Eric Larsen on Savage Dragon #261, Gang Wars and Killer Sharks

Eric Larsen wild dragon A game-changing case created this week as the new Mako becomes more energetic and destructive, while several members of the vicious circle vied for power in the void left by Dart’s death. Everything turns into a brawl next month, but in the meantime, we’ve also got a little movement in a number of subplots, including Angel Dragon’s return to Chicago for marriage, Malcolm and Paul Dragon finally starting to find common ground, and of course Maxine’s once-forgiving lifestyle. Others take center stage (err… table).

All this while Horridus, one of the series’ longest-running supporting characters, finds herself on a ventilator with a life-threatening case of covid-19. solve it? To borrow some of Malcolm’s blood, try to use it to treat herself, and I hope she doesn’t get bogged down, of course.

Larsen joined ComicBook to solve the problem and tease a little of what’s to come next. Since this is a commentary style interview, you should get a copy from your local comic store or pick up a digital copy now and read it, because there will be spoilers.

We’ve talked about the Mako/King Shark situation before, but did you feel you had to comment on the story because of the factual aspect of the comedy?

This seemed very important when I drew it and progressively less important with each passing day. My concern at the time was that the King Shark movie might make the prospect of a Mako movie problematic, although the Mako comic predated the King Shark comic by a few years, but that may not be the case. The Suicide Squad didn’t set the world on fire. Once the scene paper was committed, I got it out of my system. Going out now–it seems kinda weird–and I’m sorry for giving him any air. Maybe that story slipped back in August 2021 or something during that short window when it looked like it might be working. But he set Mako a bit as a subject of sarcasm, and having Makoha have a chip on his shoulder as well as an ax to grind the vicious circle isn’t a bad thing.

Regarding Maxine trying to get down to Malcolm in the game – most of the time, Malcolm is on board with her sexual obsession. Is it safe to assume that these big “rejections” will play a role in a larger ongoing story?

I do not think so. If it becomes a pattern of rejection, perhaps, but at this point it’s just setting the boundaries. He doesn’t want to be a part of Maxine’s next viral video moment. The world does not want to examine its malice. And she’s not stupid, just reckless, so that makes sense to her.

This is the first time we’ve seen Malcolm and Paul interact civilly without any concern. Do you think they are heading towards finding a middle ground between family and strangers?

I think it’s inevitable that Malcolm and Paul will find something in between. For their children, this is the only grandfather they have. So, whether you like it or not, Paul will be a part of their lives. Plus, he’s one of the few babysitters who can keep the kids in line if it comes to that.

Tongue grafting has meaning. Did you just want to pass on the idea to the canon that they are being vaccinated, or is there something more than that in the scene?

Yes, it was something of a public service. At first I was going to go take a shot of the arm, but given their powers – it didn’t make sense, and I’ve installed the tongue in previous versions so it seemed like a better option. Plus it’s a funny visual.

Even just reading that scene with Marsha is exhausting. With Trump out of office, and the pandemic still spreading, did you feel it was time to plunge into politics a little more?

It’s kind of crazy how people have politicized this issue. If Facebook and Twitter existed in the early 1900s, we would still be dealing with smallpox and the Spanish flu. Vaccines should not be political. It is basic public health. Are we trying to put this epidemic behind us or not? Why is this even up for discussion? Anyway, I thought it was important to have someone in the book get Covid and Horridus seemed an obvious choice.

People also feel horribly comfortable using Dragon blood and Freak-Out as a cocktail to cure all diseases. What are the chances that it will come back to bite us?

It won’t work every time. The original savage dragon died after Malcolm’s blood was injected and the clock ran out. It’s really playing with fire here. But, as you know, bad times require desperate measures. We’ll have to wait to see how that goes.

Did the samurai really think that declaring themselves chief would be that easy? Or is she basically looking to start the fight that will follow, so she can win the role?

She thought, naively, that she was the second man in the Dart that the leadership would fall on her. After all, there’s a hierarchy, and she thought she could handle it without bloodshed. We’ll see how well it goes.

Seeing the vicious circle shortened to what it is now – could this really be the end of the road for something that was part of the book from the start? Without spoiling the future stories, obviously, is this something you’ve been wandering about?

It is not off the table. I think about different possibilities all the time and weigh the potential of stories. Having a ready group of enemies is very easy from a storytelling point of view, but there is an advantage to changing the status quo as well. There is a lot to consider.

However, with family things driving so many writers, how important are the Savage Dragon’s super villains these days? Now that he’s no longer a cop, it’s as if Malcolm can take on the role of a firefighter and solve problems that don’t involve dropping brick walls on people.

This particular path may recur horribly, both visually and wisely, but there is some truth to it. I guess I could take a while without the bad guys playing a big part, but I’m wondering how much the audience will be involved. Technically this part is a lot of fun but it’s not always fun to write.

With a major brawl unfolding between two dragons and, I suppose, Mako, how busy are you keeping Gavin coming up with the names of the members of the vicious circle who are alive and recognizable enough to make the scenes dynamic?

We’ve put together a list and I’m forever looking at it and making the cuts. Altogether, there are a few topics that I have covered multiple times. There are very few men or demon-looking characters with little heads sticking out of their heads. And after Torment came along, I didn’t want a few more items with similar visuals to appear in the next issue. The problem in a room full of characters is deciding who is and who is not. It can feel like characters appear out of nowhere or disappear. It gets complicated.

The circle tends to be at its strongest when there’s a major axis of notes at the top, whether it’s an OverLord or a Dart. Is it naive to assume that this is a job for Mako?

I don’t know that Mako is a pioneering material. At least for now, he’s more likely to burn the vicious circle to the ground.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo