“I’m Very Self-Deprecating, But I Know What I Can Do”: An Interview with Eric Powell

Self-portrait from the cover to The Art (and Many Other Mistakes) of Eric Powell (BOOM! Studios, 2019).

For over 20 years, Eric Powell has been writing, drawing and publishing The Goon, his mix of old Hollywood, horror and Kurtzmanesque humor. In that time he’s accumulated a pile of industry awards, dabbled in mainstream comics, and branched out into nonfiction with his 2021 graphic novel Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? I caught up with him over Zoom to discuss his long and varied career, and can confirm that despite his many, many accolades, Powell is as unpretentious as his work.

-Jason Bergman

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[JASON'S FULL DISCLOSURE: In 2022, the parent company of my employer became the parent company of Dark Horse, who recently became Eric Powell’s publisher again. That distant corporate relationship had no bearing on this interview in any capacity.]

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JASON BERGMAN: So this is your first interview with The Comics Journal.


It is, as far as I can tell! I usually go back and try to connect the dots between interviews, and I don't think you've ever talked to us before.

Wow. I didn't realize that. The marketing teams set up a lot of interviews when you're releasing a book. Years of that and they all start to blur together. But happy to finally be speaking with the Journal!

Part of my research for this included reading through your art book. It's really hard to tell what's real and what's not in there.

Which was kind of intentional.

I definitely got that impression. It was all very self-deprecating, but I guess it's your autobiography, right?

Yes. I wanted it to be more than just a book full of a bunch of images. I wanted it to tell the story. It's like, here's where I came from.

Well, it's a really good story and I appreciated how you told it, even if it was extremely self-deprecating.

Doing a book about yourself feels like "here's how great I am," [that] kind of thing. I thought it would be more fun to make up a fictitious writer that didn't like me very much. I could talk about my accomplishments but also take myself down a peg at the same time.

It felt appropriate because there's an unpretentiousness to your work, if that makes sense.

Well, I appreciate that. I take that as a compliment.

I figured you would, because you've done a few stories over the years that specifically take aim at any critical reflection of your work.

That's tongue-in-cheek. [Laughs]

You have won, I forget the exact number, but you've won a lot of awards, right? You have a closet full of Eisner Awards.

I've got five. I feel that's probably more than I deserve, but that's a good amount, I think.

You seem uncomfortable with that.

It's the same thing as the art book. I have a hard time accepting praise, though I'm trying to get better at it. It was a huge honor to win an Eisner Award. I don't mean to belittle it. It's just the uncomfortableness of receiving praise sometimes makes me make a joke out of it. I don't want to pat myself on the back.

Do you think part of the reason for that is because you're a self-taught artist?

I don't know. I take a bit of pride in being self-taught because, when I was coming up, there wasn't YouTube, there wasn't so much instructional material that kids can go to online today and pick up techniques. Watch YouTube videos of Alex Ross painting and things like that. I was picking up art books and just trying to figure out how they did it. There was no tutorial or anything to it. I think that is actually one of my greatest creative strengths. I'm able to analyze something and figure out how to do it. It's definitely kept me in work because I was able to adapt to either ink or pencil or color, do whatever I needed to do.

Well, it's interesting to hear you say that, because you have so many different techniques. You say ink and paint, but you do wash, you've done charcoal. You've done so many different styles over the years, and that all came from observing others?

Yes, and I don't know if that's helpful or a detriment too, because I also like to experiment, so everything I do tends to look different than the last thing I did. I don't know if that helps or hurts.

Have you gotten to the point now where you're actively choosing a style for the work? The black and wash style you chose for Eddie Gein feels very deliberate.

(Albatross Funnybooks, 2021)
With the Gein book, very early on as I was doing research and thinking about the look of the book, I was like, there's no way I can do this in color, it just wouldn't look right. That story, even from the research standpoint of just looking at any old news footage, or magazines, and newspaper articles, it's all in black and white. To do it in color just would've–and I think this is just my own aesthetic sense of actually just working on the book myself–wouldn't have felt like it looked right. It wasn't a decision of, well, the reader needs to feel this way, or anything like that. There was a little bit of that, but it mostly came down to, as I was working on it, I felt it had to look like those photos that I was compiling and researching.

