Interview: Eric Powell Pt. 2 [of 2]

Categories:  Interviews

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At a comics convention, an early stages movie deal is something of a 300-pound gorilla—something everyone wants to discuss, but still tries hard not to jinx. In this industry we’ve seen countless optioning deals come and go, so when a creator announces that they’ve got the ball rolling on a project, it can be difficult to broach the subject.

The Goon creator, Eric Powell, while slightly apprehensive, seems fairly confident in a recent deal struck for his most famous creation. And really, the artist has every right to be. After all, he’s got David Fincher in his corner. A self-proclaimed fan of the Dark Horse  series, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button director has signed onto the project as a producer. Powell has begun working on treatments for the film, and, by all accounts, the early animation looks extremely promising.

In this second and final part of our interview with Powell, we discuss working for the Hollywood machine and what it’s like letting his creation go, ever-so-slightly, in order to explore mediums outside the insular comics world.

[Part One]

The old cliché is that the character writes itself. Is that the case with the Goon, or do you find yourself shaping him to fit what you’re interested in doing as a storyteller?

I think to a certain extent, the character writes himself. What I’m doing is coming up with a story and basically dropping the characters into it and it’s how they react to a certain scenario, that’s where the story comes from.

Have you attempted to drop them in a scenario that felt artificial? Are there ways they won’t bend?

Yeah, there are. I do a lot of weird stuff with them, put them in a lot of weird stories, but there are things that I’ve come up with, when I started writing and I’m like, “no, scratch that.” Sometimes you can play with that, too. You drop them in a scenario where they completely don’t make sense and play off of that. I have a project that we’re going to be announcing in the next month or so that’s very much that type of scenario.

Mike Mignola has a very tangible universe, but he lets other creators explore it. Is that something that interests you, or do you just want full control over your creations?

I don’t mind letting some other people come in and play, but I like it when the creator is really—kind of like when Paul Chadwick does Concrete. When Concrete comes out,  it’s always Paul Chadwick. That’s the way The Goon is going to be. I might bring other people in to help, like bringing Dave [Stewart] on to do colors. And there might be some other projects with other creators involved, but The Goon itself, I’m not going to turn that over to another artists. If The Goon book is coming out, I’ll be doing 90-percent of the work involved.

You’re working on The Goon film project right now.

Yeah.

In a sense, does it feel like you’re turning him over to other creators?

That’s such a different animal to me. They’re doing an adaptation of my comic, which I’m helping out with. But we’re adapting my comic and making it work in a different format. The comic is mine and always will be mine, so that doesn’t feel that weird to me. I actually like the idea of having a team take on the character, because I’m just so used to the idea of working in that room alone, and I’m the only one putting anything into it. I think it’s really fun and cool to have this big group of people with all of these ideas coming together and working toward making the film.

So you’re not losing any sleep over this?

No, it’s been great, so far. They’ve been really great about keeping me involved. I thought they’ve had some really great ideas. I’m working on the treatment for the story and [David] Fincher’s been very involved and had some great ideas, so I’m very happy with the way it’s been going.

Is the treatment an amalgamation of stories you’ve done in the past or an entirely different beast?

I would say it’s an amalgamation of the comic book as a whole and making it work in a movie format. Direct translation is not really possible.

There does seem to be a cinematic feel to some of your work. Is this more of an issue with storyline?

Storyline—because all of the issues of The Goon have been very episodic. Probably three-quarters of The Goon so far have been self-contained stories that have linked together to a bigger story. You can’t really take that and make a movie out of it, so we’re basically taking the material and staying very faithful to the characters and everything. We’re basically taking the whole concept of The Goon and contracting it into 90 minutes that we can make a film out of.

Ideally it’s such a strong character that it will translate to any other medium. Do you feel pretty confident in the Goon as a character?

I’m probably more confident—if we actually get the thing made, I’m probably more confident than I should be, because one, I think the characters themselves are funny and strong enough to really work. And I’ve seen the visuals—some of the test stuff that they’ve done, and I have absolutely no fear that it will look amazing. Those guys just do crazy spectacular work, and if we actually get the thing up on the screen, it’s going to look amazing. I know that. I have no doubt aobut it.

You’re still in that really tentative stage?

Yeah, they’re basically still pitching it to the studio. I don’t know how Hollywood works, but everybody talks about stuff that never ends up happening. But, all of the feedback I’m getting so far, it sounds pretty positive that we’re going to get the thing moving forward, but I like to stay cautiously optimistic.

Is the script finished?

No, I’m working on it.

How much say do you have in the script?

I’m taking input from Mike Richardson, from Dark Horse; Tim Miller, with the animation company; and David Fincher—the three producers along with myself. I’m basically laying the ideas out and taking feedback, and we’re all working together, trying to get the treatment the way we want it, and I’m working on the script at the same time.

Beyond collaboration, how different is the experience of writing a movie script.

It’s actually similar to writing a comic script, because you have to do a descriptive narrative with dialog. The major difference, really is that, when you’re writing a comic, you have to work with static panels, like still photographs. Whereas, when you’re writing a film script, you can actually have action going on that you couldn’t in a comic.

So it’s almost easier, in a sense?

Yeah, I think so.

And the collaborative aspect isn’t difficult, having worked alone for so long?

Not with these guys.  I’ve had collaborative efforts in comments, where people will throw out ideas.

But these guys are all fans.

Yeah. That’s what makes it so cool. They love the comic. They wanted to make the film from the comic. They get it. they understand that’s it’s this weird quirky thing, and we’ve got to keep it this weird, quirky thing. All of the input I’ve gotten—it goes without saying that David Fincher knows what he’s doing. So I’ve got complete trust in their judgement and their input. They’ve been pretty great to work with.

It’ll be interesting to see how these conventions change for you, as we get closer to the movie.

Yeah. It’ll be curious. Once there’s actually a timeline for the film, I think that’s when things will actually increase.

Are you excited for that inevitability?

I’m excited and kind of scared [laughs].

–Brian Heater

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3 Comments to “Interview: Eric Powell Pt. 2 [of 2]”

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