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 Post subject: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:19 am 
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Erik posted this on the old board:

It occurred to me that a thread devoted to the Dragon BEFORE the advent of the Savage Dragon series might be worth starting.

A lot of what's going on in the series now was set in motion years ago. As a kid I wrote and drew a lot of comics. These were drawn on 81/2 X 11 paper, folded in half and stapled up the side.

Initially, I'd drawn a few isolated issues with random issue numbers (having never seen first issues of anything it just seemed natural to start with later issue numbers as though these were well-established series). The first one was a Dragon comic (which has, as I recall, Bronze Man as the big bad guy) and then there was a Powerhouse one and a few others, including a team book called the Super-Fantastic Hero Team. I put the words "Marvel Comics" in the upper left-hand corner. Again, this was what I was familiar with and my youthful brain must have thought that that's what comic books had on them. Sometime later, when some kid pointed out that I had "ripped off Marvel Comics" I feebly tried to rectify the situation by sticking a small "Sgt." in front of the word "Marvel." Later still, I would introduce a character named Sgt. Marvel as a way of further justifying the decision.

My first real ongoing title was Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics, which lasted 55 issues prior to me publishing Graphic Fantasy, which brought the story of Paul Dragon to a close. At that point I used the company name Ajax Comics.

Following Graphic Fantasy was Dragon's appearance in Megaton, which ignored the death of Paul Dragon's wife Susan from the Graphic Fantasy and Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics continuity.

Prior to Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics, the Dragon was Flash Mercury, a race car driver who said the magic word "Fon~Ti" to change into the Dragon. At one point he merged with the Captain of an Enterprise-like space ship and a barbarian-like Dragon character from the Red Planet (not Mars). I'm a bit fuzzy on some of the detail there.

Beginning with Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics, the Dragon was William Jonson, who turned into the Dragon and tugged on a costume.

Dragon had a girlfriend named Candy-- and his crime-fighting partner was Star (a white guy named Chris Robinson) who had a girlfriend named Sugar.

Pretty sad shit.

The duo fought Candy Man in the first issue of Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics.

Dragon fought Superman in the 100-page Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics #4

Dragon's son Mark was born in Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics #5.

Bloop was an early villain. He appeared in Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics #6 along with his brother and sister. As I recall Bloop appeared earlier on his own but I'm not so sure. Bloop's siblings were much like he was-- capable of stretching and such. He wasn't quite as liquid like as he later became.

I introduced Doc Spring, a kung-fu Dr, Fate rip-off and Josef Strange, a black "bionical" man, clearly inspired by TV's Six-Million Dollar Man and Sgt. Marvel.

The idea was to rotate these characters in the book but after a Star issue and one starring Sgt. Marvel with Josef Strange, I ditched that idea and just ran with the Dragon. Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics #14 brought the Dragon back, separated him from William Jonson and had him get together with Bloop's sister, re-christened "Susan Wilson."

I know that somewhere along the way Dragon had another son, named Gorgon and that, like his previous son, he wasn't a kid for long.

Sometime in 6th grade I met Aaron Katz and the two of us started doing comics together. I'd do one issue, he'd do the next. Aaron created Kill-Cat, I created the Kid Avenger and together they were the Deadly Duo. Years later, when they were reintroduced, Kill-Cat was pretty severely overhauled while his partner remained pretty much intact.

A number of Savage Dragon characters sprang from these old comics including SuperPatriot, Dart, Horridus, Mako, the Fiend, Overlord, Bloop, Animal, the Shrew, Rock, Star, Sgt. Marvel, Battletank, Powerhouse, William Jonson, Flash Mercury and many more.

Oh--and by the way--the Dragon stories from Graphic Fantasy and Megaton were reprinted in the black and white comic book-sized miniseries called SAVAGE DRAGON: ARCHIVES. Megaton was a new comic--it did not contain Dragon reprints.

After I did the Graphic Fantasy fanzine I was hired by Gary Carlson to work on his superhero anthology Megaton. On Megaton, Gary and I co-created a new character named Vanguard. In the Vanguard strip I was first inked by Sam Delarosa and then Sam Grainger and finally myself. The first two stories were scripted by Gary Carlson and plotted by me. The final two stories were written and drawn by me. In this series, I reintroduced the Dragon.

In any case--here are the covers to the Savage Dragon: Archives miniseries along with a discription of their contents:

Image

(24 page issue) This issue reprinted the Dragon story from Graphic Fantasy #1.

Image

(24 page issue) This issue reprinted the Dragon story from Graphic Fantasy #2.

Image

(32 page issue) This issue reprinted the Vanguard/Dragon stories from Megaton #2 and 3.

