Jimmy Palmiotti: Experimenting with KickstarterA comics interview article by: Geoff Collins
The writer of DC Comics’ Jonah Hex and All-Star Western as well as several successful Kickstarter.com projects like Weapon of God, Jimmy Palmiotti, took time to site down at a roundtable interview for a few questions with Comics Bulletin during Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2).
Geoff Collins for Comics Bulletin: When you’re at a comic book convention like C2E2; what kinds of gestures do you appreciate most from fans who try to approach you?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Polite. Nice. You know, a lot of times [fans] bring - and people usually scream when they see it - but I have guys bring the 70 issues of Jonah Hex or the 19 issues of All Star Western. And I sit there and I smile, and the [fan is] like “Are you okay with this?”
Come on man, you carried it outside; I never turn people away, because I figure that’s their collection, right?
Palmiotti: 99.9% of the people are fantastic. They’re great, they introduce themselves, I ask them what they do for a living because I’m fascinated by what people who read comics do, and the reaction is great.
But it’s interesting because every show is different. It’s whatever’s happening, and this morning I signed 30 Injustice games. They brought games. So you always get a feedback of what people are investing in your properties at the moment. It’s great.
The fans are great. Like I said, that interaction; it’s a minute or two out of my life. It means something to them, and again, I was on the other side of that table once. I know how important it is. I try to stay focused, and you see people that have a kind of weight on them. You can tell their lives aren’t in the right place, and I try to look at that. I try to make them feel relaxed around me or you get the people who feel nervous because they’re meeting me, and it’s very sweet but I try right away to say “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s good, let’s talk.”
Again, this is the lovely part of the business where I get to leave my studio and interact with the people that afford me this wonderful living. So it’s pretty awesome.
CB: If you had complete control over a Jonah Hex movie, what would you do?
Palmiotti: I would actually love to see Jonah Hex issue 50, the one illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, as a movie. Because we introduce Tallulah (Black), initially we killed fifty people, which I don’t know that anybody knows. And actually it’s a very emotional, heartfelt, kinda cool cowboy story.
It would either be that or the three issues where Jordi (Bernet) invented the origin of Jonah. That would be our dream thing, and then I say people are forgiving. Movies don’t do well, and then they come back years later and somebody else rediscovers it. So I have a lot of faith that somebody up there is going to go “You know what? Even though blah blah blah, I think we can still do this. Or do it as an HBO series.” or something like that. But I think issue 50 would be the one that people would really dig.
CB: How has your experience been using Kickstarter to fund side projects like Sex & Violence or Retrovirus?
JP: Terrific! I just sent out the last eight-hundred and change packages from my house. The back of my house became the mailroom for the past month. But, I finished my third one. I learn in each one about weight postage, people complaining, pre-setting my price and the most important thing that I learned is the pledges – how to do the pledges – that you treat it like a store…they have to treat it like a store. You have to get something from each category. If you treat it like a store, send out products. So you print the book and for extra print something cool. Some of the things that I did was to have donors become a character in the book we would kill. That kind of stuff.
You learn after a while, but this is my third one and each one is a little more successful. I learned also not to solicit my Kickstarter until I have almost the whole book done. A lot of people are soliciting it on things they want to do in the future and I think that’s a bad mistake because it actually makes donors wait eight months, and they feel like, “Well when’s my Kickstarter [award] arriving?” I don’t know if you guys do it, but I still have tons of stuff that I haven’t gotten. So I’ve learned to keep it within two or three months and then they get the book. So it’s been going great.
I’ve got another one coming up next week called Weapon of God that I’m doing, and I’ve got four pages left on the book, so I hope it’s a done in time. The artist is four pages shy of the end of the book. I’m just learning that I can publish something that me and Justin can just build something that really has no guidelines. We can put out some crazy books.
That’s what I’m going to do with Sex and Violence, which was, you know, a really tough sell. That was sarcasm. But we’re learning that we can do some experimental stuff, and all we need is an audience of maybe eight, nine hundred people and everything would be fully funded. They can all get their books and their prints and stuff. And we don’t even have to go to a publisher after that.
A lot of times you want to think “Oh, I want to get a mass audience” but sometimes you wind up, for me, like with Create your own Heroes, for that if I did it through Kickstarter I probably would have made more money through that.
I’m learning, and I think it’s a great thing. I’d back a lot of them. I actually backed a lot of inventors on Kickstarter because I’m fascinated with the ideas of people creating something that nobody else did. And as much as people think “Well there’s a ton of graphic novels and comics that Kickstart,” actually the average is around 110 at any time. So it’s not really that much more – I see more books that come in on a Wednesday than go on Kickstarer. So I think it’s a great tool, I think it’s great for people starting out. I think it’s great for idiots like me. You can really experiment and do really adult material in, and it’s been working out good.