This is my very first comic creator interview. I used to hang out on an IRC chat channel called #ComicBooks and one of the other participants was Sheryl Roberts. She said she wanted to put together an online fanzine and was looking for contributions. At the time I was part of a Fin Addicts Online mailing list devoted to Savage Dragon and also on there was Erik Larsen. Through the mailing list we’ve responded back and forth to each other’s messages and thought since we “knew” each other I could do an interview with him. I asked Erik ad he agreed. This interview was published in the very first CollectTimes issue, in April of 1998.
Erik Larsen once wrote and penciled Spider-man stories for Marvel Comics. In 1992 he left Marvel to help form Image Comics and produced his own comic called the Savage Dragon. While continuing Savage Dragon, he has recently sent proposals to write Marvel and DC titles. Erik will be writing Aquaman starting with issue #50. With this interview, we ask him about his Incredible Hulk proposal, The Savage Dragon, Aquaman and writing in general.
Jamie: Erik, Sorry to hear you didn’t get the Incredible Hulk job. How were you told that you didn’t get the job, and how do you feel about it?
Erik Larsen: I got a phone call from Bobbie Chase and she gave me the news. I don’t feel too good about it, as you might expect.
Jamie: Can you tell us any details about your Hulk proposal?
Erik Larsen: Yes, but I’m not going to. It was pretty involved–eight pages, single spaced. There’s no point going into it.
Jamie: Some people are still suspicious about you proposing for two books that Peter David just left. Why did you propose for these books?
Erik Larsen: Well– I just thought I needed to get out and do something else for SOMEBODY. It’s been six years since I’ve done any work for anybody but myself and I wanted to get my name out there. I was talking to Chris Eliopoulos and frankly, I don’t know anybody up at Marvel or DC anymore. I asked him to let people know I was looking for a book to write and Kevin Dooley at DC called me about Aquaman. Now, I’ve never read the book so I had nothing to go by. Kevin sent me a few issues and I visited an Aquaman website to get up to speed on the basics. I thought about it and put together a proposal.
Later, Peter left the Hulk and since that was the book I always wanted to do–I HAD to do a proposal for that even knowing that it was a long shot since most hiring at Marvel goes to their lunch buddies.
It wasn’t so much of a “Peter David thing” as it was “these are the books that are open.” Had Kevin offered me Green Lantern, I’d be doing a Green Lantern proposal and trying to get caught up on that title.
Jamie: Will you be sending proposals for other Marvel and DC comics?
Erik Larsen: Not to Marvel– I’ve had my fill. At this point I’m a little burned out of the whole proposal process. At some point I’ve got to think that perhaps my body of work can speak for me. I really hate to piss away days out of my schedule to have the job be given to whoever shows up at the door. It’s quite frustrating.
Jamie: Are you trying for any writing job or are there characters in particular that you want to work with?
Erik Larsen: The Hulk was a character that I was very familiar with and I wanted to write–Aquaman was just the book that was available. I’ll make something out of it and I’m sure I’ll think he’s cool as all hell in a few months but I never thought of it as a book that I desperately wanted to do.
Jamie: What Marvel or DC character currently without a title would you like to do a new series with?
Erik Larsen: I’m not so ambitious that I want to do that at this point in my life. I liked Nova at Marvel and some of the Kirby characters that have been folded into Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC such as the New Gods and Mister Miracle but those are hard to sell without a strong artist attached to the project. It’s much easier to keep a boat floating than to build or repair a boat. You just look out for rocks and icebergs.
Jamie: Writing wise, how many other books can you take on?
Erik Larsen: If I wasn’t drawing–a lot. As it is–maybe four.
Jamie: Over the last 5 years with Savage Dragon, you have chosen not to use gimmicks like special covers or major crossovers. Why?
Erik Larsen: I’m more interested in doing cool comics. I’ve tried a few things to get some attention but I keep falling back on doing what I think are cool comics.
Jamie: What can you tell us about Savage Dragon #50?
Erik Larsen: It’s the conclusion of the Unfinished Business story where Dragon goes back to Chicago.The Dragon takes on the Vicious Circle in a final desperate battle. Carnage is the order of the day as the S.O.S. comes in to help Dragon against the most vile group of bad guys imaginable. An extra-length dose of Savage Dragon for those diehard Dragon fans! Dragon faces Horde at long last and damn near everybody gets into the action.