There was a definite vibe I was going for with the Gein book. There's a lot of pencil work in there too, [because] also I wanted that kind of grainy feel to it. It had to be rough. It couldn't be slick. The worst thing I could have done on that book is put it on slick paper, had the blacks being very saturated and the color being very poppy and computer-colored crispness and everything. That would've killed the whole vibe of the book.

You just won another award for it, right?

Yes. The Gein book has won best graphic novel from the National Cartoonists Society, and we just won three Ringo Awards for publication design, best nonfiction comics work, and best graphic novel.

Were you at all nervous about doing a nonfiction graphic novel with so much reference required, based on real people? Or were you excited to try something so totally different?

I was just excited. This case has always fascinated me. Growing up in the late '70s and early '80s, the idea that Leatherface was based on a real person, that's pretty frightening. That's what kids would say: "Oh, you know that there was a real guy?" That case has always fascinated me, and I was a big fan of Harold Schechter's work. I read all of his books, and when the opportunity came for us to work together on this, I was just super-excited about all of it.

I'm glad I didn't take the time to consider the daunting mountain of research that I'd have to dig through. It was an amazing experience because every time you read a book or something and you get to the end of it and you're like, oh, I wish I could ask more questions. I wish I could ask the author what's going on with that, what's going on with this, especially when it's a true story.

I literally got to do that and it was amazing. Just getting to pick Harold's brain and discuss the case and go through all of his old research, and [then] you go through all of the new stuff that has come to light in the years since he had written his original book. So yeah, it was more excitement than fear. Maybe that's stupidity on my part.

Did the whole conversational tone of the book come from you or Harold? Because it's much more laid-back than a normal true crime narrative.

We discussed what we wanted to do with it at first, and then Harold wrote a rough outline or treatment and then I went back through that. We had some discussion because there were some things that I thought would work better, and he had total trust in me because I do comics, this is my medium. He had trust in me to take that material and build our narrative. I tend to work on feel, like if this feels right to me, that's how I go with it. I wanted it to feel like an investigative true crime book. I think Harold was leaning more towards a more dramatic straightforward narrative.

I felt like he was getting too far away from the way his books are presented, which is what I wanted to do in a comic. I wanted to tell a dramatic narrative, but I also wanted that, and it's one of the things I love about Harold's work. He's very no-nonsense. He's not exploitative. It's very, like, here's the case, here are the facts, here are things that surround the case, and you're just getting the information in a very entertaining way. I wanted that vibe but with still some drama built into it.

Well, I do really like that you manage to cover the sensationalness of the story, because you can't tell that story without the things people said as much as what actually happened, and you managed to cover all of that.

Yeah. A big part of the story and what we wanted to cover was the reaction that the kind of-- well, there's two points. The reaction that this overly-sanitized 1950s world would have to these bizarre crimes. Then, at the same time, we wanted to show that, you know, that vision we have of 1950s America where everything is squeaky-clean, postwar and everything's great: that didn't really exist. It was fake. It's the world they wanted to present. They wanted that to be [real], but that's not reality. It never is. Nothing is ever that sanitized and perfect.

Those two elements were something that were very important to this, and without them, I don't think the book would've been nearly as good. It just would've been a gruesome story.

Is this the hardest thing you've done?

Yes, because when you're writing fiction you just invent whatever you need to help you along. You don't have to make sure that all of your facts are accurate and your timeline is lining up. Also, I ended up spending a lot of time just going down rabbit holes unnecessarily. You get into the research and start building a timeline of certain events, and then a few hours later I would realize I'm trying to figure out what he did between being taken from the courthouse to the jailhouse on this date. It's like-- this is never even going to be in the book. Why am I trying to figure this out? But it's what happens when you get that deep into it, and you're trying to make sure all of the information you're putting in the book is accurate, which we tried really hard to do.

