Friday, May 10, 2013

C2E2 2013 Interview: ERIC POWELL

I’ve been a long-time fan of THE GOON, ever since my friend CJ told me about the book. (CJ is the guy who got me back into comics, by the way. He’s the one who lent me EVIL ERNIE, PREACHER, and HITMAN and changed my life. So yeah, I always listen when he suggests something. You wouldn’t be reading any of this without him being in my life.) I knew writer and artist Eric Powell would be at C2E2 last year, but I wound up getting sick, so I didn’t get to see him. This time around, I made a promise to myself that not only would I meet him, I’d try to get an interview. Keep in mind, this guy had worked for not only the Big Two, but for a lot of the runners-up. In fact, I can’t think of a company he hasn’t worked for (he even worked for Avatar, although few will remember that THE GOON started there). I expected he’d be a bit difficult to get to.

When I saw him on Friday, I noticed only a handful of people in front of him. What the fuck? His line should have been around the corner, at least. When I got up to him, I asked him for an interview, and he said that would be fine. But he had just arrived and was still setting up. Besides, I knew that Sundays were usually the best days for interviews. I told him I’d be back on Sunday, and he said fine.

When I came back on Sunday, I was surprised to find yet again that no one was standing by his table. He sat there, sketching. Alone. I still can’t get my head around it. (I call it Brian Azzarello Syndrome; Azzarello is the greatest American comic book writer we have, and he never has more than a handful of people waiting in line to meet him at signings.)

Here is what Powell had to say.

JOHN BRUNI: Here we are with Eric Powell, creator of THE GOON. THE GOON is a great mixture of H.P. Lovecraft and Eisner’s THE SPIRIT. It’s a wonderful combination of humor and horror. What got you started down this unusual path?

ERIC POWELL: From the very beginning, I set out to do a book that I would have fun drawing. I just sort of threw everything in there that I like to draw. Monsters and noir, and all that stuff. The weird mixture of stuff comes from my laziness of just wanting to draw what I like to draw.

JB: I’ve noticed that things are getting grimmer as the series progresses. Was this your plan all along? To make us laugh and then make us cry?

EP: I want, from issue to issue, for the content to be a little different. Because as a reader myself, when I read a comic, even one that I really love, it starts to get repetitive and do the same thing over and over again. It gets boring, and you lose interest. I want the reader to not know what’s coming next. Is this one going to be funny? Is it going to make me cry? This is something I set out to do from the beginning, to have a book I could tell any kind of story in. I can tell a serious story. I can tell something off the wall. I’m still trying to do that. I hope it keeps working.

JB: A while ago, there was THE GOON Kickstarter. The movie is still happening, right?

EP: The Kickstarter was to fund an animation reel, which is basically just a really crude version of the movie made from storyboards, so you can go into a meeting with executives and say, “All right, watch this DVD and see what the whole movie’s going to be like.” The Kickstarter to fund that was extremely successful. They’re working on the storyboards right now. It’s definitely given us a boost, and hopefully when we go for a second round of pitches trying to sell this, the crowd involvement will help show them that people want this thing.

JB: You’ve also done some great work on the SWAMP THING covers. Some of my favorite covers were done by you. Any more plans to work with DC?

EP: They haven’t asked. I’m pretty busy doing my own stuff right now. There’s not a whole lot of time to fit anything else in. I’m keeping focused on my material.

JB: What else do you have coming up besides THE GOON?

EP: Right now, it’s all just GOON stuff. I have a couple of other projects I want to do, but THE GOON is taking up most of my time.

JB: One more question. Frankie’s catchphrase: “Knife to the eye!” What twisted corner of your mind did that come from?

EP: To be honest, it was perfectly random. I was drawing a panel, and I was going to have this part where he was really sweet to this guy, being kind and gentle, and then he’ll just stab him in the eye. Just having him scream, “Knife to the eye!” seemed like the thing to do. It was completely random. There was no real thought put into that.

If you’re not reading THE GOON, you are a fool. Eric Powell is an amazing writer and artist, and when THE GOON movie comes out and kicks ass, you’re going to feel sorry that you didn’t get in on this action early. There are 12 volumes, and none of them are out of print. The most recent one is blast-your-balls-off funny, at least until the last chapter. Then, Powell does something so grim it hurts. Get to it!

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