Best Shots Extra: HEADACHE

Best Shots Extra: HEADACHE

Pulled from

By The Best Shots Team, Your Host, David Pepose April, 27 2011



Written by Lisa Joy
Art by Jim Fern and Manuel Martin
Letters by Bill Tortolini
Published by Kickstart Comics
Review by Erika D. Peterman

In Greek mythology, the gods are as petty as they are powerful. Jealousy, lust, self-absorption, and revenge are recurring themes on Mount Olympus, making those ancient tales grand-scale, supernatural soap operas. It’s storytelling gold, and writer Lisa Joy puts that capital to good use in Headache, a highly entertaining, sharply written tale of gods on present-day Earth.

The central character, 19-year-old Sarah Pallas, first appears institutionalized and heavily doped up. However, the drugs and deception don’t suppress memories of her former life in Ancient Greece, where she witnessed her mother’s murder. When a malicious visitor shows up and confirms that Sarah is really the half-deity Athena, she quickly proves she’s no cowering mortal. Resourceful and hardcore (she breaks her own hands to free herself from chains) the hunted Athena escapes and finds her way home — home being the upper-middle-class house where her dad, Zeus, and his testy wife, Hera, reside. One heck of a family reunion awaits.

Joy’s writing has a dark-humored zing, and that’s no surprise considering her credentials as a writer on TV shows like Burn Notice and Pushing Daisies. Take Hera’s internal monologue as she prepares a "pre-Armageddon" dinner for her fellow gods and goddesses:  “Marriage made me a new woman. No more flaying and castrating. Now I’m into cooking, cleaning ... and needlepoint.” Or Zeus’ admission that he finds the Internet’s omnipresence threatening. “It makes me feel redundant.”

By the way, the Olympian dinner table is a riot. Aphrodite wants a quickie with Ares, and her husband, Hephaestus, glumly tolerates the blatant cheating. Hermes complains about failing his drivers exam again, and Poseidon is (naturally) a laid-back surfer dude. And though this should have been obvious, who knew that Hades hated his job as a River Styx crossing guard? They’re all so colorful and witty that Athena eventually becomes the least interesting character in a book that revolves around her. Her quest fuels the narrative nicely, and it's always great to see a formidable young heroine in a lead role. Still, whenever she took the spotlight, I was impatient to get back to the juicy subplots and fascinating supporting players. Even without the fate of mankind possibly hanging in the balance, Joy’s material is rich. I’d love to see an ongoing, Fables-style series about these deities making a life below the clouds.

Jim Fern’s illustrations are clean and pleasant, and close-up emotion is his strength. Hephaestus' anguished facial expressions convey just how deeply wounded he is by Aphrodite's infidelity, and Fern draws Athena with the right mixture of innocence and steeliness. The gods are appropriately haughty and excessively attractive. However, the action panels — and there are many — have a stiff, flat quality. The color palette is also oddly muted and dreary, and it's frustrating that the art doesn't have the same sizzle and energy as the script. But despite the visual shortcomings, Headache is a book with style and substance, and it’s another winning book that bodes well for Kickstart’s future.


A Beautiful Gory Display – New Releases from Kickstart Comics

A Beautiful Gory Display – New Releases from Kickstart Comics




Pulled from

By EJ Feddes May 4, 2011


Back in November, our friends at Kickstart Comics put out their first wave of graphic novels, and we were big fans.  They’ve got a lot of books coming out in the next month, and three new releases hit stores today.  And since they were kind enough to send us copies, we’re taking a look at the new Deadline, Headache, and Heavy Water

Kickstart publishes original, standalone graphic novels in a wide variety of genres.  Some of their creators are well-established in comics, some are talented newcomers, and some come from movies and TV.  And everything they’ve published has been really good – their lineup is clever and inventive, and there’s a really nice diversity in the material.  None of the seven books that I’ve read feels like another book in the lineup.  They’re not repeating themselves – it’s something new every time.  And I suppose I’ve already spoiled the fact that I really like the books in this review, so if you were going to start some kind of office pool, I apologize for ruining your fun.


Let’s get to the books!

