Brooklyn’s Finest: An Interview with Jimmy Palmiotti

He’s known for writing some of the most brutally violent comics for either of the mainstream companies, most notably Jonah Hex, so you might assume that he’s gruff, surly and just as mean as the characters he writes down on the page. Not to disappoint any fans who want him to be like the people in the stories he creates, but Jimmy Palmiotti is easily one of the nicest men I have ever met. If it isn’t the Brooklyn accent that draws you towards him, then it will be his sincerity and love of his work.

Jimmy Palmiotti

Before I got the chance to interview him, I was hanging out near his table at the Calgary Entertainment Expo and a fan had come up with a Western story that they had written to give to him as a gift. Jimmy was so thrilled, flipping through the pages as he listened to the man tell him about how he was inspired to write it. It was great listening to the pair share what influenced them to do what they do, and while I’ve read very few comic books that Jimmy has written before, his passion for his professional certainly made me curious.

Here’s his bio:

In 1991, he was working for Marvel Comics, inking for The Punisher, Ghost Rider and the Marvel 2099 line. He’s known for working with his friend, Joe Quesada on several different projects and in 1994, they formed a publishing company, Event Comics. Together they created notable characters: Ash (a fire fighter with superpowers) Kid Death and Fluffy (a boy and his pet robot dog), 22 Brides (a group of women that run the New York underworld) and Painkiller Jane (a female cop with healing powers).

As a writer, he’s known for Deadpool, Daughters of the Dragon, The Punisher, Heroes for Hire and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Comics, Hawkman, Superboy and The Monolith for DC Comics, as well as 21 Down, The Resistance and The Twilight Experiments. More recently, Jimmy had been working on Power Girl with his partner, Amanda Conner (artist) and his long time co-writer and friend, Justin Gray, but most familiar to comic book readers is Jonah Hex. In the DC Relaunch, both Jimmy and Justin will be working on the All-Star Western title, which is a reboot for the horribly scarred bounty hunter.

Painkiller Jane Cover

Kim: Hi Jimmy, how about we jump right into this? The first question is a bit of a big one: You’ve been an editor, inker and writer, since you seem to be focusing more on the writing now, do you miss the other two? Or was the end goal always to end up being a creator/writer?

Jimmy: Um, I like doing everything. I still freelance edit, but I’m really enjoying the writing part. So for now, that’s what I’m doing, but sometimes it changes. Sometimes I want to do something else, you know? Right now I’m just working on the writing and having a really great time with that, so I’m just going to ride that out.

Kim: So that’s your focus right now?

Jimmy: Yeah, it’s my focus right now… at least until someone tells me that I suck and I can’t get any work , then I’ll go onto other things. The inking is always there if I want it, which is nice, you know? But I really enjoy the writing and being able to create new things. There is a lot of joy in what I’m doing right now. Basically, if I’m not liking it, then it’s work.. and if it’s work then I don’t want to be doing it.

Kim: So you’re working with Justin Gray right now (on Jonah Hex and All-Star Western). I was wondering what it was like to work in tandem with someone else.

Jimmy: Well, we’ve been best friends for like ten years now.. so it’s really easy to write with him. I can kind of guess where he’s going with things and vice versa and we challenge each other, we argue (in the nice way), we try to top each other all the time – so it’s a healthy competition between us and it really helps the work, I think.

Kim: How do you two usually communicate?

Jimmy: On the phone, or Skype.. or I go and see him. Mostly over the phone though, we’re on the phone at least twice a day.

All-Star Western Cover

Kim: Lets talk the DC relaunch. You’re going to be working on the All-Star Western title, is it going to follow the same sort of single-serving story that Jonah Hex has now? Or is there going to be a longer story arc to it?

Jimmy: No. No, it’s definitely got a longer arc to it. At least right out of the gate, there’s going to be a longer arc going on in the world. They’re continued stories. Issue #1 will be set in Gotham.. and it’s going to be a big character in the book.

