Writer Kurt Busiek confirmed the news for CBR News on Monday, and filled in some more details.
"It's a decision Erik made himself -- apparently, he's never fully recovered from the pneumonia he had early in the book's run, and the amount of work he's been doing, between 'Savage Dragon,' 'Defenders' and 'Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine,' has been way too much of a strain -- his doctors have told him to ease off if he ever wants to recover fully. So after 'Defenders' #12 and FF: WGCM #12, he'll be concentrating on 'Dragon' and on resting, so he can get back into full health.
"I've been delighted to work with him this past year, and am sorry to see him go -- this has been an enormously fun book to collaborate on, and if I had my druthers, we'd just keep rolling along. But as a fan of Erik's, and a friend, I'd rather have him healthy, so I can keep reading 'Dragon' ..."
And the changing of the creative guard doesn't mean an end to the book, which will keep on.
"Yes, though there'll be some major changes to what's going on with the team -- I suppose it counts as a 'bold new direction,' even though it's what we were planning all along, and what we'd be doing even if Erik was still here."
And a new artist has been chosen for the title, although Busiek isn't saying who ... yet.
"I'll be at the Canadian National Comic Book Expo in Toronto next weekend, and will be making an announcement about it then. 5 p.m. on Saturday, for anyone who'll be there ..."