In Review: Savage Dragon #236

The Savage Little Dragons go on a fun adventure reminiscent of a classic newspaper strip.

The cover: A hand in the foreground is shooting electricity at Tyrone, Jack, and Amy Dragon who are leaping at this unseen foe. Jack looks the most afraid, while Tyrone and Amy look like they’re still going to take a swing at this baddie. Seeing the kids get the focus of this issue is interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing what Erik Larsen can do. The kids look great, the threat is big, but not overwhelming, and the coloring is bright to make this stand out against other books. Down at the bottom of the cover is the title “Savage Little Dragons” done in the style of Bill Watterson’s classic Calvin and Hobbes strip, with letterer Ferran Delgado imitating Watterson’s style. I’m looking forward to this book. Overall grade: A

The story: “Kids’ Day Out” by Erik Larsen starts happily as Malcolm and Maxine are reunited with Angel and Alex who’ve been trapped in Dimension-X for some time. A turn of the page and the format for this issue is established: a double-paged installment of those Savage Little Dragons, following the misadventures of Tyrone, Jack, Amy, and new addition Madeline. This is then followed with two pages focusing on the adults. The first two pages on the kids show Tyrone watching television, Jack and Amy fighting over a toy truck, and tyke Maddy pushing a hole in the wall and falling out of it. The three older siblings jump into action to save their sister, who has fallen into a garbage truck moving down the street. Babysitter Kevin reenters the empty room with popcorn for the kids. A turn of the page and the adults discuss what’s happened to each other since they’ve been separated. Maxine is really frisky around everyone and Larsen gives a great justification why she’s a little more randy than usual. The remainder of the issue has the kids going on a big adventure, while the adults try to track them down. Angel and Malcolm get some time alone where they bring each other up to speed on their lives. Ultimately it brings them closer. There’s some solid laughs with the kids’ trek and with Maxine practically out of control with her libido. The final page is a solid resolution for the kids and Malcolm and Maxine. This was a fun outing and if Larsen ever decides to a one-shot with more of the kids’ adventures, because the door is open for a revisiting, I’d be more than welcome to it. Overall grade: A

The art: Erik Larsen’s visuals have always been consistently good and this issue has him employing a new style for half of the book. The adults’ story looks as great as any other issue, with the characters’ emotions being outstanding. The grown ups deal with a lot of surprises, and they look appropriately shocked, while Maxine is constantly anxious for some action. Kevin continues to be a stand out, for although his face is the frozen image of a skull, Larsen gives him plenty of scenes for some humor, with him looking happy or surprised. The only action the adults deal with is a brief encounter with a creature, that looks great, but doesn’t get to do too much in the story. The kids’ double-paged adventures resemble those of Cabin and Hobbes’ Sunday strips, with panels set up very much as Watterson did in his iconic comic, though with the Dragon children as the protagonists. Their first double-page consists of nineteen equally sized panels. I’m impressed with the layout on the middle panels which account for the fold in the book. For a good laugh, or shock, take a look at the show Tyrone is watching — WOW! I’m a fan of circular panels, they just look classical to me, and I love the one that shows Maddy’s arrival in an unexpected locale. The close-up of the creature on 10 recalls the antagonists of Spaceman Spiff. The setting at the bottom of 14 and 15 is outstanding, especially the little creatures that populate it. The antagonists on 18 and 19 are awesome, and I need to see more of the screaming character with the topknot. This book is visually fun, with Larsen looking as though he had a blast with the change in style. Overall grade: A

The colors: This issue has flats by Mike Toris and colors by Nikos Koutsis. The first page looks like a classic comic book due to the lettering and the focus on the couple, but the colors really make it classical with their bright yellows and reds against a cool blue sky. The colors on the kids’ pages is very Sunday comic strip, with plenty of bright colors and solids used as backgrounds. I like that when a pair of characters enter a sewer their colors are darkened to denote a dark location. The absence of colors in the backgrounds, which occurs several times, really puts the focus on the brightly colored characters and their actions. I like how several panels in the kids’ tales have colored borders which draw attention to their interiors. The colors increase the visual fun of this story. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ferran Delgado creates the book’s title, the story’s title, the issue’s credits, dialogue, the title for kids’ strips, yells, whispered dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue. I was really impressed with how Delgado was able to create the letters for the kids’ pages that mirror’s the text in Calvin and Hobbes, complete with Larsen’s name on each double-page. Delgado used pen with markers to create the writing on these pages, which is the “old school” method for lettering a comic. The sounds are big, making them nicely explosive. One should also look at the final five words in the last panel of this issue which mirror the text of a classic comic of the 1960s. This is great work. Overall grade: A

The funnies: The Mighty Skullboy Army! by Jacob Chabot runs for four pages after the letters pages. The story is okay, with the finale being a solid joke. The visuals are outstanding, with the design of the characters excellent and the backgrounds really detailed. The style somewhat resembles the British strip Bunny vs. Monkey by Jamie SmartG-Man Webcomics by Chris Giarusso, featuring Wally Wackiman! created by Zach Woliner comprise the last two pages, the inside back cover, and the back cover. These were hilarious. I especially like the punchline at the end of the second page’s last strip. The inclusion of Wally is funny, providing a joke that make me laugh out loud at the bottom of the inside back cover. The visuals are also fun, fitting in perfectly with this issue’s Savage Little Dragons. Giarusso’s strips are always entertaining. Overall grades: Mighty Skullboy Army! B- and G-Man Webcomics A

The final line: The Savage Little Dragons go on a fun adventure reminiscent of a classic newspaper strip. The adults play catch-up while looking for the lost kiddies. The art remains strong, with the children getting neat inspiration from Calvin and Hobbes. If you’ve never picked up an issue of Savage Dragon before, this would be a good entry point. Overall grade: A

To order a print or digital copy go to https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/savage-dragon-236

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    4 Comments on this post.
  • Ferran Delgado
    28 July 2018 at 8:44 am -

    As usual, thanks for the compliments and your support, sadly it’s unusual that letterers get this kind of praise. But I’d like to make clear a point: I lettered the Watterson pages in a traditional way, with pen and markers, no fonts involved. It was the only way to mimic the feeling of the wonderful lettering of Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

  • Ferran Delgado
    28 July 2018 at 8:56 am -

    Another small correction, I did the signature of the cover. Aside of this, I always look forward for your reviews, covering each category in depth.

  • Patrick Hayes
    28 July 2018 at 8:29 pm -

    Ferran, thank you for the corrections. I want to be as correct as possible with what I say about each contributor. I will edit my review. Thank you for your work on SD!

  • Ferran Delgado
    30 July 2018 at 11:06 am -

    Thanks, Patrick!

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