- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2005

Eric Powell’s Web site (www.thegoon.com) reveals the biography of a comic-book creator who once saved a baby, wrestled a grizzly bear and discussed processed meats with the Dalai Lama. However, he is best known as the man who brought the zombie-hating enforcer named the Goon to life.

While wasting his talents on such books as Angel, Black Panther and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he kept returning to the lovable thug and, after a less than satisfying self-publishing stint, gave Dark Horse Comics the privilege of printing and distributing the Goon’s legendary adventures.

In honor of Mr. Powell’s Eisner Award-winning creation, Dark Horse has dubbed October as Goon Month and has released the hardcover book “The Goon: Fancy Pants” ($24.95), which collects all of the character’s essential stories in chronological order for the first time.

The demented author recently gave Zadzooks a piece of his mind (but no processed meats) in the 51st chapter of an open-ended series that profiles the elite of the comic-book industry.

Eric Powell

Age: 30

Educational background: I am a self-taught artist. I was going to go to an art school and decided against it because there was not a strong emphasis on illustration. So I stayed home and took on any jobs to keep me going. I painted motorcycle helmets, took any freelance work, and eventually comics came up.

Why do I create comic books? In junior high school, after a friend reintroduced me to comics, I automatically decided to become a comic-book artist. I was always drawing and even wrote stories to go with [the drawings], and it seemed to be exactly what I needed to do.

My first paid job: At London Night Studios, I did three issues of Razor, and it was pretty nice to get a paycheck.

The origins of the Goon: I wanted to do my own thing and draw what I wanted, whatever crazy thing I could come up with. I like to draw big, ugly guys and made a character that was a thuggish brute, and he kind of evolved from that. I was really into monster movies and anything that had a monster in it. For comics, I was into the Bernie Wrightson issues of Swamp Thing and all of the old science-fiction and horror movies.

Reader reaction to the Goon: I have been floored with the response. I did not expect the reaction, considering how hard it was to have a company pick it up in the first place. I had confidence in the concept and thought it was fun and people would like it. I was hoping it would reach a certain level of popularity so I could make a living with it, and it has gone beyond that.

Publishers’ reaction to the Goon: As I was shopping it around, I was getting a response from publishers that it was something that could not be easily labeled, and I got a lot of “We do not know how to market this.” So my confidence quickly dropped. But since my comic work had been drying up, it was pretty much sink or swim. I self-published it, and Dark Horse offered to pick it up. And the response has been more than I ever hoped for.

Artistic influences: Alan Davis, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Mike Mignola, Bernie Wrightson, Kevin Nolan, Norman Rockwell and Frank Frazetta.

On my artistic abilities: I have a good eye for dissecting what other people do, and I would really study others’ work. There is a big difference between copying a style and being influenced by it. I was able to absorb a little from all of those guys [above] and experiment. It was just natural ability. I actually tried to teach an art class, and it went horribly because I was trying to explain to people what came naturally to me.

Current projects: I am keeping the Goon going and have no plans of stopping it anytime soon. I am also painting some covers for the Swamp Thing.

Importance of the comic book as an art form: I am torn. I see it as an art form, but at the same time, I see creators get pompous and get a bit of attitude, and I want to say, “You’re drawing a comic book.” You cannot look at a graphic novel by Will Eisner and say it is not an art form. It is important, and it will be one day recognized as an art form in this country as it is in others. I wouldn’t call the Goon high art but just entertainment.

Problems with the comic-book industry: There is way too much repetition and not enough originality being presented. The great books are out there but not being pushed to the front of the mainstream.

What is your favorite word? Pie.

What is your favorite picture? The double-page spread of Max dancing with the monsters in Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” It makes me nostalgic, and it’s just beautiful art.

What is your idea of a perfect day? A day where all of my deadlines have been met and I can actually leave the house.

What in life really annoys you? Hypocritical people.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

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