Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Painkiller Jane, Marvel Knights) has been busy. With Blondie and Anthrax graphic novels for Z2 Comics on the way and Red Sonja for Dynamite, the writer has also seen some of his work hit the big and small screen. Now, he and acclaimed artist Scott Hampton (Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Black Widow, GI Zombie) are teaming up for an all-new, fully-painted original graphic novel, RAGE, that launched just this morning on Kickstarter. Jennifer Lange on art assists and John J. Hill on lettering and design round out the team. Fans can also check out limited edition variant covers for the 68-page adult graphic novel by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts as well as Bill Sienkiewicz.
Read the synopsis here:
“In RAGE, Braden Radovick is a desperate man. He wakes up in a New York City holding cell to discover the world has changed overnight. Everywhere he goes, there are fires. The city is littered with corpses. People are losing their minds. The cops are so overwhelmed, they just let him walk out of the cell.
Braden’s journey is just beginning. He’s separated from his daughter Friday, who’s on the west coast, and absolutely nothing ― not even a global disaster ― will stop him from finding her. Before his cross country odyssey is over, Braden will be forced to use all his resources and skills to reunite with his daughter and save her.”
RAGE is the 16th Kickstarter project put out by Palmiotti’s Paperfilms, which he co-founded with Conner in 2001. The Beat chatted with the writer about the new project and more.
Deanna Destito: What inspired RAGE?
Jimmy Palmiotti: The inspiration for RAGE comes from many places. At first, when Scott Hampton and I initially spoke, we were discussing working together again after having so much fun working on G.I. Zombie at DC and we bounced around a few ideas to see what would work. We wanted to create something we would own together and not waste our time away on doing something we couldn’t own or benefit from. This was during the lockdown and we were both looking at the work being offered to us and thinking it was time again to do something for ourselves so I pitched the crowdfunding idea using Kickstarter and we went from there.
We both hit on the idea of how fragile people and the planet are and what we were going through in our lives during lockdown and talked about how a simple thing can throw the world into chaos. With RAGE, we took the concept of something happening overnight to the world and ran with it. At its core, RAGE is about how a father and daughter would deal with such an event and their relationship to each other. For me, it is a story about flawed people dealing with issues of forgiveness within a hectic and out-of-control world. It was an exploration of these themes wrapped around a bigger event.
Destito: What are the benefits of choosing crowdfunding for this project?
Palmiotti: The benefit is knowing that the audience backing a project actually has a real interest in it and backs it up with their commitment. I have been doing this for many years now with the Paperfilms crew and we are learning over time what the people want and what they expect when backing our Kickstarters. It is a grassroots thing and these wonderful people come back, project after project which shows me we are doing something right. My partner Patrick and I have the nuts and bolts down and will continue to bring our projects to Kickstarter. Our relationship is rock solid.
Destito: How did you put together the creative team and what about each contributor’s style makes them perfect for an original graphic novel such as this?
Palmiotti: This was a 4-person project with a 5th person, Patrick Wedge, on the production side, so it went down pretty smoothly since everyone involved was a total professional. With Scott and Jennifer on board, it was pretty easy. As you can tell by the page samples, Scott is a grounded illustrator with a specific sense of storytelling that is unique to him. I view his color work like I do someone like Jamie Wyeth—where atmosphere and framing is key and the storytelling is something you should sit with a while. He understands light and mood and creates a place that’s visually interesting, and I would hope the reader can linger on his images longer than the usual comic book visual. I believe in his work so much that with the Kickstarter pledge levels we are offering the interiors of the book that feature his black and white and color work. His breakdown of a page or scene is not traditional. He draws them separate and then pieces them together when building the book. Geoff Darrow is another artist that does this. This technique brings something truly unique to the look of the book.
Having Jennifer on board helped complete Scott’s vision and with John designing the book as well as lettering, I got to drive him a bit crazy as we went over the many different ideas we both had for interiors and design. John is the best in the business as everyone is finding out, and it shows on every project he is on. He is a perfectionist.
Destito: After such a tough year with COVID, social upheavals, etc., how timely (and important?) is a work like RAGE where facing yourself, your mistakes, to survive and protect others is at the center?
Palmiotti: I am not sure RAGE would have happened without this past year of COVID lockdowns. Real life inspires everything I write and these ideas and feelings, for me, have to have a place to roam. I am especially focused on how we are destroying our environment and really upset how we have made every single thing a political decision so that nothing gets done.
The idea we had a President telling people not to mask up or protect themselves during a pandemic is about the most abstract thing I have ever heard. The problem with living this long is realizing nothing gets fixed till it is broken first and with this story, we are dealing with a main character who is completely broken and at times, without much hope. I feel this personally at times and it is overwhelming for sure. Whenever I feel this way, I strike out and focus on what I can do in my own life and work my way outward. I set an example, help others, and support charities. I do believe people can change if given a bit of help…and the characters in RAGE all reflect their journey with these very things.
Destito: Who is your favorite character and why?
Palmiotti: My favorite character is Friday, the daughter of our main character Brayden. I found viewing the world through her hope-filled eyes gave me a more positive perspective of looking at the things around me. Friday gets to tell and show her father just what he means to her as an adult and when I think about my own relationship with my father, he died way before I ever had the chance to fully express to him just how much he meant to me. Friday’s voyage as a 17-year-old girl watching the world start to fall apart around her and her finding moments of kindness and caring while it was happening gave the story just the right amount of optimism it needed. I have been writing strong female characters since I co-created Painkiller Jane in ‘95 and as always, they are my favorite to write.
Destito: You’ve had quite a busy year with some big projects, fan-favorite characters like Red Sonja, a few graphic novels in the works, and seeing your characters on shows and films such as Batwoman and Random Acts of Violence. What has been your favorite thing to see come to life and why?
Palmiotti: It has been a rollercoaster year for sure. It started in London at the Birds of Prey premiere and went sideways soon after with the rest of the world. There have been many highs and lows and as always, the highs stand out.
Having the wonderful and talented Jay Barushel finish and release Random Acts of Violence to theatres was a milestone for me in many ways, and getting to see the influence of my past work on the big and small screen was a blast. Seeing Batwing and Luke Fox finally show up on Batwoman was a surreal thing for sure. I have had a lot of moments like this.
We just recently saw Black Widow with my wife’s family and having them cheer out loud in the theater when my name quickly scrolled by the thank you section of the film was surprisingly emotional for me. It really caught me off guard. Looking back, I just think I am truly blessed with having such amazing people in my life, including the fans that support the work I do no matter what direction I take it. Their loyalty is truly amazing.
If I had to choose a favorite thing, it would be watching the first few days of the Kickstarters I launch and how supportive the fans are of my work. It is a true validation for me and the hard work the entire Paperfilms team does each and every time and I look forward to a lot more coming in the future.
To back RAGE on Kickstarter, click here.