with that soon or is it something that will keep a little bit?
It'll keep a short while but it's not something I intend to brush aside for long. I'll be dealing with it within the next year of the book.
Page 7 was a callback to the tragic attempted wedding of Dragon to Jennifer from Savage Dragon #62. Why do callbacks like this?
I like callbacks like this because it sets readers up for something. If they get the reference it's there--if they miss it--it still works as a page, just as it did before. But since a similar page was followed by tragedy, years ago, I would hope that a similar page would make readers a bit anxious, if even on an unconscious level. And, yeah, "You may kiss the bride" is not really said anymore because it's somewhat sexist but I guess the priest didn't get the memo.