In the late 90’s, Eric Powell brought The Goon to comics. Set in a macabre world which still stands the test of time. A simple town in depression-era America found itself overwrought with abhorrent creatures; the peoples’ only hope was a self-appointed protector made of whoop ass, The Goon. A character who looked like anger, cement, and dark alleys were poured into a man mold that came to life. Through the years, Eric Powell has put The Goon and his pal Franky through some of the most over-the-top battles in comics. If he wasn’t punching a bull in the face, Goon was pulverizing a rampaging giant with a simple stick, or facing off against Bog Lurks, Decanters, and a skunk ape. It wasn’t just the innovative violence that made this series unique; the books are balanced by a sense of humor ranging from low brow dick jokes to quirky LOL moments. I’ll never forget Dagon, a giant scaly hyper-sexual underwater monster. I’d really like to forget that last one, but it won’t happen. Now a whole new set of comic book readers will be able to experience the magic of The Goon through ComiXology Unlimited.
Much like being able to listen to the back catalog of a band you just discovered; Comixology itself has made it possible to read the entire story of a character that caught your eye in artist alley, on Free Comic Book Day, or yes…even in theaters. Think of Unlimited as the Pandora Radio of comics. It gives readers a taste of stories and characters you might not have heard of, from genres you already love.
With Comixology bringing some of the fist volumes of comics’ most subtly addictive character to its Unlimited service; it’s a great time to ask Powell about the translation of The Goon and the impact of the digital age in comics.
COMICS BEAT: Before we get into Goon on ComiXology Unlimited, what do you think of the service itself?
ERIC POWELL: I’ve heard about it, it sounds cool. Sort of like a Netflix for comics right? Any format that gets books in the hands of new readers, I’m all for it. I don’t know a whole lot about it other than that. I’m sort of in a constant cave [laughs] so I don’t keep up with things the way I should, but it definitely sounds cool to me.
CB: Well yeah, if you kept up on everything we’d never get comics out of you so I’ll take that trade. The Goon has been around in print and ala carte digital for so many years now, is it still exciting for you to see it used in this way on ComiXology?
EP: I was surprised that it got readership in the first place so I’m always happy that anyone wants to see this stuff. There’s a definite correlation between the change in readership and the digital aspect of comics. All this diverse stuff is getting out to people and it’s given readers more choice. It’s not always the case in comic shops, where you’ll only see what was ordered because not every shop can order every book in the catalog. ComiXology lets people look at most everything out there and there’s always more than what you see on a shelf. There have been so many people over this last year who’ve, read digital, come up to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m just getting into The Goon.” Which is crazy when you consider I started it in 99. I love that it can still get new readers.
CB: That new readership is a really good point that I want to ask about. But first, one more thing about Goon for new readers. For those whose first taste of the character will be on Unlimited, what should they read afterward? The books never felt linear, so as the authority on Goon what would you suggest?
EP: The last few trades had more self-contained stories and I feel like the quality of the art got better. The last two stories, Once Upon a Hard Time and Occasion of Revenge were darker stories. People consider Chinatown to be the best Goon Story, but it also wasn’t the most Goon story. I think it all depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s humor then a lot of the later trades have the self-contained stories that are easy to jump into, but if you want something a little more serious then definitely Chinatown.
CB: Let’s talk a little bit about digital itself. You made the early books when the new format wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind. Looking at how they’ve come to digital, do you feel there’s anything lost in the translation?
EP: The only thing that bothers me about digital is now you can zoom in and see how terrible something looked back then [laughs].
I don’t think much is lost in the translation. I remember the first time I read a digital comic on a tablet. At the time, I was very anti-digital, “you can’t get the same experience…I don’t want to stare at my computer screen to read a comic,” that sort of thing. It was when tablets started getting into more hands that I looked at something on digital and was blown away by it. That was the moment I realized this is the future and the way we’re going. We’ve been digitally coloring comics for years and it felt like the next logical step. So in a way, there’s no translation loss. When we pull a page out of photoshop and put it in a comic, it’s exactly what you’ll see on your screen.
COMICS BEAT: You brought out The Goon, a character who was as far from capes and tights as you can get, during a period where most people were scared to even be in comics. What’s more, it thrived. In your mind how does the industry grow in the future?
ERIC POWELL: The biggest challenge is probably getting the larger audience to acknowledge that there’s more to comics than just the superhero books. Anytime someone mentions comics; the general audience automatically associates it with superheroes. There’s nothing wrong with any of that stuff, it’s what got me to love the art form but there’s so much more to what the medium is and I’d like to see people try it.
CB: It’s good to see you and other creators putting the real value of comics today in what’s on the page. Thanks for talking with us Eric!
