PERSONAL: Married; wife's name, Robin; children: Gage, Cade.
ADDRESSES: Home—TN Agent—Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., 1966 Greenspring Dr., Suite 300, Timonium, MD 21093.
CAREER: Freelance comic book writer and illustrator, 1995—; creator of "The Goon" series.
AWARDS, HONORS: Will Eisner Award; International Horror Guild Award, 2004, for best illustrated narrative.
The Goon: Rough Stuff, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2004.
The Goon: Nothin' but Misery, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2004.
The Goon: My Murderous Childhood (and OtherGrievous Yarns), Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 2004.
Also author of Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, with others, and numerous individual issues of "The Goon" series.
SIDELIGHTS: On his Web site, Eric Powell describes himself as a "self trained artist and hermit" who realized that "he could be a cartoonist without ever having to leave his house." It's indicative of the kind of humor that has made his series, "The Goon," such a hit in the world of comic books. A thug who acts as an enforcer for a mysterious, never-seen gangster named Labrazio, the Goon is not exactly a hero in the classic comic mold. But he does have his moral code, and that includes battling the zombies that seem to be infesting his city. Together with his foul-mouthed, mean-spirited sidekick, Frankie, the Goon uses nothing more than his strength and unshakable courage to take down the minions of the Zombie Priest.
As Shaking Through.net contributor Dave Brennan noted in his review of The Goon: Rough Stuff, the series "doesn't necessarily challenge readers with complex storylines or sociopolitical commentary, but if good old-fashioned monster beatings and a wildly creative sense of humor are your cup of tea, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining book on the shelf." This collection brings together the earliest manifestations of The Goon, when it was either self-published under the Albatross Exploding Funny Books imprint or put out by a small press called Avatar. While some aspects, such as a talking chainsaw, have since disappeared, the basic elements are all there: The Goon's enormous arms, the Depression-era look of the background and characters, and of course the zombies and other monsters horning in on The Goon's rackets. In keeping with the old-fashioned, James Cagneyesque look of the comics, commented Michael Vance on the Suspended Animation Web site, Powell's "readers don't have to wade through sewers of profanity, sexual innuendo and nudity to enjoy The Goon."
The Goon: Nothin' but Misery brings together the final issues put out by Albatross, before the comic was picked up by Dark Horse Comics, which brought it to the attention of a much wider audience. Again, the Goon and Frankie divide their time between shakedowns and other illicit activities, while trying to keep the Zombie Priest out of their turf. At the same time, they're not above the occasional altruistic adventure, such as saving children from mutant elf-goblins at Christmas. Other foes include a giant squid that tries to engulf the Goon's car and a giant card-playing spider, as well as an inflatable rubber chicken. This volume also introduces the recurring character of Buzzard, a reverse-zombie vigilante. According to Brennan in Shaking Through.net, this volume "is an outstanding achievement on almost every level—sharp as a knife, beautiful to look at and most of all, more fun than a barrel of super-intelligent cigar-smoking monkeys from another dimension."
While the formula obviously works well for Powell and his readers, he is willing to shake it up, too. In one issue, he collaborated with Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy. Both battle monsters and the undead, but Hellboy is a distinctly darker character and inhabits a contemporary setting designed to be as realistic as possible within the bounds of comic fantasy. Although Powell and Mignola had their doubts, they successfully incorporated Hellboy into the Goon's universe for an issue that delighted fans of both comics. In another issue, Powell eschews monsters altogether in favor of a straightforward struggle pitting the Goon against the Black Hand crime organization. Set before the time the Zombie Priest came to town, this issue features a younger version of the protagonist. As a reviewer explained on the Penguin Comics Web site, "The Goon we are familiar with is hard, blunt, scarred, and swarthy. This younger representation of the Goon is smoother . . . and he is more passionate. Although he is a young man carving a hard life in a hard world, there is a passion in his eyes."
The Goon: My Murderous Childhood (and Other Grievous Yarns), a third volume of stories, finds the Goon and Frankie battling the denizens of Hobo Jungle, a mad scientist with gold skin, and a sex-mad Sea Hag. This volume also reveals the truth about the mysterious Labrazio, as well as other secrets from the Goon's youth. Once again, according to Booklist reviewer Ray Olson, Powell remains "very much his own man, a fearless parodist of even the most shopworn tough-guy clichés."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Ray Olson, review of TheGoon: My Murderous Childhood, p. 1605.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of The Goon: My Murderous Childhood, p. 62.
Goon.com,http://www.thegoon.com/ (February 10, 2005), "Eric Powell."
Jazma Online,http://www.jazmaonline.com/ (February 10, 2005), Paul Dale Roberts, interview with Powell.
Penguin Comics Web site,http://www.penguincomics.net/ (February 10, 2005), review of The Goon #9.
PopMatters.com,http://www.popmatters.com/ (February 10, 2005), Sam Gafford, "Wrasslin' with the Goon."
ShakingThrough.net,http://www.shakingthrough.net/ (December 30, 2004), Dave Brennan, review of The Goon: Rough Stuff; (January 19, 2005), Dave Brennan, review of The Goon: Nothin' but Misery.
Silver Bullet Comics Web site,http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/ (July 2, 2004), Ray Tate, review of The Goon #7.
Suspended Animation Web site,http://www.starland.com/sus/ (March 10, 2005), Michael Vance, review of The Goon #1.
Underground Online,http://www.ugo.com/ (February 10, 2005), Daniel Robert Epstein, interview with Powell.
Viper Comics Web site,http://www.vipercomics.com/ (March 21, 2003), "Eric Powell and the Goon."*