Mr. Dragon looking typically savage. Artist: Erik Larsen.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Image Comics
First appeared: 1992
Creator: Erik Larsen
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With the formation of Image Comics in 1992, some of the most popular artists in American comic books had a chance to put their best work forward, creating major properties that they could keep for themselves rather than be forced to sell to a publisher. Cartoonist Erik Larsen, who had previously distinguished himself at Marvel with his work on Spider-Man, used this new-found flexibility …

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… to go fully public with a character he'd been playing with since long before he became a comics professional — Savage Dragon.

The first glimmerings of Savage Dragon (no relation), then called simply "The Dragon", were seen in Graphic Fantasy, a fanzine published during the 1970s by Larsen and a couple of his friends. He also surfaced in Larsen's first professional venue, an anthology titled Megaton, published in 1985. He was a much more conventional superhero back then. The fully-realized Savage Dragon didn't emerge until Image came along. He debuted in a three-issue mini-series, published July through December, 1992. An ongoing series began six months later.

Of Image's initial line-up, which included WildC.A.T.S., The Maxx, ShadowHawk and more, only Spawn and Savage Dragon ran continuously into the 21st century — and only Dragon remains primarily in the hands of its creator. Aside from the regular, mostly-monthly series, Savage Dragon has appeared in mini-series, graphic novels and even a Saturday morning cartoon. He's had crossovers with such diverse characters as Destroyer Duck, Superman, Megaton Man, Hellboy, Marshal Law, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, if you count parodies, Dilbert.

Savage Dragon lacks a few superhero cliches, such as an origin story. He simply woke up in the middle of a burning field in Illinois, exactly as he is now — green-skinned, super-strong, fast-healing (even to the point of regenerating limbs, which he demonstrates almost as often as The Atom used to show off his ability to travel through phone lines), a large fin on his head that looks like a mohawk haircut except green and leathery, and unable to remember anything about his prior life. He went to work for the Chicago police, and has been a super-powered do-gooder ever since.

Not that he's remained static. Aside from police work, he's been a bounty hunter, a government agent and a few other things. He's had romantic liaisons, including a marriage. He has a step-daughter, Angel; a son, Malcolm Eugene Dragon; and a host of other supporting characters, including a female green-skin called She-Dragon. He's even survived the destruction of his entire world, tho with extra-dimensional alternate worlds available, that's less of a problem in comic books than it would be in real life. He's living on one of those alternate worlds now, and hasn't had a great deal of difficulty adjusting.

The Saturday morning version was produced by Universal TV, which is better known for live action than animation, but which did handle at least one of the later Fievel Mousekewitz movies. It was also responsible for the adaptations of Dark Horse Comics' Timecop and DC's Swamp Thing into film. The Savage Dragon debuted on USA Network (Sonic the Hedgehog, Duckman) on October 21, 1995. The title character was voiced by Jim Cummings (Bonkers Bobcat, Winnie the Pooh). One season of 26 episodes was made.

The TV show hasn't been seen in a long time, but other merchandising items, such as T-shirts and action figures, can still be found. And after more than 100 issues, the comic book still chugs along.


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Text ©2005-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Erik Larsen.