JIMMY PALMIOTTI is comic book royalty. Starting in comics in 1991, inking the insanely popular PUNISHER, GHOST RIDER, and Marvel’s 2099 line, Palmiotti branched out in 1994, and along with Joe Quesada, formed Event Comics, which brought to life such popular characters as ASH and PAINKILLER JANE. In 1998, Event comics were contracted by Marvel to relaunch several books including BLACK PANTHER, PUNISHER and later DAREDEVIL, under the label MARVEL KNIGHTS, which went on to become a huge successful for the then bankrupt Marvel Comics, and in many ways, helped create a renaissance at Marvel that lead them to the juggernaut of comics and pop culture they are today.
Since then, Jimmy Palmiotti has been everywhere in comics, primarily as a writer. His credits require a phone book to list, spanning not just comics, but TV, Movies, and Video Games as well. His critically acclaimed run on ALL STAR WESTERN was one of my favorite NEW 52 titles, his work, with co-writer Justin Gray and artist Amanda Conner, on POWERGIRL is a crazy fun adventure and his current run on HARLEY QUINN, co-written with Amanda Conner and art by Chad Hardin, is consistently one of DC’s top selling books.
The Comic Crusaders got the chance to pick Jimmy Palmiotti’s brain a bit on comics, life as a full time writer, and his success with Kickstarter.
LETS START AT THE BEGINNING, WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO MAKE COMICS AND HOW DID YOU BREAK IN TO THE INDUSTRY?
Loved comics as a kid and went to the high school of Art and Design to learn how to make them. I started in the workplace with a great job in advertising but when I turned 30, I figured I make a go at the comic business and assisted High School buddy Marl Texeira on The Punisher and Ghost Rider books, then picked up regular work soon after and have been working ever since. I switch from art to scripts on and off till I stopped inking about 6 years ago and now full-time writer.
CAN YOU WALK ME THROUGH YOUR PROCESS? HOW DO YOU BREAK AN ISSUE AND HOW DO YOU WRITE THE SCRIPT? IS IT MARVEL STYLE OR FULL SCRIPT?
I work the story out in my head, all during the week. I see it like a movie and when I feel it is time that I think I have a grasp on how it is going to work, I sit down and type it all out. I dialogue during the breakdown and edit and edit till I am happy with the final. I wish I could tell you something more involved, but writing comes very easy to me.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A COMIC BOOK WRITER AND ARTIST? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED OR PERHAPS A MISTAKE YOU MADE THAT YOU WOULD SUGGEST ANOTHER CREATOR ENTERING INTO INDEPENDENT COMICS DO DIFFERENTLY?
My experience is only that it is a job that I really enjoy and once in a while I have some success and once in a while some failure and I don’t let either ever get to me. As far as mistakes, I would need a 100 page book to fill them, but all I can say is to keep your ego in check, be nice to everyone, live in the moment and listen to those with advice that have been through it. The thing I have learned later in life is to walk away from projects that do not excite you. I rather do nothing than work on a book I hate.
IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU CAN OFFER TO A CREATOR/ARTIST LOOKING TO BREAK INTO COMICS IN TODAY’S MARKET?
Don’t listen to Internet opinion. Write what you feel and how you do and not worry about opinions. Be realistic with your goals and again, kill the ego. I can tell you now that you probably are not as good as you think. The learning never stops, so be open to new ideas and advice from those you respect.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE TITLES OF THE NEW 52 LAUNCH WAS ALL STAR WESTERN AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A BRILLIANT MOVE TO TAKE A CLASSIC WESTERN CHARACTER SUCH AS JOHAN HEX AND SET HIM IN HISTORICAL GOTHAM. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW THAT IDEA CAME ABOUT AND WHAT WAS THE REACTION AT DC WHEN YOU PITCHED THAT SERIES?
We never pitched it. Dan Didio came up with the idea and we ran with it. Dan is a pretty brilliant guy and loves comics more than anyone I know. The regular title was not selling well and he shot us the idea of moving Jonah to Gotham to keep us around longer. It lasted what it could, but Jonah was always a few issues away from cancellation.
