If there is one series I am definitely looking forward to out of all of DC's 'new 52,' its 'All-Star Western,' written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with the breathtaking art of Moritat, which hits store shelves on September 28th. Fresh off the finale of 'Jonah Hex' which successfully saw into its 70th issue, Gray, Palmiotti and Moritat are taking the reigns of 'All-Star Western' to bring fans more stories featuring Hex set in Gotham long before the Dark Knight took residence there. While we're sure 'All-Star Western' will be chock full of saloons, murderous scoundrels and gun slinging action; we still couldn't pass up an opportunity to catch up with two of the creators behind the project below -- check out the full interview with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti below.
Comic Vine: First, I wanted to say it was partly due to your 'Jonah Hex' series that led to my purchase of a pair of Cowgirl boots of my very own, so clearly I enjoyed the series. What is it like for both of you (Jimmy and Justin) to walk away from the series after 70 issues? Do you feel you accomplished everything you wanted to do?
Justin Gray: We were sad to leave the book and at the same time we felt blessed to have those seventy issues and to work with so many talented people in the process. Obviously we have a genuine affection for Hex and his world, but we’re able to keep working with him under the new 52 title.
Jimmy Palmiotti: I bet you make those boots look good though… [ you should include a photo of them] but yeah, we were bummed to not have the title reach 75…or even 100, but these are just numbers and we are looking at this next chapter in Jonah’s long history with a fresh perspective. Looking back, I know the 70 issues will one day make a nice series of hardcover collections and honestly, we never thought it would get past issue 13, so we have the fans to thank for that.== TEASER ==
CV: The series (issue 70) ended on sort of a cliff hanger, is there a chance we will see a return of the young girl who appeared in that issue again, or have you closed the chapter completely on that series?
JG: It wasn’t so much a cliffhanger as a nod to the entire run. We touched on several elements from our 70 issues, the most important being tied to Tallulah Black and their child – who may or may not have been the same little girl in issue 16. The transition here is that those 70 issues are part of his mythology and therefore, because we used a non-linear style, we can use them anywhere we want.
JP: Nothing is ever closed that can explored in greater detail.
CV: The first issue of All Star Western #1 is set for release on September 28th, are you excited for the book's release?
JG: Personally I’m very excited and apprehensive at the same time. I feel like we’re staring at the mountain that was in front of us in November of 2005. Will the book have a wider appeal? Will people give it a chance even if it says “western” on the cover? Did we do a service to Arkham and Gotham City? I hope the answer is yes, but at the end of the day we collectively put together what we feel is a very solid and entertaining read.
JP: I am so excited I am doing three store signings that day in Florida at Coliseum of comics…and this is big for me because its very rare I do store signings anywhere. Just to be part of this launch is really special to us and having a first issue that I can honestly say people are going to love makes it even better.
CV: How does 'All Star Western' fit in with the rest of DC's 'New 52'?
JG: It is set more firmly in the DCU than was Jonah Hex. We’re exploring Gotham City, we’re exploring the early years of Amadeus Arkham before he founded the infamous asylum.
JP: It fits in because it’s new, exciting and a book that first time readers can instantly understand…which is really important overall for us. We wanted to create a book for fans of batman, fans of westerns and fans of great comics. We were given the opportunity to really dig in and try some new things out… and so far so good. As you can tell, I am pretty proud of the book.
CV: Will the stories in 'All Star Western' revolve around Jonah Hex, or will you branch out and focus on other characters?
JG: It is our sincere hope that we’ll have a strong enough following to allow us to bring all of our plans to fruition. We’re sitting on half a dozen concepts for reworking and rejuvenating other DCU western characters in much the same way we did with Hex. That is to say we’re keeping the core elements of those characters, what makes them interesting and blowing it open. Some of those characters are dated or never truly offered a modern explanation for their gimmicks. I’m looking at you Trigger Twins.
JP: We were approached with the idea for the title and told to run with it and the back up stories. So far we have an established character El Diablo in a 3 -part story illustrated by Jordi Bernet, and next up is something special for us, as you will soon learn. We get to work with a creator we have a history with on a character with no established history. The cool thing is we are encouraged to experiment by our editor and buddy, Joey Cavaleri. I have been working on and off with Joey since my marvel days before Marvel Knights and it’s a real pleasure to be working with him again.
CV: Do you plan on introducing new characters? Will we see appearances from other known characters like Tallulah Black?
JG: I’ve always stood by the idea that if Tallulah is used the story has to be important. We have such a love of that character and a need to protect her integrity that we don’t want to use her casually. As for other characters? Aside from the back-up stories, yes we fully intend to incorporate all of them wherever possible as long as it makes sense as a story.
JP: Honestly, I think its one of mine and Justin’s strengths-creating new characters. We have a rich history doing so on most of our past books and will not stop here. The cool thing is to look at the landscape of the world at that time and the D.C. universe and see how these characters might fit. There is so much cool stuff planned, I hope everyone gives us a chance to get it out there.
CV: Will any of what we saw in Jonah Hex resurface in this new series?
JG: There’s no reason it shouldn’t if the situation is right.
JP: Its still Jonah…so yeah, I don’t see why not.
CV: What's the coolest thing about writing a western and Hex, in your opinion?
JG: It is cathartic and creatively liberating because you have this unique set of rules that are grounded in realism and yet you can still develop very complex and relatable character interactions. Plus the sex and violence is fun.
JP: Jonah is character that we all can relate to…he has no super powers, has a bit of a temper, has a strong understanding of what is right and what is wrong, has some family problems and in certain light, he can look good and at other times he can look bad.I relate to him and have always been fascinated with stories of the this time period.
CV: Will All Star Western be confined to "old west" Gotham, or do you have plans to expand the universe?
JG: The funny thing is that we originally had a plan where Hex would be the shovel that dug up the family lineage of certain DCU heroes; the ancestors of well-known modern characters would surface in the book. Some concepts that feuds or similarities between heroes and villains could have started in the 19th century. At one point we discussed the idea of the Jordan’s and the Hammond’s in a sort of OK Corral scenario. Something along the lines of the great Ostrander and Truman series The Kents, but with a larger canvas. Right now we’re doing that to a certain degree with Arkham and Gotham.
JP: The book will evolve…and never be confined.
CV: What is it like working with Moritat? Can you explain your interaction/ how do you work together?
JG: His work is inspirational. He’s so dedicated to perfection in not only what you see, but also what you don’t see at first glance. His storytelling is spot on, his eye for detail and research for grounding the reality of the story is fantastic. We talk, we email, we send research imagery and ideas back and forth.
JP: I have always been a fan of his work and when he started to draw the Spirit, I fell in love with his art even more. When he was first spoken about for the book, we told Joey we love him as a choice…but didn’t know what we were in for. The first pages came in and we were blown away with the attention to detail and the mood he set up. I got to talk to him more at San Diego con and he is so cool and nice, I am hoping this is a long time relationship with Jonah and us. I will be buying some of these original art pages from him, given the chance.
Need more convincing? Take a look at images from the book as well as a promotional video below.
Source: Some interior pages courtesy of Newsarama