Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner recently quit the Harley Quinn comic book that they had made their own. Jimmy chatted to Bleeding Cool about recent changes.
Rich Johnston: You and Amanda have become synonymous with the success of Harley Quinn at DC Comics, and you seemed to have more freedom with the character than most. Do you feel you might be spoilt for future corporate endeavours?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Not at all. The confidence, support and freedom given to us was earned the old-fashioned way by working together to get the best stories and art out on a monthly basis. We were also given this support on Powergirl, Starfire, and with Justin and I on Jonah Hex. The other part of this equation is that most of the work we do is out of continuity on some level which makes us have less strict guidelines that do not have to follow crossovers and events going on in the other titles. What Amanda and I have learned over time is to communicate what our needs are going forward, and work with our partners towards that. We enjoy working with DC Comics and they totally get us and our particular brand of insanity. We are looking forward to working again with them and anyone else interested in working with us, big corporation or not. No doors closed, just a break for some vacation time and to finish other projects that got stuck on the back burner.
Rich Johnston: You talked to Washington Post about wanting to leave on a high rather than when sales inevitable dip – but that is what has happened isn’t it? Aside from the 25th Anniversary Special – and you know I have questions about that – you used to outsell Justice League, and now you don’t outsell Justice League Of America. Was that a factor?
Jimmy Palmiotti: As you already know, the 25th anniversary special had retailer exclusive covers that added to the numbers, but I spoke to my friends in the business and they told me the book was ordered so high because of the talent, page count, it was a number one, and it was a book that they can sell all year round. Now, basing success on numbers alone on the single title, it may seem like the bi-weekly took a dip, but remember… there are now a lot more books featuring Harley each month including Injustice, Suicide Squad, Bombshells, Gotham city Garage, DC Superhero girls, and in some of the Batman titles as well. Add to that the hardcover collections, softcover collections, the recent Omnibus, and the 3 art books that are out now -See where I am going? Add these numbers together and you have a huge chunk of Harley sales each month and that’s without our own mini-series, Anniversary specials, and the upcoming special “Be careful what you wish for” drawn by Amanda in November. Sure, the numbers have leveled out on our book, but add the numbers of the bi-weekly together for the month, and it’s still up there. Comparing Harley Quinn to the Justice League book that features the top 3 icons of the company is in itself an interesting and telling comparison to make. We chose to leave now mainly because we needed a break from the heavy work schedule to take some time off, simple as that. Nothing to do with numbers. Trust me, Harley is in this for the long haul.
Rich Johnston: How much has DC’s decision to make Harley Quinn a twice-monthly title figured in your decision to leave the book?
Jimmy Palmiotti: That’s a part of it for sure, but it’s also that from day one- we were aggressive but maybe not realistic about how much work we could do, so we were already doing 2-3 books a month with the monthly’s, one shots, Starfire 12 issue mini-series and specials. After 4 years of this- traveling the world promoting our work at conventions, weekly interviews, promotion, and more, we realized Amanda and I still haven’t taken our honeymoon- and add to that losing some close friends around us the past few years, we realized that life is short and we needed to get some of our life together back and take a break. It’s a decision we both made and DC made it super clear to us that any time we want to come back to Harley or any project there, we would be welcomed with open arms- something we appreciate and love them for.
Rich Johnston: What do you think your biggest success has been on the character?
Jimmy Palmiotti: A couple of things, honestly. I think taking what was already a great character that was underused and adding our own take on top of that, and making her the 4th pillar character at DC was a big deal. As well, also giving Harley her independence and her own voice away from the Joker and Gotham and creating a cast of characters that will hopefully live on beyond us. That all said, I think getting a whole new group of people that have never read comics- of all ages- to pick up a comic book for the first time might be the biggest success of it all. On a business level, we made Harley a bigger licensing darling, brought attention to her enough that Warner decided to bring her into film, and hopefully along the way, a lot of retailers very happy.
Rich Johnston: What about failure? What would you have liked to have done that you couldn’t – or what would you have liked to have done better?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Amanda and I still have a lot of stories to tell and have some characters we would have loved to develop more, like Redtool, Sy Borgman, Devani, The London Legion, and more, but time was always the enemy. We have been blessed with some of the greatest talents ever working on the books so I don’t really see that many failures looking back.