Did you get hung up on items, cars, clothing, making sure those things were super-accurate?

I found every crime scene photo that I could get ahold of, but there aren't that many because it is such an old case - and I'm sure, ethically, they probably destroyed a lot of it just so people wouldn't get ahold of it. There are a lot of photos of the interior of his house after they had taken all of the bodies and body parts out of there. I was able to see what the house looked like. I actually built a model-- not a 3D model, but on paper. I built a layout of the house. I was actually able to lay out the rooms and figure out the configuration of the house based on crime scene photos and exterior photos. I made wallpaper patterns based on the crime scene photos.

Interior art from Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? (note the wallpaper).

I wanted people that were really familiar with the case to pick up stuff like that and think, "Oh, they've done their research."

Have you gotten a response from true crime fanatics?

Everyone has been super-positive. I think there was one guy online that said something like, "Well, they got some facts wrong, but it's still a pretty good book." My response to that is I'll be sure to tell my co-author, who's the foremost living authority on this case, random internet guy.

Were you still doing all your other stuff while you were working on this?

At the time I was just working on this. I put everything else aside. We still had a few books coming out because I had done them beforehand, but while I was working on this, I was just focused on it.

What's it like to switch gears like that?

I like it. It keeps me from getting bored with what I'm doing. I like to switch it up and do different things.

The Goon has also had a lot of different tones over the years… you've got the Chinatown book, which is fairly serious, and then you've got straight-up shit gags. Is it a relief to do a shit gag after a while?

Oh, yes. I think the Gein book wasn't as rough emotionally because it was forensic. It was kind of... you're just compiling historic facts. Still gruesome, but it's there. The book I did with Tim Wiesch, Big Man Plans, I had to get into that character a little bit and that was a little bit more brutal to me than--

Because it was so dark and angry, or--

Yeah. It was a very dark and angry book, and to get in the mood, I compiled a playlist of sad 1970s songs. The '70s are either a terrible or amazing decade for sad music because some of the most depressing music of all time has come out in the '70s, so after listening to that playlist for a couple of months, it was kind of depressing.

Interior art from Big Man Plans (Image, 2015; Albatross Funnybooks, 2022). Written with Tim Wiesch.

Do you think Big Man Plans is darker than, say, Lords of Misery?

But that was like a fun adventure comic, with the--

It's a fun adventure comic, but I mean, it's pretty dark too.

(Albatross Funnybooks, 2020)
I look at Lords of Misery more as Kelly's Heroes or something like that. Seven Samurai or something, where it's like just an adventure thing, but all of my work tends to have some kind of a dark element to it. It feels good to change gears. Again, that goes into my thing about not getting bored or stuck into something.

I think that's why The Goon was so all over the place thematically, but that's the way I always wanted it to be. I wanted The Goon to always be a book where I could just do whatever I wanted. I think that's more interesting to me and it's more interesting to the reader to pick up an issue and not know what you're going to get.

It's interesting you say that's what you always wanted, because I want to ask about the early days of The Goon. You started your comics career in the “bad girl” era of the '90s.

I did.

What was that like? Did you have any affinity for any of that work?

No. I love boobs and butts as much as anybody else, but I felt it was just-- if the only thing your character has going for them is that you drew it with giant fake-looking balloon tits, it's not for me. And there was a lot of that back then. Tits and a chrome foil cover could sell anything. But I was happy to do any kind of work at the time to get my foot in the door.

It was a little weird though. "Hey, I'm working on comics," I would tell my family. But I would never give them the books because I was a little embarrassed by it. There was no sex going on in it, but it still felt like I was doing some type of pornography or something. Nude variant covers and all that. It wasn't like I was drawing Spider-Man. I kept getting asked to do things like talk to an elementary school class because someone heard I drew comics. I'd have to turn it down because I couldn't show them this T&A book I drew.

It was a very weird time.

