An DCU:NG Email Interview with Eric Larsen
When word got out the Erik Larsen was taking over the creative reins on Aquaman, the newsgroups starting popping. One side wondered how that Savage Dragon guy could possibly do justice to "Peter David's book," while the other side thanked their lucky stars that Peter David was off the book finally..Well, as the cliche goes, the proof is in the pudding, and Erik was kind enough to share a little of the pudding's ingredients with DCUNG.
DCUNG: What first got you interested in comics, both as a hobby and as a career?
EL: I don't really remember. I started drawing comics for my own enjoyment around 4th grade and I just kept doing it. There were always comics in our house. My Dad collected comics when he was a kid so we had all these great old comics around all the time.
DCUNG: What was your first professional work in comics?
EL: Megaton #1 was my first published work. Sentinels of Justice #3 was my first color comic (from AC Comics). Secret Origins #13 was my first DC book. Mighty Thor #385 was my first Marvel work (although Amazing Spider-Man #287 actually came out first).
DCUNG: What do you prefer, writing, drawing, or some combination of the two?
EL: Writing is far less labor intensive and at this point, more satisfying. Drawing is a kick but it takes a while.
DCUNG: The Savage Dragon guy on Aquaman?! As you've probably seen on the newsgroups, there's a lot of emotional talk about you taking over (ironically) Peter David's book. What would you say to fans to help put out any "flames" or rumors?
EL: I'm not sure what those rumors might be. Editor Kevin Dooley chose my proposal because he liked what I wanted to do with the character. Things are cool between myself and Peter these days--I don't think of this as taking over a Peter David book but as taking over Aquaman. I'll be respecting everything that Peter established on the title. Fans like to [gripe] and moan--there were things that Aquaman readers didn't like about Peter's book that they'll like when I take over and I'm sure that there will be plenty of things that I'll do that will get readers to say that Peter would have done it better. Well, you'll never know what he would have done because he's not doing it. It's foolish to look through rose colored glasses and think that every issue that he would have done would be as good or better than the best of what he did do. I'm sure if he'd have continued there would be some good and bad issues. I'm the new guy on board so I'll be trying hard to make this book worth reading.
DCUNG: Since this site focuses on the teen heroes of the DCU, let's find out your plans for the aquateen Koryak and the teenish Deep Blue, as well as the former teen titan Tempest. Peter had taken these characters from supporting roles to mainstays in the book. Will they be staying around in your run?
EL: I think Koryak is being dealt with prior to my arrival. At this point things are up in the air a bit because issues that precede my first issue are still in the works. I like Deep Blue--but I think she looked better before her hair cut and I think the name "Deep Blue" has got to go--it sounds awful. One of the complaints about the book is that it's too inaccessible. The names of places and characters are difficult to pronounce and in some cases to similar to each other. The book has too much precise terminology and references to obscure events. It give scenes more relevance to long time readers but ultimately makes the book harder to get into for a new reader who feels left out because he's missing an "in joke". I'll be trying to find a way of trying to satisfy all readers but it won't be easy.
Kevin was wanting Tempest to get engaged to Dolphin at some point--I'd like her to just announce to him that she's pregnant and then deal with that. I much prefer to write this from a stronger emotional level. I'm not sure what's going to happen with this one just yet.
DCUNG: Since Aquaman's in JLA, will you have his interaction there spill over into his own title?
EL: I don't want it to. I'd rather that the two books stay separate. My take on Aquaman is that he feels that THEY need him more than he needs them. They ask for HIS help--he wouldn't ask them to help him out in a pinch. The world I want to explore is underwater-- not above. JLA is on the surface world--Aquaman takes place below. Making that world one that you're interested in reading about month after month will be part of the challenge of writing this book.
DCUNG: The talk on the net is that Mera's coming back. Why? And what of the Orin, Tempest, Dolphin triangle?
EL: Mera is Arthur's wife. Peter played out the Dolphin/Tempest/Orin triangle as much as I think it needs to be played out. I think it's time to move on. This isn't Archie comics--the Betty/Veronica/Archie thing gets old for a long time reader and it makes you want to go read something else. Peter did a fine job with this but it's time to get on with something else. Mera is a character that readers feel strongly about and she's worth using in the book. Because of their affairs and separation, she and Aquaman will be divorced by Atlantean law in any case.
DCUNG: What are your immediate plans for the book? What can you tell us about the new character Noble?
EL: Atlantis will finally come to a permanent resting place in the book prior to my arrival and in exploring that new location we find that there's another kingdom, buried deep in the ocean and in the vastness of the ocean, these characters simply were unaware of each other. Noble thought of himself as the king of the seas! His world, deep below has vast underwater tunnels that lead to other oceans on earth and through them we'll learn of all that's down here. At first, there will be a turf was--Noble and his people don't want this young punk Aquaman and Atlantis on their land. Noble's people never left the sea--in fact--they don't even know that anything exists above the ocean. Once this guy gets his eye on Mera--look out! With Noble in hot pursuit, Orin is forced to come to grip with his true feelings for Mera.
Aquaman needs, more than anything, is a strong rogues gallery. People ask about Ocean Master and Black Manta but that seems to be the extent of villains that have really sunk in. I want to develop a stronger group of villains and a more diverse cast. There's so much that can be done with these characters in this world. I'm really looking forward to it.
DCUNG: Why do you think teen heroes (especially sidekicks) are becoming popular again?
EL: I think they're becoming popular because writers are treating them less as second class characters and more like independent heroes in their own right. They're no longer just there to talk to.
DCUNG: Which comics or characters would you most like to have a chance to draw or write?
EL: I'd love to write and draw the Hulk or Fantastic Four at Marvel. But for the most part, doing the Savage Dragon has been the fulfillment of my greatest comic book ambition. That's the book I wanted to do most of all. The Hulk would be a close second.
DCUNG: Any future plans or projects we should be looking for?
EL: There's a Savage Dragon/Superman crossover from DC later this year plus Aquaman and Savage Dragon as my two ongoing books. I've been talking to editors at Marvel as well but there's nothing that's been settled on just yet. I'm just happy to be able to work in the medium that I love so much.