About a year ago, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray launched a Kickstarter campaign for their latest graphic novel, HYPE. Working with artists Javier Pina and Alessia Nocera, the fan-favorite writing team created a romantic science fiction story unlike anything I’d ever read before. I interviewed them during the campaign to help promote the book and thankfully, it was successful. Lucky for readers who didn’t have a chance to back the project, Adaptive Studios is now publishing the graphic novel for the mass market. With HYPE coming to stores soon, Jimmy and Justin sat down with ComicsVerse once again for an exclusive interview!

ComicsVerse: Jimmy and Justin, hello again! It’s been almost a year since we last spoke and since then, HYPE was funded on Kickstarter. Did the response meet or surpass your expectations?

Jimmy Palmiotti: The response has been amazing. The initial Kickstarter campaign hit its goal and everyone got their pledge level books, digital files and we have just wrapped up all the Skype level meetings, so looking back, based on feedback from the people that have supported the project, everything worked out perfectly with this. So yes, it surpassed my expectations and with this new beginning of getting HYPE out to the mass market, well, I couldn’t be happier.

Justin Gray: The heart of the story is action and romance, the developing of our two main characters in such extraordinary circumstances is what drives HYPE and it really resonated with people. It is also what made it so compelling a world for us to explore so as Jimmy said it was a great experience.

READ: Interested in our first interview with the creative team of HYPE? Check it out!

CV: Hype has now been in the hands of Kickstarter backers for a few months now. Soon, it will be republished for the mass market by Adaptive Books. Why is Adaptive Books the perfect publisher for HYPE?

JP: Adaptive is a group of people looking ahead at what the market is missing and creating new and exciting projects to fulfill that gap. When we met with the crew there, we felt a kindred soul and we were instantly on the same page looking at what we can do creatively together. This partnership has been nothing short of amazing. They really understand and appreciate the art of graphic storytelling and unlike most publishers, see the future as something new and exciting and are interested in groundbreaking.

JG: We have a great working relationship with Adaptive and the hardworking team of people that make up the day to day operations. You’ve got this group of smart, content savvy professionals who have a passion for comics as a medium for telling diverse stories.

CV: Last time we spoke, I asked what made HYPE stand out amongst the other sci-fi/romance books on the market. This time, I’d like to ask a different take on the question. What about the character made you want to create this wonderful sci-fi/romance book? 

JP: Technology is moving at an amazingly aggressive pace and it seemed less like science fiction and more like the next step to what is being done right now in the field. As far as the romantic angle of the book, it always makes sense for the reader to relate to the main character and their situation and having HYPE and Amanda in a relationship like we did gives us a ton of insight to who the characters are, what they want and what they fear. We care for them because we see all the potential their relationship can bring to each of them. These ideas went together quite naturally and once we all agreed on the players and relationship, the book came easy and fast for us. We are always interested in any story that pushes in all directions and I think HYPE delivers this.

JG: For me it has always been about time. Relatively speaking we have so little time over the course of our lives and, when you’re a child it starts out being this fast and slow commodity. As we get older perceptions change, time seems to move more quickly and taking advantage of it becomes paramount. With HYPE we wanted to distill that down with a sense of urgency, to ask what it would be like if in exchange for these incredible gifts we were only granted a small window of time each day to be alive.

 hype preview 2

 CV: After reading the book, I can only say that I want to see more of HYPE and Amanda. In fact, the comic ends with a cliffhanger. Can we expect a sequel in the future?

JP: I felt it was less a cliffhanger and more of a doorway to future and continued adventures. HYPE sets up a lot of ideas and gets the reader connected right away to the world they are living in, but with any good fiction, creating an interesting world opens up the door for a lot more stories and that was always our intent, to continue to explore these characters in the future and hopefully in different media as well. These are our kids and we love watching them grow up and have their own lives.

READ: Fan of Jimmy’s run on HARLEY QUINN? Check out our evolution of the character here!

CV: Both of you have been long-time collaborators in comics, film, and video games. Is there a project that you’ve worked on together that you’re most proud of?

JP: That is a tough question because with our creator owned work, like HYPE, we put our heart and soul into everything we do, so after the book is done, the umbilical chord never truly gets cut. HYPE is up there with other books we have done THE MONOLITH, ABADDON, RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE, TRIGGER GIRL and for me with characters like Painkiller Jane. I really am proud of them all. I feel working with Justin brings a brand new game into play and the properties we have created together are unlike anything out there.

JG: There are varying degrees of that answer for many projects we’ve collaborated on. Obviously, JONAH HEX had an extraordinary run that defied the market with its longevity. It was a unique project in that we had absolute freedom over 90% of the book so there was a greater sense of proprietary interest in it. We’ve created a number of characters together and one that I’ve very fond of is THE MONOLITH and that world where he exists, but across the scope of properties DENVER, the SEX AND VIOLENCE books, ABADDON as Jimmy said. These are each moments and it gets difficult to pick just one.


 Adventures of Penelope Hawk

CV: Justin, Hype isn’t the only Kickstarter you’ve campaigned for in 2016. You recently successfully funded your first children’s book, THE ADVENTURES OF PENELOPE HAWK. Could you tell us about the book?

JG: THE ADVENTURES OF PENELOPE HAWK, is a fantasy genre chapter book aimed at kids between 9-12. It takes young readers on a journey through the fantastical world of Marazia, the place all children go each night to dream. Penelope feels like an outsider in her small town. She faces many of the same challenges kids her age face, a feeling of being different, dealing with bullies and she’s the child of a single parent. She also happens to be more special than she knows when she discovers that she is able to travel between our world and the world of dreams. She can interact with this magical place because she’s been chosen as its guardian. I have a nine-year-old, she reads a lot of books and I can always tell when she gets bored with a particular book. So, I ask her what makes it boring, why did she slow down at certain parts or speed through others. Her answers inspired me to add so many elements to the story to keep it fun and exciting.

