Monday, July 02, 2012

Re-Enter The Dragon

Back in 1992, a group of comic book creators that included Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, and Rob Liefeld, broke away from the two big comic book companies. Marvel and DC, to create their owned company, Image Comics. Their gamble turned out to be amazingly successful and Image became an incredibly influential Comic company in the early 90s, so much in fact, that many artists at the "big two" began to intentionally imitate the bravura style of the Image artists. I bought the first dozen of so issues of the Image titles, Wild Cats, Spawn, Youngblood, etc, but the one I liked best was Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. There were a couple of reasons for that. First, Larsen, like myself, was a huge admirer of Jack Kirby, and his artwork had a lot of Kirby-esque power. Second, also like myself, Larsen had drawn his own comics while in elementary school, taking sheets of 8-1/2" X 11" paper, folding them over and stapling them up the spine to make comic books, which is exactly what I did. The best part was, Savage Dragon and many of the other characters in the comic were characters Larsen had created for those amateur comics and now he had managed to get them into the mainstream. That pleased me tremendously. Just like me, he had created his own thinly disguised versions of various Marvel and DC heroes (excluding the Dragon, who is an original character), but his had made the big time. The guy was obviously a kindred spirit. I continued reading Dragon longer than any of the other Image books, but Image appeared around the same time that I was getting out of comic book collecting, so eventually I drifted away. As the old saying goes, it wasn't them, it was me. Jump forward twenty years to about a month ago. Cliff had recommended I give the returning Image comic Supreme a look because Erik Larsen had taken over as artist-writer and within one issue had pretty much destroyed everything Alan Moore had done with the character during his time writing the series. Cliff figured I'd be impressed with the utter destruction. The man knows me well. Funny thing was, reading through that issue of Supreme, I was reminded how much I had originally enjoyed Savage Dragon, and I wondered how the title was doing. So I picked up the most recent issue and found that it was still a lot of fun, and that Larsen was still writing and drawing it after all these years. So of course, I decided to go back and reread the series, including all the issues I'd skipped. Fortunately for me, since I no longer have the original comics, Savage Dragon has been collected in "phone book" style archives, each volume holding 600 plus pages of comics. I bought volumes 1 & 2 yesterday and read the first six issues worth of stories. Just as much fun as I remember it. Got a lot of reading ahead of me.

No comments: