Since Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray teamed up and joined forces in the early aughts, the duo has become one of the top writing teams in comics and video games. The critically acclaimed "Jonah Hex" for DC Comics served as a catalyst for a new industry-wide era in Western comics, while their latest for the publisher, "Power Girl," has promised to streamline the popular hero's backstory while clarifying her power levels and abilities post-"Infinite Crisis."
And while Hex, thanks in part to an upcoming movie starring Josh Brolin, has perhaps never been more popular and Power Girl is finally enjoying her own solo series, the decades-long continuity of each character hinders what writers can and can't do, ultimately stymieing out balls-to-wall creator freedom.
In an effort to tap that source of originality and utter madness, Palmiotti and Gray are set to unleash a new comic from IDW Publishing this week that laughs in the face of continuity compassion -- not to mention, political correctness. "The Last Resort" is an R-rated horror/thriller that is ripe with topless babes and flesh-eating fishermen. Sometimes, they're even oozing and decaying. And that's just in the first four pages.
Featuring covers by artists Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, the entire series is illustrated by relative newcomer Giancarlo Caracuzzo.
To find out more about "The Last Resort," CBR News checked in with co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti.
CBR: What type of story are you and Justin Gray trying to tell in "The Last Resort?" This is certainly not "Jonah Hex" or "Power Girl."
JIMMY PALMIOTTI: No, not on any level. "The Last Resort" is inspired by all those Irwin Allen disaster films from the 1970s where we spend time getting to know a cast of characters, put them in an usually dangerous situation, then watch them either step up and become heroes or unwind and become another part of the disaster.
The other thing we wanted to do was tell a contemporary horror story that Hollywood forgot how to do. That is, character development, horrible language, plenty of sex and violence and make it all fun. Fun for me is the key word for everything I am working on. I personally want to be entertained and am sick of the same old superhero antics. Even with "Power Girl," we are trying something a bit different.
With "Power Girl" and "Jonah Hex" and any number of books we are working on, we are messing with other people's characters and we really are limited in a sense, to follow their lead and notes. With "The Last Resort," our editor Scott Dunbier lets us go hog wild, and it shows.
Are you a big fan of classic zombie movies like George Romero's "Living Dead" series and even more recent standards like "28 Days Later" and "Shaun of the Dead?"
Sure, how could I not be? The idea that things are out of control and you need to survive them no matter what the cost is entrenched in our psyche. This is less zombie tale and more biological disaster in a way, but the idea is the same. I remember seeing "Dawn of the Dead" when I was 13 and half the people left the theatre as things got crazy and out of control. I was impressed that a filmmaker could actually do something like that and people would respond to it. I was hooked after that on the genre. I think writing horror in comics is particularly interesting because you have to work hard to scare on a number of levels and making the characters believable and maybe like someone you can relate to is an important part of that process.
Why do you think we love stories about zombies or victims of a biological disaster hunting us down and devouring our flesh and taking over our minds?
Again, I think it's the survival thing and the fact that someone we know, think we know, that would never want to harm us in a million years, becomes this monster and wants to eat our tasty brains. It's horrific on so many levels and fascinating because on another level it deals with the issue of what's next after death. Is there an after life or do we still inhabit a dead body and in the case of the movies we are talking about, does any part of the brain retain our ideas and thoughts beyond death?
On a visual level, the decomposing body is always fascinating to people because it's what will eventually happen to all of us in some shape and form. Really, I am creeping myself out with this, but in a way, on some level, it's about having and losing control and being consumed.
Is "The Last Resort" a story you've wanted to tell for a while? What was its genesis?
Justin and I discuss, on a daily basis, movies, books, ideas and the news and somewhere in all of that we started coming up with an idea that what if a tropical island became infected with a virus, to what lengths would the government go to in order to keep it in control. And we built on that. The main idea of the book is that we follow a group of people a day after this all goes on as they make an emergency landing on the island and how they deal with it. Granted, it's mostly all character study, but I think real horror and comic fans will get a kick at the insanity we present in the series. What I didn't want to do is show the middle of the story. What's presented here in the series is a quick beginning and a very, extended ending.