Deadline – Certain types of stories don’t work as well in comics as in other media.  To me, any sort of “race against the clock” usually falls flat, because the reader controls the pacing.  Jack Bauer is going to take an hour to get from one end of a 24 episode to the other, but in a comic, I play a role in the passage of time.  I can race through it to get to the resolution, or even just skip over any scene with Kim, since it’s not going to go anywhere (to stick with the 24 comparison).  It takes real skill to build a comic around a time element effectively, and the team behind Deadline does exactly that.

Deadline is a thriller about a special forces agent forced against his will to assassinate a foreign leader.  The “Sons of Turkmenistan” abduct Owen Reed’s wife and daughter to compel him to carry out their will, and just to keep things interesting, they also plant a bomb in his head.  The bomb isn’t just a bit of added insurance, either – the bomb is the method of assassination.  So either way, Owen’s dead.  It’s just a matter of whether or not he can trust the Sons to release his family as promised. 

The premise is appealing in and of itself, but writers B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck pile on the twists and make it ever more complex.  Owen’s not exactly an innocent, for example.  In 1998, he was part of a team of federal agents who killed the previous President of Turkmenistan.  I love that twist – it’s a bold move to make the guy with a bomb in his head less sympathetic.  I also like the way that Owen isn’t a superman – he’s a badass, but he’s got some years under his belt and he’s not as fast or strong as he used to be. 

I hate to keep invoking 24, but Deadline plays out like a really good episode.  Actually, more like the platonic ideal of 24.  A perfect episode without any boring sideplots or weird lapses in logic.  Also, there’s a satisfying resolution that doesn’t take six months to arrive.  But it does have the sort of impossible odds and moments of surprising brutality that Jack Bauer so often delivered.

As I said, the creators manage to expertly control the pacing of the story.  There are both physical and intellectual complications as the scheduled assassination approaches.  The action scenes are gripping and there isn’t any wasted dialogue – if there’s a conversation, you’d better pay attention because it’s going to be important.  I was completely sucked in – they managed to make Owen matter to me in the space of only a few pages and then kept me invested.  The resolution is incredibly satisfying, too. 

I don’t think I’ve seen the work of artist Kevin Mellon before, but he’s perfect for this book.  This is a story with a lot of characters, most of whom are guys in suits.  He still manages to distinguish them, and it’s always clear.  Deadline would be a mess if we lost track of the characters, but that’s not a problem here.  Co-writer Moore has done some work that I’ve really liked in the past.  I’m a big fan of Hawaiian Dick, and he wrote a Superman arc that I loved, but I think Deadline is my favorite thing I’ve read from him.  It’s a genre that we don’t see often in comics, and when we do, it usually falls flat.  But Deadline is tense, exciting, and clever – it’s good stuff!

Headache – I’m going to be honest with you – I anticipated liking this one solely on the basis of the cover blurb from Matt Nix.  If the guy who created Burn Notice and The Good Guys likes something, it’s got my interest.  And writer Lisa Joy has written for not only the aforementioned Burn Notice, but also the much-missed Pushing Daisies

The hero of Headache is Sarah Pallas, an institutionalized 18-year-old girl who is also Athena, the Greek goddess.  (The clever title comes from the myth in which Athena was born by bursting, fully-formed, from Zeus’ head.  You have to admit, that’s a darn good joke.)  Even though she’s in an asylum, her mother, Hera, still wants her dead.  The rest of the Greek pantheon has big plans to plunge the world into war, and Athena is the only one who can stand in their way. 

We’ve seen ancient deities transplanted to modern times before, but it’s rarely been as well-executed as in Headache.  The characterizations strike a perfect balance between the figures of myth and modern America.  Zeus is a philandering deadbeat dad, Apollo is a universally-beloved movie star, and poor Hephaestus has to watch his wife (Aphrodite) cheat on him over and over again.  Persephone is a girl who’s only to happy to spend six months out of every year in the underworld, because it means she gets time away from her mother.  There are some really funny jokes that come from the portrayal of the gods, yet there’s real danger, too.  Scenes with Sarah’s mortal friend, Twigs, under the mental control of Zeus are seriously creepy and unsettling.  And Headache provides some really powerful emotional moments – Hephaestus stars in a couple of moving scenes, and Sarah’s infatuation with Hades works so much better than you’d expect.

There are some awesome action scenes here.  Whether it’s two gods shooting each other with magic or actual physical confrontations, the battles are just great.  Sarah is a fantastic protagonist – she’s not quite comfortable with her godhood, but she’s a fierce combatant.  Sometimes Sarah is practically a teenage girl version of Wolverine, which is appropriate.  Athena wasn’t just the goddess of wisdom, but also warfare and strength.

If you follow Kickstart on Facebook, and you should, you’ve probably seen that they’ve been posting quotes from Headache for the last week.  Joy writes some killer dialogue.  “I don’t need Armageddon to inspire fear and respect in humans.  I’m a movie star.”  “I was worried she’d want to save mankind.  Turns out, she just wants Hot Pockets.”  “Twigs.  An anorexic depressive.  She hates herself so much, there’s no hate left for anyone else.  She’s an innocent.”  It’s a big ideas book that’s packed with nice moments.

I like Jim Fern’s art a lot, especially his strong facial expressions and the lack of exaggeration.  The gods don’t look like gods.  Instead, they look like people.  Since the story focuses on their human failings, it’s really effective to portray them as regular people.  And his surfer-dude Poseidon cracks me up to no end. 

I love Headache.  It’s fast, funny, and exciting.  Surprisingly human moments sit right next to inventive uses of the pantheon, and it’s a lot of fun to read. 

Heavy Water – I don’t want to spoil anything, but Heavy Water is partially based on a true story.  One of the key characters is an actual person who really existed, and was instrumental in the Norwegian fight against Nazi occupation.  The parts about time travel, however, are completely invented.

Heavy Water gives us Ben Haukelid, a citizen of New London in Reichsland.  He lives in a future controlled by the Nazis, and the one thing that really makes him special is a notebook from Knut, his ancestor in WWII.  In their society, the population doesn’t have access to any historical records beyond what their leaders allow them to have.  The notebook makes Ben invaluable to an underground group of rebels who intend to fix the past by stopping the Nazis from developing the atomic bomb first.

I’m a sucker for well-thought-out time travel stories, and I really enjoy the way Heavy Water presents a two-front war.  The rebels in the future are under siege, and when Ben travels back to 1943 he fights Nazis alongside his ancestor.  And in both time periods, the good guys are the underdogs.  The Norwegians weren’t exactly in a position to stand up to the German Army, and the rebels of New London have only an unreliable time machine that has yet to be tested on humans.  It’s a little bit like Star Wars in that way, only with actual Stormtroopers.

Heavy Water blends the sci-fi time aspects with a completely straight approach to the World War II scenes.  Again, Knut is an actual historical person, and other than the presence of a time traveler, these scenes play out in a very convincing and realistic way.  Half of the comic is essentially a dramatization of the Norwegian resistance in 1943, while the other half features a time machine and death rays.  It’s a very cool mix, and I’m glad they avoided the temptation to have Ben go back in time with crazy future technology.  There’s also a real difference between the dialogue styles in the two time periods.  In the past, it’s a clipped, Mamet-esque style that plays like the English subtitles in a Norwegian film.  It’s dialogue that gets to the point.  In the future, it’s more conversational – characters struggle to get their point across.  It’s a neat little trick that really makes the two sections read differently.

There’s also a strong emotional subplot for Ben – if he somehow succeeds, that means that the world he knows will never exist.  Maybe he won’t exist in the new world.  Maybe his girlfriend, Floria, won’t exist.  And even if she does, there’s no reason to believe they would ever meet.  If Ben makes the past better, he loses literally everything he knows.

Jonathan W.C. Mills, the writer of Heavy Water, previously directed a documentary about the OC punk scene and it looks like he has some scripts in development.  I can’t find any previous comic work from him, but he’s really got a handle on the medium and I hope to see his name again.  I love the art by Alberto Muriel -  he draws such great faces, and there’s some really lovely design work. 

Kickstart is three for three on their new releases – I can’t say that they’re specifically aiming their publishing line directly at me, but I choose to believe that they are.  Deadline, Headache, and Heavy Water are in stores today, and all of them are well worth checking out.

Thanks once again to Kickstart Managing Editor Samantha Shear for the books.  There are more books coming out in the next several weeks, and we’ll be covering them in the very near future.  In the meantime, check out their website or their Facebook page and tell them spunkybean sent you.





Pulled from

By Chris Arrant March 7, 2011


Newsarama Note: Check out our other Kickstart stories from last week by clicking here!

They're the hidden threat that no one knows about.



In the upcoming graphic novel The Book of Lilah from Kickstart, a secret cabal is revealed that keeps a firm grasp on mankind by controlling its knowledge through books. These Keepers as they're called believe some knowledge is too risky for society to possess and keep it hidden away. But when a teenage undergrad named Lilah accidently gets ahold of one of their most taboo books, the Keepers – and the world – are in for an awakening.

The Book of Lilah is the latest in a line of slimline graphic novels that Kickstart plans to put out this spring. Coming from the world of film, Kickstart's comics line features talent from comics and film teaming up. In the case of this book, it's Pushing Daisies writing room alum Jack Monaco. Monaco's bounced around the TV dail, working on things like Star Trek: Voyager and The Dead Zone to the recent series on the Hub, R.L. Stine's Haunting Hour. But this experience is a new kind of story – and a new medium for Monaco, who partners with artist and fellow newcomer Javi Hernandez.

Good for them this book about a secret world of books and book-hoards seems like an ideal place to start.


Newsarama: Tell us Jack – what is The Book of Lilah about?

Jack Monaco: The Book of Lilah is the story of Lilah, an unassuming college girl whose mind expands exponentially when she inadvertently reads from an ancient and mystical Book of Knowledge. Suddenly she’s caught between Xerxes St. Martin, a power-hungry wealthy industrialist and the Keepers, a secret society that’s manipulated mankind for centuries. Oh, and as if her life didn’t just get crazy enough, the future of mankind may just hang in the balance... 

Nrama: Although her name is in the title, Lilah knows as little about this centuries-old book as we do. What’s she about?

Monaco: Lilah’s a sophomore at a community college. Major: undecided. Her Dad pressured her to go Ivy League (she’s smart enough for it) but she wasn’t interested. He’s this big time professor at Georgetown who, in her words: “is obsessed with knowing everything.” She’s always felt she came second (or third) to his quest for knowledge and so has grown up suspicious of books and learning.   


Nrama: Earlier you mentioned a secret society called 'The Keepers'. What's their story?

Monaco: The Keepers are an ancient and powerful, far reaching secret organization, some might say “cabal” ... of librarians. They endeavor to control mankind’s acquisition and application of knowledge. Allegedly for our own good. They believe that some knowledge is just too dangerous for us to possess. But are they right? And why do they get to decide?

Nrama: Can you give us some real world examples of the kinds of things the Keepers would be involved in?

Monaco: Sure.  Without giving too much away... Since the beginning of civilization the Keepers have had a hand in practically every great leap in human knowledge. And have prevented countless other leaps. They were there at the burning of the Library at Alexandria. They were there when da Vinci created some of his most amazing inventions. And when his inventions failed, you can bet they had a hand in that. They also had a surprising role in the dawn of the nuclear age.

For the record, the Keepers are lovers of knowledge. 

Nrama: How does Lilah get wrapped up in protecting the Keepers?


Monaco: Well, I wouldn’t say Lilah is protecting the Keepers. In fact, one of her struggles throughout the book is figuring out: are these Keepers good or evil? 

Early on, she learns she has a latent “talent” related to the Keepers’ organization. A talent certain forces want to exploit.   

Nrama: Your name is new to comics, but I remember you from the credits on the TV show Pushing Daises. Can you tell us about your writing background and how you ended up doing comics?