HARLEY QUINN IS A CRAZY FUN BOOK AND A CONSISTENT TOP SELLER FOR DC COMICS. WAS IT A SURPRISE FOR YOU THAT HARLEY WOULD BECOME AS POPULAR AS SHE IS AND WHAT IS IT THAT YOU FEEL RESONATES WITH READERSHIP THAT HAS FUELED HER RISE TO SUPERSTARDOM?
I think the smartest thing we did was taking her away from the Bat Family and Gotham and introduce a new supporting cast, not rely on the Joker and not go pure bad girl with her. Amanda and I are writing the Harley WE want to see and that’s why the book is working, because it’s a personal take on a character that we understand inside and out and the readers can finally relate to. They don’t want a character that just kills because she is insane; they want someone with a heart, a temper and at the same time unpredictable. Sure, she is a killer, but she loves animals, has a couple of jobs and responsibilities, and has a crew around her that loves her.
HOW IS IT WORKING WITH YOUR SPOUSE ON A PROJECT AND WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THAT CAUSE?
Amanda and I love working together and have a blast trying to one up each other each and every month with the fun level on the gig. We move at different speeds though, but it all works out in the end.
YOU HAVE WORKED ON SO MANY GREAT CHARACTERS AT MARVEL AND DC. WHICH CHARACTER HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?
Harley and Starfire are my favorites right now, I love Jonah, but anything I have created myself stands out. Monolith, The Resistance, Twilight Experiment, Atlee, 21 DOWN and G.I.Zombie are characters I would write again in a heartbeat given the chance. When you create your own character, it takes on a life of its own, and feels like a real person to you which makes it easier to write. Its like having children, you hate to see them doing badly if the book doesn’t sell. My job is mainly to create new characters and keep older ones going but the new ones will always be more lucrative for a writer in the end.
YOUR HAVE WRITTEN FOR COMICS, VIDEO GAMES, TELEVISION, AND MOVIES? DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO JUGGLE PROJECTS IN SO MANY DIFFERENT FORMS OF MEDIA? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES WRITERS FACE IN EACH?
I think it’s simply format changes. In the end it is all the same, you are trying to tell an engaging story with interesting characters. Out of everything, game writing is the hardest because of the amount of time involved. My film and comic work is a breeze next to that. I juggle projects to make a living because for the most part, comics pay little and making a living doing just comics means you will be working at minimal wage most of your life unless you get lucky.
YOU HAVE HAD AMAZING SUCCESS WITH CROWD FUNDING SUCH AS KICKSTARTER, USING IT TO BRING SOME AWESOME PROJECTS LIKE ABBADON AND SEX & VIOLENCE TO LIFE. IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU CAN OFFER TO INDIE CREATORS THAT ARE LOOKING TOWARDS CROWD FUNDING FOR THEIR OWN PROJECTS? THE DO’S AND DONT’S OF KICKSTARTER?
Again, it would take me hours to answer such a broad question. I would simply look up every other interview I did about doing Kickstarters and read them because giving you a quick piece of advice is the tip of the iceberg. I will say that it is not for everyone, and if you do not like a ton of work, shipping and dealing with taxes, lost packages and warehousing stuff in your home, you should probably do something else. I don’t recommend it to anyone that thinks it will be an easy thing to do. As well, know first if you have an audience. Don’t think because it exists, people will want it. You have to build up your social media and have a ton of friends to even make a small Kickstarter work.
WHAT IS ON YOUR CURRENT “MUST READ” LIST?
I don’t have one. I don’t have time to read many comics. I work too much with the writing and Kickstarters and now screenplays. Any free time I have is with Amanda vacationing. I tend to buy collections of older material to catch up. I am a fan of the art of comics so I buy a lot of books focusing on artists.
ARE THERE ANY UPCOMING CONVENTIONS OR EVENTS YOU WILL BE ATTENDING YOU WOULD LIKE OUR READERSHIP TO BE AWARE OF?
San Diego, Dragon Con, Boston, Baltimore and Paris con. I love doing the shows and meeting people, but the travel kills me. I am waiting for someone to create those damn teleporters already.