Comic Fodder

Fodder Exclusive: Interview with Jimmy Palmiotti

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Jimmy Palmiotti has been working full time in comics as a editor, writer, artist and inker for fifteen years. He co-created the Marvel Knights imprint for Marvel Comics with his long-time friend and collaborator (who also happens to be Editor-in-Chief of Marvel) Joe Quesada. Jimmy has done a ton of creator owned work, including Painkiller Jane which is now in production as a Sci-Fi channel original series.

On a more personal note, Jimmy Palmiotti (and his lovely other-half, Amanda Conner) has been a huge help and inspiration to me as I’ve grown and struggled creating independent comics over the last five years. Always willing to take time out of his schedule to answer my questions, to give me advice or to just shoot the shit, Jimmy is always friendly and always encouraging. When I was ready to release the first issue of my series, “Detectives in Space”, Amanda Conner drew the cover and Jimmy inked it. Then, when I needed the cover colored, Jimmy put me in touch with the great Paul Mounts (colorist of The Ultimates Vol 1 and Mark Millar’s Wolverine: Enemy of the State arc) who not only did an amazing color job, but also was happy to do it.

As you can see, choosing Jimmy as my first interview for the site was a no-brainer. He’s the nicest guy in comics
and one of the most talented creators of the past fifteen years. Ok. Enough ass-kissing….let’s get to the questions…

Comic Fodder: What was your first paying gig in comics?

Jimmy Palmiotti: That was probably doing some backgrounds for chic stone while I was in high school on an invaders page that was drawn by Frank Robbins. Granted, it was only five bucks, but I took it and was proud of what I did. He fired me after the first page, telling me it was rendered too realistic. Not exactly the exciting story you were looking for, I know.

CF: It’s exactly what I was looking for. So how did you turn that awful first experience into a career?

JP: It wasn’t until years later, after a decent career in advertising that I decided to give it another shot and did some work for eternity comics. My first actual paying job, where I worked for the big two was a punisher book that I inked and a bunch of covers. After that I started showing up a lot a marvel and showing samples each and every week till I got more. The rest is history…around my house.

CF: You draw, ink and write. Which of the three do you get the most enjoyment out of?

JP: These days writing seems to be keeping me busy as hell, inside and outside of comics. I still love drawing an inking, but writing is the least time consuming of them all and the variety of things I get to work on keeps it interesting to me. Right this moment, I’m working on a kids TV show, a sci fi series, a western and a superhero team…variety is the spice of life.

CF: Which aspect of writing comes the hardest for you? What is the easiest?

JP: Hardest first…writing a character or team that has been around for 50 years because of all the, what seems like pointless at times, intricate back-story. The research aspect can, at times, be overwhelming. The easiest thing to do always is to create something myself and work on the book from the ground up, knowing and creating every little detail of the character along the way. I guess its like writing your own song or learning someone else’s.

CF: See research is one of my favorite parts of writing. The danger, for me, in the research stage is the increased chance I’ll get distracted from my research by a million other things I find in the course of said research. Do you have any tricks you use to keep yourself focused?

JP: Deadlines usually take away that long fishing expedition. It can be distracting as hell, but you also know that there is an artist with a family to feed and every day you drag your ass in not getting your work done may cost him money or you may lose them on the book, so you don’t play around much. It’s the real world out there and livelihoods are at stake.

CF: What is the most frustrating aspect of the industry?

JP: How comic companies do not share with the creators when they create something, how they do not give royalties on their work when printed in foreign countries and how cheap they are with the comps of the work you have done for them. I am not talking about D.C. here…they do all of the above.

CF: Why can DC do those things but…other companies cannot? Is it purely financial?

JP: Its greed…plain and simple. They get paid royalties and decide to keep them or it’s in their system as so and do not want change. I am amazed that they still do this….again, not all companies, just one major one that sort of drives me crazy at times. It’s really up to the people in charge to care enough to want to change this is all.

CF: What, if anything, would you like to go back and do over?

