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The Conversation: Jimmy Palmiotti - Part 1

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He has inked comics ranging from Marvel’s Punisher to DC’s Manhunter and with friend/co-writer Justin Gray, has crafted stories for characters varying from Hawkman to the Heroes for Hire to The Monolith. This past year, his Painkiller Jane character (which he co-created with Joe Quesada) made a leap onto the Sci-Fi Channel and Jimmy got to add another title onto his resume: screenwriter.

When he isn’t at home working, Jimmy can be found in attendance at most of the major comic book conventions across the country. Always affable and energetic, you’ll find him to be exactly what he seems; an open, honest city boy who made good. Don’t let him tell you otherwise, but Jimmy loves to work and he loves his comics. For a small moment I distracted him from all those things to find out what exactly he has going on.

BROKEN FRONTIER: How many titles/projects are you working on at present either as inker, writer or co-writer? What are they?

JIMMY PALMIOTTI: A few at the moment. I am co-writing with Justin Gray on  Countdown, Jonah Hex, Superman Confidential, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, also writing  Painkiller Jane and the Dock Walloper series for Virgin Comics. Other projects in the works are consulting on a video game, working on another TV series, and co-writing a  screenplay. Lastly, I am inking an issue of Countdown a month. There are other things going on, but I am not allowed to talk about them to the public.

BF. Hot damn Jim, you’re all over the place! Sleeping much?

JP: I sleep fine…and around 6 hours which is all you really need. I feel like I am an old man at times because once in a while I will take what I call a "power nap" in the middle of the day for 20 minutes. It does me a lot of good.

BF: Along with your co-writer Justin Gray, you’re about to begin the third year of the ongoing Jonah Hex series. Does it ever surprise you that niche-type book is finding success in such a mainstream market? Are fans able to breathe a comfortable sigh that their title will be safely coming out for the foreseeable future?

JP: Fans should never relax and understand that sales decide how long a book comes out. We are on the fence with the numbers but the trades are doing well… so it looks like the book will be out for a while. We currently have 7 issues being worked on at this very same time and I think up to issue #27 has been solicited already, so we are going strong, but we need more readers on the monthly. If you are reading this and want to help, turn a friend on with the book or buy the trades for Christmas presents.

I think any book, if done well, will find its audience and they will be a loyal one as long as you give them what they want to see. With Hex, its supply and demand and we seem to be lucky in tuning into what the readers want. My mother brought me up to be a good listener.

BF: Hear that people? If you love your monthly influx of Western action in Jonah Hex, spread the word! Trades really do make cool gifts too since they’re not wallet busters. Hey, if you’ve got seven issues being worked on, who are the people drawing them?

JP: We got J.H. Williams, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jordi Bernet, John Higgins and a whole mess more that will be announced at the right time. There are a few surprises in store for the art lovers out there.

BF: What about Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters ? You’ve got their second consecutive mini-series running at the moment. Will we be seeing you writing more stories with them?

JP: Again, this comes down to the attention that the fans pay to the book and the amount of sales success the title has. The current book is selling less than the first series but the word of mouth has been good, so it’s wait and see as always.

BF: Is the Terra mini-series still on schedule to hit shelves in March 2008? This little series is shaping up to have some history behind it. Has its rescheduling had any impact on DCU proper in terms of the character’s use?

JP: The book has been on again and off again due to Amanda, then DC, then to Amanda, then to DC and so on. All I can say is we have three issues written and two fully drawn. We keep moving forward. We are changing none of the story… it was always meant to be a stand-alone series that ties into the DCU.

BF: How much are you enjoying the weekly grind of working on Countdown? Will anyone be able to get you onto a weekly series again?

JP: Sure, if things change as they usually do on this title week in and week out. There are some fun aspects to the book and some that are very time consuming as well. I think the book is getting better as it goes and I expect the last 26 will reflect that in many ways. Justin and I are happy to work on anything that gets this many readers excited. Hell, the people that don’t like the book still buy it each month and go on line and complain. I love the interaction and always read the fans' rants and raves.

BF: Internet buzz seems to be that the overall story has really picked up as of late  and I’m sure you’ve taken an oath of silence in regard to story elements on Countdown. That said, if there was one issue that you couldn’t wait to see the fan’s reaction to, which would it be?