There are some things in every medium that can grab new audiences because they were great then and still great now. How many of us got how great Seinfeld was by first watching it in reruns or Hulu, years after its final episode aired on NBC? ComiXology bringing The Goon to unlimited is a similar chance for comics’ newbies and it comes to the service this month. Check out the full list of titles being added to ComiXology Unlimited starting today:
- 2 Guns Written by: Steven Grant Art by: Mateus Santolouco (BOOM! Studios)
- ‘68 Vol. 1 and #1-4 Written by: Mark Kidwell Art by: Nat Jones & Tim Vigil, Jay Fotos & Jeff Zornow (Image Comics)
- Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #1-4 Written by Dan Abnett Art by Brian -Thies (Dark Horse Comics)
- Arcadia #1-3 Written by: Alex Paknadel Art by: Eric Scott Pfeiffer (BOOM! Studios)
- Astronauts In Trouble #1-3 Written by: Larry Young Art by: Charlie Adlard (Image Comics)
- The Bulletproof Coffin #1-3 Written by: David Hine Art by: Shaky Kane (Image Comics)
- The Casebook of Rabbit Black #1 Written by: Kate Sherron Art by: Kate Sherron (Comicker)
- Darkstalkers #0-3 Written by: Ken Siu-Chong Art by: Mark Brooks, Scott Hepburn, Alvin Lee, Corey Lewis, Arnold Tsang and more (UDON)
- Deadhorse #1-3 Written by: Eric Grissom Art by: Phil Sloan (Frankenstein’s Daughter)
- Dracula the Unconquered #1 Written by: Chris Sims Art by: Stephen Downer (Action Age Comics)
- Fell Vol. 1 and #1-3 Written by: Warren Ellis Art By: Ben Templesmith (Image Comics)
- The Goon Vol. 2-4 and #8-13: Written and drawn by Eric Powell (Dark Horse Comics)
- Hacktivist vol. 1 and #3-4 Written by: Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Alyssa Milano Art by: Ian Herring & Marcus To (BOOM! Studios)
- Hellraiser: The Road Below #1-4 Written by: Brandon Seifert Art by: Haemi Jang (BOOM! Studios)
- Hellraiser Masterpieces Vol. 1 Written by: Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman Art by: Alex Ross (BOOM! Studios)
- Hoax Hunters Vol. 1: Murder, Death, and the Devil and #0-5 Written by: Michael Moreci, Steve Seeley and more Art by: Axel Medellin and JM Ringuet and more (Image Comics)
- Island #1-2 Written by: Ludroe , Marian Churchland, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Brandon Graham, Emma Ríos Art by: Ludroe, Brandon Graham, Emma Ríos (Image Comics)
- Kevin Keller #5-9 Written by: Dan Parent Art by: Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski (Archie Comics)
- King: Flash Gordon #1-4: Digital Exclusive Edition Written by: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker Art by: Lee Ferguson (Dynamite)
- The Lion and the Roc #1 Written by: Kathleen Kralowec Art by: Kathleen Kralowec (Comicker)
- Lost Angels #1 Written by: David Accampo Art by: Chris Anderson (Comicker)
- Makeshift Miracle #1-3 Written by: Jim Zub Art by: Shun Hong Chang (UDON)
- Memorial #1-3 Written by: Chris Roberson Art by: Rich Ellis (IDW)
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse Vol. 1-2 Written and drawn by: Ming Ming (Dark Horse Comics)
- Night of 1,000 Wolves Vol. 1 and #1-3 Written by: Bobby Curnow Art by: Dave Wachter (IDW)
- Potter’s Field Vol. 1 and #1-3 Written by: Mark Waid Art by: Paul Azaceta (BOOM! Studios)
- RandomVeus #1-2 Written by: Leonard Bermingham Art by: Jeff”Chamba” Cruz (UDON)
- Requiem Vampire Knight Vol. 1: Resurrection Written by: Pat Mills Art by: Olivier Ledroit (Millsverse)
- Satellite Falling #1 Written by: Steve Horton Art by: Stephen Thompson (IDW)
- Screamland Vol 1 and #1-5 Written by: Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela Art By: Hector Casanova and Lee Leslie (Image Comics)
- The Strain Vol. 1 and #1-6: Written by: David Lapham Art by: Mike Huddleston (Dark Horse Comics)
- Street Fighter Vol. 1 and #0-6 Written by: Ken Siu-Chong Art by: Andrew Hou, Alvin Lee, Rob Ross, Arnold Tsang and more (UDON)
- Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #1-4 Written by: Jim Zubkavich Art by: Omar Dogan (UDON)
- Sylvania #1 Written by: Kristin Kemper Art by: Kristin Kemper (Comicker)
- Ten Grand #1-3 Written by: J. Michael Straczynski Art by: Ben Templesmith (Image Comics)
- The Witcher Vol. 1 and #3-5 Written by: Paul Tobin Art by: Joe Querio (Dark Horse Comics)
- Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse #1-3 Written and drawn by: Ben Templesmith (IDW)
- We Will Bury You #1-4 Written by: Brea Grant & Zane Grant Art by: Kyle Strahm and others (IDW)