Despite his abrasive reputation, I've always found Erik Larsen to be a very personable and entertaining creator to speak to. I try to make it a point of order to chat to him each year and have him hold forth on some aspect of the industry. With the upcoming relaunch of Supreme that uses Alan Moore's unpublished script, I took the opportunity to speak to him about the project… and that other Alan Moore follow-up that's in the works.
What was the deal with the upcoming run on Supreme that you're —
What was the deal?
Yeah, Alan Moore's run was unfinished, so where did you stand from a contractual point-of-view with these upcoming scripts? Did you have to cut another deal with Moore?
Rob had them and they were already paid for, so they were just sitting there — done. And it wasn't "them," it was only one — there's only one issue left that Alan had written. He had left it that he was going to have another writer follow him up and I guess he was going to co-plot or help plot or something. I've heard differing stories about who he wanted to have follow him — Steve Moore or Rick Veitch… somebody was going to do the book. He had an idea where he was going with it and… then he didn't. Extreme had folded-up, so there wasn't a publisher, and that's really how it ended.
The issue that he left — does it resolve his original arc, or is it left on a cliffhanger?
Oh, absolutely! It's a huge cliffhanger and that was the idea, that he was going to feed the next guy with this great cliffhanger so it'd would be, "Oh, now you have to buy the next issue to at least find out what's going to happen now." It worked out really well. It was a fun challenge because you're left with something where you have to make something of it, and make it your own.
And is that down to you — are you going to be writing the series after that, as well as penciling?
So, how are you answering Moore's challenge? Are you going to take it in a new direction?
A very, very different direction because Alan's was very much a tribute to silver age Superman comics and I'm not into that. I mean, we have silver age Superman comics — those existed — if somebody wants to read them, they're out there. I didn't feel that that's what made Supreme unique. The thing that made it unique was that he was Superman with a real twist in that he was kind of a dick. I'm kind of returning to that — Supreme as an asshole.
Alan had set it up in such a way that, if you read what had gone on before — what he had done with it. It wasn't necessarily the same Supreme that had been in the book previously. He had kind of written in such a way that you could read it and realize, "Wait a minute — this is actually a new guy. This is a new version." So, I was able to come in and go, "All right, then that other guy is still out there somewhere. Where is he? What happens if he comes back?"
Does working on script and art for this book impede your plans for Savage Dragon in any way? Are you going to have to put that on a lighter schedule?
Nah. What screwed it up is that I just moved house. Other than that, it shouldn't impact things a whole hell of a lot. I'm not doing super-full pencils on Supreme, it's more rough pencils and I'm working with a finisher who'll be inking it.
Corey Hamscher. He's really good and the work is ending up as a neat amalgam of our two styles because what I did was not that complete. So, he has to come in and finish it and make it into something new almost. It's ended up a really neat combination of our two styles — very much in the vein of how comics used to be done. These days, a lot of pencillers' work is so super-tight that they don't even really need an inker. You could just adjust the contrast and call it beautiful. Supreme is a situation, though, where we are truly collaborating.
The first issue is out very soon, right?
While we're on the subject of writing follow-ups to Alan Moore's work — any thoughts on Before Watchmen?
I think it's kind of shitty. It's a crappy thing to do. On the other hand, he did sign a contract and they took advantage of that. If you really didn't want this to happen, you shouldn't have signed that contract. You should have got better legal representation to work out a better deal, or something. It's kind of your fault, in a way, that you signed a shitty deal. And the company had screwed all these guys before — what made you think you were going to be the exception? That happens time and time again, that people jump into doing stuff at Marvel and DC thinking, "Well, I'm going to be the guy who they're not going to fuck over!" Really? You're going to be special, whereas Jack Kirby wasn't? If they're willing to screw over Siegel and Shuster, what makes you think they're not going to do that to you?