Quint talks with THE GOON creator Eric Powell about the upcoming animated feature, David Fincher, Paul Giamatti and much more!!!
Published at: Aug. 23, 2010, 5:17 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with an interview with THE GOON creator Eric Powell regarding the current status of The Goon animated feature.
We know that David Fincher is producing and Eric Powell wrote the script. We know Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown are starring as Frankie and Goon, respectively, and now we know Blur Studio’s Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler are co-directing with Fincher mentoring the two.
Below you’ll learn their game plan for getting this flick off the ground and get a little insight on how they’ve shaped up this package so far.
These guys are the real deal, the footage is great, the material is perfect for this kind of screen adaptation… now it’s just up to some studio stepping up to the plate. I don’t see how they could turn down a package like this, but that’s just me.
First up is the test footage they’ve compiled to show off the world and look of the film, then the interview! Enjoy!
Quint: I caught the tail end of your Comic-Con panel and saw the footage. Really dug it, man. And it seemed like the room really took to it as well.
Eric Powell: Yeah, I was very pleased with the response it got. It made me have a little bit of confidence in what we were doing, so hopefully they will translate and hopefully within a month or so we will get a studio attached.
Quint: Have you guys begun that process yet?
Eric Powell: They are. From what I know right now, Dark Horse Entertainment, Fincher, and Blur are setting up meetings right now and they are getting ready to make our big push to try to get some backing for this thing. The clip is part of our presentation, to show these guys what we are intending rather than just handing them the comics and going “Yeah, we want to make a movie out of this.” We are kind of holding their hand through it going “Okay, this is exactly what we want to do and you don’t have to use your imagination, you can see what we are going to do with it.”
Quint: Let’s go back to the beginning of this. So, you have Blur Animation Studios attached and you’ve got David Fincher producing the movie, so then you went out to cast and you got Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown as the two leads, Frankie and The Goon, yeah?
Eric Powell: Yeah.
Quint: So, when they came into record, they just recorded the stuff for the teaser, right? Or did they record their whole parts?
Eric Powell: No, it was just a test session. Everyone involved with this at this point is just donating their time because we are all so passionate about seeing this thing get made. So, those guys came in and donated some time just to record this test stuff. We did a lot of different stuff. There were several different things that I had written just to have them go through, so the Blur guys would have enough to work with and one of the things that they recorded was this little vignette that we showed off at Comic-Con.
Quint: Were you there when they were doing all of their voice work?
Eric Powell: Yeah, I was there and one of the guys from Blur was giving me a little shit because he said that I had this huge grin that was plastered on my face when I heard Paul Giamatti says “Knife to be eye!” So that was the moment I was geeking out a little bit.
Quint: I can imagine. I was geeking out and I had nothing to do with it, other than being a fan of the books. (laughs) It was perfect and Clancy Brown sounded great, too. I know there were a lot of people that were pulling for Ron Perlman or somebody like that, but Clancy Brown is so great and so underutilized. As The Goon he seemed like he had the perfect gravel to his voice, just as much as Giamatti seemed to really get Frankie.
Eric Powell: Exactly, yeah. It was really interesting just having them come in and they both immediately just nailed it right off the bat. There was no real “This character is like this…” We showed them a little bit of stuff from the comics and some of the tests that Blur had been doing, where they pulled some of their lines from other films, like we pulled some lines from SHAWSHANK and animated a Goon head with Clancy and then we pulled some lines from CINDERELLA MAN and animated a Frankie head. It was actually really funny hearing some of those lines coming out of Frankie’s mouth.
We just kind of showed them that stuff. They both came in there to record their voices, they didn’t really need any direction or anything. They just went right into it and automatically had the characters nailed. It was really interesting to watch them.
Quint: So how did you guys get those two attached? Was it due in part to Fincher being involved?
Eric Powell: I would like to say that it was just the strength of the source material, but I kind of doubt it. (laughs) I think Fincher’s involvement helped quite a bit.
Quint: But they have to still like it when they get it.
Eric Powell: They had to have still liked it. We sent them some books and stuff, because I know that they weren’t aware of the comic beforehand, but I think they got it, they understood the world and had a whole lot of fun playing around with the voices. The cool thing was that they were in there together, so they got to play off of each other, which from what I hear doesn’t usually happen.
Quint: Yeah, usually it’s…
Eric Powell: …just one person in a booth.
Quint: Yeah. I think you guys are in a really interesting spot because THE GOON is in that perfect sweet spot where it could still be discovered by a whole bunch of moviegoers as a property, but it also has such hardcore and big fan base to it. It’s on that cusp of it… It’s not underground, but it’s not exactly mainstream yet.
Eric Powell: I think so. I think it’s in the same spot as HELLBOY was a few years ago, because HELLBOY was a comic that everyone in the industry, other comic book artists, loved because it was kind of like a comic book for comic book artists. It was different and atmospheric and Mike [Mignola] had this unique, abstract art style, but the mainstream comic book readers weren’t really into it. Then, when the film came out, it’s a whole different story now. Hellboy is definitely, as far as comic book readers go, it’s a household name.
Eric Powell: I think THE GOON is in that same kind of position where it’s underground, but it’s not. I find it weird myself. In the industry, I’m in this weird position where it’s kind of like I don’t feel like I fit in with the superhero comics and stuff like that, but at the same time I’m not really small press or an independent, so I’m in this weird thing and (Laughs) I think I’m actually really jazzed about the movie coming out and it kind of being an underground comic because some of the stuff I’ve done in the comic will be fresh to the movie audience. That’s exciting to me, that I will be able to present this material in a different format and some of the surprises or something that happen in the comic, I will be able to get people again. It won’t just be a rehashing to someone who already knows the material.
Quint: Did you see the Mr. Show movie, RUN RONNIE RUN?
