Savage Dragon and Gold Digger

Two Awesome Titles

While many humor comic books and comic strips are produced by a single cartoonist/creator, it is much more rare for a comic book in the genre of action and adventure to be done by only one person. It is even more rare for a singular cartoonist on an action and adventure title to be the creator of that title, as well. For example, John Byrne may have had a celebrated run on Wonder Woman as the writer and artist on the book, but he did not create the character of Wonder Woman.

The following two titles, however, were each created and continued to be written and illustrated by one man. Erik Larsen with Savage Dragon, and Fred Perry with Gold Digger are two stellar examples for young cartoonists that prove a single person with a singular vision can make a great comic book about their own characters that tells the stories they want to tell.

Malcolm Dragon
Credit: Erik Larsen

Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon

Crime-Fighting Runs In The Family

Although there were earlier published versions of Savage Dragon from the 1980s, the current run began with the formation of Image Comics in 1992. Creator/writer/artist Erik Larsen's Dragon character is a green-skinned man with a fin on his head, who began the series with amnesia, and soon joined the Chicago Police Force. Dragon as a cop was the status quo for years, before he became a government agent, outlaw, interdimensional bounty hunter, husband, father, terrorist, and a whole host of other occupations and diversions.

The most current issue of Savage Dragon is no. 193, which is advertised as a great starting point for new readers. This is because the focus of the title has shifted from Dragon's adventures to the adventures of his son, Malcolm Dragon. That's right, Dragon's a family name. But before you ask, no, Dad's name is not Dragon Dragon. It's just Dragon. One Name. Like Madonna, or Cher.

Anyway, Malcolm Dragon has a lot in common with his old man. Green skin, fin on his head, and the super-strength necessary to lay a beating on the bad guys. But he has to find a way to balance the life of a superhero with the homework he still has to do as a high school senior. Plus, because of the terrorist activities his father was involved with, the older Dragon is in jail, and Malcolm has to live on his own in a crummy apartment downtown.

It sounds pretty bleak, but actually, Savage Dragon is a lighthearted title that focuses more on interesting dialogue exchanges interspersed with scenes of super-powered slugfests. A word of caution, though: if violence in comics is not your cup of tea, you would do well to avoid Savage Dragon, since this is a book that does not skimp on showing the sometimes grotesque results of a fight between two super-powered characters in a highly-populated area.

As an artist, Erik Larsen has spent the 20-plus years on Savage Dragon refining his art style and experimenting with new tools and techniques. At this point, Larsen lets his markers do a lot of the detail work for figures and backgrounds, giving many characters a frantic appearance even when they are standing still. Not that the characters in Savage Dragon spend all their time standing still and having meaningful conversations. Nope. You never know when the action will drop in this comic, and that is one of the most exciting parts of Savage Dragon, even at almost 200 issues by the same writer/artist.

Fred Perry's Gold Digger

Three Sisters' Adventures

Gold Digger is an adventure comic by Fred Perry that has been running almost exactly as long as Savage Dragon. The current issue is no. 208, which means Perry has been just a tad more consistent over the years in his publication and shipping of his series. Gold Digger started off as a black and white series, and then switched to color after the first fifty issues. But throughout the entire run, the focus of this comic has been the adventures of archaeologist and explorer Gina Diggers, the original sexy female tomb raider. 

Gina, along with her sisters Brittany (a were-cheetah) and Brianna (a magic clone combining Gina and Brittany's essences), has spent years traversing the globe and the galaxy in search of answers to the great mysteries of the universe. In doing so, they have run across dragons, mecha-piloting leprechauns, interdimensional barbarians, demon lich kings, underground street fighters, and pretty much every other group you could imagine.

With the latest issue, Gina and Brittany enlist the help of a lavender cat-girl from the otherworldly plane of Elysia, who has a unique way of employing magic from the Anahata Chakra to combat dark science. The Diggers sisters, Lana the cat-girl, and a few other surprise guest-stars all team up to attempt to put the kibosh on the evil Mortis clan, but saying any more than that would spoil the fun.

Suffice it to say, Gold Digger is a comic book that consistently delivers on fun set-ups for action sequences, and then competently delivers rewarding emotional pay-offs. This is in large part thanks to the expressive art of Fred Perry, which is very anime-influenced, but with a Western sensibility. You could probably follow most of the stories in Gold Digger just by following the art and not even reading the dialogue, which is always the mark of an impressive cartoonist at work.

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Check Out Gold Digger and Savage Dragon

Although Gold Digger and Savage Dragon are not the only action-adventure comics produced by a single creator/writer/artist, they are a couple of the finest examples of such that are made on a regular basis. They might also be good choices for someone looking to get a comic that is not strictly superhero material. As a comic book reader, it is always enjoyable to be the audience for something you know is artistically important to the person making it, and that is simply much more likely to be the case when it comes to single-creator titles. If you know about or enjoy any other comics that fall into this category, be sure to mention them in the comments below!