Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 02/02/2005
A Kick in the TV Eye
Jimmy Palmiotti on SCI-FI Channel optioning of Painkiller Jane
Whether he's inking folks like Amanda Conner, Steve Dillon, or his old studio mate Joe Quesada, or writing up a literal storm of film treatments, video games and comics, you always get the sense from the work itself that Jimmy Palmiotti is having the time of his life, and loving every minute of it. This was true when I first met him at a Motor City con while he and Joe Quesada were wowing the four color world with their stunning work on Valiant's Ninjak, and it's true every time I see him at a con, smiling and talking with a fan while signing their book, and I imagine it'll be true when I see him on the con circuit this year. If anything, that sense of Jimmy's love, respect and total commitment to the art of comics [even if he does play with those Hollywood folks now and then] is only heightened every time we discuss his work.
Bill Baker: To begin with, congratulations on Painkiller Jane being optioned by the SCI-FI Channel. I'd ask how exciting it's been, but I gotta wonder if all this must almost seem routine for you by now, what with the various other options you've been granting over the past few years. Does this kind of thing get you excited still?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Oh my god, totally! An option is very exciting, and yeah, I have actually had almost a dozen by now, but so far I have not seen anything go past the screenplay, and this option is different because we have a time frame and the movie is going to get made ASAP. I try to keep a clear head about this kind of thing, but the kid in me starts daydreaming the minute I get the call. I don't think that will ever change.
BB: OK, for those who have come in late, what's the history of the comic and the title character? Who exactly is Painkiller Jane, what's her world like, and what's her place in it--and what were the circumstances behind this book's creation?
JP: Joe Quesada and I created Painkiller Jane as one of the characters in the Event line of comics, a self publishing thing we did for a few years. We were looking to create a female character for the line and we though there was an amazing lack of interesting female characters out there, so we got to work. Our Jane is a character that is relentless, a woman that used to be a cop and was forced to go underground after everything in her life went totally wrong. The only powers she had are that she couldn't die and she was a trained fighter because of her police background and we took full advantage of that each and every issue. I still think till this day, she is one of the best characters in comics, and needs to be explored more in print as well.
BB: So how did Jane make the jump from page to screen, and what can you tell us about the basic production and format plans they might have for the show?
JP: Well, the books speak for themselves, especially Painkiller Jane #0 where we laid out her entire history. That book should have been the blueprint for the movies, but you know how that goes...it has become more of a reference guide for the film, but that is ok too. The two do not always translate properly, And we understand that process all to well. We do not, at this time have production and format information, except tat it will be a film first and ratings and interest will dictate if it will become a series later on.
BB: What about casting? I know that when we've spoken in the past, you seemed not to shy away from making your hopes known. Any thoughts--or perhaps hints/news--on this front?
JP: None...[Laughter], I have always seen Gina Gershon as Jane from day one, she has the right look, is sexy as hell without being just about t&a, and has the perfect attitude and I think a completely under rated actress. In my mind, she is the perfect choice. We really don't know what they are shooting for so far, so as soon as I know, I will let you in on it.
[Note: Just before this article went to press, lead actress Emmanuelle Vaugier was joined in Vancouver by Tate Donovan from The O.C. and none other than Richard Roundtree ... -the one, true Shaft!]
BB: Will you or Joe have any real input on the series--and is that something that you'd like to eventually get more involved in, perhaps directing, writing, or producing work in media other than comics?
JP: We will have input for sure and a title beyond creators on the film. I am already involved in the production side of things on a few projects. The only one I can talk about is Beautiful Killer. I am one of the producers on that film. When creating properties, you want to hold on to as much as you can when it is making the jump from script to screen, so yes, I totally want to be involved more. I think its to the advantage of everyone involved. There would be no property without the creators, and really, they spent their money on my idea, so I would think there was something there that made them do so, and that they would consider it a positive thing to have us around.
BB: So where in the process is Beautiful Killer now? And can you give us an idea of what's going on with some of your other properties at this point?
JP: The script for Beautiful Killer is in and the option has been renewed, so it is full steam ahead with that project. We have Tempest being written as we speak for Double Nickel Entertainment and The Ballerina script finished and going out any day now. From what I am told, The Monolith is getting some heat, and we are out shopping The Pro again. It's a never ending process.
BB: Well, despite all of this success pitching to Hollywood, you're still quite active as an inker, scripter and creator of comic books. What have you got going on there that you can tell us about that's just come out, is about to be released in trade format, or might be hitting the shelves in the near future? [Plug away, my friend!]
JP: For DC Comics, I am co-writing with my partner Justin Gray, Hawkman, The Twilight Experiment, which is actually for Wildstorm, and The Monolith, and we have two new projects coming in 2005 that I cant talk about yet. At Marvel, we recently finished a Punisher X-mas special with Mark Texeira, and have three projects in the works there for 2005 that I can only hint at. One is an X-Men related project, the other, something very special.
BB: Now, for most folks that would be enough, but I suspect you've probably got some other, non-comics stuff going on that normally gets passed over in these kinds of talks. So, what else have you got going on, whether it's the recent past, ongoing or coming up, that you'd like to tell us about that you're really into but don't normally get to talk about with comics folks? For instance, I know you do a lot of charity work...
JP: Well, as a rule, I don't talk about charity work and seminars I am doing unless I need to promote them and usually it's a time thing with most organizations.
I have just finished off the last scripting on The Punisher video game for THQ that hits in January, and Justin and I are working on a huge project with an overseas company to bring comics to a part of the world that has never had them its top secret for a bit, but I think its one of the coolest things I have ever worked on. There is other stuff going on, but talking about them too early kills all the fun.
BB: What do you get from doing all this? What does making comics do for you, versus pitching and working up television or other media projects? How about writing, or any of the other things you do, what outlets or satisfactions does it provide you that art doesn't?
JP: Its funny, I had a conversation the other day with another creator about this exact subject. He was asking me why I work so hard all the time, and to tell the truth, I do not like to pass up an opportunity to create something new. Its not a money thing, otherwise I would be doing something else for living. It is totally the artist part of me that dictates everything I do and I still have the drive and energy I had when I first entered the business over 14 years ago. I think each and every project brings me closer and closer to understanding myself and my motivations, but really, the artist life is always about never truly being satisfied with anything you do. My best work, I find flaws. My finest hour always had the sneaky undertow of gloom and doom...I am not alone with this, and I think creating new characters and stories helps me understand what I am looking for a tiny bit more each time. It is getting harder and harder for me to just ink the comics I am working on, and I see that as a step in the right direction for my work.
BB: How about your audience and fans? What do you hope that they get from your work?
JP: I hope the work takes them away for a little bit and they can enjoy the time they spend with whatever they are reading of mine. That's the best anyone can hope for really. We are here to entertain.
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