CV: Was campaigning for a book different than a graphic novel?

JG: I’ll be honest they’re all nerve wracking. Launching a Kickstarter isn’t the beginning it is the middle of a three-act process where you’re fully invested in something you have no idea will succeed or not. I was extremely conservative with Penelope Hawk because it was not only a new medium, but a largely different audience I would be appealing to. I’ve learned that the majority of the audience for certain comic or graphic novel projects I’ve worked on doesn’t translate to my novels. There are some, but writing a children’s book meant I’d be on the ground floor of a different marketplace. The thing is I really understand the importance of getting kids to read because I’ve seen the effects of it in the real world. I also know first-hand how many things are constantly fighting for a child’s attention and to compete with that is an uphill battle. Fortunately, it was funded by so many great people who expressed such excitement and support for this new endeavor. It felt great to have them behind me in a quest to try self-publishing something I’m not known for. I’m hoping word of mouth and some positive reviews on Amazon will give the book a chance out there in a crowded market.

CV: Jimmy, you’ve also had an incredibly successful year. Recently, there was an announcement that your comic, PAINKILLER JANE, will be adapted as a film with actress Jessica Chastain attached. Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve been asked about details on the film already but I’m curious what you hope to see translated from comics to film?

JP: This is the third-time PAINKILLER JANE will be adapted and this time more than in the past, being the executive director, I plan on the production being more loyal to the source material. That said I think we are in the best of hands with Jessica Chastain and her production company Freckle Films and I am really excited to see what they have in store for the character. We are just at the beginning of this adventure, so it an exciting time for sure.

CV: HYPE is a creative-owned project but you two are well known for lengthy runs on fan-favorite DC Comics titles. The current character being one of the most popular characters worldwide right now, Harley Quinn. What is it about Harley Quinn that you think draws so many people to her?

JP: Harley’s appeal has a few different levels to it. First, she is mischievous, fiery and fun, as well as a wish fulfillment character with all  the crazy situations we write her getting into. Harley is also sweet and kind to those she loves at the same time…like all of us on some level. I think a lot of people, male and female, relate to her because of this. For a bad guy, she really has a heart of gold.  The other thing is Harley is one of the few characters in comics that can literally change her clothing in every single issue and she is still identifiable, which makes her so appealing for people that cosplay the character. In the end, Dini and Timm created a brilliant character that can grow and change as her stories are being told.

DC Rebirth Harley Quinn

CV: How is it different developing storylines for Harley in comparison to building a world around Hype? Is the creative process vastly different for creative-owned projects?

JP: With Harley Quinn, Amanda Conner and I are the latest in a line of creators to work on a character that already has a history in the Batman Universe, so we are just the latest caretakers working on someone else’s creation and adding our take to it. There is a completely different process taking an idea like HYPE from scratch and creating not only his world but a cast of characters around him. This is world building from the ground up and the difference is we have no limitations set on us other than the actual page count of the book, so this gives us a lot of responsibility to get the idea and characters across, but at the same time a wide-open space to be super creative an really put our voice to a project.

CV: With HYPE getting into comic shops and bookstores now, can we expect a new Paper Films comics project for fans to Kickstart in 2017?

JP: Every year, Justin and I do something together and a lot of work apart. Justin already has hit the floor running getting some of his latest prose out there to the fans and we both have new and exciting books planned for each year ahead. It is an exciting time for us, but for now, Hype is our main focus, both with promoting the project and seeing what the next step will be for the property with Adaptive by our side.

JG: I can only speak to two projects right now. For me, in tying into what I was saying about exploring other markets, one of the things about Kickstarter is that community is essential. Not just your personal community as a creator, but as a community of creators. I know a lot of people that won’t give a social media push to Kickstarter’s even if it is a person they know or know of and especially not if it is a stranger. My attitude is largely different. It doesn’t cost me a thing to tweet a link for a project or mention it on Facebook, especially if I like the project and even if I don’t always back it. I’m not selling it. People either pledge or they don’t. I’m just making people aware that it exists, because so many projects can go unnoticed. Personally, I like to see writers and artists succeed. Especially self-publishers and people fighting to have their voice heard in a medium that desperately needs to expand beyond its dominant content. So, that was the long winded build up to saying I wrote a 16-page story for an upcoming Kickstarter called TERMINAL 7, launching on January 2nd that features a ton of writers and artists doing exactly what I was talking about. The second project is a Kickstarter for a book called JAIL BAIT & TRAILER TRASH – a mature readers collection of stories that I’ve written and each one is drawn by a different artist. For those that are familiar with the SEX AND VIOLENCE Kickstarters that Jimmy and I collaborate on this project is very much in that style. Hard hitting content for adults, but also a very personal book for me. I’ve got some incredible talent helping me bring the book to life, great people with unique styles. I’ve been very fortunate to have this group of artists working on my scripts.

CV: Before I let you go, I have to ask. Hype is a character that gets to truly be alive for only forty-five minutes a day. If you only had forty-five minutes to yourself for twenty four hours, what would you spend that time doing?

JP: Making reservations and menu choices in advance. A boys gotta eat.

JG: The answer would be spending those precious minutes with family and friends. I think that’s part of what HYPE illustrates that love is an essential human experience.

Did Palmiotti and Gray sell you on HYPE? You can pre-order a copy of the title here! If you want more from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, you can find them on Twitter! You can find Justin at @JVGray and Jimmy at @jpalmiotti. To find more of their work, be sure to check out www.paperfilms.com. For more on HYPE and indie titles like it, be sure to stay tuned for more information at ComicsVerse!

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