Jimmy Palmiotti talks to Pink Raygun’s Rachel Pandich about the new Power Girl series, writing from a woman’s perspective, and whether Power Girl can take Wonder Woman in a fight.
Rachel Pandich: Power Girl is one of DC’s heaviest hitters that, for whatever reason, has not come into her own until recently. What is it like to be the one to really give her her own voice and life in this series?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Well, it’s an undertaking that is really a shared responsibility by the entire team on the book. Justin and I are under the watchful eye of our artist Amanda Conner and that’s a good thing for us on a number of levels, her being female the biggest one. It’s a wonderful undertaking on our part because we feel the character can become one of the top five players in the D.C. Universe, given the right opportunity and we are shooting for this goal by doing a number of things the actual character hasn’t really done before. We really want the character to have meaning, be there for a purpose and most important, get across to the readers the simple two things that define all characters. What do they want, and what do they fear. For Power Girl, these answers are not simple ones and even with all her appearances before, they have not been clearly defined. Our job is to do that and create a person that you not only care for but also root for at the same time.
RP: The top five? So do you think that one day she could take on Wonder Woman or Superman?
JP: Well, never really because both of those characters have been around since before either of us were born…they each have had so much history that all we can hope for is Power Girl stands out on her own. I think given the chance, Power Girl can be selling the same amount as these characters are, but that takes time. The choices we make now with the book have a lot to do with the outcome of the series and where it sits with fans, and also if the company gets behind the book and continues to give it the push it deserves. These things have a lot to do with longevity of a series. Out of the gate, Power Girl has a strong launch, but only time will tell. Word of mouth and retailer support are also very important.
RP: Is it strange for you to write in a woman’s voice?
JP: Not really, since I have been spending most of my professional career writing strong female characters like Painkiller Jane, Hawkgirl, 22 Brides, Tallulah Black, Beautiful Killer, Gatecrasher, Version Mary from The Resistance, etc, etc, etc. I’ve grown up around strong women, most of my relationships and friends are women and I am engaged to someone who is the perfect combination of a very secure and intelligent woman and at the same time a female that understands what makes their sex so special. I think my specific inner voice for Power Girl is one of power and an understanding of what that strength can do on multiple levels to those without it. The idea that she can inspire and intimidate is an interesting one. Honestly, the minute Justin and I write something that even sounds a little “off” we have Amanda around to point it out. In the end, I think Power Girl’s whole appeal is how deep down, certain things about her are a bit fragile on some levels, but she really has a great sense of who she is and can see the humor and sadness around her and react accordingly. We are doing everything we can not to make her a one-dimensional character.
RP: So would you consider yourself a feminist writer?
JP: The word feminist means many things to many people. If by feminist you mean a person who supports the equality of women with men, then yes, I do believe I am. I also know a lot of the people that read my work are female, and that makes me happy on a number of levels. My goal is to entertain everyone.
RP: You said that Power Girl can inspire and intimidate, we saw a bit of this in the Terra miniseries that came out recently. Those two characters seemed to click. Will we be seeing more of the new Terra teaming up with Power Girl in this series?
JP: Yes, as a matter of fact, Terra is in issue 3 lending Power Girl a hand, and in issue 4, they have a day off and hit the movies. What we want to do is build this friendship up as much as possible since each character comes from two different places and they both are dealing with a lot in their lives. Honestly, we love both characters and having Amanda draw the book where a character she designed can be with her Power Girl is extra fun. I do love conversations between friends and just listening to these two talk about everyday things is really entertaining to us.
RP: Power Girl seems like it’s going to have a PG rated feel. That is very different from other, more violent, books that you have done like Back to Brooklyn and Painkiller Jane. Is it hard to switch gears from “grown up” writing to all ages?
JP: Not one bit, for the more adult titles, I just let go and get extreme because I know I can, but for everything I work on I have no problem keeping within the parameters set up by the publisher. Horrible things can still happen, even sexual ones as well, but we just approach it like, let’s say, Hitchcock would in his horror films. The camera and the story need to be placed in a clever place where the horror of the moment can still come across without the “in your face” blood and gore. Sexually, we might not be able to take Power Girl exactly where we would see her going, but that’s not to say we are not introducing romance, adult relationships and the idea of the character’s sexuality into the series. It’s just going to be handled a bit more delicately than our adult work like The Last Resort series for IDW. That all said, everything about the title is “grown up” so much so that we can as well understand the humor of the situations as well.
RP: So the book won’t be “dumbed down” for the kids.
JP: I don’t believe in writing anything “dumbed down”. Rather, we write the book as an adult series and expect younger audience to grow with the book. We are not going to get graphically explicit, but we will be handling adult themes and situations. If this was a children’s book, that would be different, but I am guessing the average age of the audience will be around 16-40. I could be wrong, but I would be shocked if I was. When I was a kid reading comics and the ideas and themes were adult, I loved that and felt it opened a door for me to understanding things I didn’t know about yet. It might explain why I loved Conan and red Sonja, lol.
RP: You are going to be working on Spartacus: Blood and Sand soon with R.H. Stavis and Josh Blaylock. Can you tell us a little bit about this new series?
JP: Well, I am very happy to be working with R.H. on this project since I hear nothing but good things about her and her work and what I can say at the moment is that I will be working on a single-issue story under her guidance and it is based on the Starz series that looks to be a pretty cool project. I am flattered to be asked to do this project and with Josh and I currently working on Vampire Hunter D at the moment, I guess it was a natural that he included me with the line up. I really do enjoy working on all kinds of genre projects, so the idea of writing about gladiators is something new for me.
RP: Jonah Hex is one of the few (and currently only) western comics that is out there. Do you do historical research for this book?
JP: Constantly. From the language, to the clothing to the scientific advances made during the years the stories take place we research each and every detail. Why bother doing something halfway really…this book is so important to both Justin and I and with the amazing talent involved, we would be cheating them to do any less. The awesome thing about investigating all the history and mechanics is that we always find a new idea or two in our research and we constantly learn things that we would never in a million years ever thought of. Honestly, we are all so spoiled in this lifetime on so many levels it’s just incredible.
RP: Are there any other upcoming projects of yours that we can look forward to?
JP: There are many things in the works at this moment, including The Last Resort for IDW comics, the Supergirl story for Wednesday comics, Prototype for Wildstorm, more Jonah Hex, some Hulk and Wolverine in the future and a few new projects that will be announced in San Diego this year with other companies. A lot of the projects we are working on now might not see the light of day till 2010, but as usual, I’d rather not talk about anything till they are about to come out.
Rachel Pandich is currently obsessed with Folklore on the PS3. You can PS3 friend request her at Rpandy and message each other on how pretty the PS3 makes everything.