JP: Right now it would be issue #24. We really had a blast going in and creating chaos and I think the fans will like what they see. I don’t want to ruin anything, but the shit really hits the fan in that issue.

BF: Is it safe to say that you’re writing fairly far ahead on the series? We’re just passing the halfway point in terms of what has been published. Are there clear cut paths for where all the stories end in that final issue?

JP: We know where the big overall story will be going and how we have to leave the DCU by the end of it, so it’s just a matter of laying out and pushing the story forward to that point. We are working on issue #17 today and expect that issue #13 will be our next thing to handle, so all’s good and way ahead of the game.

BF: Switching over to Marvel, you’re pulling double duty on Shanna the She Devil: Survival of the Fittest by inking artist Khari Evans as well as writing the mini. This is your second project with Khari, as he was the artist for your Daughters of the Dragon mini as well. Simple coincidence or has he mesmerized you with his innate ability to draw really hot chicks?

JP: Khari is an amazing artist that just knows what we want to see on a page and he is having a ball doing it. We love working with him and once our DC contract is up, we hope one day to get with him again on another project if the time allows. He has a bright future ahead of him and is a really sweet guy that is a pleasure to deal with.

BF: Is that to say you’re thinking of simply exploring other arenas once your current DC deal is up?

JP: DC would really have to make me an interesting counter-offer to what I am looking at when the end of my contract hits next year. I love working for DC honestly, but I wish I was able to write more original works. For that, I’m going to have to go elsewhere it seems.

BF: Do you think having the Painkiller Jane Sci-Fi Channel series has aided with increasing the sales and overall visibility of the character’s ongoing series at Dynamite Entertainment?

JP: A little bit, but I actually think they missed out on a big deal. I love Dynamite, but when I go to major chains of bookstores and don’t find the trades, it makes me realize that they are a new company and are in a learning curve and having my series there was a good and bad thing at once. I was in Barnes and Noble and saw all the 30 Days of Night trades on display the week the movie was out and realized we missed a great opportunity having the show on the air for 5 months and not taking full advantage of it. I think over the next year, Dynamite will change all that and I have total faith in them becoming one of the top players out there in publishing. There are areas that they need to focus on and I think its happening to them slowly, but I got a lot of faith in them and am sticking with them.

BF: You mentioned that you’re also working on another TV series as well as a screenplay. Would either of those be based off of your comic properties?

JP: One is a comic book property that we had in development before and it’s in the same spot again with a different station. One is an original idea and the other is a property that exists within a company that they approached us for.

BF: Give us the lowdown on Dock Walloper, the book you’re doing over at Virgin Comics. How is it working with the company and series creator, actor/director Ed Burns?

JP: Ed is a brilliant, down to earth working stiff that happens to be an international movie star  and filmmaker. That said, I initially was interested because Ed Burns was involved and I was going to be able to actually work with him on the book and that has been a total pleasure so far and a highlight for me on this project. I have always been interested in people like Ed, how they wanted to do something so bad they just went after it and if you take a good look at Ed’s career, you can see a real progression of the underdog at work. It’s funny because this book we are writing is all about the underdog getting his day in the sunshine, but told revolving around the crime syndicate of New York City in the roaring Twenties.

Virgin Comics managed to get the two of us together in one room and talk over the premise, the characters and so on and I give them credit to be able to do that. There are so many projects where you have a star and writer and they never meet or talk to each other and I firmly told them I wouldn’t work that way and they really got it together. I love what Virgin Comics is doing and support them and I hope the retailers try a little harder as well to introduce the books.

There are so many books coming out, but everything this company has done so far is really exceptional. They are good people I would work with any time. I think the Dock Walloper series is something totally different for the comics market and that alone will always get me interested. I like new and exciting stories and especially any stories I can tell using history as a backdrop.

BF: Tell me what you consider the highest point in your career so far, as well as what you’d acknowledge to be your lowest.

JP: Highest point was probably my trip to Monte Carlo pushing the Jane show. It was a blast and was something very surreal to me. We had one day there that we will certainly never have happen again. It’s a long and involved story. As far as comics, I think just the fact that Justin and I are able to work on so many interesting projects without having to go out there and sell ourselves 24/7.

My low point would have to be when I inked a full issue of Humberto Ramos and Fed-Ex lost the package on me. It was heartbreaking because it took me a month to ink. The other low points are every time a book I work on gets cancelled. These are my kids.

To be continued on Monday.

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