We've all seen them at conventions large and small: the one-time television or movie star sitting in the autograph area without a line. What's it like to be that person? To go from being a huge success, the idol of millions, to someone without a line in a place filled with autograph hounds? Jimmy Palmiotti and Matt Brady dive into the psyche of aging comic convention celebrities in their upcoming four issue BOOM! Studios limited series "The Con Job" with artist Dominike "Domo" Stanton.
The March 18-shipping series has been hyped all week thanks to a series of teasers featuring the likes of washed-up actor Danny Dean, one-time sex symbol Blaze Storm and special effects guru Hendrix. In an attempt to boost their popularity, this group of convention regulars hires a booking agent named Tony who suggests a less-than-legal enterprise that will hopefully fill their coffers, if not their line queues.
Longtime writer and inker Palmiotti met Brady when the latter ran Newsarama. Over the years, they started talking about Brady's idea for "The Con Job." More recently, the pair decided to give it a go and landed the mini at BOOM! Now, with the series ready to hit stores in March, the dynamic duo spoke with CBR about joining forces, developing their working relationship and how real-life convention experiences helped influence "The Con Job."
CBR News: You both have been in the comics biz for a while, but how did you meet and decide to work on "The Con Job" together?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I've done business with Matt for a while when he was running Newsarama and we became friends in the process, which happens a lot in this business. We were talking about ideas and comics and how Matt wanted to write more. He told me the basic idea for "The Con Job" and I thought it was pretty darn brilliant. It got my imagination running and we had a few more conversations about the story and what we each saw happening and both decided that it was good enough to pitch, with the two of us at the helm. We got really lucky when we pitched it to the crew at BOOM! and they saw what we saw, and we worked out an awesome contract and got to work. This all over a few years' time.
Matt Brady: Yeah -- if this story was a kid, it would be in middle school by now. But to echo what Jimmy said, we talked again and again over the years for the "business" side of things, and along way, we got to be good pals. I'd mentioned the idea of the story to him a while ago and we'd kick it around, back burner it, kick it around and it was this last round of kicking that got things really rolling.
And I think the fact that it took a while actually worked well for us. A while back, a story like this would've probably been received as kind of an in-joke told to a specific, rather nerdy crowd. But in the time it's taken for the story to incubate, pop culture has moved closer to comics and embraced comics culture, so it just seems to "fit" a little bit more now.
Once you really stated hammering out the story, what was the writing process for you two? Did you jam on the story in person then each take a pass, or go another route?
Palmiotti: We speak on the phone, bounce ideas around, and then go to outline. From there we split up the scripting according to each of our schedules. With any writing process, new ideas come around with every page and we talk them out till we are happy. Once it's written, we play tennis with the script till we are both happy, then it's off to the editors and we are on to the next.
Brady: And what both of us have found out is that this story -- though it sounds fun and easy to tell on the surface -- is pretty deceptive. We're putting something together that we're both putting a lot of heart into.
Palmiotti: It's an easier story to pitch than actually tell and we are learning this along the way. Both of us want the reader to connect with all the characters and with this many issues, we get a chance to do this at just the right pace.
"The Con Job" features a cast consisting of convention veterans who have been teased on CBR all week. What can you tell us about the core group?
Palmiotti: They are, at heart, hard working good people that are just trying to get by in life and make a living. They also are in a place where things are changing for them and the world around them is caring for them less and less and they have to rethink their lives. The main cast is in a very vulnerable place and because of that, they are easily influenced by a decision that is not in their best interest.
Brady: And although people are going to be looking for similarities, and trying to guess who might be who in the real world, our gang's not based on any specific individuals, but rather broad-brush generalizations of actors and actresses that will be kind of familiar, but at the same time, fresh.
The gang gets involved with a younger booking agent who brings in the heist element. Is this character based on some real life folks you may have encountered?
Palmiotti: Yes, he definitely is an amalgam of a bunch of people that I have run into managing other people in the business, male and female. I think a lot of the agents truly see opportunity in these stars, but also, a lot of them have a real love and admiration for them as well. Our agent is a bit of both.
Thanks to shrinking lines, this group agrees to a plan that involves robbing a convention. Is their target actual money or something more collectible?
Palmiotti: Without ruining too much, I will say it's less about the money and more about the security of growing old comfortably. These are not young stars and they are seeing their fame slowly slip away from them and have to act on it. This story, they go a bit extreme, but remember, a lot of this book is emotionally driven, so there is a lot going on.
Brady: Right. In our initial discussions, the heist was the center point, the biggest of the big deals, but as we dug into the story, both of us started liking the characters more and more, and their experience and their desires really started to resonate for us. I find myself plotting way more "pre-heist" than we have room for as a result -- because I really dig our guys and want to have a few more minutes of good times before things change forever for them -- one way or another.
The two of you must each have a ton of comic con experience. Are there specific real life stories you're working into the series?
Palmiotti: Yes, but the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent or guilty.
Brady: Some of the early seeds of this were real life, and honestly, some of them came during the summer con madness where you'd find yourself at con after con after con, and your mind starts wandering and you find yourself thinking some pretty weird and darkly humorous thoughts.
How did you come to work with Dominike "Domo" Stanton on this project?
Palmiotti: Our wonderful editors Dafna Pleban and Mary Gumport brought us a bunch of different artists that they thought we should look at for the book and Domo's work stood right out of the pack because of his storytelling abilities. For me, it's always the right artist for the right book and I was really happy with the overall selection of talented artists, but his work hooked me right away.
Brady: Yeah, we had talked about what we wanted in an artist -- we needed someone who could really tell the story visually, and also to have a great grasp on letting the characters live and emote. Dafna and Mary asked us to look at a few art samples early on, and Domo's just jumped at us. I love to see what he does with our crew.
"The Con Job" #1 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Matt Brady and Dominike "Domo" Stanton hits on March 18 from BOOM! Studios.