What's Wrong With a Little "Sodomy?"

Wed, March 28th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Andy Khouri, Editor

"Satan's Sodomy Baby" poly-bagged cover

"Sodomy," as it turns out, is just The Little Word That Could, and what "sodomy" did was inspire Eisner Award-winning creator of "The Goon" Eric Powell to author what Dark Horse Comics is calling the single most offensive, controversial, and flat-out loathsome comic ever unleashed by the venerable Portland publisher. Guaranteed to offend literally everybody, "Satan's **** Baby" (the **** stands for "sodomy"!) is a hyper-hilarious, satirical one-shot by Eric Powell shipping this April. CBR News sat down with Powell to talk about life, politics, bestiality, Bizarro and asked the celebrated author just what is wrong with a little "sodomy?"

Despite what some opponents of humor and fun may assume, Powell did not simply set out to create so "offensive" a comic. A fully credible author with numerous Eisner Awards for "The Goon" including Best Single Issue, Best Continuing Series and Best Humor Publication, Powell was quite simply doing what he always does: creating funny, entertaining comics. It was in developing what was then "The Goon" #18 that Satan and his Sodomy Baby crept up on Powell.

"Satan's Sodomy Baby" page 1
"It started from a thank-you e-mail that I wrote some of the Dark Horse guys," Powell told CBR News. "I wrote them some crazy e-mail about my town throwing me a parade and some redneck sniffing gasoline rags and trying to make love to a pig. Later I thought that might make a good 'Goon' story."

Powell's process was interrupted when the powers that be learned more about the issue's contents, which were then relatively mild. "Some people freaked out that the word 'sodomy' was going to be used in the title," said Powell. "There was even a problem with using the word in solicitation. I never thought it was that big of a deal. Sodomy. Isn't that the technical term?"

Indeed, the strictest definition of sodomy is any sexual act other than coitus between men and women, which allows the term to encompass rather a lot if one thinks about it, including activities we see regularly in mainstream comics. As such, the word "sodomy" cannot realistically be considered a curse word, yet it is censored on the cover of "Satan's Sodomy Baby." What gives?

"Satan's Sodomy Baby" page 2
"Exactly!" said Powell. "Like I said before, I don't get it. Sure I had some racy humor in it. But it was all going to be off panel and innuendo. Not anymore. It's all there. I pulled no punches."

Powell's not kidding. So potentially horrifying are the contents of "Satan's Sodomy Baby," CBR News has been able to glean only the barest of plot details: it will feature Powell's Goon and offer outrageous commentary on political pundits, life in rural communities, liberals, conservatives, the devil, sexual practices and major world religions – although not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily one at a time. Additionally, "Satan's Sodomy Baby" may be ordered only in the adult supplement of Diamond's "Previews." Further, "Satan's Sodomy Baby" will be poly-bagged, preventing the slightest possibility of a child (or particularly humorless adult reader) from stealing even a glance at its most heinous pages.

"Action Comics" #854 cover by Eric Powell
Eric Powell doesn't live his whole life in the gutter, of course. It was announced recently that the cult favorite creator would be exposing himself to a whole new generation of fans with a run on DC Comics' "Action Comics." Beginning with issue #854, Powell will draw Geoff Johns and Richard Donner's reintroduction of Bizarro World into the DC Universe, a task for which he is uniquely suited. While Powell can't reveal much about the eagerly anticipated story, he did reveal much enthusiasm for the gig.

"I had kind of sworn off taking other [non-'Goon'-related] projects for a little while," Powell explained. "But the combination of getting to work with Johns and Donner on a Superman story that I thought actually suited what I do was too good to pass up." Powell believes that "Goon" fans will enjoy this particular Superman story, and, he says, "I hope some of the Superman fans might like what I do and become 'Goon' converts as well."

Known primarily as a writer-artist with a very idiosyncratic voice and style, fans may wonder if Powell finds it a challenge to draw from someone else's script. "It is a challenge, now," confessed Powell, explaining, "When I write I'm visualizing the scene. I've gotten a little spoiled. When I read someone else's script, I have to try and visualize the scene the writer's intended. It's a little different. But working with a good writer that can keep you interested in what you're doing is a great thing."

"Satan's Sodomy Baby" art by Eric Powell
Besides the "Action Comics" arc, Powell's future is dedicated to the Goon, Goon, and more of the Goon. "I've got some big plans starting with the 'Chinatown' graphic novel," said Powell, referring to the long awaited Goon origin story.

"Satan's Sodomy Baby" corrupts your existence and local comics store this April, but never again. Dark Horse has indicated that "Satan's Sodomy Baby" is so irretrievably vulgar, the special issue will never be collected in trade paperback.

"Well, originally I didn't think it was that bad..." Powell said. "But because of all of the unnecessary scrutiny, I've felt compelled to really push it over the top. If they're making me poly-bag it and release it in the adult catalog, might as well pull out all the stops. And I did."

Now discuss this story in CBR's Indie Comics forum.

CBR News