Comfort Food Comics Potluck: Savage Dragon by Gavin Higginbotham

I read a lot of comics. A LOT of comics. I love the medium more than any other and have spent the majority of my time and money over the past twenty five years reading and collecting comics. I literally spend any and all of my spare income on comics. At last count I had 197 boxes of comics/trades and bookshelves filled with them, plus piles of hardcovers lying around because I have no space for them go at present.

Despite all of these thousands of comics, trades and hardcovers it is still so very easy for me to answer “what is your comfort food comics? What comic is your favourite above all others?” The answer is, and always will be:

“SAVAGE DRAGON.”

I was first exposed to the work Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen’s work when I was thirteen years old. I was just getting into reading comics again for the first time since the old Transformers UK comic had ended in 1991. It was now 1995 and I’d been watching the X-Men cartoon and started buying their comics (beginning with the insane Age of Apocalypse event). I wanted to read more and saw two trades on a shelf somewhere. One was Frank Miller & John Romita Jr’s classic Daredevil: Man Without Fear and the other was Spider-Man: Revenge of the Sinister Six, by Erik Larsen.

I’d never read a Spider-Man comic before but I was familiar enough from numerous cartoons and TV shows. And the artwork on the cover featuring a whole host of Marvel characters was enough for me to snap this up straight away. I read and loved this book immediately and was in awe of the artwork (I used to copy out panels repeatedly back when I used to draw a lot as a kid) and entertained and amused by the plot and script. Needless to say, I was an instant fan of Erik Larsen but at that point I was still learning about comics and didn’t really know how to find more about his work.

I started visiting a comic shop where I started buying more and more comics, whatever my meagre pocket money would allow. As I was on a strict budge I mostly stuck to X-Men related books and a few others. I then begun occasionally purchasing Wizard Magazine and it was here that I saw an article about this cool looking book by Erik Larsen called Savage Dragon. An interview in one issue, an article on the book itself in another and a review of a recent SD issue in yet another. This was around 1998 and I was about to start working. I eventually expanded my buying habits to as much of the Marvel line-up as I could and then one day I was in my local comic shop and I saw it on the shelf.

Savage Dragon #59

I had never seen a new issue of the book on the shelves (this store mostly had the Big Two as shelf copies and few other things). I grabbed up this issue and then searched through the back issue bins and took the few SD comics that were there. As soon as I got home and read what I’d bought I was hooked. I mean HOLY SHIT! I was in love with this comic. Nothing else before had given me this reaction and I just HAD to get EVERYTHING. There’s not a huge amount of comic shops in the UK but I went to every single that I could reach within my means and sought out more SD back issues. When this supply was exhausted there was only one thing I could do. Go online!

The internet was a very different place in 2000 and message boards were everywhere. The first website I ever visited was savagedragon.com because I wanted to buy up the back issues that the letters column had said were available from them. I placed my order and then visited the message board. The SAVAGE FORUM was a whole bunch of fun and I got to meet a whole bunch of people through that who I still know and am friends with today. Making these friends of twenty years and counting makes my love of SD special but what was even cooler for me was that Erik Larsen himself posted on the board and interacted with his fans and readers. FUCK! This was exciting!

I got to ask my fanboy questions (even back then I was obsessed with learning the names of every single fucking background super-freak). This was amazing! And Erik also participated in an email listserv called FIN ADDICTS ONLINE. Cool! I signed up for that too to read the answers and messages from Erik to the fans and then through this listserv and the forum, I joined another listserv called THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE FIN. Interacting with these insanely fun fans made my Savage Dragon reading experience even greater.

The FAO was also where I first got to offer up- my fanatical love for making lists. I compiled a list of potential changes to continuity should a rumoured change in reality happen and that helped Erik with his planning for what would become THE SAVAGE WORLD storyline. That was awesome. This encouraged me to write more and more things like that I and some other readers ended up making what is now the SAVAGE DRAGON WIKI  which was its own wiki before now being added to savagedragon.com. I also got to contribute to a Handbook type publication called the SAVAGE DRAGON COMPANION.

Over the years my love and devotion to Savage Dragon and my assistance with continuity queries from Erik Larsen eventually led to him asking if I would like to be credited in the book every issue as EDITOR. That is one of my all-time favourite memories and I was so excited. It’s more of a novelty title rather than a literal one as all I really do it proofread and act as a sounding board for ideas and the like but HOW FUCKING COOL is it to get to interact with the creator of my all-time favourite comic? I’ll tell you, it’s really FUCKING AWESOME!!

I have bought every single comic, trade, variant, hardcover and as much merchandise of Savage Dragon as I can over the years. I’ve now got hundreds of pages of original artwork from Erik Larsen, Savage Dragon and spin-off/backup material. I have spent countless hours reading and re-reading the comics. I’ve written hundreds of issue summaries and character profiles for our wiki and I have enjoyed absolutely every second of it. Hell, I’ve even had the opportunity to write some backup stories for the book featuring some of the supporting cast. There is no other comic that has inspired this much love and devotion in me. It’s not even close!

I haven’t really written much about the comic itself here. I think the excitement of talking about my experience with the comic got the better of me. I hope my enthusiasm for Savage Dragon has shined through here. The landmark 250th issue is on the way soon and then the countdown to 300 begins! The longevity of this title and the devotion to it by its creator has earned my loyalty and I will always be there to read this innovative series.

Hopefully Dave will allow me to return soon and I can talk a bit more about the comic itself. SAVAGE DRAGON has been going for 28 years now from Image Comics and I hope it will be going for many, many years more to come. Give it a shot!

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