Larsen Shakes Up “Savage Dragon,” Updates “Ant” Status

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Larsen Shakes Up “Savage Dragon,” Updates “Ant” Status

Erik Larsen doesn’t back away from a challenge. The writer/artist was one of the first people to board the good ship Image Comics over 20 years ago when a group of Marvel and DC’s most successful artists decided they wanted to write their own rules for comics. Since then, Larsen has been living by those rules, writing and drawing “Savage Dragon” for 21 years and even acting as Image’s Publisher for a stretch.

One of the major rules he abides by is to keep his books fresh. Larsen flies in the face of Big Two storytelling conventions at most turns and has plans to do exactly that in upcoming issues of “Dragon.” Since Dragon’s recent return to Earth, he’s been put on trial for crimes committed while his previous self — Emperor Kurr — took over his body and went on a rampage. Now imprisoned in jail, Dragon will take something of a back seat while his son Malcolm steps up to the plate to become the headliner.

While Dragon has been a constant in Larsen’s life since the birth of Image Comics, the creator has also taken on other projects like writing and drawing “Supreme” for fellow Image founder Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios relaunch. With that run recently wrapped, though, Larsen was looking to focus his energies on reviving “Ant,” originally created by Mario Gully. Larsen purchased the rights from Gully, but wanted to close out the somewhat confusing original run by bringing Gully in to draw a wrap-up issue. However, when Larsen told Gully some of his panels were too sexual, the pair had a fairly public falling out on social media. Since the collaboration has been cancelled and Gully announced a very similar looking concept called “Bugg.”

CBR News talked with Larsen about the huge plans he has in the works for “Savage Dragon” leading up to the series’ bicentennial, what he has in store for new lead character Malcolm Dragon, as well as the status of his revival of “Ant.”

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CBR News: Dragon spent most of this year either on trial or in jail. What plans do you have for him as the year rolls on?

The thing than drew me to “Ant” was its basic simplicity. The design of the character is very simple and very direct and very iconic. What didn’t work was much of the rest of it. With five writers over 11 issues, each one writing the other ones’ stories in and out of continuity — it was something of a mess. The book needed somebody guiding it with a firm hand and an actual direction. That’s what I wanted to bring to the character.

You tweeted early on that Ant will feature some villains from “Savage Dragon,” but will she be interacting with Dragon himself, either in her title or his?

We’ll see. The character was, in her old series, affiliated with United States government and Angel Dragon is currently affiliated with United States government so there is definitely a possibility of a crossover that makes some sense. At the same time, I would like her book to stand on its own. So, it’s more likely that the two books will share occasional guest appearances by the same characters. The S.O.S. will occasionally appear in both titles.

The new “Ant” logo you debuted late last year has a very cool retro-Marvel feel to it. Who designed it?

I did. It’s based on some of the lettering that Artie Simek did at Marvel comics over the years.

Lastly, is the “Scooby Doo book” you mentioned last time we talked any closer to hitting shelves?

Yeah, hopefully sometime this year. It’s actually something of a superhero story featuring a group of kids. It’s pretty goddamn cool.

To see the lead up to Malcolm Dragon’s takeover of “Savage Dragon” check out #188 which pits the hero against The Claw, on sale June 5.