At the New York Comic-Con, io9 caught up with prolific comic book writer Jimmy Palmiotti, who told us all about his new projects — such as DC Comics' new weird cowpoke series All-Star Western — and what it's like to self-fund graphic novels using Kickstarter.
You've been writing Jonah Hex for a while, and Jonah is now the stars of All-Star Western. What differentiates these two books?
Because All-Star Western is part of the new 52, Justin Gray and I had an opportunity to get new readers in, as we've been writing Jonah Hex for six years now. Gotham City is the backdrop and a character in the book. It gives All-Star an extra edge.
By introducing Amadeus Arkham into the story, we're able, through captions, to get new readers to understand who Jonah Hex is without explaining his history. It's a fresh start, but we also want to make readers who have been following Jonah for 10, 20, 30 years happy.
What can we expect from Arkham in the series?
It's like a Sherlock and a Watson in the most bizarre sense. For the first six issues, we have them on two different adventures, and we play them against each other. There are points where Jonah literally wants to kill Arkham for talking all the time. We dig deeper into the history of Gotham — people who like Batman will find some really fun stuff. In issues 4-6, you'll see some places familiar from modern Gotham.
We know there's a Wayne manor there and we know that there's a cave system under the city. We know about the Cobblepot family's roots with Gotham. Like any major city at the turn of the century, there are a lot of politics involved in Gotham, and Jonah's not a very political guy. He's the antibody in this city.
In the second arc, we see Jonah and Arkham breaking up businesses that use child labor. And starting in the second issue, we have back-up stories. The second and third issue have El Diablo by Jordi Bernet, and after that we have a three-part story by Phil Winslade called "The Barbary Ghost." She's a brand-new character we created, she's a Chinese woman seeking revenge for her family on the Barbary Coast.
Besides All-Star, what other projects are you looking forward to?
I'm working on a Ray miniseries with Justin and Jamal Igle. We went with a new take for the New 52. He's a Korean-American lifeguard in California who gets the powers and uses them to both save the day and impress his girlfriend. It's not a heavy book, it's in the vein of the Power Girl series. We dissected the Ray's light powers. For example, he can change his appearance using his powers, which he does in the first issue. His girlfriend is Indian, and when he meets her parents, they don't like that he's not Indian. Amanda Conner, Frank Tieri, and I are also doing a series called Captain Brooklyn for Image. If you read The Pro, you'll pretty much like this book — it's foul, it's adult, it's a reluctant superhero in Brooklyn.
And I have Queen Crab coming in February from Image Comics. It was funded by Kickstarter and is a love letter to all the Kickstarter people who helped put it together. It's going to be a hardcover graphic novel.
Kickstarter is being touted as the next big thing in comic book publishing. How was your experience using the site?
I really wanted to do this book, but I knew it wouldn't sell in mainstream superhero comics. It's about a girl and the adventure in her life — it's nothing really wild, but at the same time it is. I began paying for this project out of my pocket, but then I began reading about several Kickstarter campaigns. I made a video, being goofy and trying to sell the idea, and I told people about it on Facebook and Twitter. The trick of it is offering incentives so that people want to be involved.
I figured out how much the book was going to cost me. It was $8,000 and we hit it in a week. It gave me an opportunity to do something I don't think any company would have funded.
It's great to have people respond to you about the project directly. It's also fun supporting other people's projects, even if I don't know who they are and their project looks interesting. $20 is a hamburger and a beer, so I like supporting new guys.
All-Star Western #2 hit stores 10/26. The first issue of The Ray is out 12/18. Captain Brooklyn will be in stores May 2012.