MY SAVAGE STORY
This comes out today.
It might look familiar.
That’s the flip cover. The printed version says “Finale.” Behind it is an eight-page Savage Dragon story I wrote and Savage Dragon’s creator Erik Larsen drew along with a bunch of guys who didn’t create Savage Dragon including Billy Dogma’s Dean Haspiel, Nikolai Dante’s Simon Fraser, Parade (With Fireworks)’ Mike Cavallaro, The Transmigration of Ultra Lad’sJoe Infurnari, Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation’s Tim Hamilton and Olympians’ George O’Connor.
The first page is over here.
The “finale” label relates to it being the final in-issue installment of the Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies project featuring indie cartoonists giving their take on Savage Dragon, Edited by Michel Fiffe. There will be even more in the collection.
The takes vary. Some people did stories that might work in continuity, but were still out there. Others did ones that could only exist in an alternate universe.
Michel presented me with the opportunity to work with Dean, Simon, Mike, Joe, Tim and George with each of them down for doing one page. It wasn’t necessarily a struggle to figure out how to make all these different and extremely talented cartoonists’ styles to work together, but it was a challenge. In a good way. It was definitely a challenge I dug.
I’ve been reading Savage Dragon as long as its existed. Back in 1992 I was a way young dude, a fifth grade elementary school young dude, and I got really swept up in the whole Image Comics explosion pretty hard. Strangely enough, I didn’t get into the speculator side of it like a lot of people did. I was way into the whole concept of new superheroes, created while I was young. For awhile there I didn’t even get they were a separate entity from Marvel or DC.
I write about it to some length over here, specifically on how one issue of Spawn made me realize what the company was doing and how I wanted to be part of it.
While that particular issue of Spawn was very influential, out of all the comics they were putting out there was only one I was buying every single time it came out. Only one my little brother was aware of to make fun of me about to this very day. Only one I remember searching out comic stores for whenever I was on vacations to buy. Only one I have all 171 issues of, 174 if you include the initial mini-series. A lot more if you include the other mini-series, one-shots, tie-ins, etc.
It’s my favorite comic book, period. Others come very close - the Madmans, the Tintins, the Gardens of Aedenas in my life - but it’s been there for almost twenty years now. I don’t see how anyone takes it down.
I mean, really - the impact its had on my life is pretty surreal when you really look back on everything.
I recently did an interview with someone for Comic Box where they talked about how they can look at specific comics and recall very specific aspects of where they were, how things smelled, what songs were playing, etc. and the same thing applies to me on Dragon. Even further, I’ve met people who have become best friends due to our associations from the book, like Mark Englert. He’s a guy who went to my first San Diego Comic Con with me and, eventually, I event went to his wedding. Jim Demonakos is another one. The list goes on.
In terms of writing, I cribbed a few things over the years (which, hey, Robert Kirkman admits to as well, so I’m in good company) like the impact of putting a surprise on the left hand page so it’s not spoiled when you open a spread or how to end with a really solid cliffhanger or whatever. Sure, I’ve gotten a lot of other things from a lot of other comics.
In terms of career, doing color flats on Savage Dragon #115 was the first professional work I ever got. It was my ‘break’ into comics, one that led me to where I am today.
The point is this book means a lot to me on a lot of different levels. My very existence seems to be intrinsically tied in to Savage Dragon.
So, keep all this in mind when you think about what the inside of my brain was like when I was told I was given the keys to the Porsche for six pages.
This happened a little over a year ago, back when I was still in the Image Comics offices. Erik Larsen - again, the guy who created Dragon and still writes/draws him to this day - was not just a boss, but a buddy and had his studio conveniently located down the hall. I asked if he would be down to do two pages bookending the whole story. He was down.
I realized soon after this made me the first guy to write a Savage Dragon solo story drawn by Erik in the pages of Savage Dragon, but whenever I think about it too much reality starts melting.
So, anyway. I had my technical side figured out. I knew Erik’s pages would start and end the story with everyone else’s in between. I still had the challenge of making the art styles all work together. Then my Dragon-addled brain remembered something.
Art Adams drew it for the back cover of Savage Dragon #100. I believe the inspiration was after the whole debacle where Neil Gaiman claimed he “created” Medieval Spawn despite it essentially being putting Spawn on a horse. So, Art drew a bazillion variations on Dragon and outright gave them to Erik.
And nothing ever happened with them.
It always confused me, because these were fucking awesome and over the years I thought more and more about who they are or what they did or whatever.
Point being, they were all these different variations that each of the dudes drawing the story could individually kill on in some way.
So, I had my hook.
Developing story came from there and it’s a process I always have a hard time describing. It’s not something that comes in steps. It just happens. That may sound New Age-y and kind of annoying, but hey, it’s what I know. I’m just not articulate enough to describe it. I stare at things and think a lot until I’m forced to type. That’s basically the gist.
It’s really odd to see it in print finally. To see how my pagination of starting the story on the right hand page and ending it on the left hand page allows the rest of the story to take place in-between those stories. To explain, every page in between (more or less) is an alternate reality of the first page, featuring these alternate Savage Dragon characters. The base reality is the on the first and last page, sandwiching the other realities in between. The idea was for each one in between to be an alternate first page, until we finally get back to, again, the base reality for our first second page. It’s something you could only do in print. It’s uniquely a physical comic book. It doesn’t work in any other format.
Does that make sense? It’s probably easier when you see the story itself or ask me when you see me.
Whether it’s good or not is for others to judge, but I can tell you I’ve never had such a labor of love before. Working on Stardust the SuperWizard was a very, very, very close second, but again, nothing can come close to working on a character you’ve loved for twenty years.
Anyway, so it’s real now and exists in stores for you to by it. Let me know what you think when you check it out.
I owe a massive thanks for each of the contributors. Seriously, Dean, Simon, Mike, Joe, Tim and George - you guys are all beyond brilliant and well beyond generous for taking the time out from all that you’re doing to draw this story. A gigantic thanks to Erik, for letting me use the keys to the car and even contributing a couple of pages. A gi-normous thank you to editor Michel Fiffe, who hooked me up with everybody to begin with and started this whole Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies thing. I can never thank you guys enough.
This is some real ‘dream come true’ territory, so I really appreciate everybody who buys one and gives it a read.
Let me know what you think.
(P.S.: If you’re buying this in the New England area, comics superstore Larry’s Comics is hosting a drink and draw 5-8 PM with the topic being Savage Dragon, inspired by this story. That is really nice of them to do. Good dudes over there at Larry’s Comics, especially Larry himself. Another huge thank you there.)