Monaco: Funny you should bring Pushing Daises; it’s connected to my entry into the world of comics. I’d been working primarily in animation, writing for many kids’ shows, including the anime-inspired Megas XLR for Cartoon Network and selling stories to Star Trek: Voyager and The Dead Zone. A few years back Bryan Fuller was adapting the Mike Mignola comic The Amazing Screw-On Head for Kickstart and Sci-Fi. It was such a bizarre and fantastic property that Sci-Fi actually thought it might be too weird, even for them.  To show them what the series could be, Bryan brought me and Mike Taylor (Battlestar Galactica, The Dead Zone) in to write the first couple of scripts.  Awesome experience.  And I think we wrote some great stuff.  I guess it was still pretty out there, because Sci-Fi passed.


Nrama: And that brought you to comics?

Monaco: Yes. Long story long, that’s how I was introduced to Kickstart and the world of comics. I worked with Kickstart again adapting another project, and when they decided to start their own original comics, they asked me if I had any ideas. And so The Book of Lilah was born...  

Nrama: What have you been reading to get up to speed for The Book of Lilah, Jack?

Monaco: Since I’m a recent convert to the world of comics, I immersed myself in the medium, and ever since a friend introduced me to Y: The Last Man and Fables, I’ve been absolutely hooked. Can I just say how cool it’s been seeing the art come back?  You see the story so clearly in your head and you hope and pray that the artist “gets it,” but once Javi’s pages started coming in, they were even better than I imagined.


KICKSTART DAY: Brothers Saving an ENDANGERED Space Hero

KICKSTART DAY: Brothers Saving an ENDANGERED Space Hero


Pulled from

By Chris Arrant March 2, 2011


“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...”

No, that’s not it. In the upcoming slimline graphic novel Endangered, this space drama takes place in the here and now – starting with Earth and two young boys who find out there father is a laser-wielding space hero. That’s right. It’s like finding your Christmas presents a month early times.... Well, a million.



But there’s some bad news. In their dad’s space-faring adventures, he’s made an enemy out of gang of evil aliens called the Decay who have kidnapped him. With no rescue in site, the fate of their space-faring father is in the hands of two brothers named Chris and Mikey. This is all told to them by an attractive teenage alien girl that shows up in their living room. She’s the last of her kind, and the key to all the trouble, and she’s going to help them get their father back.

Endangered comes out of the mind of writer Joshua Williamson. Williamson came onto the comic scene in 2007 with the miniseries Necessary Evil. After following it up with the Dear Dracula graphic novel and several other miniseries, the writer got picked up on the Big Two’s radar where he’s done work for such titles as Superman/Batman and The Incredible Hulks. But as these creator-owned ideas brought him into the industry, he’s returning to it – and thanks to Kickstart editor Jimmy Palmiotti he’s paired with artist Juan Santacruz (X-Men, The Resistance). This graphic novel is scheduled to hit comic shops and your local Wal-mart this Spring, and Williamson is excited to launch this next big creator-owned project.

Newsarama: After some early success with work at DC, it’s good to see you returning with some new creator-owned projects Joshua. What is Endangered about?

Joshua Williamson: Thanks, Chris. I try to do a bit of everything and working with the big boys and doing creator owned at the same time is my goal. My head is usually exploding with ideas so getting back to the wonderful world of creator-owned was a long time coming.

Endangered is about two brothers, Chris and Mikey, who think their dad is this quiet guy but then find out he is an intergalactic space hero. However they only discover this after he has been kidnapped by a group of evil aliens called the Decay. Once their dad is kidnapped his space ship comes back to earth to get them and make Chris the new pilot/space hero of the Dad’s ship. But it grabs both Mikey and Chris, and they then fight over who should be in charge. Before they can rescue their Dad, they must first complete his last mission: Saving the last of an endangered race from The Decay. It just so happens the last of this endangered race is an attractive female alien who could also destroy the Decay.

Nrama: What’s life like for these two brothers before aliens enter the picture?

Williamson: They are of pair of teenage risk takers. Chris builds it and Mikey drives it.... Or at least crashes it.

They’ve always been the kids that will try to build rocket packs in their back yard, skydive off buildings with home made parachutes and when the story starts they have taken up building crash cars for demolition derbies and driving them. 

They used to get along but because Chris is a few years older and starting to grow up, getting ready for college and all that... it’s caused a rift between the two brothers.