Very weird time, and think about that juxtaposed with today. Like you go back and look at that... [Laughs]

I'm from New York, and there was one time in-- I want to say this was '95 or '96, so right around the peak of that era, and there was a porn star who did a nude signing at a comics shop.

That was probably for the publisher I was working for. I remember there was a porn star doing nude covers for them at the time.

Such a weird time, especially when you look at the sanitized comics world now. But you came out of that, you managed to build a career on that foundation.

Well, I don't know if that foundation built my career, but it was definitely getting a foot in the door. It was something to make a little bit of money and actually do comics.

The Goon was published by one of those publishers who is still around and, power to them, they've evolved as well.

Yeah. The first three issues came out from Avatar, which was very much known for the T&A books. But I guess they went on to do some-- oh, who did they publish?

They published Alan Moore--

Alan Moore and was it Grant Morrision?

Garth Ennis. They've come quite a ways as well, but those first three issues of Goon weren’t published by post-T&A Avatar. This is prime T&A Avatar [circa 1999].

Yeah, it was weird. I think it was-- I don't know if it was begrudgingly, but I know there was an editor there at the time [who] was like, "Let's do this," and I don't know-- I don't feel like there was a lot of enthusiasm to do the book.

It seems like a weird fit.

It was. To be honest, it was a weird fit for what they were doing.

Page from the earliest Goon story, slightly updated for the Dark Horse edition of the Powell early works collection Rough Stuff (2004, 2010). Art by Powell, colors by Dave Stewart.

In those days, the kind of horror books that you would see would've been like Faust-- that was the one where it was massive amounts of sex and violence, right? The Goon was never that.

Well, I didn't have a whole lot of options. I was an unknown entity. I hadn't done any work for anyone other than those small T&A publishers, and I just wanted to do my own book. When an opportunity came to do something, I was like, sure. It didn't go great.

You got three issues out of it!

I got three issues out.

Then you moved to self-publishing, and you immediately went right back to The Goon. What was it about The Goon that kept drawing you back?

Well, after I did the three issues originally, I went and started doing other work. I was doing a little bit of inking work for Kyle Hotz.

The Marvel stuff, like Black Panther, right?

Black Panther and Hulk, and some stuff for Chaos!, I think, I can't remember. [NOTE: Powell inked a framing sequence in Chaos!'s Nightmare Theater #1-4, 1997, prior to his work with Avatar.] Started to get a little bit of work from Dark Horse doing some fill-ins and stuff, but all of that started to dry up. I really couldn't get arrested. It came to a point where I was like-- this is all in the art book too. I went to a convention in Chicago and bought an artist’s alley table, which was like a hundred bucks or something, and I did one sketch the entire show, and then drove back home from Chicago to Nashville by myself. It's like an eight-hour drive. It was one of the low points of my life. Just feeling completely defeated. I've got no work, nothing is going right for me.

None of the stuff I had been doing was getting anyone's attention or expanding my career in any way. It was really the moment of, oh, this isn't going to work, you're going to have to do something else. But it's all I wanted to do, so I was completely lost. About halfway home, I was like, you know what? I'm at least going to do one thing that I know I can do well. I want to at least hold one comic book in my hand and think this is what I'm capable of. I feel proud of this. I did this one comic one time, and then I guess I'll go mop floors for the rest of my life.

My wife at the time and I took out a small loan and I was able to trade some advertising work to a local printer for a few books, and then everything just started to take off.

Once you finally had your version of The Goon, did it take long for you to find your audience?

The internet played a big role in it. This is around the time when the internet was just starting to take off, chat rooms and things like that were going on. Because of the printing trade I was able to get a whole lot more printing done that I [otherwise] wouldn't have been able to afford. So I mailed those comics everywhere. I found a book-- I don't remember what it was called, but it literally had just names and addresses of comic shops in it, I sent every one of those comic shops a copy of the comic. I think that had a big impact.

A lot of those free copies that I sent out, there seemed to be a lot of buzz being generated about it. Also, again, it was in the '90s, where there was not a lot of stuff that was different or interesting being done, so it stood out. If I were to do it today, would it have made such an impact? I don't know, because there's so much different and individual material coming out that I don't know if it would have had that kind of presence on the shelf to be so different.

