Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz’s unique take on Billy the Kid rides again in September, courtesy of Dark Horse. The creators – Powell writing, Hotz on art – debuted “Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities” in 2005, in which the notorious gunslinger faked his own death and began roaming the country with a traveling circus sideshow. Currently, Billy and his crew feature in back-up stories in Powell’s “Buzzard” miniseries, the second issue of which ships July 21. Come September, though, the outlaw takes center stage in “Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London,” which sets Billy and crew up against Jack the Ripper, among other threats. The miniseries will also feature backup stories with Powell’s most famous creation, the Goon himself. CBR News caught up with Powell to discuss the series.
Powell only recently re-introduced Billy in the pages of “Buzzard,” but before that old ghoul’s miniseries could get too far along, it was announced that the back-up feature would graduate to its own title shortly after. Asked whether this had been the plan all along or whether Powell simply gained momentum from working on the Kid again, the writer said this was more a matter of things simply lining up. “When Kyle Hotz and I came up with ‘Billy’s Oddities,’ we thought up about four miniseries on the spot,” Powell replied. “We always intended to do more immediately after the first series, but we could never get our schedules in sync. We finally decided to just jump right back in and get this thing rolling. We have too many good ideas to let it just go away.”
The “Ghastly Fiend of London” of the title is, of course, Jack the Ripper, whom Billy and his band of freaks are set to encounter. “We really ignore historical timelines in ‘Billy,’ but it would almost be a crime to not mix two of the most recognizable names of the 1800s,” Powell said. “And Kyle is a huge Ripper enthusiast. We really didn’t do much research because he already knew everything.
“I think, more so than the first series, this story will really begin to establish what kind of world this book is set in,” Powell said. “If we don’t get a couple of ‘Oh, shit’ moments out of the readers, we’ve failed.”
There has been some suggestion that, with their unusual appearances setting them apart from polite society, Billy’s friends may come under suspicion for the Ripper’s crimes. “I don’t want to give too much of our story angles away right now, but Billy finds himself in as much, if not more, trouble than his freak friends,” Powell said.
Since he’s featuring so prominently in this story, CBR asked Powell for his view on Jack the Ripper’s true identity. “There are a million pet theories on who Jack was. I personally believe he is someone that was never suspected or even mentioned. Some random, under the radar psycho,” Powell said. “I think if someone could magically give us his name, the whole world would say, ‘Who?’ Just seems like that’s the way things in the real world work. Way less fantastic than the conspiracies and fantasies we come up with.”
“Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London” will feature Goon backup stories, though Powell said these should not be viewed as a bridge back to the main “Goon” series once it returns.”It’s just going to be a fun Goon story,” he said. As to what Goon might be up to in these backups, the writer suggested, “I imagine it will involve improper sexual conduct, ice cream, and punching.”