Erik Larsen Breaks Down Savage Dragon #259 and North Force’s Future

Erik Larsen was recently named a “Person of the Week” by Bleeding Cool, and like most of us, he had to be both completely surprised and thrilled about the honor. I also like to think the award was due to my work, and not because of the fact that I am Erik’s brother! I think the best way to show my appreciation is to break down some of his more recent comics, and give you a bit of a peek into the future of the Savage Dragon family.

Erik Larsen has proven once again that he is a man of his word. In a recent interview with 411Mania about the upcoming “North Force” miniseries, Erik dished a little info on some of the plot points. Oh, and he also told us where he got the idea for the title of the series.

Erik Larsen and I were in touch for a couple of weeks, and he offered up some insight into the business of comics, and his history making comics. Erik is a true comics legend. He’s been in the business for over thirty years and is a huge fan of Savage Dragon. In fact, he loved the book so much that he created a website and a club dedicated to helping fans find and buy the books.. Read more about savage dragon and let us know what you think.

week’s track from Savage Dragon served a dual purpose: it was released as a special launch issue of Image, North Force #0. The Northern Powers are, of course, a team of Canadian superheroes who have played a major role in Savage Dragon over the past few months. Towards the end of the issue, they recruited a new cast member of Savage Dragon and went into space. The inside pages of the issues differ slightly depending on which version of the story you’re reading, but the plot remains intact – a balance Larsen must have found before, as there have been several instances of Savage Dragon issues holding up as Free Comic Book Day issues with a similar feature. In an earlier version of this article, the single issue dedicated to the Northern Force was considered a comic book issue in celebration of Free Comic Book Day. It’s a good starting point for Savage Dragon, and if you go to a comic shop, you can buy North Force #0 if you prefer. Both editions are available digitally for $3.99. Larsen has joined the discussion about the problem… the problem? — … and what is planned for Savage Dragon and North Force. First of all, can you tell us what the difference is between the Savage Dragon version and the one-shot version of North Force? As for the main story, North Force #0 has a voiceover that Savage Dragon #259 does not. The two stories have different titles, and at the end, Savage Dragon gets a piece for the next issue not included in North Force #0. As for the rest of the issue, Savage Dragon #259 has the usual letters page and Red Hook backup story, and North Force #0 has character bios for the whole team. The idea was that North Force #0 would focus more on the team, while Savage Dragon #259 would still be a song about Savage Dragon. Do you want to make a book about the forces of the North? Apparently Todd is building a whole library of spawn-themed games. The more characters, the more ideas I get and the more possibilities I have. Several people have asked me if it is possible to write or draw a book about the Northern Force, so it is very possible. Right now I’m concentrating on Savage Dragon and Ant, but I can always find a way out. It’s much easier to create something when you have a story that already wants to come out. So it’s very possible. We talked about this a bit in Savage Dragon Legacy, but how do you balance the need to attract new readers with a nearly nonexistent story with promoting the current dragon story? It’s never easy, but I think it’s best to keep it simple and not overwhelm readers with unnecessary links that complicate things. If you’ve been reading along for a long time, you already know the story, so no need to repeat it. If you’re a new reader, this story will just be an awkward narration, so it’s best to bring it back to basics: Who are the characters? Who are the bad guys? What’s at stake? You can imply that there is more, but trying to keep up with readers every month 258 issues and a continuity count is a fool’s game. Most new readers take everything at face value. It’s harder to satisfy those who no longer read, who recognized the status quo a decade or two ago. They are more easily confused because they are looking for familiar things that no longer exist. Sometimes I have to remind them that the action of the book takes place in real time and that 29 years have passed for the characters, so some changes are inevitable. In general, everything seems to be working. On the question itself: It’s almost strange to see new characters with secret identities. Is there any particular reason why you made her a major part of the Northern Force, rather than appointing her as a deputy or anything else? I like secret identities. It’s nice. And with these characters there is the possibility to play in different realities. They all come from different parts of the city, and their houses are not all the same. There’s a lot to play for. And also – I’ve played this before in Savage Dragon. I don’t want a bunch of characters that look the same. From the first scene, it was clear that this relationship had no real chance of developing. As the saying goes: Malcolm doesn’t really fit into the secret identities, does he? He might not be the ideal guy to hang out with them at one of their hidden bases, but he could definitely be the one to join the team when they go to war. It’s a different kind of relationship than they’re used to, but it can work. And in the future, I think that will be the case. Just as they constantly encountered each other as individuals, Malcolm will always encounter them in his travels. The relationship isn’t necessarily over. When you said Malcolm never played pool, did you point out that we’ve seen him his whole life and he never did? Or did you have to tell Gavin? I would have remembered that. Pool tables are so hard to draw, I remember drawing one. Of course – if I hadn’t remembered, I think Gavin would have pointed it out to me. The floating head layout on page 5 reminds me of the layouts of the 60s and 70s. What led to this? Yes – it was a Gil Kane inspired layout. I was trying to think of different ways to draw the communication signs, and this seemed like a good option. It’s not because of anything in particular – it’s just a general feeling. Gil had some innovations that were almost forgotten, and every now and then I pull one out and reintroduce it. I should do more of this stuff. Every time a super goal appears, I comment on it. Although playing pool is a pretty inspiring use of that power, right? Yes. It’s harder to draw than I thought. This kind of thing works much better in movies where there is real movement. It’s hard to convey exactly what’s happening in static images, because there are so many small parts of the action that take place on the pool table. I’m afraid the limits of the environment have manifested themselves. Here we see a continuation of the theme that Maxine is very concerned about Malcolm’s safety and death. Is there any chance she can resume her therapy? It seems like every emotional change she makes is a real extreme. We’ll see. I think there’s a lot we don’t see. We only saw Maxine once, when she was talking to her therapist, but there’s no reason to think that was the only time. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see every moment of these characters’ lives, and the reader has to fill in a lot of blanks themselves. The fact that he can’t join the team because it takes him away from his kids, is that the final resolution to this plot, or will it haunt us for a while? In the Northern Forces book, of course, the speaker practically closes the door. Without them, things are a little more opaque. But we can only wait and see. If Malcolm continues to save their collective asses, there’s no reason to think the door’s closed. There’s something very dynamic about the crowd shots and character design, even compared to previous North Force appearances. Have you had a chance to give them more character traits, to change their physical presence and body language a bit? It helps, I think. And when the reader learns that Grizzly and Knight are women, he begins to view and regard them a little differently: Oh, yeah. I see it now, when that piece of the puzzle wasn’t there before. Of course, I knew many things before the readers did. The Canadian was the first of the team to be introduced, and I knew from the start what he looked like under the mask. When asking a riddle, it’s always best to know the answer in advance. What would happen to Captain Tootsie’s children if he left with the northern troops? There’s a support group. Rollo’s brother, Buddy Costanza, has repeatedly reprogrammed Perfect Women™ and several individuals at Genetech Labs. There’s a system. Is this the first specific reference to Captain Tootsie’s story other than its origin? A few things fell away when Captain Tootsie got a more permanent place in the book, but there are a few other things that are alluded to here and there. Why did you decide to use Marvel Handbook-style biography pages for these characters? This is the simplest and most straightforward layout, and I did similar biographical pages in a Savage Dragon book several decades ago. We do something similar on Savage Dragon Wiki, which helps me keep track of a lot of little things. If you’re creating a series that spans decades, this is a handy tool to have on hand.

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