Jazzy Jimmy Palmiotti (HARLEY QUINN, JONAH HEX) held court in the Recondite Pictures commissary and offered us a peak into the mind of the writer of a comic that is currently a staple of the top ten on the sales chart!
Here's what he had to say:
What does a 22-page comic book story need to please a reader?
A beginning, middle and some sort of end and cliffhanger. It should also be something a new reader can pick up and understand without knowing the history of the book or it’s characters. It should also look attractive and easy to read. I think a good cover price helps the experience as well.
How long does it take you to write a 22 page comic book story?
Each job is different. Average 22 page story is 1-2 weeks each. If it is a brand new character I am introducing, maybe longer. Established characters are easier to write because their history is at your fingertips on the Internet. When writing a new character I keep a bio pad so I can go back and forth to get to know the character and build on their habits and fears and so on.
What is the hardest thing for you to write?
The hardest thing to write is something I don't have any passion for. A gig that holds no interest or something that is dictated to me from a company. I avoid those books like the plague. I used to call them money gigs when I wanted them, but these days I run the other way. When I did have to do them I would try to find an idea or spark that will make what I am doing interesting to me. If I can find that, I can plow through it.
How do you overcome this challenge?
I do not take on the work. I just turned down a boatload of work because I didn't like the characters. I am lucky enough to live very cheap so money isn’t an issue. If I did have to do it, its where a partner can come in handy. Two people can get a horrible job done faster than one.
What are the themes of your work?
These are defined by the job. Most are about redemption, love and control. What do they want and what do they fear. The basics. Each character comes with their own baggage and this gives a writer a good starting point.
What advantages does co-writing offer you?
A chance to bounce ideas off someone else and a chance to take time off to have someone else finish what the other started. I find it relaxing to collaborate. New ideas are always challenged. It also forces one to get out of their safe zone in their storytelling.
What advantages does solo writing offer you?
My idea, clean and on to the paper that way. Sometimes that is best.
Why do you write comics?
I wrote comics because I love the medium of graphic storytelling. I have been reading them forever. They have no budget or real world restrictions and can really spark the imagination. Everything about them is wonderful to me. Art styles, writing styles, all a real treat.
My spare time is spent listening to music and traveling, so not as much as I should. I am enjoying SAGA, the Parker novels by Darwyn Cooke and trying anything new that hits the shelves. I buy the first issue of everything and my recycle bin gets about 80% of them. Hey, at least I give them a shot.
Is there anything you notice current writers doing wrong? What advice would you give them about this?
I don't tell other people how to write, it's a personal thing. I feel I am still learning, so I try not to give too much advice out. I think there will be a time where my confidence is in a better place and I will be blowing a lot of hot air towards other writers, but for now, my skill is listening and learning.
How do you successfully pitch a story?
Know the story inside and out and then look at it and explain it from a perspective where someone is coming in clean. Find the hook. Why do I want to follow these people…why should I care. Why would I even buy this book. These need to be answered before hand.
What are the most important elements of a successful pitch? How can unsuccessful pitchers improve their performance?
They can record their own pitch and listen back to it and see what works and doesn't work. Don't get hung up in the details…tell the overall story simple and clean. Do it quickly, and make it easy to understand. Give them the points in the story that makes them feel something.
What back issue of yours do people need to seek out to get the best first impression of your writing?
I would say get THE MONOLITH hardcover from Image comics or stop by my site at PAPERFILMS.COM and try some of the digital Painkiller Jane books out.
What comics do you have coming out that we need to get?