Image

(32 page issue) This issue reprinted the Vanguard/Dragon story from Megaton #4 as well as an unpublished Dragon short story called "Angel Fueled Quake" and a one-page story from Giant-Sized Mini-Comics #4 and a few uninked pages from another Dragon story that I'd started but never finished.

Image

Image

I started drawing my old comics in 4th grade--I believe "horror" is an appropriate choice of words. There were a lot of things therein which were simply retarded because I didn't know any better-- dogsleds in the desert kinds of stuff and the art was suitably wretched.

The Dragon origin was nowhere to be found in Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics. In those, Dragon went from being a person that William Jonson turned into during desperate times to being a separate person. I was definitely thinking along those lines for Graphic Fantasy and #1 even had a shot of him in the hospital, waking up, but that was ret con. It wasn't in my old comics back when I was a kid (although there was that mention of a Red Planet).

The Red Planet worked itself into Dragon's origin, incidentally. It's right there on page 10, panel one in Savage Dragon #0 and it's also on the splash of SD #45 although it's never outright stated that that's the planet Dragon hails from.

Battletank wasn't Rex Dexter in my old comics. It was his daughter (or rather, the daughter of a renowned scientist) and the big reveal never took place but it was in my sketchbook. The original "Battle Tank" can be found in Graphic Fantasy #1 reprinted in the comic book miniseries Savage Dragon: Archives.

MarcusAlmand wrote:
How much do you tend to update your old characters for Savage Dragon?

Sometimes a lot--sometimes very little. Powerhouse, for example, is pretty close. The Fiend only shares the name. It varies a lot. It really depends on the character. Sgt. Marvel is exactly as he was--Dragon got a different fin and lost the first name. Mako is pretty close. The Shrew used to change from a human to the Shrew--as did Zeek. Zeek used to be Steve Williamson, a football player who was mauled and hospitalized and Fon~Ti gave him powers. Most characters had secret identities. I lost a lot of those.

I'm hoping this thread jogs my memory enough that I can put together a semi-complete index of the issues which I did as a kid. I'm already starting to fill in a few blanks.

JayWicky wrote:
Fon~Ti again ? Man, it seems like he was the equivalent of The Creator in your childhood comics.


He was an active participant and part of the common origin for most of the earliest characters. A couple years into it, he was all but gone, but he was giving people powers left and right, early on.

It occurred to me the other day that Dragon's "ugly" son was inspired--pretty directly--from the Hulk villain the Gremlin.

I was a huge Herb Trimpe fan as a kid and his Hulk run was a huge influence. My old comics went through periods where I was very inspired by Herb's work. I swiped from Herb all over the place.
________________
Friday wrote:
Where did Alex come from? Are any of your characters based on people you actually know/knew?

Alex wasn't originally going to be a recurring character. She was just a generic female cop in #1. I expanded her role in subsequent issues because I liked how she looked with Dragon.

I don't typically base characters on real people although sometimes I'll use names which combine several names of people I know. Dale Fisher has the last name of one brother in law and the first name of another. William Jonson is from my dad (William) and a friend of his named Gwin Johnson only with Jon spelled like my middle name.

I'll use a real name every so often but not for a major character. That can lead to disaster.


Craig O. wrote:
Now that you say it, the ugly Johnson twin does resemble the Gremlin. I'd love to find out the story behind him some day. He used to remind me of Orion when he show's his real face.


Grant wrote:
I think someone was speculating Abner Cadaver might hve something to do with his uh... unique appearance. But yeah more from Gorgon (Peter), the ugly Jonson twin. BTW Erik did Mark ever have a superhero name or was he just Mark Jonson.


The two brothers became heroes and got costumes pretty late in the game--in #50, I think. (Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics lasted 55 issues). As I recall, Mark was called the Crusader and Gorgon (Peter) was the Destroyer. I'm not 100% sure of that but that's what I think it was. Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics #50 was another 100-page issue and in it, I introduced a boatload of superheroes to round out the S.O.S. (Society Of Superheroes) which included William becoming the Dragon again and heading up one team, Paul Dragon leading another and Flash Mercury leading the third. It was in that issue that I introduced Horridus.


razaksroughnecks wrote:
Wait...Dragon was leading one team and 'William' Dragon was leading another AND Flash was leading another? How the heck did all these incarcerations of Dragon come to be in the same space/time?

I know you don't like to repeat yourself, but GOOD GRAVY these stories sound very interesting. I really think you should think about retelling more of these stories. Heck, if you don't want to use them in SD, they could be a different side project now that you've caught up. It could be a yearly annual of The Dragon That Was, with each issue retelling some of these lost gems. I mean, what better way to remember these old stories then to revisit them! I'm sure that'd get the old synapses firing....and it'd be WICKED fun for your crazy fans!