It’s a 100 page spectacular! Featuring pinups by the best guys in comics– Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo and more than a few surprise artists (superstars >all)! Wizard Comics’ much sought after Savage Dragon 1/2 is reprinted for the first time along with Mighty Man stories that detail the past of Dragon’s most despicable bad guy–Horde!
Plus, a never-before seen Freak Force yarn by Larsen, Vic Bridges and Al Gordon tells the story of how that team came together band more Desperate Times from Chris Eliopoulos! Savage Dragon #50 wraps everything up in a nice neat bundle and paves the way for a brand new story in a completely new direction. It’s great jumping on point for new readers! Comes with our Highest Possible Recommendation!! You’ll blow a fat $5.95 on this thing.
Jamie: You have created a lot of weird villains in Savage Dragon. Who are your favorites and why?
Erik Larsen: Whoever I’m doing at the time. BrainiApe is a lot of fun to draw as is Octopus and OpenFace.
Jamie: Will Savage Dragon ever become a cop again?
Erik Larsen: That would be telling. I don’t like to give away much of anything.
Jamie: Are you involved with the Savage Dragon appearance in Big Bang Comics? If so, are you a fan of the Silver Age?
Erik Larsen: I’m involved as a reader. I enjoy the book a lot. I’m a big fan of comics from all ages.
Jamie: You have taken books like A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran “under your wing” into Image. Are there any new books coming in under you that we should watch for?
Erik Larsen: Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos.
Jamie: Will you be giving Aquaman any new powers?
Erik Larsen: No.
Jamie: What makes Aquaman an interesting character?
Erik Larsen: He’s underwater–his world is a different world than the one we live in. The fact that he’s a king. There’s a lot of cool stuff and potential.
Jamie: Do you plan on creating any new villains or supporting characters for Aquaman? If so can you tell us about them?
Erik Larsen: There will be a LOT of new stuff.
First there’s Noble-who comes from the hidden city that is deep below where Atlantis now sits. It was his understanding that HE ruled the sea and since he’s never run into Aquaman and since his race predated the sinking of Atlantis–se seems to be in the right on this one. Noble is young and handsome–He’s clean shaven, dark haired and has a cleft in his chin–very dashing. Think Lancelot. He sweeps Mera off her feet and forces poor Arthur to fight for her affection.
Lurkers– are Noble’s people. They’ve dug a maze of tunnels through the earth that are like subway tunnels to other oceans. This is all in the darkest depths of the ocean and very appealing to the Atlantians and Aquaman in particular. These tunnels will lead to the discovery of many undersea races and cities all over the globe.
Rock Creatures– are the race of lava men whose path the Lurkers crossed to build theit underground tunnels. They’re stupid and deadly.
Land Lovers. Blubber, Sheeva and Lagoon Boy are three characters who fall in love with and want to explore the surface world. Blubber is an intelligent whale (son of Pakkul: Aquaman’s whale friend while growing up) who’s an inventor. He’s fashioned mechanical legs and arms for himself and a wheel chair for the mermaid Sheeva. Lagoon Boy is a kid version of a Creature from the Black Lagoon type who can puff himself up like a blowfish to frighten off prey. This intrepid trio is earthbound for adventure.
Plus a lot more–especially villains.
Jamie: Do you have plans for other DC heroes appearing in Aquaman?
Erik Larsen: Not right away. Okay–some right away but none are there to hang out for long. My first issue Aquaman #50 has his birthday and folks drop by to pay their respects.
Although Aquaman is in the Justice League– I’m not going to dwell on this. In terms of the character and the book–Aquaman should never seek their help. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t ever show up but that he’d feel that asking for their help was a sign of weakness–to Aquaman, they need HIM–not the other way around.
I want to make this a great comic that stands up on its own–not one dependant of guest stars to keep it going. That means I’m going to have to make Atlantis and Aquaman the focus– not dwell on other characters from comics outside of my influence. I can’t plan anything long term with a guest star so why go there when I can do something better that’s internal and can have lasting effects on the book?
Jamie: Thanks again for the interview. Any other comments you want to add?
Erik Larsen: Buy lots of my funnybooks so my kids can eat.