If you've met Jimmy Palmiotti, you know that the man exudes a sort of rare confidence. Over the years Palmiotti has created a space of his very own for himself in the comics industry, and he's certainly left his mark in a big way. The writer/artist continues to freelance, working on various projects at a time for both Marvel and DC as well as his CREATOR OWNED HEROES project for Image Comics. There's nothing the man hasn't done. We recently caught up with Palmiotti to discuss everything from the future of ALL-STAR WESTERN and THE PHANTOM LADY to his creator owned work at IMAGE, what the future of the comics industry looks like as well as his parley into television projects.
Comic Vine: First off, let's talk about movies and television. Last year Kickstart comics released a book titled HEADACHE, written by Lisa Joy on which you were an Editor. Last week it was revealed that the concept for the story was being picked up by FOX and was being developed into a television series titled 'Athena.' How involved are you in this project?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I was the editor of the book, and past that, the future of the project is in the hands of very capable people. I do have an interest in the property, but other than that, it’s their baby and I am happy for it since the focus of my abilities was on the graphic novel end. I am super excited to see what they are going to do with it and how it is going to translate to TV. While working on the book, I knew we had something special on our hands, and the experience working with the team was wonderful. Jim Fern is a very underappreciated artist.
CV: What led you to work with Joy on the title?
JP: Kickstart set that up and Lisa came in with a very original story that we all knew had to be told. I was fortunate to work with some really talented people on these books and Lisa was at the top of her game.== TEASER ==
CV: What were the advantages to publishing the book through Kickstart?
JP: There were some interesting format choices that weren’t being done at the time and the amount of creativity and freedom Kickstart gave the creators was refreshing. We got some really wild concepts made because they are an open- minded group to work with and willing to take risks. The Kickstart people were also close friends of mine and nothing is nicer than working with people you respect and trust. We have a lot of history together and they represent some of my properties like Back To Brooklyn, Random Acts of Violence and so on.
CV: Can we expect to see any other Kickstart projects go on to be developed into television or film?
JP: As a matter of fact there are a couple of things in the works at the moment and you can expect some more coming your way soon. I still have my fingers crossed for our own Booksmart title to find a home at one of the studios. Samantha, Jason and the Kickstart crew know their stuff and really have their hands on some interesting properties that I still feel have yet to be discovered. They were the people behind getting Painkiller Jane sold to a network for me.
CV: You've been in comics a very long time. You're one of the more prominent figures in the industry and are a proponent of creator rights. This is a very interesting time in comic books because of all the incredible changes that are taking place beyond the digital age. What do you think the future of comics looks like? Will it continue to be dominated by the big 2 (Marvel and DC) or do you see a shift in the industry where more readers look for independent, creator owned content that is not as heavily edited?
We are at a time where creators of new material have fan bases and these fans will support their work and that in itself is wonderful for everyone, because it opens up the doors for product that works outside the regular restraints of big company characters.
JP: Digital comics, Kickstart, Amazon studios and other crowdsourcing formats are changing the publishing landscape as well as Print on Demand services. We are at a time where creators of new material have fan bases and these fans will support their work and that in itself is wonderful for everyone, because it opens up the doors for product that works outside the regular restraints of big company characters. The big two will always be doing spectacular business because at this point they are selling iconic characters and there is a large percentage of readers that will never give these characters up and have no interest in new concepts. The same thing has been happening for years in the movie industry…a studio would rather make a part 12 of something then get behind a new concept…unless there is a chance of a new franchise. Creator owned books will never dominate the sales, but they will be giving the bigger companies a run for their money for sure. Honestly, my least selling title for the bigger companies always does 6 times something like Creator-Owned heroes does at image. I hope for a change in the future.
CV: Lately we've been hearing a lot of bitterness from creators in the industry in regards to their treatment by certain publishers. From what I understand, you are not under contract to a specific company. This allows you to work on various projects at any given time and gives you the freedom to be creative. What has led to your decision to work in comics this way?
JP: I have only been under exclusive contract once in my entire career and it just was not something I was interested in. I just don’t like anyone having that much control over what I choose to do. They work for other freelancers, but for me, never again. I enjoy the freedom to work wherever and on whatever I would like and it has served me very well. My main focus of work for a company is DC, but I will be doing more with Marvel this coming year, and will continue to be loyal as hell to anyone that will hire me. I feel I have a lot of stories to tell and the genres I choose to tell them in are not always available to me at the bigger companies and that is totally cool. I thank God there is a company like Image Comics around to open the door for some of my more insane ideas…lol…but to be honest, I love the big two companies and I have no problem with them. They are clear about work/participation and I understand when I work for them that I am working on their characters, so in the end, they have final say. I don’t go in blind…I have been around long enough to understand what it means to be a freelancer. I think a lot of artists and writers have to stop and do their homework and understand what it means to work for a corporation. For me, the main thing I do to stay on track is to keep myself desirable to each company, do the best job I can for them, get my work in on time, and promote the hell out of each and every project I am involved in, whether I own it or not.
