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Larsen fires back at Wacker in Spider-Man dustup

by  in Comic News Comment

The back and forth continues about the appearance of Barack Obama in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #583, which sports an alternate cover featuring the president-elect.

But this particular thread involves Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen and Amazing Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker.

It began last week when Larsen posted on a message board that he feels “very betrayed” by Marvel because, in his eyes, the publisher duplicated elements from Savage Dragon #137 — namely, the incentive cover and the use of the “terrorist fist jab” — and used as a story element a shape-shifting villain masquerading as the president, which he’d done previously in an issue of his long-running series.

Then yesterday, Wacker responded with an email to Robot 6 countering Larsen’s assertions: “The idea that this was off-limits because the President-Elect had appeared on another comic cover (or that we wouldn’t have had this idea without Erik Larsen) is beyond preposterous.”

And now Larsen has fired back:

So — lemme get this straight — Steve Wacker from Marvel goes to CBR to say that Marvel never looks at CBR? How does that make sense in any reality? Of course Marvel was aware of the Dragon/Obama cover —  Quesada is very aware of Savage Dragon. Hell, he hired my creative team to work on Ash — he drew a pinup in my book — he drew a trading card with Dragon and me on it — he even had fan mail printed in my letters page.

I hear from Marvel employees all the time in regard to Savage Dragon. To deny that anybody at Marvel saw or heard about the Obama alternate cover on Savage Dragon is ridiculous. It was all over CBR and Newsarama and all over the web. Yes — presidents have appeared on the covers of Marvel comics before but never on an incentive cover and never as a publicity stunt. Typically, the appearance of a president on a cover doesn’t have any sales effect, positive or negative, so there’s do such a thing.

Obama is different. Obama is history in our life times. He’s Jackie Robinson. It makes sense for Marvel to do this. They could see how Obama’s appearance resulted in three printings of Savage Dragon and they could anticipate that an appearance on Spider-Man might bring them a lot of attention. It was a good move on their part and I don’t deny that. But — come on — would a simple acknowledgement that I did it first be so hard? And don’t you think that scooting it in under the wire in order to put a lie to the publicity I’d already received for having Obama’s first appearance as President in a comic book just a little bit underhanded?

Coincidences do happen. Four years ago, I did a story where an appearance-altering villain disguised himself as the president. If Steve Wacker didn’t read that it’s not inconceivable to me that he concocted a similar idea on his own. Stories of Presidents being replaced with evil duplicates or even robots aren’t unheard of — but don’t  insult my intelligence by claiming that Marvel never looks at Diamond’s Previews or CBR or Newsarama.

— Erik Larsen
Savage Dragon perpetrator
www.savagedragon.com
www.imagecomics.com