Villain Media has an exclusive interview with writer Jimmy Palmiotti, who discusses the Kickstarter campaign behind Painkiller Jane: Trust The Universe (PaperFilms). After a television series and a movie on the way, Painkiller Jane returns with a boatload of pinups, an all-new story, and unseen art totaling over 80 pages of goodies!
Painkiller Jane is a street level, crime- fighting badass that has gained the power to heal from her wounds. Jane throws herself into her work literally, fighting crime in the streets of New York. Her origin was a simple one. Her and her partner/best friend Maureen Fernandez get pulled into an undercover operation that lands Jane in a coma. After a few years, her body heals and when she wakes, the world around her has changed. Her partner has become a detective for the NYPD and Jane becomes her lethal weapon, taking out the bad guys and not worrying about breaking any laws in the process.
With the Kickstarter campaign steering towards its main goal, Jimmy Palmiotti discusses what readers should expect from Painkiller Jane: Trust The Universe, the lineup of artists contributing to the pinup gallery, and what the character means to him. Check out the exclusive image below as Palmiotti and I head towards the writer’s studio to discuss the highly anticipated return of Painkiller Jane.
Tell me how the Kickstarter came about for Painkiller Jane: Trust The Universe. [Writer’s Note: The new 44 page Painkiller Jane story will be written by the award winning Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Get ready for the art of Juan Santacruz with colors by Dan Kemp and design and lettering by John J. Hill.]
Jimmy Palmiotti: The main idea was trying to set The Monolith in the same world and time as Painkiller Jane. That was really easy going in, since they both live and breathe in [the] New York surroundings. I started writing the book even before the Kickstarter idea came about. I had taken the extra money I made from the last Kickstarter for Killing Time in America and put it towards paying the team on the book we are producing now. Only when I was at least [about] 80% done, that’s when I started to think how I was going to publish this. And the answer was a simple one, kickstart it as well, and do anything I wanted with the interiors. In this case, [a] hardcover with extra material. The great thing about this book and format is that if I hit the goal, the stretch goals will be all about adding more material.
VM: Tell me about the return of Monolith.
JP: Well, as you may already know, Justin Gray and I created the character for DC comics. It ran [for] a year before getting cancelled. After that, DC was awesome about giving us the rights back to the character. We have been sitting on the property ever since we published a hardcover edition for Image [Comics] quite a few years back. The fun of bringing the big guy back was incorporating Jane into the universe we set up; and having Alice and Tilt interact with Jane and Maureen. I think the most fun is seeing how Monolith and Jane interact. It’s not what one might expect!. They have emotional beats that are common, a great sense of what is right and wrong, and the cost to get to that place.
VM: This is your eleventh Kickstarter campaign under the PaperFilms banner. Is there still trepidation when starting one? Or do you feel more comfortable after each one?
JP: I panic with each and every one because I do not take for granted they will hit their goal. And even when they do, I then have a month of worrying about the production behind the book. How [does] it look? Is it reading right? Am I giving the supporters the right value? And so on! I sweat it!
I think I always will because this is me dealing directly with the fans: no middleman buffer. Something sucks; it’s on me. Something is late; it’s one me again. So I make sure things go as smooth as possible. I keep all the communication channels open with the backers. I answer each and every question they have. It’s how I learned to do these and why people keep coming back for more. I thank God I have my buddy, Patrick, helping me along the way. He is a lifesaver for so many things!
VM: I love how the hardcover edition includes a pinup gallery. I love Amanda Conner, Rick Leonardi, Bill Sienkiewicz’s take on the character and I can’t wait to see Mike Avon Oeming’s. What is it about the look of Painkiller Jane that gravitates so well towards with each artist’s own style?
JP: I think at its most basic. It’s the tough girl with fiery red hair and a gun! That’s drawing 101 for any artist! And being able to not conform to a look or style with her. With or without bandages, with or without shirt, snarling or smiling, it all works with Jane. Amanda [Connor] tells me it’s all in the attitude of the character that makes it so much fun!
VM: I love that there is a Kickstarter pledge that offers the 3 Painkiller Jane Trade Book Package, signed by you and Amanda Conner. As a writer myself, I’m interested in the process and I’m looking forward to reading the original script by you and Amanda Conner. What pledge do you think will excite backers the most?
JP: I like to think the digital rewards are the highlight of the Kickstarter. Mainly because everything can be delivered on time right to your computer. As you said, looking at a script alongside the actual book, will give those learning how to do this an inside look at the process. As for the actual books, I love the package you are mentioning because it’s literally hours of reading and both books feature art by Juan Santacruz. I think [Santacruz] is just amazing! I am always so excited to get his work on anything I do! He really understands solid storytelling that transcends the written word. As a writer and sometimes editor, he is everything I look for in a collaborator.
VM: At New York Comic Con, I’ve seen cosplay of Painkiller Jane. I love how Kristanna Loken and Emmanuelle Vaugier portrayed the character. There’s even a fan film and I’ve seen fan art of Jessica Chastain as the character. What do you think it is about Painkiller Jane that transcends the mediums and resonates with audiences?
JP: I think any woman can play Jane because she is a complicated and conflicted character that survives, despite the world at times, coming down around them. I think actresses are drawn to the character because of this. When we first released Painkiller Jane [back] in 1995, there were not many characters like her. It has since inspired a ton of comic characters. We have seen the multimedia platforms pick up on characters like this as of late. Jane was there from the beginning.
I have had some heavy hitters tell me how they liked the character because she wasn’t shy about her sexuality, or how they love her because she cuts through all the bullsh*t, and gets right to the business at hand. Jane is a bit of a foul-mouth character at times. But her heart of gold is deep in there. Some can see that easily, while most can’t. She’s more human on these levels than most. I think that’s why we have such a diverse group of people loving the character.
VM: How has Painkiller Jane changed you as a storyteller?
JP: For one thing, the character has given me a chance again and again to write more adventures, while watching my writing style change with her over the years. At the same time, my first writing gig for TV was the 13th episode of the Jane series called, “The League.” And now with a new feature in the works, it’s given me some more work for the bigger screen. I think the work has become less and less of a superhero book, and more of the slice of a very wild life in the process.
VM: What are you working on now?
JP: Besides the Painkiller Jane Kickstarter, you can always keep up to date by joining the newsletter we send out at Paperfilms.com. We are currently working on a Wonder Woman series for DC Comics. Amanda and I have a few creator projects in the works. Everything we are offering is not all what we want to do at the moment. So expect to see more Kickstarters in the future. We are coming up with a lot of different genre ideas that we think have potential to break out in different directions of entertainment.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]