Next week’s issue of Savage Dragon will ship with something fans have long joked was the inevitable consequence of hype-driven comics marketing: variant interiors. There’s a little twist, though; the ever-so-slightly different guts to Savage Dragon #260 are not being used as a marketing gimmick; two different versions of the book are being published as a consequence of creator Erik Larsen’s expensive search for a new letterer. The series typically ships with two slightly different covers, one featuring a trade dress reminiscent of a Silver Age comic, with an “Image Comics Group” banner across the top, and a corner box image.
In July, longtime Savage Dragon letterer Ferran Delgado announced on Facebook that he would leave the title, alleging that the book often ran late and forced him to turn around rushed work. Larsen asked Archie Comics veteran Jack Morelli and The Walking Dead‘s Rus Wooton to give the book a try.
Rather than a few sample pages, Larsen apparently paid each to do an issue, and will release both versions, with Morelli’s being under the “retro” cover dress and Wooton’s shipping with the standard cover. According to Larsen, only one (presumably from whoever he chooses to take over the book) will be reprinted in trade paperbacks and the Savage Dragon Archives books.
Here’s how Larsen explained it on Facebook:
“As crazy as it sounds–there’ll be TWO versions of Savage Dragon #260, one lettered by Rus Wooton and one by Jack Morelli.
“So it’s not just a variant cover this time out–it’s variant interiors as well (and the lettering is the only difference–the script is the same).
“Essentially, I needed to get a new letterer and I decided to see what these two would do. I liked them both for different reasons. You can compare them yourself when they hit the stands.
“(And, no, you don’t get to vote for your favorite. Savage Dragon is not a democracy–it’s a dictatorship).”
The issue will see the return of Torment, a villain with two smaller heads on his head, each of which has a very different personality, and can impact his behavior depending on who’s in charge. The character was last seen in 2017’s Savage Dragon #222.
Larsen, who experiments with the comics form more than the average mainstream superhero artist, has had minor interior variants before — notably in #17 and #31. He also has a variant issue — Savage Dragon #13. That issue was originally drawn by Jim Lee as part of an Image Comics event month where each creator-owned book was written and drawn by a different creator. Eventually, Larsen wrote and drew his own version.
You can see the solicitation text for Savage Dragon #260 below.
The mad menace Torment has come to Toronto seeking revenge against Malcolm Dragon.
Savage Dragon #260 will be in stores on September 1, 2021.