What we both would have loved, looking back and into the future, is to be involved more with the character in other media, even as consultants on some level by DC and Warner Brothers, but you never know what the future holds. We keep our hopes high, but realistic. I will say a certain production is using Amanda for some character stuff, to be announced, and that is very appreciated.
As far as things done better on the books, Amanda wishes she would have been able to draw more of the interiors for sure but other than that, the teams we had on the books were the best in comics.
Rich Johnston: What’s your greatest legacy you are leaving for the character?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I think that time and many vocal voices will be able to say what that is. For us- looking at the collections on our shelves, I like to think we got the attention the character deserved and helped pave the way to other media for her and hope in the process that we entertained a lot of people along the way, and in some way, made their day go easier giving them stories that gave them an escape to a world where anything could happen and added some light to what may be a darker world around all of us these days.
Rich Johnston: By leaving now, are you denying us a chance for Harley Quinn to laugh at Dr Manhattan’s penis in 2018?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I am sure that will happen with and without us. It’s just too easy a thing not to pass up. That said, I am finishing up the Jetsons mini-series and after that finally finishing Captain Brooklyn and a few other outstanding personal projects in the next year, and if anyone wants to keep up with our work, our convention schedule and just about anything going on with us, please go to Paperfilms.com and sign up on the pop up screen for our mailing list that gets delivered right to your e-mail each month.
Rich Johnston: DC Comics has been internally switching to a more artistic-focused vision for their comics going ahead, rather than the writer-focus prevalent of late. You and Amanda do both. What’s your take on the whole thing? Were you and Amanda approached for the DC New Age Of Heroes line?
Jimmy Palmiotti: We were not officially approached for this mainly because we made it clear we were taking a major break after Harley and were not interested in taking on any other work for a while. That said, DC has made it clear that anything we would like to pitch to them in the future, they are extremely interested in, which for us, means a lot. We are in talks with some interesting projects down the road, but for the time being, we need the break.
My initial take on the DC New Age of Heroes line is that I love new ideas and concepts and love when a company takes a risk like this. The reality is that no matter what the quality of the books presented in this group, they are going to be a really hard sell to launch clean without ties to existing material. That’s just how the DC and Marvel buying public acts. Even harder will be the fact that people will be comparing their sales and judging if they are a success or not based on other DC titles, when in reality, their numbers should be held up against other all new and original characters coming out from other companies like Image or Dynamite to make sense of the numbers. These books will need about 6 months’ time to tell if they catch on or not, but they look great and I will be giving each and every one a read. In the end, it’s the retailers and the fans who speak if they want new things.
Rich Johnston: You pioneered the switch-to-Kickstarter funding model for a series of graphic novels. Are you planning to continue this approach?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Yes, this will be one of the main focused this coming year. The first one coming in March is a book called KILLING TIME IN AMERICA and its based on an original screenplay by screen writer Craig Weeden and myself. After that we have an art book by Amanda and then experimenting on a couple of things after to test the waters and see if there is any interest in these other projects. I love doing the Kickstarters because it’s an amazing grass roots way to connect to the people that really support your ideas.
Rich Johnston: Where else will we see you and Amanda next?
Jimmy Palmiotti: We are working on finishing Captain Brooklyn with Frank Tieri, Paul Mounts and John J Hill joining us. Amanda will continue doing covers for a while for Harley and DC Comics when she can, and then after that, Amanda and I will be writing some other projects that are way too early to talk about at this time.
I also have a trade collection with new material coming from Dark Horse comics that hits in September collecting 2 already printed series from DHP- Wrestling With Demons and The Deep Sea, and a new series written by Justin Gray and I called CELL BLOCK EARTH featuring art by Juan Santacruz. It’s the story of another universe treating the planet Earth as their criminal dumping ground and how we are dealing with this insanity going forward. It’s a 96-page collection one shot.
Rich Johnston: And where the hell is The Pro?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Right now, the property is at Paramount with a development deal and Amanda and I have gotten to read the screenplay and we were laughing out loud with every page. This screenplay is just as outrageous as the comic and takes things a bit further in places and we are thrilled with it. We hope the folks connected to it keep it moving in the right direction and really look forward to see gets to play the characters. Until then, we have THE PRO 1/6 scale action figure available from Executive Replicas that is…well, it’s a one of a kind limited figure that you have to see for yourself. If anyone is interested, they can check it out here:
As far as the future of THE PRO in print, it is still available from Image comics, so just ask your retailer and they will order it for you.