I don't really recall any of them well enough to do something like that--even if I wanted to.

It's frustrating--even though I don't want to recreate them--it would still be nice to remember them more than I do.

When I started doing comics for myself, I just did random issue numbers. I didn't really grasp what the point of those numbers were and almost every comic book was well into its run so I did an issue of Powerhouse and an issue of Dragon and a few other random comics.

Aaron Katz and I did the the Deadly Duo together. He did #1, I did #2 and 3, he did #4 and 5 and then we alternated for a while. Eventually he stopped and I continued. Each issue (except #1) had a guest star, which is why I did that in their books at Image.

Here's a rough idea of what Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics contained. There are a lot of blanks here and I'll try to fill them in as I sort through my memory:

#1 Dragon and Star were already established heroes. Dragon was William Jonson, Star was Chris Robinson (a white guy--not the one we know from Savage Dragon). They had girlfriends in their secret identities--William had Candy--Chris had Sugar. Dragon and Star fought Mental Man--a hero gone bad.

#2 Dragon and Star fought Candy Man

#3 ?

#4 Dragon fought Superman in this 100-page issue. There were some "funny" strips in here as well as a lot of superhero stories.

#5 Dragon had a son

#6 Dragon and Star fought Bloop and his siblings

#7 more of the same (I think)

#8 another 100-page issue--as I recall, this one introduced Josef Strange the Bionical (sic) Man--a black scientist type who became a Six-Million Dollar Man rip off. This was the last Dragon/Star issue. After that, the plan was to rotate issues and give them each their own solo issues.

#9 a Dragon solo issue

#10 a Star solo issue

#11 Josef Strange and Sgt. Marvel fight some lame Swamp Thing monster

#12 yet another 100-page issue

#13 as I recall--brought Bloop's sister (Sue Wilson--who would be renamed Jennifer Murphy in the pages of Savage Dragon) into the picture as Dragon's love interest. By this point Dragon seemed to have become a different guy from William. He had a different personality and his own interests. I recall them going to a fair and Dragon getting all kinds of prizes. I can recall swiping a drawing from E-Man where his girlfriend Nova got superpowers--but not much else.

After that the specific issue numbers get vague. I know William and Dragon got pulled into two guys and that Dragon had another son who was butt ugly (inspired by the Gremlin from the Hulk comics). Rock was introduced somewhere in there as well. I know the Fiend was in the mix but I don't recall when. Mako was also introduced.

#31-40 had "reprints" as I slapped new covers on the random other comics I'd done. Like Savage Dragon, years later, Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics was a dumping ground for everything I'd done elsewhere. (In SD I've reprinted Cheeseburger-Head, Mighty Man stories and Mr. Glum stories, among others).

Again--I'm not 100% sure of issue numbers. Rock was taken with Dragon's girlfriend and at one point he used some machine to switch minds with Dragon. That lasted an issue or two.

#50 the SOS expands and several Complexes are established. William Jonson runs one, Dragon another and Flash Mercury a third. I introduced a lot of new members here including Horridus. Sue Wilson dies in this issue.

As I recall #54 was the last issue. After this came Graphic Fantasy and that spelled the end of Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics.

Gavin, BotF wrote:
Do you think you'd ever include the original, alien barbarian Red Planet Dragon anytime? Even as just a pin-up sometime?

And have all of your childhood creations now been introduced into SD? Or rather, have you finished introducing your old characters? Ie. Americanhero, Half-Man, Major Victory (or did you just use the Golden Age MV here?).


I don't recall what made the Red Planet Dragon look different from the Flash Mercury one. I think he looked like the William Dragon guy looked only with just a mustache and no beard but my memory of it is pretty spotty. I haven't seen it in 25-years and it was at least 35 since I drew it.

Ghaa.

Sadly, it had been YEARS since I'd looked at those unpublished comics when my house burned down.

And at this point--I think I've reintroduced everybody that I intend to. There may be a couple others that I'll dredge up just for the sake of doing it but there's really no characters that I can think of with any serious potential that I haven't used.

Grant wrote:
I love this thread.

I was wondering if Dragon had any kids with a fin on their head.

Also I recall way back that you said that you changed the Deadly Duo's origins because they were too silly kind of curious what their origins were


Kill-Cat's origin was ripped off from some old Werewolf comic book that Aaron Katz had. He was some blind guy who had his eyes replaced with a cat's eyes and they turned him into a were-cat. I can't recall all the details. It was in an Aaron Katz issue of the Deadly Duo. The Kid's origin was pretty similar to what was seen--he came from the future. There was a girl sent after him and she ended up staying as well and she eventually became Dragon's son's (the ugly one--called Gorgon) girlfriend.

