The Conversation: Jimmy Palmiotti - Part 2

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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.

Part One

BROKEN FRONTIER: Over your career as an inker you’ve gotten to work at length with two pretty notable artistic talents in Joe Quesada and Amanda Conner, both of whom are at the very least are friends of yours. That said and speaking totally on a professional basis, whose work have you enjoyed working on more?

JIMMY PALMIOTTI: They represent two different times in my career right there. When I was just starting out in the business I met Joe at San Diego and got him some cover work at Marvel and we became friends. It wasn’t till a few years later that I actually inked him on a book, which was X-O #0 for Valiant. After that we did Event Comics and went on to create Marvel Knights together and those were fun times.

I love inking Joe and always will, and other than Kevin Nowlan, I think I still did the best job over Joe’s art because like Kevin, I understand how to add to the art, not just follow the line he put down. That said, it was a fun time and we created classic work that will live on for a long time.

Amanda came after and I love her art as well…and again, she is an amazing artist, but one that, unlike Joe, really doesn’t need me to ink her. She herself is her best inker and of late, because of me having a ton of other work, has been inking herself. So to answer the question, I enjoyed them both at different times for different reasons and these days, the person I really enjoy inking where I bring something to the page is Jesus Saiz. My dream job though would be inking any of the Kuberts; Joe, Adam or Andy, I’ll take any one. One day I’m sure I will get a chance, just not holding my breath. [Laughs]

BF: Well, at least you’re all at DC right now…that’s a start, right? Didn’t you first work with Jesus on Manhunter?

JP: No, actually I did thirteen issues of 21 Down with Jesus before the run on Manhunter. The thirteenth issue never saw print. I think it’s some of our best work and a series I felt a real emotional connection with, very much like the The Monolith series.

BF: Oh yeah, how could I have forgotten that one? You guys put that out through Wildstorm back in 2002. This was an instance of where one of your "kids" was cancelled before their time, wasn’t it? Was it envisioned to be a finite series (like a Y The Last Man, or Ex Machina) or did you plan it as something that could continue on and on?

JP: We always envisioned 21 Down as an ongoing and were told that. Wildstorm told us they would like issue #13 to be a new number one, like 21 Down Year Two, what they would do with a TV series. We were working on issue #3 at the time of the second series when Wildstorm decided not to publish it anymore. They were saying it wasn’t selling well enough, but at the time it was doing numbers that were just as good as most of the Vertigo titles. In the end it was their decision and Justin, Jesus and I have a fully penciled and inked issue #1 that will never see the light of day unless they give it a shot again. Funny thing is that at that time, Paul Levitz introduced me to some people that were interested in making the book into a TV series, but nothing ever came of it. After the first year, we started to see a lot of shows that resembled the book somewhat, most obviously was The Medium, which is actually a show I love. It happens a lot in this business…just look at Heroes .

BF: Is 21 Down a series that Justin and yourself own? Would it ever be possible to take the series and put it out in whole somewhere else? It’s really a shame to have an issue fully done and never have it shown to the fans who were reading it.

JP: We own a part of it and if they would let us buy it back, I would in a heartbeat. The series The Resistance is something that we own much more of and are currently looking into getting the rights back to. At this point I think they could care less about that and it never had a proper trade book, so at the very least, I would like to collect it at some point. The title was just too involved, ahead of its time and way too political for most casual comic book fans, and dense…[Laughs] We live and learn.

BF: You’re a regular face at many stops on the comic convention circuit. What is the one thing that you have to have with you on the road, no matter what the city or venue?

JP: That would be Amanda Conner. She makes these shows fun and exciting and never a dull moment with her there. She really is everything to me.

BF: I’ve seen you looking over fans and industry hopeful’s portfolios on occasion. Out of all the work you’ve checked out, how many do you think had potential to work in the industry? Was there ever an instance where you looked up and said "want a job?"

JP: Actually dozens of artists and the latest being Khari Evans with the Daughters of the Dragon gig. I had him do samples of the characters and we sent them along with the actual pitch of the mini series. I am always looking for new talent because of the number of projects I work on, or if I can’t use them I recommend them to friends or DC Comics and Dynamite. The artist I am currently employing for a project that Garth Ennis and I created was someone that showed me their art in Pittsburgh two years ago- you never know who you’re going to see at these shows and that’s why I always leave an open door for artists.

BF: Being an aspiring writer myself, throw us a bone here Jim. What is one tip you can give us when it comes to showing our stuff? Those darned artists just seem to have it so easy with their portfolios full of pretty drawings.

JP: Make a name for yourself on the Internet with your writings and opinions and get your work on the screen and printed page. Getting any attention as a writer is limited, but some really have made it by getting out there and reviewing, interviewing and becoming a personality. You are already on the right track.

BF: Working on as many books as you do at a given time, you must accrue a whole lot of original art. What in the world do you do with it all? Do any specific favorite pieces come to mind?

JP: Well, for the record, I don’t have one single piece of art that I worked on hanging anywhere in my house. I just don’t want to look at my own work. Most of it I have in storage and from time to time, I give them to a friend of mine to stick on Ebay. Really, a lot of people email me looking for art, but I don’t have the time to track down what they want. I am making an effort to move more of the art at conventions as well.

BF: Do you seek out anyone else’s original art to purchase, hang or to generally be a fan of?

JP: I have a lot of Jordi Bernet’s, Frank Frazetta, Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan, Darwin Cooke, J.G. Jones, Cliff Chiang, Adam Hughes and Phil Noto art. Two of my new favorites are Ryan Sook and James Jean.

BF: With the exception of a few creator-owned properties, you’ve essentially made  a career out of working for the "big two" companies (Mavel, DC Comics). What is their attraction to you, or what do the large mainstream companies provide that keeps you happy enough to release the majority of your work through them?

JP: Honestly, I grew up with the big two companies reading their characters and such and for a steady income, no place has been better to work. But honestly, I continue to do my own thing at the same time each and every single day. In the past Joe Q. and I published and created our own company under the Event Comics banner. I’ve published creator-owned books with Image Comics and continue to work for smaller companies like Dynamite and Virgin Comics and will continue to do so. The biggest problem with the big companies is that they are created on a grid system and publish what works in this grid. At Marvel, it’s super-heroes and at DC it’s super-heroes and a lot more, but they are all about owning the I.P. (intellectual property) on their books and you have to understand that when you go in.

My whole past year’s experience writing and working on the Painkiller Jane TV show would never happen with those folks if it was a character I created for them (Marvel or DC). On a minor level with DC I have a small chance of getting lucky, but with Marvel, never in a million years. Knowing this, I have to do things outside the safety net of the big two in order to reach the goals I set for myself and these goals are high ones my friend. That’s why I work so hard. I always tell people this: whatever you see of my work on the stands, is only half of the actual amount of work I do.

With that said, Jimmy went diligently back to work. You can find the man on his forums at:  http://www.paperfilms.invisionzone.com

On MySpace? Drop him a friend request at:  http://www.myspace.com/jimmypalmiotti 

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