Maybe not on the shelf, because who discovers things on shelves anymore? I don't know that there is any other book, even today, that covers as many different areas as The Goon. It’s horror, it’s comedy. You've got that old movie vibe. Sometimes Freaks, sometimes Casablanca. You cover so many different areas and visual styles and modes of storytelling. I don't know if there is, even today, anything like Goon.

Thank you.

Speaking of different styles, I forget the issue number, but can we talk about Satan's Sodomy Baby? The first one.

The cover to the original Satan's Sodomy Baby (Apr. 2007).

The story goes–and this is according to your art book–there was an issue of The Goon that was solicited, and then some bible-thumper, who I guess you invented, planned an anti-Goon campaign. How much of that was real?

Well, here's the true story. [Laughs] I had won an Eisner Award, and I wrote a funny email out to some people at Dark Horse, just as a thank you or something. I had some joke in it about some hillbilly birthing the devil's baby or something like that. "I'm going to put that in The Goon, and that'll be funny." The issue was not that bad. There was a lot of innuendo in it. There was a lot of off-panel stuff.

There was really nothing in it that was any different than a regular version of The Goon, and certainly not worse than your average episode of South Park. The problem started because I had this little demon baby on the cover, and in big horror movie poster type I wanted to have “Beware of Satan's Sodomy Baby!” The word sodomy was the problem. I found out someone at Dark Horse raised a stink about it, and started some stuff up with a distributor about it or something, unnecessarily, because it's just-- the word sodomy, is that even profanity, or--

You're asking the wrong guy.

It's not even a bad word.

It seems kind of clinical, I don't know.

Sodomites, it's a biblical term. [Chuckles] I don't know what the problem is with the word sodomy. There was a fuss about it being on the cover, and then the distributor said they wouldn't release it. Also, they only had my script, where it's like a hillbilly is molested by Satan and births a demon baby of the apocalypse. They're reading that, and I guess it's worse in their mind. There wasn’t going to be any [sexual] assault or anything in the pages of the book. It was just that's the origin. Again, it was not that bad of a story. There was nothing that over-the-top about it. It was just a baby from hell.

The distributor says, "You can still release it, but it has to be bagged, so you can't say the word sodomy. You can only release it through the adult catalog" [i.e. Diamond's adults-only supplement, Previews Adult]. Which I think they were trying to get me to not do. You can do it, but you'll have to release it in the adult catalog. I always say, to Mike Richardson's credit, he called me and he says, "I don't think you should do this. You're going to ruin your career." But I was young enough to be like, well, I'm punk rock. I'm going to do this. I'm not going to let them tell me I can't do it. My stubbornness came out, and I was like, okay, you want to release it in the adult catalog, strap in because I'm going to make it adult.

I made it as bad as I could comfortably make it. It got released in the adult catalog, and we solicited the book. To explain to the readers why it was there, I created this controversy of a bible-thumper trying to get the book banned. I don't remember exactly the specifics, I don't know if it was selling or money-making or what, but it was one of the highest, or the highest[-selling] book for that year for Dark Horse. [Laughs] The controversy just made it more successful. Unneeded controversy.

The cover to the never-to-be-reprinted SSB2 (Albatross Funnybooks, 2016).

Then, of course, years later, you did a sequel.

Yeah, I did a sequel, which predicted way too much of the future. I did it right around the time that Trump got the Republican nomination. I feel like I predicted the future. I hope some kind of curse wasn’t enacted or something. [Laughs]

There's a few things I love about SSB2. Not least of which is the fact that it's only called "SSB" on the cover, even though you self-published it. What was the decision there? You could have called it anything you wanted.

Because I was self-publishing, I didn't want to go through that whole thing with the adult catalog again. I think we did bag that one. We bagged it and put explicit on the cover.

You got to use the CD Parental Advisory too, which I think is pretty great.

Yeah, everyone would know what it is, so why not go that route?