Nrama: What’s their dad like that he could be an intergalactic superhero and them not know it? Could my dad secretly be a space ace too?


Williamson:Their Dad has been pulling a “Clark Kent” for years. He has always been a strict boring father. In fact his day job cover is that of a safety inspector. His motto is “safety first” so you take that plus his two risk taking sons and you have a mix matched father and sons combo. As the story goes you learn that Chris knew a bit more about his Dad’s real life and Mikey was left in the dark... so of course this drives an even bigger wedge between Mikey and Chris.

And Yes... I hate to break it to you this way, Chris... but your dad is in fact... a space pilot.

Nrama: I knew it!

Back to Endangered, these two kids finally get clued in to their father’s extraterrestrial adventures via a young who is literally out of this world. What’s she like, Joshua?


Williamson: Caysea is a teen girl and the last of the Ximeno race. A race of beings whose sole mission in their lives was to bring hope to all life. They traveled across the universe helping planets out. Bringing a little bit of light every where they went. They were very peaceful, almost monk-like. But Caysea was always a bit of an outsider; she has a bit of rage inside her and just enough doubt that made her training difficult. When the Decay started to hunt the Ximenos down, she was hidden because she wasn’t trained enough to fight back.

The thing is now she is all that is left, and the only thing that can defeat the Decay. Which pisses her off. The only way she can ever get to her full potential is to let go of that anger. She cares less for the boys’ antics and just wants to get away from it all. She isn’t ready to be the universe’s savoir or hero. She just wants to be a teenage girl.

Nrama: Just what exactly are these two boys up against in getting their father back with these guys called the Decay?

Williamson: The Decay are lead by a dark being called Ruin. A Thanos-Darkseid like being who can create his own dark creatures to do his bidding. He’s created an army and space ships to fly across the universe and help him take over. Ruin also has an assistant named Drag, who is this female assassin who can track anything. Her job is to find the last Ximeno, Caysea, and bring her to Ruin. Drag creates quite a few problems for the boys all by herself.

But since the Ximenos are near wiped out the universe has become darker and hopeless place, making the criminal element come out and play. The boys have to navigate past a few nefarious criminal forces to get to safety. But at the end of the day they still need to take on Ruin, who is the personification of all that is evil in the universe. He is literally evil given life. And for sure two much for just two teenage boys from Earth.


Nrama: This seems like a very classic sci-fi flick from the 80s – Weird Science meets The Last Starfighter. How did this idea develop?

Williamson: Um. Well that’s a very... silly story. I’ll try to keep this quick. Batman artist Dustin Nguyen and I were talking about laser printers very late one night many years ago. We both had laser printers and started to joke that we were the “Laser Brothers.” This lead to me thinking about a cartoon featuring three brothers in space piloting “laser ships.” Eventually the book started to take shape, became a bit of an older tone in story, was cut down to two brothers and was renamed Endangered. Really I’ve always wanted to do a book that had a “Goonies in Space” feel to it and this is it. It’s that escapism, y’know? We all wish we could find out our parents were space pilots and are able to fly space ships in space. While working with Kickstart I was able to refine the idea into what we have now.

I’m a big fan of 1980’ sci-fi flicks that were this great hardcore sci-fi with a bit of humor tied into them. I was just watching Inner Space last night and thinking how much I loved that movie. I tried to go with that... it’s pretty much a buddy flick in space with two guys trying to save the universe.... Which is pretty 80s if you ask me.

Nrama: I’d ask you, but you already told me. This book follows two brothers finding out their father is an intergalactic hero on the sly. Do you have siblings, and if so, how is your relationship compared to the one you depict in the book?

Williamson: Actually I have two younger brothers and I can completely relate to not getting along with your siblings. We mouth off to each other and there is a level of competition between us that is just like Chris and Mikey in the book. My Dad was gone a lot when we were kids, so I channeled that into how the boys look at their father and how finding out he is this cool guy is a lot like what I think happens to a lot of people growing up. You think your parents are these fuddy duddys but the older you get and more you get to know then, hopefully you learn they are actually cool people.


