In an afterword to Chimichanga, writer and artist Eric Powell says that the idea started when a T.V. producer asked him to pitch a kids show.
Which seems more than a little crazy. Powell’s worked on a bunch of big name comic titles in the past, but he’s best known for The Goon, a decidedly-adult Dark Horse series he created. It borrows from zombie flicks and pre-Code gangster movies and detective noir and whatever else it can get its dirty hands on, all put to expert use by Powell, who’s got a fearless sense of humour and a wonderful and distinct art style.
The series is also distinctly adult, or at least not for kids if that distinction makes sense. For example, a catchphrase that comes up pretty often is “Knife to the eye!” I don’t need to tell you what the accompanying action is.
I also probably don’t need to tell you the producer’s reaction when Powell pitched Chimichanga. The story eventually came out as a mini series, collected now in hardcover along with some sketches and a couple of shorts. Lula is a young bearded girl who travels with her ringmaster grandfather. (Circus freaks being another preoccupation of Powell’s.) She trades a lock of her beard hair to a witch for a mysterious egg which hatches into a friendly monster she names Chimichanga.
T.V.’s loss was the comics world’s gain in this occasion. Interest from his sons spurred him to keep on with the project. “After realizing my sons are probably smarter and have better taste than a T.V. executive, I decided there was something to this Chimichanga idea, and I’d better turn it into a comic,” writes Powell.
Thank God. The book is laugh-out-loud funny, a quick and fun read that’s genuinely endearing without losing any of Powell’s typical tone. It’s also completely friendly to the youngins, as long as you think they’d be fine with an adorable little girl with a beard and pharmaceutical company execs getting what’s coming to them. Powell relies on some tried-and-true narrative elements — this isn’t the first “a kid and their monster” story that’s ever been told — but spins the tale in a lean and incredibly entertaining way.