Goon vs Goon - A The Goon Intro by Michael Allred
MAN, OH MAN, do I dig The Goon! But I came late to the show on this one. I can usually pride myself on finding great chunks of art and entertainment ahead of the curve. But not so with Eric Powell and his killer cool creation. Why? My explanation may just reveal what a fragile, petty ego I have. I’ll let you, dear readers, decide.
My tale begins way back in 1992, when I’d just convinced Kevin “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Eastman to pay me ridiculous sums of money to publish my new creation, The Spook. That’s right. The Spook: a mostly white creation with black markings suggesting skeletal features, an “exclamation bolt,” and a name that I intended to pay homage to Will Eisner’s The Spirit. Kevin had just started a new “creator friendly” publishing entity called Tundra, and I was a benefactor. In the process of trademarking my Spook character, Tundra discovered an “intent to use” on the name, and I was sent scrambling to find a new one. I was stumped. Glow-in-the-dark Spook T-shirts had been made, along with buttons and other promotional goodies. What a bummer! I brainstormed desperately, as advertising deadlines approached. I finally came up with the perfect new name for my thrilling creation. Wait for it . . . The Goon. The Goon?! That’s right, THE GOON! I made a new logo (which you may see here, folks), sent it off to Tundra, and exhaled. Soon, the new wave of promotional releases would herald the coming of my first big book. The Goon would be a series of three forty-eight-page square-bound books, with “flip action” animated corners. But this was not to be, and according to Eric, HIS Goon would never have been if comic book history had taken this path. He told me, “I’m glad you didn’t call it The Goon. Otherwise I would never have made The Goon. I wanted to do something with a big monster as the main character, and then the title ‘Goon’ popped into my head. The word just made me think ’30s noir. So I smashed that into all my monster/sci-fi ideas, and that the book I ended up with.”
Fortunately for both of us, and for lovers of crazed comics, when I was reading Catcher in the Rye on a flight to a comic book show, the name “Madman” popped off the page like a billboard. I immediately called the publisher with the switch, and at the last second my Goon became Madman (and the skeletal features fell away). Whew! Soon, Tundra became a brief happy memory. Madman found a home and family with Dark Horse Comics, and my invitation to join seven of the greatest comic book creators ever (!) with the Legend imprint exploded my career. Dark Horse and my legendary editor Bob Schreck made Madman a phenomenon.
Cut to the twenty-first century. Not unlike the prodigal son, I had left my happy, prosperous Dark Horse family to find my way in the immediacy of self-publishing. My wife Laura and I created AAA Pop Comics, and I co-created a new batch of Marvel Mutants (you know, for the kids). Now, here comes the “fragile, petty ego” part. In my absence (metaphorically off to college?), my Dark Horse family brought in a new sibling, the much cuter, fresher-smelling Eric Powell and his Toy . . . something called . . . THE GOON?! The praise was deafening. Awards rolled in. I turned away like a jealous older brother. I didn’t want to hear anything about it. Goon, shmoon!
Still, sometimes something is so good it becomes virtually impossible to avoid it. In this case, in a lull between writing a Madman movie treatment and a screenplay, I was convinced by my art dealer to do a few commissions, something I’ve always avoided like the plague. But it was fun. Especially when I was asked to draw Madman with this “Goon” guy. Aw, Man! Okay, why not. Let’s take a look at what this Eric Powell fella does. What’s all the hubbub, Bub?
Soz, I goes and gets the Goon Fancy Pants Edition from a generous sibling at my Dark Horse family. And I’m faced with the obvious: Wow, this is terrific stuff! I immediately went online (Hello, twenty-first century!) to snatch up all the collections. I left my beloved refuge on the Oregon coast to hit the comics shops and hunt down everything Eric Powell had done (love those obsessive hunts. I know you can relate, gang!).
Around this time, Laura and I were in San Francisco at our favorite convention, WonderCon. We swung by The Comic Book Art Museum, only to be hit between the eyes by an original Eric Powell Goon painting. It was huge. It was stunning. It was beautiful. Here comes the blurb, folks . . . Eric Powell is this generation’s Frank Frazetta! I actually love Frazetta’s comic strip work every bit as much as, and sometimes even more than, his iconic paintings. The point is he can do it all, seemingly effortlessly. It’s a rare gift. And Eric Powell has it. When Eric is on target, pencil, ink, or paint, there’s no one today who can do it any better. I was, and am, humbled. I’m an idiot. I don’t know how long I stood in front of that painting with my mouth hanging open, or how much saliva drooled out of my mouth, but I was hooked.
Laura and I were celebrating the anniversary of my proposing to her under the Golden Gate Bridge a quarter of a century before (we were just babies), so we only stayed at the convention for our commitments. After getting back home to Lakeside, Oregon, I finally looked at the convention program to find that Eric Powell had also been a guest. Idiot! It was time to make things right. I didn’t know if Eric knew or cared who I was, but I had to pile on and share my affection for his work. In retrospect, I guess I’m glad I was such a brat about ignoring The Goon. What a thrill it finally was to have all that great material in front of me in one rush. And what an inspiration. Eric’s work renewed my love for the pencil, bringing my own work to its biggest leap in years.
And so, I’m going to pull a “long story short” here and tell you that Dark Horse gave me his contact info and we began an exchange of words and work ultimately resulting in us gifting each other pinups with our characters together on the page. And no, happily, enthusiastically, I am accepting Eric’s invitation to write the intro for his latest masterful collection of HIS Goon. So, if you dig Eric Powell’s The Goon as much as I do . . . you’re welcome.