Eric Powell didn't show up for his "Goon" panel Friday evening at Comic-Con International: San Diego, but comedians Brian Posehn, Ben Garant, and Tom Lennon did. Garant and Lennon, best known for their work on "Reno: 911" asked the audience if anyone had seen the missing writer/artist. There was a moment of awkwardness, and then even more awkwardness as an apparently drunken Powell stumbled into the room.
While the panel awaited him, he greeted fans and friends in the audience before throwing a chair out of his way as he ascended the steps to the stage. His pretend drunkenness was all part of an elaborate gag perpetrated with the help of Posehn, Garant, and Lennon.
The gag continued for over 10 minutes as Powell announced his next project: "Dark Horse Comics has the license to Godzilla." Powell said, "we're working on an adult-themed Godzilla comic. And by adult I don't mean intelligent. I'm talking giant monsters getting it on."
The crowd hooted and hollered.
"What's more awesome than a 30-story Godzilla green penis?" asked Powell.
Then Powell called for his special video clip to run. "Size Matters Most," the video supposedly created by Powell, showed panels from Godzilla comics with a giant "censored" square over all the private parts.
The fake announcement continued with Powell singing "Godzilla..." in a drunken voice, repeatedly.
Tom Lennon had to confront Powell with the harsh reality: "There is no Dark Horse Godzilla porno comic," he said bluntly.
Powell whimpered. "I've already drawn 30 pages," he said.
Posehn also feigned annoyance and sadness: "I worked for six months on scripts," he said. "I don't like coming here. I don't like nerds," he added.
Garant and Lennon announced that it was time for an intervention, stating that it was the real purpose of the panel. They ripped off their black shirts to reveal priestly vestments beneath. "Stop glorifying Satan," said Lennon to Powell. In reference to Powell's mention of his wish to drawn Godzilla porno and zombie comics, Garant said, "in our Book, there's only one zombie who came back from the dead, and that is our lord Jesus Christ."
Lennon and Garant stood up and sprayed holy water all over Powell while chanting, "the power of Christ compels you." Powell fell behind the table as smoke from a dry ice machine rose from behind.
The panelists realized that if the smoke alarms were set off, it wouldn't be a pretty sight, so they quickly broke character and started waving their arms to disperse the fog. Lennon rushed to the door to get some air into the smoke-filled room.
With that, Posehn, Lennon, and Garant left Powell all alone on stage. Looking uncomfortable, and mentioning that he had absolutely nothing else planned for the rest of the hour, Powell offered to sign the Bible for a lucky fan.
The rest of the panel consisted of moments of awkwardness and bits of humor as Powell invited fans up to join him on the panel, and even called Dark Horse editor Scott Allie and put him on speakerphone: "I'm in a restaurant," said Allie. "How's the panel going?" Powell replied, "it's pretty lame at this point. I'm drawing in the Bible, though."
After that, Powell settled into an extended Q&A session with fans as they shouted questions from their seats.
Powell mentioned the CGI animated "Goon" movie, involving David Fincher, but said that he couldn't say much about it yet. Although he did say that Fincher and company "want to capture the spirit of the comic."
Powell also got serious for moment as he answered a question about what got him interested in comics: "I had a friend who in junior high who--I drew a lot--who kind of introduced me to comics and let me borrow comics. And he died of Parkinson's disease." Powell went on: "[comics] just seemed like the perfect thing for me. I was drawing pictures and drawing stories to go along with them." He mentioned Bernie Wrightson's work on "Batman: The Cult" as being particularly influential.
On where the idea of the Goon came from: "I just wanted to draw a big ugly guy," said Powell. And "Sherilyn Fenn was who I had in mind for Isabella."
Someone asked about the death of Merle, and Powell said, "I was going through the characters and looking to see who would have some emotional connection. I had to give it some kind of impact." Powell continued, "I was trying to pick out a character in the Goon universe who --it would catch people off guard -- and was kind of played out."
Powell mentioned that his favorite scene in "The Goon" was "the breakdown scene in Chinatown when [he has] the Goon freaking out in front of the mirror."
When asked why he left Avatar, the original publisher of "The Goon," Powell said, "I put my heart and soul into that first issue of the comic and then [Avatar] sat on it for like a year." Powell also described his disappointment with the colors and the cover, prompting him to leave Avatar when he had the chance.
Powell spoke fondly of his work on the "Chinatown" graphic novel, and said that he "killed himself working on it." He added, "the fact that it was so well-received, it really meant a lot."
He made an announcement after that, as he said, "I'm going to add a member of the Unholy Bastards shortly." But as far as a Star Wars/Goon crossover? That was never going to happen. "I mentioned that to my editor--you know what would be funny: a Goon vs. Darth Vader story," said Powell. "The editor said, 'do you want George Lucas to own the Goon? No? Then that will never happen.'"
Powell also explained the deep thinking behind his creative process when asked how he came up with the idea for the psychic sea lion character. Powell said he was attracted by the idea of a sea lion doing a "kind of Lassie thing," and then he said, "but, really, I just kind of like Goon punching out a sea lion."
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