JP: The first 6 years in comics and event comics in general. I would also go back and with marvel knights, have worked our own characters into each and every one of the marvel titles…intergraded them and while there, worked on creators rights some more. But to tell the truth, it’s so in the past, I feel like it happened to another person…I live for today and tomorrow. It’s much healthier that way. Thinking about it, I wish I met Amanda Conner 10 years earlier.

CF: Obviously Marvel Knights was big for you and Quesada. Are the things you mentioned above points of contention that drove you away from Marvel towards the end of your Marvel Knights tenure?

JP: No. it had just become “been there, done that” and was time to move on. You stay in one place too long and you get comfortable. I don’t believe that’s a good thing for any creative person. Even Joe has evolved and moved on to become EIC, and is doing a hell of a good job.

CF: Couldn’t you go back to Marvel now and start working on creators rights, adding more of your own characters in, etc.

JP: That’s for the people up there to do now. it’s not my job…especially when I just signed an exclusive with dc. I do work for hire and know the deal. Either I accept it or not. I love the people at marvel; it’s the business of marvel that needs some fixing. From what I can tell, they are trying.

CF: As long as they are making an attempt….it’s a start, which is better than nothing. Let’s see…what else…how about this: what comic character do you want to write that you haven't had the opportunity to yet?

JP: None really…I have worked on a lot of good characters, but to tell the truth, I would rather create new ones any day of the week. I don’t want to be just another guy writing superman or x men…how boring can that be. I am on this planet only for a limited time, so I need to leave my mark…create something for others to build on.

CF: If you could do any other profession, what would you do?

JP: Is there a job where I could drink, screw and sleep all day? O.k., other than that, I would probably like to try my hand directing features that I have written, or own a summer getaway somewhere upstate NY. next to a lake…with all sports and a lake and such…. A fun camp for adults. I would be the camp councilor and main bartender.

CF: I would like to attend this camp. Can I be in charge of the drugs and sex? I mean…what’s camp without drugs and sex?

JP: Sure…why not. It would be more like hedonism, but with people wearing some clothes.

CF: Sounds good to me. So, which, of all the projects you've done in comics, has been your favorite?

JP: I have a few. NEW WEST, 21 DOWN and MONOLITH probably are my favorites because I feel like they are my most personal…and offer insight to what makes me tick. In each of these series the characters each have personality traits that are totally my own and I think that’s why these books and characters are still hard to shake for me. They feel like real people…and it’s hard for me to let go of close friends.

CF: What is your favorite comic, TV show, and movie genre?

JP: Comic? No clue…I do enjoy “Love and Rockets” for the art, and like Garth Ennis’s stuff for the pure joy of insanity….on TV I like “Law and Order”, “The Shield”, “Deadwood”, “Rescue Me” and “Medium”….movies…too many to mention really. I like so many for different reasons. Maybe a better question would be favorite movie in each genre. Off the top of my head, “Godfather 2”, “Jaws”, “5th element”, “Amelie”, “Die Hard” and so on. Anything that defines a genre best I usually enjoy. I also love westerns.

CF: And finally, what upcoming work are you most excited to see released? Plug away, don’t be ashamed…

JP: Working on the painkiller Jane series for Sci-fi up in Vancouver and the terra series for d.c. with Justin and Amanda. More hex, and hopefully more “Uncle Sam” and the freedom fighters in the future as well. There is also an animated series for nick that Justin and I are working on that I cannot talk about that is something I enjoyed when I was a child brought back and revamped by us. More info on that later.

-END-

Thanks again to the great Jimmy Palmiotti for doing this interview. Maybe having an artist of his caliber here will attract others of the same ilk and, if not, next time I’ll be interviewing myself.
Here’s a short preview of that interview:
CF: So, Shawn, how’ve you been?

SD: I’m fine. I’ve just been working on the Jimmy interview hoping to find another creator to interview.

CF: Wait, hold on a second, I gotta pee.

SD: I know. You’re me. I have to pee too.

Exciting.

Well…until next time…

Awesome interveiw!
I liked how it didn't seem so much like a q and a as much as a conversation. I liked how asked some tough questions too. Great job!

-- Posted by: david at October 10, 2006 4:37 PM