Nrama: Speaking of buddies, for this you’re working with a favorite artist of mine, Juan Santacruz.. How did you two hook up – and hook up with Kickstart for that matter?

Williamson: Juan and I were matched up by Jimmy Palmiotti, who is working with Kickstart and Juan is just awesome. When I started getting his pencils I was blown away by his level of detail and depth. I’d be surprised... no, more like shocked if Juan didn’t blow up after this book. With each page he took what was in the script and went above and beyond what I asked for. It’s a space book that calls for a lot of elements which most artists would just skip, but Juan ran with it and turned out an amazing looking book. There are pages with so many space ships I tried counting them and just gave up.

Kickstart and I started working together after they optioned my Image book Dear Dracula. They liked working with me and what I was coming up with for Dear Dracula so they approached me about doing books for the new comic line they were planning. I liked what they had to say and jumped at the chance. I actually had Endangered picked up before my other book with them, Mirror, Mirror, but Mirror, Mirror is coming out first.

Endangered is my first book of 2011, which is going to be a very busy year and I hope people enjoy Endangered as much as we enjoyed putting it together.



KICKSTART DAY: Editors Jimmy Palmiotti & Larry Young

KICKSTART DAY: Editors Jimmy Palmiotti & Larry Young


Pulled from

By Chris Arrant March 3, 2011


Kickstart Comics is the latest new face on the comics scene these past few months. Spiraling out of one of the most successful comics-to-film production companies in Hollywood, Kickstart was set-up to tell original stories and get them out not only to comic stores but the mass market. Through a unique distribution agreement with Wal-Mart and the strict publishing of slimline graphic novels, Kickstart has become a new place to find diversity in comics.


Although Kickstart's parent company Kickstart Productions has a long history of comics love with production credits on both Wanted and the upcoming feature Preacher, for this new comics venture they reached out to two veterans of the industry to guide the way. Jimmy Palmiotti (Marvel Knights, Black Bull, Fox Atomic) and Larry Young (AiT-PlanetLar) signed on to be editors of Kickstart Comics in 2010, ushering in their first group of titles on the marketplace late last year.

Over the past few months we've covered some of the titles Kickstart has been publishing, and now we turn to Kickstart's two leading men, Palmiotti and Young, to talk about the publisher's unique strategy and how it all came together.

Newsarama: Kickstart’s motto is “make good comics for a wide audience”. How do you do that?

Jimmy Palmiotti: You do that by telling great stories that actually make sense, have a beginning, middle and an end and most of all , thy should be  entertaining. You would be shocked how many books these days don’t stick to those rules. With the kickstart books, we are making them for everyone, not just the comic there is a level of clarity in the writing as well as the artwork. They are easily accessible to all audiences and feature universal themes. They really are a super solid line of books that I am proud to be part of. We hope to make non comic book readers become die hards for life with these titles.

Larry Young: My commercial instincts are completely mainstream-driven. You know I like the high-concept, Chris; "Astronauts in Trouble" and "Zombie Dinosaur" and the like does what it says on the tin, yeah? And yet, producing a good story... an entertaining story... isn't really a nine-to-five sort of job. It's reaching out to the lowest common denominator as well as saying an intensely personal thing to the individual reader, all at the same time. It's a tightrope walk, a belly laugh from a little kid, a swordplay exhibition, the smell of baking brownies, the brace of a good cocktail, and a pretty girl saying "yes" all at once. All of life should connect to a good story and say something to everyone. And the artists and writers should produce their story with a passion that, frankly, borders on insanity. That's the sort of stuff I look for, and that's the recipe for cooking up the good stuff for the widest possible audience.

Nrama: Jimmy, you’ve edited far and wide – and even helped Joe Quesada get Marvel back on the right path. But will you be writing anything for Kickstart?

Palmiotti: Helped Joe? Actually, Joe and I created the marvel knights line together and we “helped” Marvel get back on the right path with our line of books. I enjoy every aspect of creating comics so its fun from time to time to take on something like the kickstart books and work along with Samantha Olssen at kickstart on these titles. She has been doing a fantastic job and together we managed to get some spectacular talent attached to these titles. As far as writing one of the’s in the works...but I didn’t want to do any till the launch was underway and till kickstart and I found the right project. Justin and I hit them with something we think is that will be announced soon I guess.