Also, you never published it digitally, and you said you will never republish it.

I liked the idea of having some completely obscene and vulgar book that is only available in a one-time print comic book form. It only adds to the story. If you want this terrible SSB thing, you better order it because it's going to be gone.

Interior art from SSB2. Colors by Tracy Marsh.

Well, I do love how extreme you are with the satire in that book.

It's fun to be able to push it and know that the readers understand that, like, oh, this is going to be bad. They're already prepared for it. You can just swing for the fences and you don't have to worry about much.

Was it cathartic? It feels like it must have been.

Yes, it was very cathartic. Again, people keep saying, "Oh, when's the third one coming out? You've got so much material now.” It's like things got so much worse after that. I don't even know where to begin.

I was absolutely going to ask about that. Are you slowly building up material for a third one?

I don't think there's any catharsis left in doing one. I think it would just be focusing on all of this negative stuff. I don't have it in me right now. It doesn't feel very funny anymore. It just feels too real.

Also interesting is that first one came out through Dark Horse, this one came out through Albatross [Powell's company], and now Albatross is going back to Dark Horse. I don't know if that factors in any way. I mean, you don't seem to be involved in any self-censorship at all over the years, but how is the Albatross/Dark Horse relationship going to work moving forward?

Oh, it's great. I mean, I have autonomy over the material we're doing, like I did when we were self-publishing. I'm just bringing books to Dark Horse and going, hey, I want to do this. They go, "Cool, we'll put it through costing and get it in the schedule and everything." They're giving me free rein to kind of-- within, of course, realistic boundaries. I had boundaries for myself when I was self-publishing.

Actually, I may have even less boundaries working with Dark Horse, because there's also a financial side of self-publishing that, as a tiny publisher with the best distribution that a tiny publisher can get, your pockets aren't that deep. Dark Horse is a much larger company, and able to financially help us do some projects that we might have struggled to do.

Is there a vision for Albatross, or is it just stuff you like and want to publish?

Yeah, I mean, that's always what it's been. If you look at the books that we did since 2016, when I really dedicated myself to being a self-publisher, I kind of feel like they're all over the place. At the same time, if you lay all those titles out, there's something weird where they all kind of fit. They all kind of seem to go together, whether it's Pug Davis [created by Rebecca Sugar], Grumble [Rafer Roberts & Mike Norton], Spook House [a kid-oriented anthology] or MegaGhost [Gabe Soria & Gideon Kendall]. All of those books, they're very different and very weird, but in some way, it makes total sense that these are all under the same umbrella.

Given all of the varied things you have done over the years, now that you've done nonfiction, is there a frontier you've yet to cross, or is there some kind of book you haven't tried yet that you want to?

Yeah, I have a lot of ideas for graphic novels that I want to do. I really loved working on the Gein book because there wasn't a limitation to the page count. If I wanted to do some atmospheric thing that went over three or four pages, it was fine to do that. I think more and more, especially as I'm getting older and slowing down, I want to focus more on graphic novels and that format of being able to tell bigger stories and not chop them up into 22 pages.

I still love having a comic book in my hand. I've always been a fan of short stories, and that's what I always see comic books as. The majority of my comics are self-contained. If you pick up an issue, there's a beginning, a middle, and an end, even if it builds up to a larger story. I think I'll always want to do individual comics, but I think a lot of my focus will be on graphic novels. There's a lot of stuff I haven't done. I've never done a big run on superhero titles for either of the big two publishers.

You've done some superhero parodies for sure.

Yes, I've done that. I've done stuff for them. I've done issues.

You've done monster stuff for Marvel, right?

An example of Powell's mainstream work for Marvel (Dec. 2005).
I've done monster stuff for Marvel. I did write and draw an entire issue of Devil Dinosaur fighting the Hulk, which was a lot of fun.

You did Bizarro too, right?

