By Lyndsey Holder
I was lucky enough to interview the talented Eric Powell, with a million awesome credits to his name (such as creator of The Goon and writer of Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London), about Whitechapel, the creative process and Future Eric Powell.
IFP: I really, really loved Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London. The second volume takes place during the Whitechapel murders. What is it about the Whitechapel murders and Jack the Ripper that is still so fascinating now, over a hundred years later?
EP: I think two reasons. It will forever remain unsolved and they were extremely brutal murders. People love a mystery and are morbidly fascinated by the grotesque. The Ripper has taken on such a Boogie Man persona in our culture that I don’t ever think those horrible murders will ever be forgotten. A little sad, because that’s probably just what the sick bastard wanted.
IFP: What is going on now that the Eric Powell of a hundred years in the future will be writing comics about?
EP: Ha! Probably the events that lead to the Apocalypse! Our political process is a joke right now.
IFP: I just read the latest Goon and it’s still as good as ever. How is it that you’ve managed to stay snarky and avoid falling into a rut?
EP: I was bitter in my 20s and I’m still bitter in my 30s. I think that works in my favour when staying snarky. I think the first thing I have to do, when trying to entertain a reader, is make sure I’m entertaining myself. If I can’t have fun doing it, I doubt anyone is gonna have fun reading it.
IFP: How did you come by your dark sense of humour?
EP: Growing up in the south probably had a lot to do with it.
IFP: What are the things that are going on in the world of comics right now that you find exciting and interesting?
EP: I’m excited by the fact that it seems like now, more than any other time in history, creator-owned comics are gaining in popularity. We need new content to keep this art form alive. I love the classic characters, but we can’t keep telling the same stories over and over again. We need new blood.
IFP: Making fun of pop culture is one of the great benefits of being a creator. In The Goon #34, Goon beats up a bunch of sparkly vampires. Was that as cathartic for you to write as it was for me to read?
EP: I hope more so for you! I actually didn’t take it as far as I originally wanted to. I realized it was gonna make a really boring issue if he just punched sparkly vampires for the whole issue. So, there was plenty of punching I still wanted to draw by the end of it! But, yes, it was fun!
IFP: You’re incredibly versatile: You can write a good story and make a story come to life with great art. Is it difficult to give up part of the creative control when you’re not doing both?
EP: Yes. Especially when writing. I always visualize how I would draw it and, of course, that’s never the way it comes out. Nor should it. But those frustrations are easily squashed by the excitement I get from collaboration. The surprise of seeing how someone interprets a story I wrote, as the pages come in, is really fun.