Nrama: How’d you two get involved with Jason Netter and Kickstart?

Young: I don't remember our first meeting with Jason Netter, because he's always been around my professional comics life. I know it was through Superstar Lawyer to the Comic Book Stars, Ken Levin, who, at the suggestion of Lisa Morales, I think, who was at John Wells at the time, was repping us on "Astronauts In Trouble" in the early days. Honestly, I don't really remember, because we've been through so much for so long with Jason and everyone at Kickstart, they've always felt like part of the family. And I hope we have felt that way for them, as well. But Jason and Samantha Olsson and everyone else have just been aces. When our son was born three years ago, Kickstart troubleshooter Heather Puttock had her mom knit him a sweater and blanket. I mean, come on. "Part of the family" doesn't even seem to really cut it. So when they said they were gearing up to start their own publishing house, I asked, "How can I help?" So I give story notes, talk about printers... spindle, fold, mutilate; that sort of thing. I'm a sounding board.

Palmiotti: That all started in a galaxy a long, long time ago. We met through a mutual friend and we hit it off. Jason and his company have always been firm believers in the work I do and have a ton of faith in my storytelling skills and we hit it off outside of work as well. He is a great guy, knows his business well and a guy I could hang out with outside of work. We have been working together for years on so many projects. ..I can’t even remember them all. In this business, when people appreciate you and treat you and your talent with respect, you keep them close by.

Nrama: Before Kickstart started this comic publishing division, they helped you put two creator owned books together for Image: Random Acts of Violence and Back To Brooklyn. How'd that come together?


Palmiotti: Putting together the book and publishing them are two different things. Before Kickstart was actually publishing, we partnered on a few books and had image publish them simply because if you want to keep the rights and get your book out there to a large audience, there is no better company to do work for than Image comics. Kickstart and I partnered, figured out the math and worked out the story for these books and they both were real experiments of titles outside the “safe zone” of publishing by both of them being adult oriented books. I am happy to say they both came out great and will soon be available for download any day now... for those who missed them. Back to Brooklyn was even nominated for a couple of awards, which we are very proud of. Anyone that picked up these titles already knows that there is a ton of love and work on those pages and along with kickstart, I was given the freedom to package the books as I saw fit. Yeah...I can go on and on all day about them...but in the end, the work speaks for itself.

Nrama: Larry, I know you both as a writer and editor doing titles for your AiT-PlanetLar labe. Any chance you’ll be penning a story for Kickstart?

Young: I'm sure if I come up with an idea that fits the Kickstart scene, I'll toss it up over the transom and see what Jason and Samantha think of it. We have pretty similar sensibilities and appreciate the same kinds of stories.

Nrama: Rounding out the books Kickstart is doing is the creators involved. The line-up of creative talent includes some familiar names from comics as well as people from the film industry. How’d you throw out your net to cast creators for these books?

Young: That's all Jason and Samantha. Every once in a while I can send one of my pals their way who has a great idea for a book I think will fit their scene, and I happily do that. At San Diego, Sam and I sat down with a well-known writer I've been trying to work with for ages, and Kickstart picked up his project, so that was cool. Back in the early days, I used to be pretty single-minded, and I'd say polarizing things like, "I'm not in comics to make friends; I'm in comics to make comics!" And, honestly, there's a part of me that still responds to that clarity of vision. But I have the luxury now of being able to make entertaining comics with my friends and not have to stick my head up over the parapet all the time, and that's a pretty cool place to be.

Nraam: Jimmy, I see a couple former collaborators of yours working on these books. So what's the talent picking like?

Palmiotti: That’s easy...for artists, we take out all the contract people, then once we have actual stories we like, which took a while, we try to match the right artist to the right project. That and the fact that we try to find good storytellers...which isn’t as easy as it seems. We have been pretty lucky...4 of the artists are people I have done books with before, which made the whole thing more fun for me.

Page 1 ... 7 8 9 10 11 ... 16 Next 5 Entries »