The hulking, razor-crested crusader was brought to life by Larsen way back when he was in grade school. He later refined the memory-challenged humanoid into the green-skinned, self-healing mutant who became a Chicago cop clashing with the city’s infestation of superfreak criminals after being discovered in a flaming field.
Savage Dragon holds the distinction of being one of two titles to herald Image Comics’ revolutionary 1992 launch, along with Spawn, which are both still being published today. Larsen has kept his muscular hero relevant and vital for his entire 28-year run as both writer and artist, and in July will celebrate the 250th issue with a 100-Page Super Spectacular packed with an all-star roster of talent — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive look at the supersized edition alongside Larsen’s reflections.
Image’s milestone anniversary issue is an overwhelming culmination that sets the stage for the next phase of comics’ most uncompromising series with its most startling story yet, as sinister forces have conspired against Malcolm Dragon and his family and readers can’t be certain as to whether this is a pivotal turning point, or possibly the end.
“I’m a forward-looking person in general, so I’m constantly eager to get to what’s coming next,” Larsen tells SYFY WIRE. “I’m forever excited about the next phase, the next character, the upcoming stories and the next direction. The exciting part of anniversary issues is the opportunity to say more and do more and tell more. There are more pages and more stories and it’s nice to be able to spend some time with characters which haven’t received as much attention as I’d have liked.”
“The book has been tightly focused on Malcolm Dragon and his immediate family and this issue gave me more space to expand that and show what’s been going on elsewhere,” he notes. “I’m also reprinting Graphic Fantasy #2, which was Dragon’s second appearance, originally published in 1982 and worth a king’s ransom. It’s never been colored and I took the time to color that story at long last. In terms of the lead story, well, the book has always been set in real time and in a world very much like our own, so the COVID-19 pandemic was thrust on me and I’ve had to cope with that in continuity, and because it’s Savage Dragon, I’ve found ways to make that both visually interesting and compelling. It certainly wasn’t what I had in mind from the start—but it’s made for an exciting challenge nevertheless.”
“Readers really seem to enjoy growing up with the characters,” Larsen adds. “It’s a superhero book for grown ups. And it’s a book that grows up with you. As the readers age and go through their life changes, the characters grow up and change as well. When the book started, Savage Dragon was a 29-year old single man living in Chicago. 28 years later, he’s long gone and his son is a 23-year old married man with four kids living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Things change. Characters grow and change. Characters age. They die. They move and retire and put on weight and have families.
“And the book is a massive love letter to comics—all comics—from Jack Kirby comics to Frank Miller comics and Milo Manara, R. Crumb, manga and everything in between. It goes through phases and touches on a myriad of topics. Plus, it’s funny and it’s real. Readers like the humor and they relate to the characters. It’s a bold experiment unlike anything you’ve ever seen before while being grounded in the things readers love and are familiar with.”