The Jimmy Palmiotti Interview

Jon Jordan:  Jimmy, I’d like to start off talking westerns and Jonah Hex. I’ve read Jonah Hex stories on and off since the early 70’s but it wasn’t until you started writing him that I felt the obsession to read every issue. You seem to really be in synch with the character. Any thoughts on why that is?

Jimmy Palmiotti: I grew up reading the Jonah Hex comics and loving westerns on TV and at the movies. The genre and place in history always captivated me. I think the simple idea that where I was living, which was Brooklyn at the time, was once woods and streams and nothing more, makes the stories about settling the west even more fascinating to me. Looking at this, and the fact that a lot of what happened in these stories only took place a few generations back, made it seem even more surreal. I think I also fell in love with the simplicity of the time. People worked and got rewarded for their hard work. As I got older and the material started to get out of the safe zone of the basic western, I fell in love with the morality lessons told within the stories.

When I was reading Jonah Hex comics, beyond the cool scar and the great aim, he was simply the most badass character ever created. He was a man that, on the surface, seemed like a merciless wretched bastard, but as the reader dug deeper, you start to understand to do what he had to do, this is what he had to seem like on the surface and in fact, and he had a pretty good handle on old west righteousness. I also enjoyed that, unlike the modern comic characters, Jonah was a drunk and a womanizer and had a sense of justice that went beyond the rules set by government and at times mankind. I fell in love with his adventures and deep in my mind, always knew I would one day get a chance to write the character. Part of the success I have had is thinking I can do just about anything. My parents instilled that kind of irrational chutzpah in me at a young age. They really made me feel like I could do just about anything, and the lesson I learned along the way is that failing at things is part of the way to learn and get better.

So, to answer the question directly, the reason you feel hooked to the stories are because Justin and I write them with a ton of passion, respect and love.

JJ: I’m really enjoying the current run with Jonah in present day. You are doing some really fun stuff I hadn’t expected. In particular I thought Constantine popping in was great. Will Jonah be going back to his own time at some point?

JP: Issue 28 we have Booster Gold coming in and correcting the mistake he made many issue before plucking Jonah from the past and he sends Jonah back in time, but things have changed for poor Jonah and we explore these changes. One of the biggest modifications comes at the end of 27 where we see Jonah get into a horrible motorcycle accident and the cover of issue 28 tells it all. Jonah gets plastic surgery and has his scar and face fixed. Imagine him back in the past and the problems he’s going to have getting people to believe he is Jonah now that his trademark scar is gone? We explore this and within the next 5 issues some of the reality that has set in, based on what Jonah has learned while in the “ future” Issue 27 is a crucial issue in the series for a number of reasons.

Jon: How far out do you plan story lines?

JP: We have up until issue 34 planned right down to the very last detail. We already know that issue 34 is going to be a big one…and an issue that will shock people in a lot of different ways. I do not say this lightly. We also have a guest artist working on it that is known for his work in the genre of crime.

Jon: You also do a lot of books with a crime fiction angle to them. Over the last few years I’ve noticed more and more my favorite crime stories actually feel like they have a western element to them. What is it about the two genres do you think draws people to them?

JP: Most people are decent and trustworthy and live their lives without getting involved with crime, murder and so on. Knowing that, most people are extremely interested to learn what drives good people to a bad place and I think they find it fascinating on a number of levels. In these types of stories, people live harder; they are tougher, sexier and more violent. Face it, who among us doesn’t wish we were stronger and sexier? The other thing about these genres is that most of them are cautionary tales about being careful what you wish for in life. No story is told more than the one about the person who works their way to the top of just about anything, and the horrible things they do to get there. These stories almost always show the downfall of the character and the price they pay for their constant greed and passion. We enjoy seeing these people taken down to justify our own lives where we follow the rules every single day. We want justice in our lives and if we cant find it in the real world, we choose to find it elsewhere.

Jon: In addition to working on All Star Western you are also now doing a Harley Quinn series. How much fun is that? It seems like a great place to get a little crazy.

JP: I’m getting to collaborate with my wife, Amanda Conner and we are working on a character that is a criminally insane criminal, so we can both relate to this for a number of reasons. Amanda and I are really different kinds of people, in all the right ways. I am aggressive, disciplined and able to multi-task. She is obsessive, level headed and hyper focused. Where we meet in the middle is that we both have an insane sense of humor that is borderline sadistic, but only in fantasy, and not reality. The character is lovable and does horrific things at the same time and we love that lethal combination.

JJ: How did you and Amanda meet?

JP: I was working as an inker for Marvel comics about 1993 and I got a call from my editor Hildy Mesnik to come in and pick up some cover work. When I arrived, Amanda was handing in a cover for the Disney title Gargoyles and she handed it to me to ink. We got to be friends after that, and I helped land her a gig at Harris Publishing drawing Vampirella and became her inker and friend for years before we ever thought of each other in a romantic sense. We eventually had our lives both in a place where we were single and that was it.

