CCI XTRA: "The Goon" Goin' Monthly

Eric Powell said two words at the Goon panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday that fans of his popular, zombie-socking, bourbon drinking creation should be very happy to hear:

"The Goon: monthly."

"There hasn't been a lot of Goon stuff lately because I've been working on 'Chinatown,'" Powell said to kick off the panel, referring to the long-awaited Goon origin graphic novel. In an effort to try and get his popular Dark Horse series back on track and appearing on the stands on a regular basis, Powell said that come 2008, he will cease to accept any more work-for-hire offers for the period of one year (not even any covers, not even for Dark Horse books) and will concentrate all his efforts on putting out 12 issues of "The Goon" in a calendar year.

In attendance were Powell himself, "hanger-on" and general all-around-ne'er-do-well Dwight T. Albatross, and series editor Scott Allie. As part of the monthly announcement, Powell said that it looks very likely that Dave Stewart will soon be coming on board "The Goon" as its colorist, although he did caution that Stewart's involvement is not one hundred percent certain. "It's not a done deal yet, since this is something that's pretty much been worked out from walking back and forth to the hotel this weekend," Powell said. "But it's looking like Dave Stewart will be coming on to color the book."

To commemorate the book switching to a monthly schedule, Allie said January 2008 would be Goon Month at Dark Horse. There will be a new "Fancy Pants Edition" hardcover focusing on Dr. Alloy, and all three 8-page stories of the new "MySpace Dark Horse Comics Presents " that month will be Goon-based stories, by creators other than Powell.

"The creators for those stories haven't been determined yet," Allie said. "But we're trying to get some French guy to do one." It was tough to tell whether or not Allie was joking or being serious.

The conversation then shifted to the long-awaited "Chinatown" graphic novel, which is officially titled "Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker." The 128-page OGN is on Dark Horse's schedule for a September release. Powell declined to discuss the specifics of the story when asked by a fan for a synopsis. "That's why it's a long-form OGN," Powell said. "Because you have to read the book all at once. That's also why it was a story that we didn't want to break up and tell during the course of the regular comic, it really didn't fit into that type of format. It's a story that has to be read straight through. But I don't want to say too much more about it than that."

Despite his reticence Powell did, however, offer fans a cautionary note concerning the upcoming OGN, "Be fair warned that 'Chinatown' is not what you'd probably expect from the Goon. It's going to be the polar opposite of something like 'Satan's Sodomy Baby.' It's not going be all that funny. In fact, it's really kind of solemn and a bit of a downer."

Allie added, "It answers some questions that have been hanging over the Goon for quite a while, though." Allie then praised Powell's artwork on the upcoming graphic novel, noting that Powell's stuff is very strong to begin with but that since "Chinatown" didn't need to be solicited until it was done, the soon-to-be-released hardcover is the best art that Allie has ever seen from Powell. "Unlike the regular Goon comic, which ships bi-monthly, there was really no deadline on 'Chinatown.' We didn't want to rush anything, and Eric was free to take his time. Eric's work on 'Chinatown' is by far the best stuff I've ever seen from him – it looks amazing!"

All three members of the panel reiterated that the recently released one-shot "Satan's Sodomy Baby" will not be collected into any future trades of the regular series. Allie then recounted the numerous obstacles that that book faced before finally seeing publication, including the printers of the book's e-mail account twice filtering out the print order because it contained the word "sodomy" in the heading, because that particular email server automatically registers the word as SPAM, delaying the book two weeks past its scheduled release date.

"Yeah, we actually had to change the spelling of sodomy in the email to get it past their SPAM filter," Allie said. "I guess a lot of people have a problem with that word."

Powell said that events in the Goon's life are definitely building to something, but that "The Goon" is not a finite series. Powell said he would like to continue working on the character "indefinitely."

Allie added, "Or as long as Albatross lets him."

"No," Powell said when asked by a fan if the Zombie Priest is the "ultimate bad guy" of the series. "There's someone else out there that we haven't seen yet."

When a fan asked Powell what he thought he'd be doing if not for comics, Powell said, "I dunno… mechanic, Burger King, probably working construction, since my dad owns a construction company."

When questioned about a possible Goon movie or animated series, Powell said that he wasn't opposed to the idea and that he didn't think any adaptations of his character on the big or small screen would detract from the comics. "The comics are still going to be the comics," Powell said. "All that other stuff, yeah, it would be nice, but I like doing the comics. The Goon from the comics will still be the true Goon."

Powell also seemed to imply that Dark Horse Entertainment were the ones who held the rights to the Goon for any sort of adaptation or licensing agreement. "Besides, if anything does happen, we've got a great production company in Dark Horse Entertainment already on our side."

The panel then took a somewhat interesting turn.

An extremely belligerent fan, after first telling Albatross to "shut your mouth," demanded to know if Powell had ever been to Syracuse, New York.

"No," was Powell's slightly bemused response, but this did not seem to satisfy the fan, who instead only seemed to grow more agitated.

"You're telling me you've never been to Syracuse, Powell?" asked the fan. "You're going on record to say that you've never been to Syracuse and that you've never read the Syracuse Post-Standard?"

Livid and red-faced, the fan was on his feet at this point. He held up a sketchbook, opened to a page that contained a crudely drawn picture of…well, that's tough to actually say. The drawing was not very good.

"This is the Thug, Powell! First published in the Syracuse Post-Standard in 2003. Look familiar? Kinda looks like the Goon, huh?"

Powell laughed the fan off before inviting him up to the podium to show the crowd his drawing. "That? You're saying that I stole that from you?" Powell said. "Why don't you come on up here, buddy. Come up here and show everybody what I'm supposed to have ripped off from you."

The fan charged the podium. Once on it, Albatross wasted no time quickly "shiving" the irate fan, while Powell took him down efficiently. There was a commotion underneath the table, a scream, and Powell soon emerged covered in fake blood and holding a Styrofoam heart in his hands.

Powell, Albatross, and the incensed "fan" had pulled a fast one on the crowd. The plant emerged, took a quick bow, and then Albatross announced, "We're not done with you guys yet. Everybody get up and look under their seats. Whoever's sitting on the one with the sticker of my face on it, come on up here. We've got something for you."

After those in attendance searched under almost every seat, one lucky fan finally found the sticker, and was rewarded with his very own Goon action figure.

And thus ended one of Comic-Con's most colorful panels.

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