Yes, I did the Bizarro thing. ["Escape from Bizarro World" from Action Comics #855-857, written by Richard Donner & Geoff Johns.] That's the longest-running thing that I've done as far as interior stuff, so that was like four issues, three or four issues. I also didn't write that. I think it would be fun to write and draw something for Marvel or DC. I don't think they would give me the reins to do that.

Is there a superhero that kind of tickles you in any way?

Oh, yes. I've said this before, I think I could take the Demon at DC. I could knock that out of the park. I'm very self-deprecating, but I know what I can do. That character, if I was given free rein, I could make a really fun book out of it. That'll never happen. I don't want any of your readers to get their hopes up or anything. That'll never happen. There’s not a system built up like that anymore. There's not a like, "Here, Frank Miller, take Daredevil and make it something interesting." That's not the way it's built anymore.

For better or worse, it's a very all-inclusive company program that they're doing with their titles. I don't think they want to give anybody who would have a real individual voice [to] take something in an interesting direction. Also, as someone who is known for crossing boundaries a little bit, I don't think they would give [me] free rein of one of their characters. But yes, I think the Demon would be fun. I've always thought I could do a pretty good Fantastic Four. That would be fun to do a sci-fi, a really fun sci-fi adventure book out of Fantastic Four.

That makes sense. I mean, from the first issue, there were giant monsters. It was a monster book.

Yes, I love that stuff. I bitch about some of the impact that-- not the impact, but the too-much attention that we pay to Marvel in DC to the detriment of the rest of our industry. I grew up on that stuff like everybody else, and still love it. I'm probably not at the stage of my career to want to go back and really work on it though, as much as I think I could do something good with it. If it came down to "I've got this idea for a graphic novel" or "I can go do six issues of the Demon," I would pick the graphic novel.

Is there an alternate universe where instead of going to Avatar, you somehow managed to get into the big two and developed as a superhero guy? Could you ever have seen yourself going that route?

I could see it happening, but not at the time when I was [starting out]. The other thing, and this is a reason why my career wasn't going anywhere at the time, was that my style was really weird. When the West Coast style was hot, everybody was trying to draw like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld and stuff, and I was trying to draw like Wally Wood and Bernie Wrightson. My stuff wasn't considered that cool.

It's another reason why I felt I had to do a book of my own, because I felt like I wasn't getting a chance to really show off what I could do, or do something that really fit my style. That was definitely The Goon. Again, I think it hurt me getting work from other publishers, but it also helped me stand out, and that's what eventually built my career.

A promotional image for the animated The Goon movie.

Last question, I guess I'm obligated to ask about The Goon movie now.

Yes. [Chuckles]

Is it actually happening this time?

We'll see. I'm not going to say yes or no, because it's been over 10 years now that we've been trying to get this thing made.

I was a Kickstarter backer!

Thank you. I've got to give a lot of props to [filmmaker] Tim Miller, because he has been a bulldog on this thing, and he stuck with it and he keeps pushing. If it eventually does get made, it's going to be because of Tim Miller. Fingers crossed and we'll see. We're working on it, we're still pushing.

You survived the last Netflix cull, right, as an animated project?

Yes, we'll have to-- who knows what's happening? [Chuckles] It's a very iffy time, so we'll have to see what's going on.

Well, fortunately for you, you're not sitting there by the phone all day long waiting for Netflix to call and let you know.

No. The thing is, everything is being optioned right now. Of course, everyone knows comics are super-hot. You have studios publishing stuff, so they have content. [Chuckles] Just like everybody else, I've got a few things that are being optioned, and you don't get your hopes up because you would be heartbroken every day. You take the option money, and then you go, hey, if it gets made, great. A whole lot more stuff gets canned and then gets made, so we'll just have to wait and see.

I take that back, I had one more question: are you going to do another nonfiction book next?

Yes, Harold and I are actually working on one right now that I'm very excited about. I can't say anything right now, because we haven't started any solicitations or anything yet, but yes, I think it's got so many angles to it. It's very interesting. I think people are really going to dig it. I wish I could tell you more, but I can't. [Chuckles] If I started talking, it would give it away. Someone would figure it out and I don't want to do that.