An artistic team of serious talent, PaperFilms is a powerhouse of comic-enthused creatives developing everything from custom comics to video games to screenplays for TV and film. Co-founded by Jimmy Palmiotti, a multi-award comic book creator with a varied background including advertising and production, the
company shares a love for storytelling and creating new intellectual properties – many of which are now available on tees, wall art, and phone cases through the brand new PaperFilms Artist Shop. Read on to learn more about Jimmy, his background and forte into PaperFilms, and why Painkiller Jane has more than surpassed his expectations.
Hey, Jimmy! Welcome to Artist Shops. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn way before it was hip and overpriced to live there, went to school for art and worked in advertising for a number of years until I found my perfect home in the world of comic books. I currently have a company called PaperFilms which produces indy comics, and also write for DC Comics on titles such as Starfire and Harley Quinn, both with my wife Amanda Conner. I also am a screenwriter and have a few films in development, the latest being The Monolith with Lionsgate and Painkiller Jane. I now live in Florida where my home and office are located, writing comics and running my Kickstarters.
How did you personally get your start in comics?
I started as an inking assistant with Mark Texeria working on books like Punisher and Ghost Rider, and then started getting regular inking work from just about every single company out there. I also self-published under the Event comics banner, and co-created Marvel Knights which had a hand in saving Marvel from oblivion at one point. Now I write full time under the Paperfilms banner for whoever feels like hiring me, which these days is mostly DC comics.
Eventually you became a partner in PaperFilms. What inspired PaperFilms, and what is the company’s ultimate mission?
We had a collective of talent that can do a million things other than comic books, so we grouped together to offer our services to comics and custom comics, video games, screenwriting for TV and film, and to give seminars about all of the above subjects. Under the company banner, our work is all over the place and our ultimate mission is to become all kinds of all media. For a full description and breakdown of our work, visit our PaperFilms site. You have to remember, most artists have no business skills, so we formed the group with a lawyer and people that can make the creating part of our job a little easier. We live on nickels and dimes but have dreams of greatness.
PaperFilms is made up of five super comic talents: you, Amanda Conner, Justin Gray, Frank Tieri and Paul Mounts. What does each member bring to the table?
Each member of the PaperFilms crew brings distinction and quality in their specific forte to the table. We all have completely different interests and backgrounds, but in the end all have a love for the medium of storytelling and creating new intellectual properties while continuing to bring our brand to existing ones. Collectively we are a force to be reckoned with and separately, we create a scope of work that is worldwide. First and foremost, we are friends, which makes the effort seem less like work and more like a labor of love. We have other members behind the scenes working with us as well and are a very slowly growing company that is mainly funded by each of us.
How does PaperFilms differentiate itself in the competitive comics industry?
We are different in that we also work on TV, film, and video games on a steady basis and do much more than just comics. We are Intellectual Property generators and are also hired to build on others’ properties as well. We are freelance, held by no contract and can work anywhere we please. We feel we are the best at what we do and always look forward to proving it with each new project. Yeah, we take on jobs no one else might, but in the end, we are proud of even the smallest gig and give it our best. We like to think we can make everything better than it is. We are wonderfully delusional that way.
Of the various characters, series, games, and more created by PaperFilms, what are some of the favorites, and why?
Painkiller Jane has to be one of my favorites because when Joe and I created her years ago, we never thought she would still be around and going strong for this long. What was even more surreal is that it has a TV pilot and then a separate series and now, after all of that, will be a feature film with a screenplay written by Craig Weeden and myself. She is my favorite character to write and now, with the t-shirts available, my favorite character to wear. With the Kickstarters we have done, properties like Triggergirl 6 and Denver take on a life of their own and all of them in some way are my favorites.
What elements does every great comic need?
What every comic needs is something within the book that the reader can relate to, and artwork that gets the storytelling across. These two elements can draw just about every reader in, and again; storytelling that is clear and easy to follow is key to a successful book.
How is creating a comic different from other artistic storytelling ventures, and what unique challenges and benefits does it carry?
With a comic, you have to be aware that clarity in storytelling is everything, so the pacing and the visual language have to be clear and clean. Our goal is that you can read every book without the word balloons. We do not have a soundtrack to set a mood, so the art and language in the writing has to do this. You also have to understand how things wind up on a page, how you lead into another page and most important, a change of time and place and how it is visually represented. It is a lot like a film, but the viewer gets to move at their own speed, reading or going over the drawings. The major benefit is that you can imagine anything and not worry about a budget. The possibilities are endless with comic books and that is probably the biggest draw other than them coming out so regularly and being cheap to produce next to other entertainment.
What’s your favorite part of the overall process?
Since I am a writer, it is always seeing what the artist has done translating my script to visuals and how the storytelling is lining up for a finished page. I will never get tired of this process. It’s like getting a gift daily in your e-mail. I am in love with this process. The other part is getting the final product out there and seeing how people like it. Honestly, with this new venture with Threadless, the excitement I’ll feel when I see people at conventions wearing our shorts will be the next big thrill. I can guarantee a hug for everyone sporting them!
What do you believe are the greatest comics of all time, and why?
My opinion of what are the greatest will be different than other people’s. I think the books that made their impact on me are those from my teens, with genre titles like Conan, Swamp Thing, Master of Kung Fu, and Heavy Metal magazine. I was at an age where becoming an adult required changing my tastes and pulling me away from superhero comics into other worlds that challenged my brain a bit more. Since then, the world has changed, but my tastes are buried deep in the genre titles.
Where do you see the comic industry in ten years, and how do you hope PaperFilms will fit in?
I see the film and TV industry finally looking at comic creators and thinking they should go right to the source of the material they buy and put us to work creating for them. With Paperfilms, we are already there, but hope the future holds more opportunities.
If you could be one comic character for the day, who would you choose?
I think maybe Superman, so I can leave this galaxy and see what is going on in deep space and report back. I am fascinated with the idea of other worlds existing that are rich with life besides our own, and some proof would be a wonderful gift to bring back.