Kim: You mentioned that in the DC panel earlier this afternoon and I found it really interesting because Scott Snyder (who’s writing the Batman title) also mentioned that he was going to be using Gotham City as a sort of character to his own series. So, I’m wondering since you’re going to be writing Gotham of the past and he’s handling the present day version of it, are we going to see some connecting threads?

Jimmy: Well.. if there’s any connection to the history, he’s going to have to come to me, since I’m setting it up early . But no, we haven’t talked about it. It’s not like we’re going to change anything, I mean Scott’s going to do his own thing and that’s great.. I mean, he’s amazing! I don’t know if you’re familiar with his work…

Kim: I love Scott Snyder. American Vampire blew my mind.

Jimmy: Right, so I’m sure he’s going to do his own thing and if there’s an opportunity for us to work together and implant something in our stories, then by all means I think that would be a really fun thing to do. I’m a big fan of his.

Pages from the First Issue

Kim: What else can you tell us about your Relaunch title?

Jimmy: Well, it’s going to have other stories in it, featuring other western characters – some of the classic ones, some new ones that we’ve made up.

Kim: Can you give us any names?

Jimmy: No, I’m not allowed. What I can say though, is that people who loved Hex, are going to love this book. People who have never tried it, should definitely give it a shot. It’s going to be fun, we’re really looking forward to it. I mean, we’re already into the second part of the year, so we already know what’s going on.

Kim: Speaking of that – how hard is it to keep that sort of news from leaking out?

Jimmy: It’s not hard. I just stay away from interviews as much as I can and then I don’t have to worry about it. I mean, yeah.. I want to tell you everything, but at same time.. the fun of it is picking up the book and finding out what’s going on. You don’t want to know everything before they even read it. It’s all about the surprise.

Kim: Out of all of the titles that have been announced for the DC Relaunch, which of the ones would you have wanted to work on (if not your own) and who would you want to work with?

Jimmy: I would want to do a Power Girl/Terra series with Amanda (Conner)

Jimmy: Women shouldn’t hate on Power Girl, they should embrace her. There is a lot of stuff in there… I mean, it goes beyond her body type, you know?

Kim: It’s not, you’re right. I’ve read the first 6 issues already and it’s made me want to read more.

Jimmy: Well, when you read issues 7 and 8, then we can talk . I think the second half is where you’ll find her more appealing cause she’s trying not to be the punching, angry character that they always portray her to be. We tried to give her a life and a best friend. She’s got big breasts, but big deal? So what. Superman has big muscles. It’s just a body type.. different people have different body types and you can’t hold that against them.

Kim: I think for me it was just the emphasis on them.

PG and Terra at the Movies

Jimmy: But even that.. it depends on the artist. I mean, Amanda’s art has a soul. Even the secondary characters feel like real people in her books.. even the cat. We really like that Power Girl and Terra are best friends and they don’t really do that in the comic books anymore.

Kim: I have to say, I loved all of the panels that featured them at the movie theatres.

Jimmy: Yeah.. and shopping at Ikea. I mean, that’s what friends do. It’s kind of fun.

Kim: I’m going to change things up a bit and ask you our desert island question that we’ve been asking all of the other writers and artists we’ve talked to over the weekend. If you could pick any 5 characters from any universe (Marvel, DC or otherwise) to make up a team – who would be the writer and who would be the artist?

Jimmy: Power Girl, Daredevil, The Punisher, The Monolith and Jonah Hex – I think that would be a great dinner. If it wasn’t me writing it? It would be Justin Gray and Amanda would draw it. I mean, she’d nail it.

Kim: So, my last question for you is.. I got married in October and I’m looking for some good advice, do you have any for me?

Jimmy: Yeah! Travel a lot. Don’t take each other for granted. Give each other space when you need it. Don’t expect him to go shopping with you. And, when things are bad.. imagine a world without him and then try and fix things up.

Kim: Awesome, thank you so much Jimmy. It was so nice to get to talk to you.

Jimmy: Thank you. Anytime.

You can follow Jimmy Palmiotti on Twitter: @jpalmiotti

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