Wednesday Interview: Jimmy Palmiotti

And now we start a new weekly feature where we post an interview with one of our favourite comic book creators every Wednesday! Each interview will coincide with something exciting that is hitting the shelves that week.

We kick off this exciting new series with one of my very favourite writers/artists, Jimmy Palmiotti! As you probably know, Jimmy and his writing partner Justin Gray write a lot of comics together, including the recent mini-series Terra, Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom, and the amazing ongoing series Jonah Hex. He also writes a very entertaining blog over at Newsarama.

Jonah Hex #42 drops today, along with the latest trade of the series, Bullets Don't Lie. You would be a fool not to buy at least one of these.

Alright, here we go with the interview, where Mr. Palmiotti mentions exciting things like the upcoming Jonah Hex #50 (art by Darwyn Cooke) and the Wednesday Comics project he's doing for DC with his awesome lady-partner, Amanda Conner!

1. While consistently being one of my favorite comics every month, Jonah Hex has officially made it into my 'do not read before bed' pile. The latest two issues were particularly gristly and creepy. Are you intentionally trying to test the limits of what you can get away with, or do you just occasionally get inspired to write a particularly gruesome story?

Well, the idea and basic thing about the Jonah Hex character is that he is a bounty hunter in a pretty rough world but doing forty issues of him just fighting thieves and bringing them in for a reward is something we don’t want to put on the reader each and every month. With the current storyline and a few others we did in the past, we try to visit a genre within a genre and the horror aspect of the character is a fun one, but unlike others before us, we are staying away from the supernatural aspect as best we can and keeping it grounded in reality.

The sawbones story was actually a lot more graphic and David Beck had to rework a bunch of the pages to get it past D.C.standards and honestly, I don’t blame them for making us do so. The original pages even creeped me the hell out. That all said, we do try to test the limits all the time with the book and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t. Both Justin and I want this series to go down as one of the best out there each and every month and are doing our best to keep our loyal readers interested and a little freaked now and again.

2. I really like the rotating cast of artists on Jonah Hex that has included some of the best in the business, including Jordi Bernet, Darwyn Cooke, JH Williams III, and Phil Noto. Have you written stories specifically to suit certain artists, or do the artists typically sign on after a story is written? Which artists are on deck for future issues?

What happens is really simple. We do the convention circuit and eventually some of the artists I hang out with or meet say to me that they would love to fit an issue of Jonah Hex in one day. First thing we do is try to see if its possible with their work load , next we make sure DC is cool with the selection and then…we write the story to play with their artistic strengths. Being an artist myself, I have a pretty good eye to what makes an artist swoon, so we do our best to give them something that they aren’t getting from drawing their other books and especially a chance, for a change, to illustrate a complete story with a beginning, middle and an end.

That said, we have a full group of guest artists lined up like another Darwyn Cooke issue for the 50th issue that will be a longer tale, classic artists like Paul Gulacy and Dick Giordano, and some old and new favorites I cannot announce yet. For me, the biggest thrill I get is still working with one of my favorites, Jordi Bernet.

3. Tallulah Black is an original character that you and Justin Gray created for this series, and I think she's really compelling as a love interest and a partner for Hex. I was glad to see her return in the latest two-part story. Are there plans for the future for her?

There will always be plans for Tallulah if we have our way…and yes, she does come back into the book very soon…actually, sooner than you think. We happen to love the character on a number of levels and also find it exciting to bring something new to the comic legacy of Hex.

4. For the most part Jonah Hex has been a series of one-shot issues, with the occasional two- or three-part story mixed in. Do you still think this is the best formula for this title, and has there been any pressure from DC to write longer story arcs in an attempt to increase sales?

Well, the pressure is obvious from the company because they would like to see the book perform better so we are experimenting with a 6-part story in issue 44-49 and we shall see how the fans feel about that. D.C. comics and especially Paul and Dan have been wonderful and very giving with the series and the way they have been sticking by us. Normally, with the numbers Hex sees monthly, a lot of other companies would have thrown in the towel, but they believe in the book, the character, the genre and the best part, in Justin and I. this kind of support honestly, in my eyes, makes them the greatest comic company out there and I am loyal as hell to them for it.

5. In the latest issue (#42) we're going to see a bit of Jonah Hex's childhood. Can I assume it was a happy one?

You can assume incorrectly, lol…Jonah went through a lot of B.S. from his father and we see a bit of his mom in this issue as well. Let's say that everything that happened in his childhood years had a lot to do with the man we see today.

6. The writing team of yourself and Justin Gray has produced a hell of a lot of comics lately. One of my favorites was the Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom story that wrapped up a few months ago. Will that story be released as a trade? And what else are you guys working on right now?

Yes, that will be released as a trade in July or August I am told and Phil Noto will be going back and re-coloring parts that he felt he wanted to enhance more, so we are happy with that. Justin and I also have POWERGIRL coming in May and that's a monthly series featuring Amanda’s artwork. Its looking amazing …I have to tell you, the book is gonna do very well out there…the art is simply stunning. Amanda and I are actually doing one of the Wednesday Comics together based on her idea. It’s a fun silly story that is all ages and honestly is all Amanda .

Outside of D.C. Justin and I are working on the book LAST RESORT for IDW comics that hits in July about a group of people stuck on a tropical island where a bio hazard screw up has happened and we have the game related series PROTOTYPE coming from Wildstorm based on the video game. It’s the most violent thing you have ever seen…honest!!