Painkiller Jane #2, Jimmy Palmiotti’s creator-owned joint from Marvel/Icon, is out Wednesday, so Mister Jimmy stops by once more to talk the ins and outs of Jane’s crazy, mixed-up world … complete with five pages o’ exclusive art!
Painkiller Jane #1 came out last month after a lengthy hiatus, with art primarily by Juan Santacruz and Paul Mounts. With the second ish out tomorrow, I batted a number of Q’s Jimmy’s way and he provided the A’s.
When writing Jane after such a long layoff, how difficult is it to find her voice again?
Not really difficult at all. In fact, so easy that when I started writing Issue #1, I dug right in and realized that I would have to backtrack the story a bit because I was facing an audience that might not have been familiar with the book. Jane’s voice is probably the little politically incorrect voice in my head that means well, but on the outside might be a bit harsh and to the point. I relate to the character a bit more than most of the characters I write, but then again, Painkiller Jane is set in the real world more than most things I write.
This might surprise some people, but between all the cheesecake and sex jokes, there’s a feminist subtext about freedom and self-determination. Not to get all-serious about it, but I’d like you to address where that comes from and why that’s important in today’s comics.
I have only had strong women in my life. Between my grandmother raising 10 children by herself, my own mother raising 4 boys and teaching me life lessons I will never forget, and growing up with women as teachers, business partners and now my wife (artist Amanda Conner), I don’t have issues others seem to have. In a way, I don’t see the gap between women and men as much as others might, but I do celebrate the differences. When I write Jane I am writing a no-bullshit character without the stereotypical hang-ups people seem to go to. There are sex jokes, and yes, cheesecake moments, but I like to think of these as moments where we get to know the character better and also poke fun at her once in a while. Her friendship with Maureen is a respectful one and I try to make it as real as I can on many levels but they do screw with each other, and that is also a part of who they are.
I think setting a good example is important always in comics, but I am not really conscious of how I am writing Jane and if she is representing feminism, as much as I feel I am staying true to the character and how she would act. Jane was the first female character I wrote and created, and since then I have been lucky to work on others like Power Girl, Terra, Triggergirl, Tallulah Black and now Harley Quinn, and the themes with all of them are they are just people trying to make their way in the world the best they can.
On the flip side, what’s with all the toilet fights?
Well, in this case an assassin is looking to kill Jane when she is most vulnerable and no one is more defenseless then when they are sitting on a toilet. With Jane, I am always looking for the over-the-top, never-seen-before moment in a comic and with this issue, a smash-and-tumble in a ladies room in a bar was a lot of fun. I think I enjoyed the close nature of the fight … the idea that they are so on top of each other; it’s hard for them to fight without obliterating the room around them. As well, when your life is on the line, bathroom or not, Jane defends herself at any cost.
This issue went pretty dark toward the end. How do you decide how much is too much?
Sometimes, Amanda will tell me I went too far. This issue, it goes dark, but the bleakest part is off panel and your imagination fills in the gory details. It’s hardcore on a number of levels and it even disturbed me for days after, but it felt right for the character. After I wrote the ending, I went back and pumped up the fight between Jack and Jane on the beach to rationalize what Jane does next. It’s the part of Jane that scares me at times … that she is able to do horrifying things because she feels it’s the only choice she has left. I think a character has to keep their creator on their toes at all times; otherwise there is no discovery. With Jane, I learn something new each time.
Pervert Popeye? Really?
Popeye? Captain Jack? That was Juan’s idea and I have to say it did make me laugh out loud. Bad guys need to stand out … and this one does on a number of levels.