Dragon did not have any kids with fins.

bryan brown wrote:
Erik, I'm curious to hear whether his goofy origin is what triggered you to make Kill-Cat so much a sillier comic. I gotta say that after rereading my Dragon stuff I forgot how much I enjoyed his ridiculous antics with Kid Avenger, Dart, etc.


I changed Kill-Cat's origin pretty much completely. The Deadly Duo was always pretty goofy. The first couple issues were played pretty straight but Aaron Katz had Batman guest-starring and cutting farts pretty early on. It got silly pretty quick.

Ran into Aaron Katz over the weekend and dropped by his place. He still has all of his Deadly Duo comics! He also drew a few Guy & Duder comics (which I had completely forgotten about) and used the Dragon and Zeek in his World's Greatest Comics series (ditto). It was a treat to see them again. At some point I hope to get some scans. Fun stuff.

Hanzo the Razor wrote:
Erik, would you consider doing a double page spread/pin up of all your old classic characters? Y'know, Star as he originally appeared, Dragon, Bloop, etc.? I'd like to see as many of the incarnations as you could remember.


I'd have a tough time remembering all of the details, I'm afraid. I'll see what I can do.

Hanzo the Razor wrote:
Incidentally-- if you still had all your old Sgt. Marvel comic, would they ever see print?


I doubt it. There was far too much material (2000 pages or so) and it was all pretty awful. In addition to Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics (which lasted 55 issues) I did maybe 15 issues of the Deadly Duo and several others one shots. It was mostly done in pencil and small (81/2 X 11 folded in half) and it was all pretty amateurish. I might have scanned it all and let everybody see it though.

Dragon was the star of Sgt. Marvel's Greatest Comics--those 55 issues were all Dragon comics for the most part. I also did issues of the Deadly Duo and a few others. I did a comic called Mini-Man and some Guy & Duder and an issue of Super Fantastic Hero Team.

I was reminded this Christmas about Super Fantastic Hero Team #1 where I had all of my heroes fight Six-Gun Santa--a criminal Santa Claus with six arms and guns. I had heard about six-guns, apparently, but didn't know that a six-gun was a single gun that held six bullets.

I was in 5th grade. Give me a break.

This issue told all of the character's origins, which were essentially the same--some guy gets superpowers from the wizard Fon~Ti.

Zeek was a football player, badly mangled, who gave up the sport only to have the wizard turn him into a huge brute.

Pretty awesome stuff.

_________________
- Gavin Higginbotham.

http://savagedragonwiki.wikispaces.com/


Last edited by Gavin Higginbotham on Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:44 am 
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Great to see Gavin saved this stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:52 am 
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I love reading about this stuff too, thanks for reposting Gav.
Hey Erik, have you ever considered hypnotic regression? if you care to revisit your old comics that might be the way to go;)


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:38 am 
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I HAD to save this stuff. So awesome to read.

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http://savagedragonwiki.wikispaces.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:06 pm 
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JasonAtomic wrote:
I love reading about this stuff too, thanks for reposting Gav.
Hey Erik, have you ever considered hypnotic regression? if you care to revisit your old comics that might be the way to go;)


I haven't considered it.

Honestly--I'm not a big backward looking person. I tend to look forward. I don't think there's a lot of important things that I've missed. I remember more than I've reported here and much of it is pretty painful.

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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:11 am 
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Who is this Megaton character? (Or at least the black guy on those 3 covers)


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:30 am 
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He's one of Gary Carlson's creations. I don't remember much about his stories but think Angel Medina drew some of his stories.

He also guest starred in SD 41 at the wedding.

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http://savagedragonwiki.wikispaces.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:31 am 
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Gavin Higginbotham wrote:
He's one of Gary Carlson's creations. I don't remember much about his stories but think Angel Medina drew some of his stories.

He also guest starred in SD 41 at the wedding.


Ah, interesting. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:37 am 
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Greg wrote:
Gavin Higginbotham wrote:
He's one of Gary Carlson's creations. I don't remember much about his stories but think Angel Medina drew some of his stories.

He also guest starred in SD 41 at the wedding.


Ah, interesting. Thanks!


Sorry I couldn't be more help. Hopefully a Megaton alumni like Erik or Frank will stop by with a better answer.

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http://savagedragonwiki.wikispaces.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Dragon BEFORE Savage Dragon
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:22 am 
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I'm surprised no one posted the 1982 drawing Murch got from eBay in here...

Image


And its modern counterpart...

Image


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