More Religion in Comics: Erik Larsen Talks Savage Dragon #181

In the aftermath of the alien invasion in Savage Dragon, out in trade this week, a new issue of the series hits the stands after a bit of a gap in publication.

Dragon himself takes on his son in space to see who will lead their race into the future, while Malcolm and Angel cope with the ramifications of the invasion that left millions dead back here on earth.

As always, writer/artist Erik Larsen joined ComicBook.com for a conversation about the issue. Spoilers on, folks!

Was it you or the colorist who made the decision to have the very muted colors on the cover? It works well, especially with the yellow logo popping out of it.

I colored the cover this time out. There are occasions when I have a specific idea for a cover and I'll just knock it out myself. Usually it's a case where the color is either knocked out or something a little off beat. I tend to get a little more anal when it comes to the the covers.

That conversation Dragon has with Lorella at the very beginning--that's nearly word-for-word the one we had about the upcoming battle in our last conversation. Was that something you wanted to make sure got across to readers up top, that just a lack of experience shouldn't make this an easy fight?

Part of my job as a storyteller is to try and keep readers guessing somewhat. I think the readers expectations, having never seen Krull in combat, it that that his dad might be able to handle him fairly effortlessly. Given that, I felt it was a good idea to essentially say to the reader, "hey, wait a second-- that may not be the case. Maybe this guys not such a pushover after all." But yeah, Dragon's been in a lot more brawls than Krull has been in and had a lot more experience. And Krull isn't as vicious as his dad was when he was a younger man.

That said, has there been a more one-sided fight in the book before? Maybe Malcolm and Spoon...!

Well certainly Spoon and the Alien would be a more one-sided battle. I'd give Krull extra credit for a valiant effort. He did keep coming back for more.

"I hate to say it, but things are how they are here becuase of inertia." I think the same could be said for the U.S. most of the time, don't you?

This are any number of ways that could be interpreted. That's as valid as any. Largely Dragon was talking about their religious beliefs. And while their belief system has kept them from strangling one another one could argue that people wouldn't do that anyway in a civilized society anyway. It's kind interesting writing a book like this because I'm trying to make it as inclusive as possible to make it possible for Dragon to come into contact with as many kinds of characters as possible. The world in which he inhabits very much allows for the idea of there being a God. More than that actually the way I've set things up it allows for the existence of every God for all religions to be possible. But Dragon is very much me into that regard... he's an atheist and thinks that all of his people's religion is bulls--t. And he questions them the very way an atheist my question a Christian saying, "what is your basis for your beliefs?" If the answer is simply "Well, its in this book" the response atheists have is that well there are a lot of books. The important thing to remember in all of this is that the Dragon is not infallible. He can be, and often is, completely wrong.

This is the most Dragon-tastic issue of Savage Dragon in quite some time. Obviously that's just how the story shook out, but at the same time is it nice to be able to write your old pal for such a substantial chunk of the issue?

Absolutely. The Dragon is my favorite character and it's nice to be able to do stories with him again. As time goes on he will be more integrated back into the book, though not necessarily the star of it. I do love the guy.

And you really got both in--there was an extended (if somewhat comical) action sequence and a bit of monologue in there.

That was fun; I got the cover a lot of ground here and I got to do a lot of the kinds of Dragon story but I like to do.

Is it safe to assume that, for now, Krull is pretty much good with Dragon?

I think so, at least to some extent.

I know I've talked about this with DeMatteis, but I doin't think ever with you. It's not particulrly interesting to watch, but certainly there has to be a sense that people with powers can be more of a use to the world by fixing some of what's broken than just by dropping houses on one another. Are we seeing a bit of that with Malcolm here?

To some extent. But don't expect to see Malcolm pitching in and hammering nails issue after issue. That would get old fast. I may hint at some of that but at the end of the day I need to focus on the most engaging and visually compelling parts of Malcolm's story.

Once again, I feel like there's a parallel being drawn here, with Overlord giving mercy shortly after Dragon did so. Am I reading too much into that?

This Overlord is not the Overlord of old. And he's put himself in a rather strange bind. On one hand he's trying to say, "I'm not the same old Overlord as the other one. I'm a good guy" and yet he finds that he keeps needing to defend himself.

It's interesting--Dragon has a fairly cynical view of organized religion for a guy who's spent the afternoon in God's presence, doesn't he?

Yeah. Like most of us he clings to him beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. But remember, when Dragon did meet God he was told that every belief was true. So it's not as simple as all that.

That said, I never thought to ask this--you once told me that you had considered giving Dragon his "smokin' hot gals in Heaven" ending when you killed him off a while back. Was that omitted because it's something that you only get to do once and you don't want to burn it if there's a chance he's coming back?

If I ever do that scene you'll know Dragon is truly dead and not coming back.

It's funny--when Dragon walked away from the reader and said "Don't forget to vote," I surely expected it to be at least next issue when the actual election took place. Was there a reason for just getting it out of the way or was it just a matter of setting up for the next big story?

With the book set in real time I feel the need to keep things moving. I really make an effort not have things drag out and have things take up the minimum amount of space they can take up rather than the maximum. My goal is to have every panel count.

Angel's reaction to Malcolm is an interesting one--did she just think she could hide away until he forgot about what happened or dismissed it himself?

When it comes right down what a lot of people simply do not like any kind of confrontation especially one along those lines. It was an awkward situation and now she's embarrassed by it.

Just bailing on the ride home isn't so bad, in the grand scheme of things. I'm still skeptical that trusting Darklord is ever going to turn out the way Dragon wants it to. Is that just me?

It shouldn't be, no. DarkLord generally has a bigger, grander scheme in mind... or at least that's the way he has been up to this point. he's more concerned with the big picture than he is with individual lives.

Next issue: Overlord. That's pretty unequivocal. Are we finally looking at the big Overlord story we've been building to essentially since #150?

Yeah. I'm long overdue when it comes to resolving that storyline.