If there's one person I can single out that truly deserves my unofficial title of "The King of Schmooze," it would be Jimmy Palmiotti. Not that Jimmy has ever had to worry about such ephemeral achievements, or having to work at being recognized by his fellow travelers in the comic biz. Jimmy knows -- and is known by -- just about everyone in this business. Simply put, he's one of the most popular and highly regarded people in the business ... and that's not even taking into account his creative abilities.
Which isn't meant to ignore or deny his rather considerable talents as an inker, editor, and as a writer. Rather, it's a real tribute to the man that people truly enjoy working and hanging out with this amiable, multi-talented creator who's been so instrumental to the success of the Marvel Knights line, the establishment of the Black Bull imprint, and the recent rise in popularity of Marvel's once-flagging Deadpool series. Despite having one of the fullest schedules in comics today, Palmiotti was able to spare a few moments of time to discuss his new writing assignment, his plans for the "Merc with a Mouth," and his work as an inker.
BILL BAKER: How'd Deadpool come about, and why'd you take the gig?
JIMMY PALMIOTTI: There was an editor that was hired at Marvel, named Mike Marts, who I've know for years. Really good guy. I think [Christopher] Priest was writing the book at the time, and they just wanted to go in a different direction. And a while back I wrote a story for Mike Marts [when he was at] Acclaim, a Solar issue, [but] Solar got canceled before it ever saw print. And Mike really liked it.
So he kinda asked me if I'd be interested in writing Deadpool. And I literally told him, "I know nothing about this character, except he goes around and tells jokes every two minutes." So I went and got every issue of Deadpool and read them. And, ya know, after I had my eyes put back in my head from gouging them out, I realized that, "I think I can have some fun with this character." He wanted me to go into a different direction, just do whatever I wanted with it. And the guys that wrote it before, like Joe Kelly, and [Mark] Waid, and everything, had their own Deadpool. Joe's especially. Joe's Deadpool, he had a wisecrack every two minutes, ya know? It was sort of like a "Spider-man on speed" kind of thing. [General laughter] They were great issues, but there was no way I could do what he was doing. If I could do that, I'd be writing sitcoms instead of doing comics. Joe's really good at that.
So I figured, "Well, if I'm gonna do it, I wanna do it my way," and my way was he's a cold-blooded killer and a mercenary. And I wanted to take it back to that storyline. So that's what I drew up, and threw up at Mark Marts, and Mike loved it. He said, "Go for it!" And I said, "I wanna hire ..." -- you can't get the editor out of me -- I said, "Can I get a different penciller on it for three issue?" And he's like, "Who do ya have in mind?" And I said, "Well, actually I really like Paul Chadwick, because the guy's one of the best storytellers in the business." If you don't know his work, Concrete is just brilliant. And Mike was, like, "Yeah, right! You can get Paul Chadwick. If you can get 'em, you can have 'em!"
So I called up Paul, and told him this story, and Paul was, like, "OK, I'll do it!" And that's pretty much how it all came together. I would only do it if he would do the first story arc, 'cause I just wanted somebody that would make me look better. [Laughter] And, even if the story sucked, I figured Paul's artwork would transcend it, and help it along, 'cause he is such a good storyteller. And, visually, he adds little things that I just didn't even put in the script. He's just a very, very smart man, ya know?
So, that was the challenge, and I did that and handed the three parter in. Then they asked me, "You wanna write some more?" And, at the time, there's a guy -- Buddy Scalera -- that was working at Wizard magazine, who was pitching Mike Marts Deadpool stories like every day, and he's another good friend of mine. I've known him for years. So, as of #49, we've partnered up and he's helping me as co-writer the series from then on, because he's just in love with the character. He's got so much energy, and I like working with people, so it was a fun kinda thing to do, write it with Buddy. We're both learning a lot from each other doing it this way.
But, that's how it came about. They just wanted to try to do something new. The book has always been, and especially of late, not the best seller Marvel has, ya know? And I'm happy to see that, at least while I'm doing it, numbers are going up each issue. So that's good. That means we're getting more attention. Or more kids are stealing it, I don't know. [General laughter] Something's happening. But the numbers are going up.
BB: Are you writing each arc with the particular artists drawing it in mind? I know you've got different artists doing different arcs, for a while at least. For instance, isn't Steve Dillon coming on for an issue?
JP: Well, Steve is just doing a cover, actually. I wish I could have Steve Dillon for more than that, but Steve's committed to Punisher right now.
Yeah, I'm definitely writing it for the artists. Michael Lopez did issue #49, and it's called "Cat Magnet". [General laughter] Yeah, figure that [reference] out. Mike Lopez draws beautiful women, which is why he's drawing that issue. Then issues 50 and 51 are a two part story I wrote specifically for Darick Robertson, of Transmet fame. So, specifically, I'm going for his strengths. And I think that, when you see 50 and 51, you'll see that there. And then numbers 52 and 53 are Anthony Williams and Andy Lanning, two great guys that I like, and the story's leaning towards what they like to do. And then I think that, with 54, Georges Jeanty [Bishop] comes on as regular artist. That's exciting for me, 'cause his work is just terrific.
BB: Yeah, his work is just beautiful.
JP: So, I've been lucky with that. I've been lucky with cover artists, 'cause we started out with a brilliant Joe Jusko cover. Then Paul did the cover for the next issue. Then Jim Starlin, somebody I grew up loving, ya know, did number 48. And then, for 49, I conned Kevin Nolan into doin' a piece. For 50 we got Art Adams to do one. Issue 51 is Darick Robertson, and 53, Amanda Conner did 53, and 54 will be Steve Dillon. I just kinda asked everyone of my friends if they wanted to do covers, and they all tie in with the stories, which is really nice.