"The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time" is both a series finale and not necessarily the end. (Eric Powell / Dark Horse)Link
The Goon takes out his anguish on Spider in "The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time" No. 1. (Eric Powell / Dark Horse)Link
Spider and Franky cope with what the Goon has done. (Eric Powell / Dark Horse)Link
Franky argues with the Nameless Man. (Eric Powell / Dark Horse)Link
The Goon has never had too much trouble with things he can punch — zombies, robots, hobos. But the coven terrorizing his town is striking at his soul.
In writer-artist Eric Powell’s four-part “The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time,” which picks up right after the heartbreaking, hell-raising end of the recent miniseries “The Goon: Occasion of Revenge,” the big guy is on a collision course with the supernatural enemies who want to add his spirit to the power of the unnamed town’s curse.
Among the many Eisner Awards that Powell has won with his tough-to-not-like crime-boss creation is one for humor publication — but that was 10 years ago, and as the Goon enters his 50th issue at his longtime Dark Horse Comics home, it’s a dark time. It might even be the end.
Hero Complex readers can get an early look at some pages from “The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time” No. 1, out next Wednesday, in the gallery above or via the links below.
In a recent email interview, Powell answered a few questions about just how hard a time it is for the Goon, and what might come next.
Hero Complex: “Occasion for Revenge” ended with the Goon in dire straits, and the title “Once Upon a Hard Time” doesn’t bode well for him. How might this new miniseries test this man who’s been tested to what would be the limit for other people?
Eric Powell: I think the test for the character in “Hard Time” is whether or not he’s going to allow himself to be broken mentally by the events in “Occasion of Revenge.” If he can keep from going down a darker road and losing his soul. In the first issue of “Hard Time,” he’s not doing such a good job.
HC: At the heart of “The Goon” is his friendship with Franky. How would you characterize their relationship as “Once Upon a Hard Time” opens compared with the beginning of the series?
EP: Their friendship is stressed for sure. I would compare what Franky is seeing happen to the Goon would be like watching a good friend spiral downward from drug or alcohol addiction. That struggle to maintain the friendship but watching the person you love fade away.
HC: You said in a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit that this may be your last story titled “The Goon.” After 16 years of writing and drawing and growing this character and mythology, what makes now the right time to do that, and does the decision raise the stakes for you in crafting “Once Upon a Hard Time”?
EP: As the story evolved, it really just turned into a series finale. I decided not to fight it and just let the story go where it needed to. It wraps up the storylines I started in the very first issue of “The Goon.” The mythology is going to change quite a bit from here on. It needs to. I don’t ever want to be rehashing the same thing over and over again. However, “may” is the important word in “may be the last story titled ‘The Goon’.” Never know what’s gonna happen. If I get hit by a bus, the last issue of “The Goon” I turned in will be the last issue titled “The Goon” that I do.
HC: Is there any new character in “Once Upon a Hard Time” that you can give readers a preview of?
EP: Since it is wrapping up most of the loose threads, there isn’t a lot of room to introduce new characters. But, I will say some old ones show up, and not all of them survive.
HC: So, after 16 years of “The Goon,” what are you happiest with in terms of your development as a writer and artist? Any new challenges you’re tackling in “Once Upon a Hard Time”?
EP: I’m always pushing myself to become a better cartoonist. I’m never satisfied but I am happy that there has been a clear progression and the readers see it and appreciate it.
HC: “Occasion of Revenge” might have been the starkest-looking “Goon” story yet. Can you discuss your use of color in these very heavy stories versus some of the lighter-in-spirit “Goon” tales?
EP: I’ve always wanted “The Goon” to be a black-and-white book but felt doing so would hurt sales. With “Occasion” and “Hard Times,” I said screw it. I’m going to do the book the way I want and use a limited palette. I wanted to use spots of color to emphasize emotion or set a mood but for the most part express a real bleak and washed-out world. I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with color in these two miniseries.
HC: The Goon has been unlucky in love, to say the least. Any hope on the horizon?
EP: Hmm … let’s see where he stands after “Once Upon a Hard Time.”
HC: There are some lingering mysteries from the Goon’s early life. Would you or would you not be open to showing his mother and what became of his father and son, and why or why not?
EP: His father’s story was told in Issue 38. The Aunt Kizzie issue. But, I have definitely have plans to tell some stories involving some kin down the road.
HC: What’s behind your decision to take a closer look at lesser used characters in future works set in the “Goon” mythology? Might you pick one and talk about the possibilities you see in her or him?
EP: I don’t want to give away who lives and dies just yet, but I do have several new characters that I’ll be introducing in a new title after “Once Upon a Hard Time.” I’ve been saving these guys for a while, and I’m excited to finally get to show them off.
HC: Anything else you’d like readers to know headed into “The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time”?
EP: Yes, I greatly appreciate them for supporting my work and I would advise them to never, ever respond to a guy from Nigeria promising you to wire you $200,000 if you help him pay for a visa. He’s not a prince. He never is. He’s only the prince of lies and heartbreak. Fool me once …
RECENT AND RELATED: