The Reading Pile #25
So did you hear? On March 8th, Albatross Funnybooks threw a party to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Goon in their habitat of Nashville, Tennessee. I was there, y’all! I must confess, though I have never read Goon I am a huge fan of Eric Powell’s Hillbilly. I live a mere 6 hours away and I am always looking for an excuse to go hang out in Nashville. Before we get into the books, here’s an “exclusive party summation” from The Reading Pile.
Got into Nashville around 2pm on Thursday and funnily enough the first person I talked to was also there for said party. He was Beaux from San Diego, and we shared drinks at the hotel bar before the wife and I headed out to local breweries: Yazoo and Jackalope.
First time we had been to either place and both are highly recommended. We finished up at local speakeasy, The Patterson House, and then got some hot chicken at Hattie B’s.
We’d been to both places before and were excited to go back.
On Friday it rained, sadly, so there would be no walking around the neighborhoods’ of Nashville. I did make it out to Rick’s Comic City, on the recommendation of Nashville resident and fellow CBSI comic bro, Mike Morello. Cool place, they had a poster for the party on the door, and I picked up a copy of Watchmen 1 and Wonder Woman 11 and 15, the Jenny Frison covers.
We headed out to the Cannery Ballroom, the venue for the event, around 8pm and I was greeted by a wonderful Albatross Funnybooks merch booth where I picked up 2 copies of the Goon 1 20th Anniversary Exclusive Foil Party variant. The merch girl straight up dropped my copies of the exclusive books on the floor and I’m thinking, “hmmm…will she give me new ones?” She put them in a box off to the side, laughed and said, “guess those are my copies now” and picked out two new ones. She was cool. I, also, picked up an event shirt.
I headed out to the bar and ordered some drinks. The beer selection was minimal, it was going to be a PBR kind of night, but that's ok. I knew the event was going to feature some stand up comedy, a podcast and live music. It was early, so I got up close and took this shot of the stage below.
There was also a Goon title belt in the house, I knew of this due to a hilarious Albatross Funnybooks Instagram post. I saw the photo backdrop with the belt and I knew I was taking part in this. I did my best “look fierce” pose whilst being photographed. These photos are courtesy of Dune Baydoun, the event photographer for the evening.
Next up? Stand up comedy, of course! First up was one, Ben Garant, of Reno 911! fame: appearing in full show gear. He warned the audience not to participate in any “grab ass” because, well, that shit can get crazy. Next up was Steve Agee, he of the Sarah Silverman Program. He did a bit about just turning 50 (I could relate) and then things got scatological as he talked about hemorrhoids and kids defecating on floors; the later bit actually being pretty funny.
Mr. Agee's set segued into an episode of the UHHH podcast with Eric Powell. I had hoped to listen to said podcast before writing this to jump start my memory, but, damn, I can't find it online anywhere. So anyways, Eric talked about why he takes so long for his books between issues. Reason being that he is usually doing all of the story, drawing, inking and coloring himself. He also talked about his Satan's Sodomy Baby book saying something to the effect of if retailers were going to make this book/character adults only he was really going to up the offensive content to hilarious effect. He also talked about Goon, of course, but I can't remember many specifics, sorry.
Later, we were treated to a “song” by Brendon Small, which ended up being a mind melting 10-15 minute guitar solo. I need to check out his Galaktikon book ASAP. This was followed by birthday cake, as it was also Eric Powell's birthday. As luck would have it, the cake folks were lighting said cake right beside me at the bar, allowing me to take the photo, on the right, below.
After a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” it was time for West End Motel to take the stage. West End Motel features Brent Hinds, of Mastodon, and they played a rousing blend of soulful hard rock. I found the guitar solos, melodic songs and vocals most enjoyable by this band.
At some point I had a conversation with Eric and I asked him if his Hillbilly title would continue since The Goon is returning to prominence. He said they were going to keep it going. I also asked him if he had been to art school to which he replied, “I have not been to art school.” This surprised me as I think his artwork, particularly his original pencils, to be just really, really outstanding. We had been having a fairly typical “dudes in a bar” conversation, but then I said to him, “I've always found your art to be extremely detailed but accessible!” He thanked me but then I immediately felt stupid, for being so fanboyish, and ran off as I was a little drunk and star struck.
That was about it for me. I left too early, I'm afraid, but I had a hell of a lot of fun and I won't hesitate to go if Albatross Funnybooks hold any other events in Nashville. I'll end this exclusive party summation with a shot I took of the Cannery Ballroom as I was leaving and the Goon title belt.
Now on to some book reviews, of which I decided to just focus on a handful of Albatross Funnybook titles, including, of course, Goon 1.
Real late to the party on this one, but I’ve heard it’s good. Book is a trip. We have this young lady, Tala Palicio, who uses magic charm spells to enter a bar, in Baltimore, and to rescue one of her mother’s magic wielding ex-boyfriends, Eddie. Eddie is using charm spells to win at poker at a back room in this bar. Tala seems to realize something is amiss in the universe and seems to need Eddie to help find out what is going on. Meanwhile Eddie is more interested in running money scams using magic. Oh, yeah, Eddie turns himself into a dog to help with said scams. Finally, some kind of intergalactic evil being is trying to capture Tala and Eddie using monsters and magic. If this sounds dumb, I’m not describing it well. This book caught my attention after only a few pages. Nice blend of humor and adventure with quality art. 4/5
Immediately stoked to see Eric Powell on writing AND art duties for this one. Not saying too much here, this is mostly more of Hillbilly Rondel and his archer companion finding out more about the “red-eyed witchery” and confronting it. There is a hilarious panel where Rondel believes he is immune to any harm because of his evil refracting cleaver and, boy, is he wrong.
This isn’t as good as the incredible original series, but how could it be? A really fun yarn is going on here. 4/5
As I said in the opening paragraph, this is the first Goon comic I’ve ever read. I didn’t really become aware of Eric Powell until Big Man Plans, which I enjoyed. But what really hooked me was Hillbilly, which I think is a near perfect synergy of art and Appalachia storytelling.
I’m loving Goon after only the first few pages. Goon, Franky and Roscoe get kicked off a boat and stroll into old local watering hole, Norton’s Pub. There they reminisce, catch up on the local thuggery and look for a place to crash on Lonely Street. Goon and Franky hook up with a “realtor of the damned” and, eh, look at some interesting places to live. Then they are accosted by one Baby Galahad, the East-Side Ghoul, and we are treated to some awesome fight panels. Are you not interested yet? Hope you picked this up and read it. I loved it. 4/5
Whew, did you read this far? This has been the longest issue of The Reading Pile ever. I labored over this one, y'all. Hoped you enjoyed it and I'll see you next time.