Saturday, February 7, 2009

An Introduction to The Goon

Two covers of The GoonAs per our number-of-hits-wagering-game-thing that Nathaniel and I have going with this blog, it has come time for Nathaniel to sit down and read the entire run of Dark Horse's comics series, The Goon.

And read it he has.

However, before Nathaniel launches into his official review of the series, he asked me if I would be so kind as to write a short intro about the book, which, of course, is my favorite comic of all time.

So I will try. Now, I've written about The Goon before, and even on an official comic review site, and you can check that article out right here. I point to this article (for the umpteenth time) because I like the way I described the series in its opening paragraph.

But, to simply link to an article already written would be cheating and, as you may have noted yesterday, I managed to cheat quite a bit on my Empire Strikes Back "review." So, instead I will write an introduction proper for, in my opinion, the best comic book on stands today.

However, since I have tried in the past to convince Exfanding readers to pick up the book, and I've talked about some plot elements and things, I figure this post would be best served as a how-to guide for getting started with the series.

So, let's begin with the obvious question, then.

"What is The Goon?" you may be asking. "Well," I'd answer, "I'm not quite sure, actually. I mean, it's a lot of things, really."

The Goon The Vampire Dame Had to Die coverIt's a comic series about a mob enforcer named Goon and his maniacal little bug-eyed pal, Franky. It's the story of a town living in constant fear of a corrupted preacher who raises the dead. It's a lushly-penciled world inhabited by some of the craziest, scariest, and funniest characters in comics today.

The Goon is a strange mix of horror and noir wrapped up in a monster smash-up comic of the past, all thrown together with elements of the classic gangster story and avant-garde humor.

And it's all drawn (beautifully, hauntingly, and hysterically) by Eric Powell, who is also the writer and creator of the series.

The Goon, which reaches its tenth anniversary issue in March, is handily collected into trades, starting with Volume Zero: Rough Stuff, which features Powell's earliest Goon stories.

Now, compared to later volumes, the art in this trade might be considered a bit rough at the edges (hence the name) but the stories are a great peek into the twisted mind of Eric Powell, and story points that recur throughout the series are raised.

The Goon Rough Stuff coverAfter this initial three issue run (originally published through Avatar Press, then re-collected and now sold by Dark Horse Comics) Powell decided to self-publish the series under his own imprint, called Albatross Exploding Funnybooks. This venture lasted four issues, and they are collected in the trade, entitled Nothin' But Misery. Here's a picture of the cover, to make things especially easy.

The Goon Nothin' But Misery coverNow, I would suggest that someone looking to get into the series should start right here with Misery. It serves as a nice introduction to the world of the Goon and Franky, and you really don't need much in the way of backstory. The one-shot tales contained in this volume are not essential to the over-reaching plot of The Goon, but like I said, this is a good place to get a feel for things and see if it's your cup of tea.

Now, the next trade, Volume 2: My Murderous Childhood, is where the action really picks up. This trade, and all subsequent volumes, comprise the Dark Horse run of Goon issues, and the real story starts here.

The Goon My Murderous Childhood coverAs the title indicates, we learn about Goon's past, and the events that have shaped him into the character he is today. As the volumes continue, you'll notice that the quality of Powell's art improves seemingly with each issue, and by the time you make your way to the current Goon stories, you'll agree that Powell is one of comics' greatest talents.

Now that you know where to start, I think I'd like to briefly say why I love this series so much. It is one of very few comics out there that I read on a month-to-month basis that I also pick up in trade form. Now, while some may think it's simply crazy-talk to buy something twice, I'll say this in my defense--because I own the trades, I can give them out to friends and hopefully get them hooked on comics. That's how much faith I have that people will like this book if they would give it a shot.

So there.

And I can proudly say that The Goon is the only comic I have ever managed to collect a complete run of, and quite frankly, it is the only book I've ever felt the need to seriously collect.

I love The Goon because of its horror undertones, and its great characterization, and its beautiful and unique art and its avant-garde style, and its laugh-out-loud hilarity. So, if you're tired of the overabundance of superhero-fare out on the market today, or you simply want to try something completely different, then I encourage you to pick up one of the trades, or even a single issue off the stands.

And now that I can't yell anymore from my soapbox, we'll end with a quick announcement. Sometime in the very near future, Nathaniel will post his review of the series, and his impressions on the comic. (And he better have liked it. All I'm sayin')

But for now, I'd like to leave you with this page from issue 8 of the series. (Enlarged for your convenience.)

The Goon page sample where Goon punches out a big lady

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