I find the freelancers that are bitter have not done their homework in most cases. With the Internet and social media, they should be asking questions and doing less crying. Contracts are key. They have, at their fingertips, a world of freelancers that will answer any questions they have.
CV: You currently have a few books out from DC comics including ALL-STAR WESTERN and THE PHANTOM LADY. ALL-STAR has focused on Jonah Hex and his adventures with Amadeus Arkham. More recently we've seen the introduction of Tallulah Black. Was it your decision to rope her into the series? What about Arkham, why have you focused on the team-up of Arkham and Hex, specifically?
JP: Justin and I figured we needed something extra to make the concept of Jonah Hex in Gotham and Amadeus was the perfect answer for us. As well, we are slowly bringing in a lot of classic and new characters into the book as well as tying in the DCU a lot more this coming year and having a blast doing it. As far as Tallulah, we are listening to the fans and they have been asking for her. The past few issues have gotten a lot of attention because of her addition, but she is one of many we are having fun with at the moment. The book is a runaway success on so many levels and we have the fans to thank for that…and the wonderful talent DC has given us to work with.
CV: Now that the Court of Owls arc is complete, where do you plan to take these characters? What can readers expect to see?
JP: Justin and I have planned out the next year and it is quite insane. Like I said, we are looking long and hard at the history of Gotham and how the idea and drive behind Jonah fits into it all. What we try to do is give the reader what they want and we listen closely…and because of this we have a lot of great material coming up, as well as rotating the back-up guest list with some unusual characters. The specifics, we cannot talk about, but lets just say for now that Jonah gets to a place he never expected to be and has to deal with life in a different way after that. I know…its not much…but a tease is all I can give.
CV: THE PHANTOM LADY #1 hit comic shop shelves last week and it was a great introduction to a classic character, but she is definitely very different from her appearances in Golden Age comics. How did you come up with the idea for her character and what made you decide to go that route?
JP: D.C. was looking for us to take the character somewhere new and different and re-work the concept the same way we did the Ray to fit into the new 52, and we decided that grounding the characters in the real world as much as we could was the way to go. This book was a ton of work for us because there was a lot of back and forth with talent, ideas, and even now with content, but in the end, everyone and everything came together. Honestly, I personally didn’t know how this book would be received, but we are very pleased with the response so far.
It is up to DC to step up and give a life to Phantom Lady, Dollman and the Ray after our mini series. We are up for the challenge, that’s for sure.
The main focus of my work these days is on the Creator Owned Heroes title that I am partnered with Justin Gray and Steve Niles that comes out each month from Image comics.
CV: She feels very grounded in reality. The first issue feels really gritty and addresses concepts that are very different from what we are used to seeing. For example, in issue #1 the main character hits the club to uncover some evidence in relationship to her parents' death. Where did you draw the inspiration for her character?
JP: It is what a real person might do to find some answers and again, the reality of the concept was something we were looking at to explore. Issue 2 has a lot of what Justin and I view as real world approaches to what it means to get super powers and how to deal with them. Issue 3 is classic all out action and issue 4 is chaos and resolve. We could never get too realistic since the way the costumes are designed, they would never work in a real world setting, but we do our best to make it all come together.
CV: Are there any future projects you are currently working on that you would like to discuss?
JP: The main focus of my work these days is on the Creator Owned Heroes title that I am partnered with Justin Gray and Steve Niles that comes out each month from Image comics. We are working on issue 6 right now and with the addition of people like Darwyn Cooke, Scott Morse, Seth Kusher, Christopher Irving, Amanda Conner, Dan Panosian, Paul Mounts and more, we feel the second part of the series is going to be stronger than the first. The title is a passion project for all of us and the half-comic/half magazine format is making us explore the world of self-publishing in ways we never dreamed.
As well, in November we have the hardcover Graphic novel RETROVIRUS coming from Image Comics and we are really proud of the book. It is probably the most violent thing we have done to date and is made for adults, so we shall see of the world is ready for it and its content. This was funded on Kickstarter and another in the line of books we will be doing for the next few years. We are trying to do some books that aim at an adult audience…we feel this area is quite a bit untapped by the companies.