It's a funny thing, when working with Justin, I swear to God we come up with three or four ideas a week and the biggest challenge is finding a place to call home with them. The greatest thing is that we are in comics and don't have to deal with big budgets and actors and such and we can tell out story pretty easily.
As the story progresses throughout the series, we will continue to follow all the characters introduced in the first issue? It's quite a large cast.
We will follow each and every one of them to their death or salvation, that's why the first issue took such care getting the reader acquainted with them. The first issue might be a bit of an unusual read for most comic folk because it's a building story that is setting a lot of character groundwork, but as the second issue starts, everything turns insane really fast and the rest of the series becomes a rollercoaster ride of doom. It was a challenge on a number of levels to keep the characters in line. And surprisingly, we felt bad killing some of them, because they have grown on us. We had a similar problem when we wrote the "Deadspace: Deadfall" animated feature. We really felt for the characters and hated to see them go in such grizzly fashions, but death isn't always pretty.
Why did you go with such a large cast as opposed to a central figure like your current ongoing titles "Power Girl" and Jonah Hex?"
We went with a big cast because we wanted to give the story a big feeling and also because we wanted to introduce something we don't see often enough in comics - a complete cast of various ethnic people dealing with the same situation. I think if we followed just one character, it's a tip of the hat to who is going to survive the series in a way, so keeping the cast big, introducing new players along the way and then killing them keeps it all interesting and fun. That all said, there are quite a few characters in the series based on real people we know. And boy, are some of them gonna be pissed.
One character, the female movie star, is an actual person that won this part in the comic for a charity event. How cool is that? And no, I wont tell you what happens to her.
Why set this in a holiday resort as opposed to New York or London or Milwaukee?
Because its all been done many times before and we wanted to deal with a place with boundaries and an island is perfect for that. I also wanted to have a lot of topless women around in bikinis and Milwaukee isn't really known for that [laughs]. That and most of the books we do are based in major cities. I think a change of scenery is good, and I have been to the islands dozens of times and love it.
In what issue do we start to understand what is going in Aruba? Do we ever find out exactly?
The reader gets fed a lot of clues each and every issue until we have the reveal in the fourth issue. We felt that laying it all out in the first issue was boring and we wanted the readers to feel like they are also passengers on this doomed flight, so we kept the story mostly grounded and made the fact finding make sense as the story moved on. I think, looking back over all five issues, it works best for a number of reasons I don't want to ruin. Characters act certain ways because they have no clue what happened there, and that's fun.
When the series was announced you said IDW was great to work with because they let you do pretty much whatever you want. Is that fun to be able to let loose within the medium?
Yes, it sure is. Working for the Big Two is amazing and I will never discount that, ever, but there is a time, as a writer, you just want to write whatever you want, get as sick and perverted and tell a story in a way that might not seem so linear and to do this you either have to self publish or find a publisher that trusts you enough to let you spread your wings and fly into madness, and IDW was that company.
You've assembled quite the lineup of artists for the series. I think I know how you got Amanda Conner and of course your pal Darwyn Cooke but what about Giancarlo Caracuzzo?
We found Giancarlo because of Facebook. He sent us some sample work and we instantly found a gig for him. He has been a pleasure to work with and we will be doing another series with him as well right after this. It's amazing to me that guys like him aren't doing a ton of work already. He is a delightful, funny man that understands our sick sense of humor.
Should sales and popularity warrant it, do you have a story lined up for a sequel to "The Last Resort?"
Well, sales are the thing. Since this is an indie book it's going to sell out in the first day, and it's up to the retailers to order more. And I hope they do. If that happens, well, a sequel could be done but it wouldn't be an easy task because we ended the story with such an insane finish. But yes, to answer your question, we would do a sequel in a heartbeat, but the title would need to be changed. You will understand all when you read it.
"The Last Resort" #1 comes to comic stores this week from IDW Publishing.Â