Jimmy Palmiotti: The Nitty Gritty About Jonah Hex

A comics interview article by: Andre Lamar
Recently I caught up with the talented writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti to discuss the latest issue of Jonah Hex #44, the upcoming debut film, his future projects, and more.

Andre Lamar: What’s the premise of Jonah Hex #44?

Jimmy Palmiotti: Issue #44 is the first of a six part Jonah Hex story that is all about Quentin Turnbull, a man out for revenge against Jonah…he thinks Jonah is responsible for killing his son. This is the first time we are doing a six part story and it’s an experiment of sorts because it breaks the old way we have been telling stories. That said, the series is illustrated by Cristiano Cucina and features not only Jonah, but also Tallah Black and Bat Lash as well. It’s a bit of a crazy ride, to say the least.

AL: Is there any chance you’ll take a break from writing to pencil an issue of Jonah Hex instead?

JP: No chance in the foreseeable future since the writing work is taking up much of my time, and I do value the time I have to myself and try to spend it with my girl. Honestly, if I was to draw any title, it would be my own character or one I created with Joe Quesada, Painkiller Jane. I am a slow penciler obsessed with detail and usually not happy with anything I draw. Ask anyone that has gotten a sketch from me at a Con and they will tell you. We have so many super talents lined up for the next year and a half; it would be a waste of time to even try to compete.

AL: In writing this series what’s been most rewarding to you?

JP: Most rewarding is working with Justin [Gray] and getting to write for artists that I have been a fan of and admired. We are 44 issues in and it’s a who’s who gallery of some of the finest illustrators in the world, and we write stories with them. It’s just so surreal in my head and the thing that continues to amaze me. The most rewarding thing for me is the fan feedback. Justin and I think the world of our loyal readers. They [the staff] really are an amazing crew. I can’t tell you how hard they try and push the book to get other people to give it a shot, and it’s so appreciated by us. We try to go out of the way for them [the fans] every chance we get.

AL: In the future can fans expect to see a spandex wearing superhero, such as Booster Gold or Green Lantern, appearing in a Jonah Hex crossover story?

JP: Please god, I hope not. Especially those two characters since I never worked on them, so the idea that I would have to do a crossover with them would probably mean it’s time for me to leave the book. If for some reason this kind of story is your thing, Geoff wrote a fun issue of Booster Gold with Hex in it. We already do crossovers with characters….Bat Lash, El Diablo, and Tallulah Black to name a few. This isn’t the Terminator. Honestly, why would I ever want a spandex superhero in the title? If it did happen, I would do my best to make sure Jonah put a bullet right in their brain. [Laughs] Ok, now that I might write.

AL: What was your favorite/most compelling Hex story you’ve written?

JP: I have a bunch of favorites and saying I like one more than another is like saying which child is your favorite. They are all my favorites for different reasons. I would like to think that our best stories are going to come in the future.

AL: On the contrary, what is your least favorite story that you’ve written? Why?

JP: I will say that a single issue we wrote was given to an artist we did not feel was right for the book, without us knowing, and I would have rather that issue sat in the drawer for a rainy day. Nothing against the artist, however, we just felt we needed a specific person for that story and the editor at the time didn’t consult us. That said, the editor is no longer our editor, not because of this, and the artist did a decent job. And no, I won’t tell you which issue it was, that’s for you to figure out. Overall, if I have a gripe about any issue, its minor things like storytelling details or things we personally missed.

AL: Will you have any involvement in writing the upcoming Jonah Hex film?

JP: Absolutely not one bit…but I will tell you that the producer and the director talk to us. They’ve sent us different versions of the script and we have given them some feedback that we hope they paid attention to. Oh, one last thing, Josh Brolin looks exactly like Jonah with the make-up on. It’s truly amazing.

AL: How do you and Justin Gray continue to refill your brains with unique and engaging concepts for this series?

JP: Really, it’s the thing we never had a problem with. Coming up with ideas is as easy as reading history books. The ideas and stories are all there before us to decipher and choose from. There are a million stories to tell about the old west and bounty hunters, and throw in a character like Jonah with such a vast history and honestly, we could come up with a story a day. These are tales of injustices and retribution…read the paper, there are 40 a day.

AL: Justin Gray and yourself often go above and beyond in providing intense action and violence for your fans. However, has your desire to push the envelope ever caused your editor to force limitations on you?

JP: Yes, a few times now and we know that going in, but we test the water and write what we see and wait for feedback. We are shocked how many times they were okay with things we never in a million years thought they would be ok with. I would have to say the Sawbones two parter had the most changes we had to make…and for good reason. Some of it was too much for even Vertigo’s standards.

AL: Recently I spoke with Billy Tucci and he mentioned he was going to lend his services for an upcoming issue of Hex. Can you explain how the collaboration between you and Tucci came about?

JP: Well, Billy is an old dear friend and he always had an open door to do an issue. At a Con he brought it up at a panel and Dan Didio was right there to give us his blessing, and it looks like Billy will be doing an issue next year. We couldn’t be happier. No one does research like Billy and he is a one-man promotion army. We couldn’t be happier to have him aboard and can’t wait to see what he does. It really will be a departure for him.

AL: Aside from Jonah Hex what other projects will you be working on? Not to mention, will you and Justin be working together on any new projects in the near future?

JP: I am still working on some Painkiller Jane for Dynamite Comics, Back to Brooklyn for Image, and a couple of Marvel projects. Justin and I are working overtime on Hex, Power Girl, The Last Resort, and a few other things we can’t speak about yet.

AL: Name a unique fact most Jonah Hex fans don’t know about the character?

JP: Jonah can’t play harmonica…he never really went to the future, that was all a lie, and he owns more than he lets on. It’s something we will explore one day.

AL: [Chuckles] Thank you so much for taking the time to interview Mr. Palmiotti. I wish you much success and look forward to talking to you soon.

JP: Thanks!!

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