On the SDCC floor we caught up with creator of The Goon, Eric Powell, to talk about what could be the end for one of comic’s biggest cult icons as he wraps up The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time. Read his thoughts about the challenges facing the modern creator owned era, an update from Hollywood, and some advice for throwing 4th of July parties.
Comics Beat: First I had a friend of mine, I told him I’d be talking to you. He grabs me on the shoulder and says “You gotta ask Eric if he’s ever lit a car on fire!” is there a story to that?
Eric Powell: Yes [laughs] and the answer is yes. No for a long time I lived in a town called Lebanon Tennessee, which is about half an hour outside of Nashville. I had about seven acres, so we lived out in the middle of nowhere and I used to have pretty epic Fourth of July parties every year. It escalated from, you know, just having a bond fire to an entire like living room suite that we set on fire. [We] sat on the couches and took photos with the entire living room on fire. [Laughs] And one year, this was the topper. I’m not endorsing this… this is not a good idea; it’s actually a very dumb idea. We filled an old wrecked 1972 Nova with about $600 worth of fireworks and about three gallons of gas.
EP: We had on a giant amp system… crap I’m drawing a blank. Oh, it was Jimmy Hendrix’s “National Anthem” blasting.
CB: [laughs] That sounds like the right way to celebrate America.
EP: It was an epic 4th of July party. It was so good and so over the top that I was just like… I don’t think I should have parties any more because this one will never be topped.
CB: Once you hit the top right.
EP: It was the pinnacle and once you hit the pinnacle, you know.
Comics Beat: That brings me to my next question about hitting the pinnacle with Once Upon A Hard Time. We’re approaching the end of this run; are you still certain this is going to be the last story with “The Goon”?
Eric Powell: I don’t want to give too much away but if you want to consider everything I’ve done [with the character] as one story; this is definitely wrapping up what I started in the first issue of The Goon back in 1999. Now, Dark Horse is putting out these Library editions. What’s great about it is we’ll be able to take this entire arc and have these nice hardcover collections that give you the entire story in one batch [including all the previous hard to find stuff]. But I’m not giving up on that universe that I’ve established. Like I said, I don’t want to give too much away but I will be doing some stuff that is directly connected to what I’ve established there. I’ve got a new project that hasn’t been announced yet, but will shortly, that deals with this universe.
CB: That sounds awesome especially with so much to this universe readers might not pick up on. You’re not giving up the whole universe but will we still see The Goon?
EB: We’ll have to see. Read the last issue of Once Upon a Hard Time [laughs]
CB: That’s just wrong man! [laughs]
Issue four’s had a bit of a delay; has that been because of you going back and having difficulty finding the right note to go out on?
EB: A little bit of that. There was definitely a lot of back and fourth on the script and I’m putting a little bit extra into the art. Also my schedule just got really crazy with Big Man Plans and some cover work; then it was convention season so it got a little behind. Really I just wanted this issue because it is wrapping everything up… I just wanted to do the best I can on it.
Comics Beat: Very few have ever created something and even fewer with the longevity of The Goon, I completely understand. So, what’s your take on the wave of modern creator owned work?
Eric Powell: I’m really excited and happy to see so many people doing great creator owned books and to see it finally breaking out. Where you can have a book with no movie or TV tie-in selling 20 or 30 thousand copies and competing with stuff Marvel and DC is doing.
CB: It’s been a great thing for comics overall.
EP: It has, it’s helped the industry.
CB: More now than ever with stuff by independent creators there seems to be a flavor for everyone.
EP: Exactly, and I’ve caught a lot of flack talking about the need for it.
CB: [laughs] you’ve caught flack for a lot of different things.
EP: Yeah, but I’ve cost my self some work from it because I was so vocal, but I felt like I should stick to my guns and speak up. I grew up a Marvel kid. I read Marvel Comics, I love that stuff. I love the Hulk. Seeing that scene in Avengers where he picks up Loki and smashes him on the floor; I was giddy. But do I think that stuff should be given special treatment on the stands or the thing shops are solely ordering? We should be like television and we should be like film and we should have something out there everyone can like [for different audiences] to build a broader readership. Over the last five years or so it’s been exploding. We’ve got a huge female readership that’s opening up. It’s great. We need diversity, we need diversification, and the content to survive and grow.
Comics Beat: True. With the recent partnership Dark Horse has announced. If that relationship were able to push The Goon into full feature (further than its been) would you come back and do another story to go along with it?
Eric Powell: Well we’re still working on our animated film. Tim Miller who’s the director of the Deadpool movie, his company Blur Studio, along with Jeff Fowler has been trying to get this thing off the ground. We’re still trying to get a studio behind it while finishing edits on the animatic we funded through Kickstarter. They’re putting together a package with Fincher again and going out and doing the hard sell. We’re still pushing it and trying to get this thing done.
CB: Well we hope to see it sooner than later considering you won’t tell me if I’ll ever get another Goon story. Thank you Eric Powell for talking with us; and every brutal, hilarious, and captivating moment since ’99.
Ladies and gentlemen, Eric Powell has been on a hell of a run with The Goon and we can’t wait to see how he brings it to a close. It’s not too late to jump into the world of The Goon. Once Upon a Hard Time #4 comes out August. His other current project, Big Man Plans, published by Image Comics is also in stores now. Pick them all up and invite him to your 4th of July party at your own risk.