Eric Powell Celebrates the Year of "The Goon"

Almost a decade after Eric Powell's "The Goon" first debuted, Powell and Dark Horse have deemed 2008 "The Year of The Goon." A mob war is brewing in the pages of the "Goon" ongoing series, and CBR News caught up with Powell to get the details.

For those unfamiliar with the series, "The Goon's" title character was raised in a traveling carnival by his Aunt Kizzie. After a gangster named Labrazio took up residence in the carnival, a shootout with the cops ensued and Kizzie was killed by Labrazio in the crossfire. The Goon snapped and bashed Labrazio's head in with a rock. From there, the Goon retrieved Labrazio's little black book and proceeded to pose as the gangster's enforcer. "But now there is a figure who has come to town who is claiming to be Labrazio," Powell said. "There's some ambiguity as to whether or not it's actually him, and he's causing a lot of problems."

Powell referred to the just released "Goon" #26 as a "shit hits the fan" issue, the "Empire Strikes Back" of the current storyline. "It's the point where the war really happens, where the war really starts building steam," Powell said. Issue 26 sports two covers, one featuring the Goon's gang and one featuring Labrazio's.

Published at the end of 2007, the year of The Goon was ushered in with "Chinatown," a Goon original graphic novel, Powell's first. Powell told CBR news that working in that longer form was very liberating. "If it was possible to take that much time to do every story, I would definitely choose to do it that way." Powell stated that the length of "Chinatown" also gave him the freedom to devote 5 consecutive splash pages to depicting the Goon's mental breakdown, "and that's something I could never get away with in the comic, I mean, 5 pages is pretty precious in a 22 page comic."

Powell went on to say that he's sick of comics that read like they're just one small part of a larger story arc. "Using an entire comic for setup for the next issues seems counterproductive to me," Powell commented. "If your story is that big, then maybe you should just make it a graphic novel, or make it a double-sized issue or something. I always try to, with the single issues, tell a story. There definitely needs to be some kind of conflict, and some type of resolution to the conflict within the issue. I just feel kind of cheated when I don't get that in a single issue." Powell cited the Kirby-era "Fantastic Four" as a good example of a series that had stories that were self-contained, but also utilized cliffhangers to tease the next issue.

Powell admitted that in the 9 years he's been writing "The Goon," he's grown by leaps and bounds as a storyteller. "I think if someone picked up the first issue that I drew, and then took a look at 'Chinatown,' it's like, 'Wow, that's not even the same person,'" Powell said. "It's pretty much night and day as far as my writing ability, and the art has evolved so much over the 10 year span, it's a lot different."

The beginning of 2008 saw the release of "The Goon: Fancy Pants" volume 2, a 184 page hardcover collection featuring "Goon" villain Dr. Alloy. "And the monthly storyline that I'm doing for this year pretty much wraps everything up that I started from the very beginning," Powell said. After the final issue of this storyline hits stands in December, "The Goon" is "going to be something completely different. As far as the continuity of the book goes, it's kind of a major year."

Powell characterizes "The Goon" as a dark comedy, but admitted that the tone of the book can change from storyline to storyline. "I kind of mix it up," Powell said. "Sometimes the stories are a little bit more dramatic, sometimes they're a little more on the funny side. Sometimes I do straight out sci-fi kind of stuff. And there's lots of horror and crime elements." Powell said this genre hopping isn't just to keep the title fresh for the readers; it's for his benefit as well. "So if I have the feeling, 'I want to draw a giant robot,' then we'll draw a giant robot in this story. I just want to keep it fresh for myself so it stays interesting and I don't get bored with it. And I also think it helps the reader, if they don't know what to expect, I always think it's more entertaining for them."

As far as Powell is concerned, there is no end to the Goon's story in sight. "I definitely see it as something I'll probably keep doing for a long time," Powell said. "I want to be able to, if I want to, pull this character out again when I'm 90, you know? I have too much fun working on it, and it was never envisioned as anything that was like, 'Oh, I have this one story in mind and that's it.' I always thought that this book was more of a situational kind of thing where I could really just take these characters and plop them into anything and then do something with it."

"The Goon" #26 is on stands now.

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