The Goon, Eric Powell’s surly tough guy in a supernatural-infused Depression-era town, is set to return to his own infamous series in June. Writer/artist Powell’s most famous creation, the Goon has been seen only occasionally since the series went monthly for “Goon Year” in 2008, but June’s issue #34 sets the Dark Horse title back upon its original bimonthly schedule.
Making sure the Goon’s life doesn’t get too routine, though, in between #34 and August’s #35 the character will also be appearing in “Criminal Macabre/The Goon: When Freaks Collide,” co-written by Powell and Cal McDonald’s creator Steve Niles with art by Chris Mitten. CBR News spoke with Powell about the return of “The Goon,” words that should never be used to describe monsters and the allure of carnival freak shows.
CBR News: Eric, after “Goon Year,” when you went monthly, and a couple issues in 2009, you’ve given the Goon a bit of a rest while you focused on characters like Buzzard, Billy the Kid and your “Chimichanga” books. Has time away give you any new perspectives on what you’d like the “Goon” series to be?
Eric Powell: Same perspective, which is varying the tone and keeping people guessing as to what kind of story they’ll be reading. I don’t want the book to ever get boring for people. The perspective I have gained recently is that I just want to boost the overall quality of the book. Art and writing. I want to be producing the best work of my life right now.
You did have the Goon backup features in “Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities,” but it’s been about a year and a half since the last time Goon headlined a comic. Would “Goon” #34 be a good place for new readers start, if maybe they’ve heard of this wild series in the time between last issue and now?
Yeah, something I pride myself on is that I feel people can really pick up any single issue of “The Goon” and be entertained. Even though there may be back story you don’t understand, if you pick up an issue with no prior knowledge of the book, you’ll get a complete story. Plus, so much of what I do with the characters is through dialogue. In two panels of conversation between Goon and Franky, you pretty much get a feel for the relationship.Â
Before the silent issue #33, you’d wrapped up a lot of long-running arcs in “The Goon.” What’s the Goon’s situation or status quo as we meet him once again?
Status quo. This book is kind of like “Cheers.” You know exactly who’s at the bar and what their role is. It’s just dropping them in different situations. That’s part of the tragedy of the Goon; he’s damned to this situation.Â
It looks like at least the first couple new issues will be one-offs. Do you have any grand epics on the horizon, or is the done-in-one style feel right for you now?
I do have a big story in the same vein as the “Return of Labrazio” story planned sometime down the road. But really, “The Goon” has always been a self-contained-story kind of book. “Chinatown” and the big “Return of Labrazio” arc being the exceptions. I like short stories. No time to be flowery. Make your point and get out of there.
With your first issue back, it looks like you’re having Goon tackle some popular but dubious monsters. What, to your mind, is the problem with Sparkly Vampires?
Using the word “sparkly” as an adjective to describe any monster to a horror buff is a problem. Dr. Frankenfurter is the only thing horror-related that gets to be sparkly… and that’s it!
I wouldn’t think the SVs, as portrayed on film and tear-soaked paperbacks, would pose much of a threat to the Goon. So what is our hero up against in the return story?
I would tell you, but that’s part of the gag.
The Goon is also teaming up with Steve Niles’ Cal McDonald for a one-shot. Steve has said you two get along pretty well; how would you describe the way you work together?
This one is really all Steve. I wrote some dialogue for Goon and Franky and we co-plotted just a tiny bit, but Steve did all the heavy lifting. So there wasn’t too much collaboration. But we work pretty well together on bitching about movies and comics.Â
Is there anything you’d like to share about the story of that one-shot? What are the Goon, Frankie and Cal up to there?
There are lots of fights with blunt metal objects. Which is a prerequisite on a team up like this.
After return in issue #34 and the “Criminal Macabre/Goon” one-shot, the next regular issue of “The Goon” is written by Evan Dorkin. What led you to recruit him for this story?
I’ve been a big fan of Evan’s for a long time. He is a frickin’ comic book comedic genius. But this story came about when we were on a panel together at the NY con — I think. I hesitantly went up to him after the panel. Hesitantly, because he seems like such a cynical SOB. I didn’t know what his reaction would be to me telling him I was a big fan. I believe his reaction was something like, “I suck, what the hell is wrong with you?” But I got the nerve to tell him if he ever wanted to write a Goon story I’d love to draw it. To my surprise he was very enthusiastic about it.Â
That issue takes place in a carnival freakshow, which seems to interest you quite a bit, given your “Billy’s Old-Timey Oddities” books. How does Goon play off of this setting?
Yeah, I think Evan got this idea from Goon growing up in a Carnival. I’ve noticed last year how much of my work seems to be focused on Carnivals and Freak Shows. Don’t know where that comes from. I think its the era of when those things were popular. The style of it. Oh, and people with stuff growing out of their heads, too, probably. But to the Goon, that’s just family.