Interview with Painkiller Jane co-creator and Jonah Hex writer, Jimmy Palmiotti
Kevin Fukunaga (Scripts & Scribes): Prior to your writing career, you spent many years as a popular comic book inker and artist. What made you decide to make the transition into writing?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I have always had ideas for existing and new characters and over the years it was all about gaining confidence and then actually finding the work itself. In this case, Joe Quesada and I started self-publishing and we wrote the book Ash ourselves. I think after that it was getting to work alongside of Mark Waid that gave me even more confidence when were working on Gatecrasher together. I had to stop inking at the point I did because I became really bored at what I was doing and had to move on…and writing seemed the thing to do. Thank God I am finding it more and more challenging daily, or I would be doing something else by now. I believe we only have one life, so go for whatever you want and go at it hard.
Kevin: What was your first paid writing gig and how did you get it?
Jimmy: My first writing gig was working on Deadpool for Marvel comics and a good friend and brilliant editor Mike Marts gave that to me. Mike saw something in me and gave me a shot and I will always be grateful to him for it. The book was not the giant it is these days and I guess they were looking for a new voice. After that I got work on and off but really started doing my own thing when we formed Blackbull comics and I got to write a few titles there besides Gatecrasher. New West and Beautiful killer came after.
Kevin: How many projects are you writing at the same time? Is it difficult to juggle multiple stories or are you able to compartmentalize your writing process?
Jimmy: Right now I am co-writing Harley Quinn with Amanda Conner, and co-writing All Star Western, Batwing and Wool with Justin Gray. I am also finishing up a new screenplay with my friend Craig Weeden. I try not to work on two different books in the same day. I pick what is due next and line it up…do the research and keep the story moving in my head till I am ready to sit down and get to work. All the work is while I’m not at the keyboard. I also have a Kickstarter starting Feb. 10th called Denver. Its an adult graphic novel about the last city left on earth.
Kevin: What is a typical writing day for you like and where do you do most of your writing?
Jimmy: I wake up at 7 am and get to work till about noon, then head out for a few hours and come back and do a little more. In between I answer calls, e-mails and do promotion. It’s a busy day daily.
Kevin: Other than obvious formatting standards, what are the biggest differences between writing scripts for comic books versus film/TV screenplays?
Jimmy: When writing a screenplay, you should not really give too much direction and descriptions of things. You need to worry about that less. Its mostly formatting after that.
Kevin: What was the development process like, taking Painkiller Jane from comic book into a Syfy television series?
Jimmy: Well, funny you mention it because I’ve done a screenplay that is getting shopped around as we speak, so with Jane it never ends. The original process from the comic to the TV show was a long and involved one that I learned a lot from. I learned that selling it and not controlling it , well…you may not recognize it by the time Hollywood is done with it. When Sci-fi bought it for a show, they changed a lot of what made the character unique and added a sci-fi slant to it that in the end was also its downfall in my eyes. It happens and what you learn is that when you get the property back, you babysit it better. The actual process was just someone liking the book, making contact with us, getting lawyers involved, signing papers and getting it into production. It was nothing too glamorous about it, but definitely exciting along the way. Overall it was a great experience for me and I met a lot of really cool people.
Kevin: You and writing partner Justin Gray have also worked on the video games including Injustice: Gods Among Us. How is writing video game material different than writing for comic books or television?
Jimmy: It is a ton more work, and you work with a team of other writers and people along the way. No game is written and created by one person, no matter what the credits say. I can only work on one game a year, that’s how involved it is. They are a lot of fun and time-consuming as well. I like doing them if the subject matter is something I am interested in, like it was with Injustice. It is also fun seeing the story we worked on becoming a hit comic.
Kevin: For someone wanting to get into comic book writing, where would you suggest they start?
Jimmy: Self-publishing or writing for just about anyone. Get your work out there…anywhere. Get it done . Write for small companies, write reviews, travel and write about it and try to get a steady audience along the way. It’s a really tough field to break into, unless you can also draw your ass off.
Kevin: What is your favorite medium to write for and why? (Film, TV, comic books, video games, etc.)
Jimmy: Today film. Tomorrow, probably comics. Honestly, I don’t see much difference when I am sitting at my desk. Its all about characters.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter @JPalmiotti!
And be sure to visit him at his internet home, Paper Films!
Kevin: What is your favorite comic book to film/TV adaptation to date?
Jimmy: The latest Judge Dredd movie was the best at capturing what I loved about the comic without taking anything away…and it was rated R, which it should be. I like my movies more adult, so a lot of the superhero stuff feels like its made for kids.
Kevin: If Amanda (Conner), Justin (Gray) and Joe (Qesada) were in a pie eating contest, who would win?
Jimmy: Pizza pie? That would be me. These others would have no chance.
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