Eric Powell: Yes.
Quint: I think it’s a really funny movie, but I know a lot of people that love the show going “That’s just rehashing four skits that I’ve already seen done before,” so the fans that went to it immediately wanted something new, but familiar, but you also have to be able to bring in the new crowd. That’s a precarious balance.
Eric Powell: And when I was writing the script I tried to keep that in mind. There are moments in there that are from the comic, but I also tried to tweak them a little bit or present them in a different way where it’s like “Oh, that’s from the comic,” but it will come at you as more of a surprise rather than just like it’s being spelled out. It’s not going to be the MONTY PYTHON thing where there’s people in the audience just saying the lines verbatim you know?
Quint: So, what is the story? What’s the over all story? What’s the journey? Is it an origin thing?
Eric Powell: I had a meeting with Fincher to discuss the plot and everything and he’s been really great about helping me out with that, so it’s Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler from Blur, we have all been discussing it quite a bit. Because THE GOON is so episodic we couldn’t really do a linear SIN CITY-style adaptation where you are just going panel for panel and telling the story, so we took the juiciest bits and kind of squashed it together and made one coherent story out of it that I think works.
I don’t think I will be giving too much away by saying that you will see Goon and Frankie meet, because I don’t think we could start out the movie just by plopping them down on screen and going like “Here’s these two guys.”
Quint: (laughs) Yeah. I missed the beginning of the panel, so I don’t know if this has been addressed, but I’ve been asked by people ever since we premiered that first still from the test footage “Who is directing?”
Eric Powell: Actually Tim and Jeff from Blur are directing.
Quint: Oh, that’s really cool.
Eric Powell: I believe and you might have to double-check this, but I believe that Jeff did an Academy Award nominated short film called GOPHER BROKE. I believe he’s responsible for that, so I mean it’s in good hands. They might not be known as household name directors or whatever, but they are definitely great directors and are working hand in hand with Fincher, so I have the utmost confidence in these guys. I think the short alone should put confidence in people that these guys are the right guys to do it.
Quint: Absolutely. I love that slow motion shot of Frankie blasting away as the Goon is driving through all of the zombies.
Eric Powell: Definitely.
Quint: It’s very dynamic and obviously Fincher wouldn’t suffer fools, I would imagine.
Eric Powell: No, no he wouldn’t. (laughs)
Quint: Cool, so the big plan is sometime this month or next month to get studio involvement? To what degree? How big of a budget are you guys looking for?
Eric Powell: I think they are shooting for like a 50 or 60 million dollar budget, which again I don’t know these things, but it just seems like that’s a fairly reasonable budget for an animated film. They are setting up the meetings as we speak, so hopefully in a month or so I will be very happy.
Quint: At that budget, do you think that’s the sweet spot where you can still have the freedom to make the Goon as quirky and crazy and kind of harsh as the book goes?
Eric Powell: Yeah. I think that’s the plan. There’s definitely violence in THE GOON, but I think we are going for a PG-13. I mean, THE GOON is harsh, I will say that, but I watch SOUTH PARK and it’s way more edgy than THE GOON is, you know? I really don’t see that as being a problem, the edginess of the book. I think it actually helps it.
Quint: I think as long as you don’t lose the identity of the book. That’d be the only worry with going through a studio for me. I can just hear the board notes, “I don’t get it. Are they zombies? Do they eat people?” I can see that going over some suit’s heads, but then again you’ve got your ringer, you’ve got somebody like Fincher who might be able to quell any fears a studio might have.
Eric Powell: I think so. There’s a certain level of, especially from my point of view, there’s this level of quality that Fincher is associated with, so hopefully that will allow for some people to have faith in what we are doing and just back off a little bit. We will see what happens. We are kind of putting the cart in front of the horse here, so we will see what kind of response we get after their meetings. Hopefully it will be a good response and they will get the weirdness of it.
If you tried to tame this thing down, it would just kill it. We all had that understanding, everyone involved with it. If you try to explain this too much, if you try to tame it down a little bit, it would just kill it because that’s the whole voice of it. That’s the whole atmosphere of the material, the weirdness of the world and the likeability of the characters, even though they are not the most… They are not Superman, let’s put it that way. (laughs)
Quint: The charm of your books is the tangents it goes on and the off kilter feel to it where I see that and I go “That’s an audience pleasing thing, that’s not a bad thing,” but obviously you know the fear the fans have with studio mentality and all of that stuff. Cool, so is there anything else that you can think of? Anything you want to talk about that we haven’t touched on?
Eric Powell: Not that I can think of. We are kind of in that place where there’s not a whole lot to say, you know? We are just at this spot where we are on the verge of trying to get this thing done, so there’s not a whole lot to really say yet.
Quint: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us and hopefully we can do a follow up here in a couple of months and everybody will be happy and you guys will be on the road to finally getting this underway.
Eric Powell: That’d be great and just to let you know, I’m not going to pull a Rob Zombie if you ever hate anything we do. Don’t worry about that.
Eric Powell: You know, you’re a critic, it’s your job so I’m just letting you know.
Quint: You haven’t disappointed me yet.
Eric Powell: I was really worried when you came up by the table and said, “Hey man, how’s it going?” I was like “God, I hope he liked it.”
Quint: So far you haven’t had the Goon put on his “Got to take a shit mask.”
Eric Powell: Yeah, not yet. (laughs)
Quint: So far you haven’t molested something I hold dear. As long as you keep not doing that, we’ll be okay.
Cross your fingers, guys. We don’t want this to turn in to one of those “almost happened” geek projects. I’m a big fan of these books and love what I’ve seen so far… and I just love edgy animation, something we don’t see nearly enough these days.
I’ve got my ear to the ground on this one. I’ll let you know how things develop!
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