Is it sloppy or loose? That’s the question I have when analyzing this comic.
On one hand, this issue of Savage Dragon looks and feels pretty sloppy. Erik Larsen’s artwork has always had a sketchy feel to it. That informal style is part of his charm, and the stories in this comic usually reflect that sketchy style. It helps lead to a feeling that a reader never quite knows what’s going to happen in an issue of Savage Dragon. But in this issue the artwork looks even sloppier than usual. Characters’ bodies are drawn even more distorted than they usually are, backgrounds are even more cartoony than usual, and page layouts are bland. All the looseness has an odd sort of distancing effect, making me feel strangely detached from the events of this issue. I couldn’t help but feel on some level that if Larsen didn’t feel the need to tighten up his artwork, he didn’t invest a lot in the story. And if he didn’t care that much, why should I? Because of the style in this comic, Larsen seemed to be somehow pushing me away from the story while at the same time trying to pull me in.
At the same time the story can be seen as loose, light and fun. In its best moments, Savage Dragon has always combined a wonderful sense of “anything goes” with a feeling that the story is tightly plotted despite its looseness. There are signs that this issue was thought through by Larsen. Sub-plots continue in this issue, there’s a very satisfying fight scene, and character arcs really pay off nicely in this issue.
Call me indecisive, but I feel kind of caught halfway between the two perceptions of Larsen’s work. I’ve been enjoying the looser feel of this series over the last few months, but this issue definitely felt less finished than previous issues. Maybe it’s because this is a slightly quieter issue after several months of nonstop action, but there’s a lack of polish in this comic that keeps it from feeling completely satisfying.