JJ: You mentioned using fiction to find justice that may be missing in real world. I have long felt that this is the biggest appeal of crime fiction. Are there things you read about or see in the real world that inspire your story telling?

JP: All the time. If I ever hit a writers block just reading the news gives you a ton of story endings and ideas. There is so much going on in the world around us and I am inspired by it all. I am not a sports nut, because I cannot understand why these people are paid so much when scientists are the real heroes for me. As far as the bigger injustices going on around the world, every disaster I see, I wish I was there to help out in some way. Mostly I do with charities, but I think reading about superheroes all my life made me want to help others and that’s a good grab from that genre.

JJ: Do you think being from New York has influenced your writing?

JP: Definitely. Growing up in a place with a real mix of diverse cultures from all over the world has helped me value everyone for their individual differences and not be so quick to judge others. It gave me an understanding I don’t think I could have had growing up elsewhere. I went to a high school in Manhattan where the arts were the focus. It taught me to be tolerant and to look beyond the impulsive impression most people have about others. Growing up here also put me in real peril at times and situations where those around me lived cops and robbers lives and didn’t play at them. I saw things and did things that …well, Lets just say I’m writing a book of short stories right now about growing up in Brooklyn that I think will explain me a lot better than a paragraph will. It’s a colorful place, much more when I was growing up because it wasn’t such a town of millionaires, as it was a town of all classes. New york, I still love it, but it sure has changed.

JJ: Is there anyone you’d like to work with that you have not worked with yet?

JP: A couple of artists like Paul pope, Milo Manara and Adam and Andy Kubert, and a lot of people outside comics I would love to collaborate with on projects, but I have been pretty lucky since I did get to work with a lot of giants over the years. I wish I had been able to do something with Joe Kubert, Moebius and Frank Frazetta before they passed.

JJ: Jimmy, what is paperfilms.com and how did it get formed? It seems to be a home for a bunch of talented people working on some pretty great stuff.

JP: PAPERFILMS is our company. We take on a lot of work outside comics. Videogames, screen writing for TV and film and I also do freelance world building and writing for companies that involves anything from commercials, games, intellectual properties and just about anything that needs a story. We also design animation, storyboarding and are called in to do some creative consulting where needed. The comic work is the stuff you see all the time because it’s just us, but the list of clients we work with is pretty big and not what you expect. Right now we are working on a projects that cover a pretty good scope including Cereal box design, Graphic novel adaptions and consulting on a TV show. Between all of us, we can take just about anything thrown our way and take it to finish with the amount of talent we have. My background in advertising helps our production and delivery. We formed under the PAPERFILMS banner to cut to the chase and make this a one stop shopping company.

JJ: What are some of the other projects you are working on right now?

JP: My monthly books take up mush of my day, but I also have a couple of Kickstarters in the works and I am finishing up a script with Craig Weedon called CURSEBREAKER that we will be shopping in March. For DC, Justin and I are working on a new series that will be announced soon. It’s a brand new character that we created.

Jon: Do you enjoy meeting fans? You seem to go to a lot of shows.

JP: Its one of the best times I can have doing what I do. I feed off their enthusiasm and marvel at their ability to read into the work. I am a people person, so I love it like no other I always ask what people do and I think I may have more questions for them then they have for me. I do an average of 7 shows a year. I wish I had more time to do more, honestly, but cannot afford the loss of work time.

 

 Palmiotti, Conner and frequent collaborator Justin Gray launched PaperFilms in 2012 to create a company for “creators skilled in world building, screenwriting, intellectual property development, video game development, illustration, editorial experience and much more” as part of their efforts to own and develop their own characters for various media, while also nurturing a community for like-minded comic book creators. The company has successfully funded five books for Kickstarter: QUEEN CRAB, FORAGER, WEAPON OF GOD, RETROVIRUS and SEX AND VIOLENCE.

On Monday, February 10th, Paperfilms launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Kickstarter Exclusive, 72-page Mature Audiences graphic novel written by New York Times bestselling writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and illustrated by Pier Brito. This will be the first PaperFilms graphic novel to have a soundtrack, by composer Hans Karl (SHAGXOTICA!). And it so happens that the campaign was funded on its sixth day. To date, the campaign has over 1,000 backers with more than $36,000 pledged.
PaperFilms has announced stretch goals for the project including a sketchbook section by Pier Brito (if the campaign reaches $38,000); random sketches by Pier Brito ($40,000) and a print of the Amanda Conner special limited edition cover ($50,000).
Limited edition prints by Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Dave Johnson (100 BULLETS), John Cebollero (DEEP DRAG), graphic designer Dan Panosian (JOHN TIFFANY) and Palmiotti are still available at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1397702842/denver-a-72-page-mature-audience-original-graphic.
Digital downloads of the five graphic novels Paperfilms has published via Kickstarter (QUEEN CRAB, FORAGER, WEAPON OF GOD, RETROVIRUS and SEX AND VIOLENCE) are available for $6.99 each at
http://www.paperfilms.com/shop/.