Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have gone three-for-three in using Kickstarter to fund comics projects, and now they’re looking for a fourth in a Rambo-meets-religion style graphic novel, Weapon Of God.
Weapon Of God sees Palmiotti and Gray reteaming with their Random Acts of Violence artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo to document the story of a murderous psychopath named Apollyon and the secret weapon that the Catholic Church unveils to stop him. Palmiotti and Gray launched a Kickstarter last night looking for $16,500 to fund the production of this 60 page graphic novel, and are using their experiences from previous fundraisers to look at the pledge area as not just a space to meet their goal but also as a store to offer exclusive items that fans would like beyond just the book itself.
Newsarama: Weapon Of God is an eye-opening concept, guys. A militant sect of the Catholic Church with a man dubbed the Weapon Of God, trained to defeat his mortal enemy – a man called Apollyon who works for the big bad guy downstairs. It’s an action adventure, but steeped in biblical themes. How would you describe it, Jimmy?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Damn, you just did a pretty good job right there! This was an idea Justin and I were throwing around that kept growing…the idea that the church would keep a warrior in reserve to handle evil and setting it in modern day, we got to have some fun with the set pieces.
Nrama: Justin, what’s your perspective?
Justin Gray: What I love about this book is the fact that it is steeped in humanity and faith in good over evil. We all know evil is real and while we can caricaturize it and use visual metaphors, the truth is we fear evil. Weapon of God takes that universal fear and changes it, turns it into meta-fiction that supplies hope and the belief that there is a greater, untouchable power looking out for all of us.
Nrama: What can you tell us about this man that is called the Weapon of God?
Palmoitti: He exists for only one purpose, to one day be called to service for his God and do whatever it takes to complete the mission. He is one in a long chain of warriors that have served this cause and although it is his story, it is just as much his partners story as well, FBI agent Mary Baltimore.
Gray: I’ve always seen him as a rock, as the inspiration for those around him. He sees the good in the future and is willing to sacrifice him self for it. How many of us are willing to do that? He also kicks tons of ass and walks around with a giant sword.
Nrama: And he’s coming out of hiding to face what looks to be a religious terrorist named Apollyon. You’ve known for making some great bad guys with a lot of reasons to hate them, so what’s Apollyon got going for him – or against him?
Palmiotti: He is a killer. He exists to cause chaos at any cost and he does plenty in the first few pages. He is also driven by his cause and believes what he is doing will get elevate him to a better world. He has no affection for human life and lives to see it snuffed out. He is a bit of an asshole.
Nrama: Although the Weapon of God might seem like the loner type, he’s got some able-bodied assistants from U.S. government agent Mary Baltimore to those in the Catholic Church. Can you tell us about his support system and the role they play in the book?
Palmiotti: Agent Baltimore is probably the character we will be relating to the most in the book. She is a regular person that has been partnered up with a religious warrior and she totally does not believe in everything he does, which makes for some interesting conversation along the way. They are both on a mission and want the same end, but the ride they each experience is totally different. They both have a lot to learn from each other. It’s what makes these kind of characters so much fun to read.
Gray: Baltimore is the character we’ve had the most creative interaction about. She is the every-person in the tale, the conflicted character looking to restore her faith.
Nrama: This idea to do an action book rooted in the Catholic church --- it seems like Die Hard meets the Da Vinci Code. Did you have any apprehension on mixing faith and, well, firearms and fighting?
Palmiotti: No, because we try not to put politics out there and as well, our religious beliefs, but in the end, both seem to make it into the work. Faith and Firearms, well, that’s gonna be our next book title. I love it.
Gray: We have to be clear that this is a work of fiction that happens to incorporate some religious elements. There are countless works of fiction that incorporate religious elements from numerous faiths. Some cast a negative light and others a more positive. Weapon of God is character driven in the action genre. Although it is a popular route, we’re not looking to generate for controversy and that should be obvious in the fact that this is a Kickstarter only book.
Palmiotti: This is fiction, so why sweat these things so much. Comics exist to be as creative as they can, so not worrying about conventional things makes the story easier to write. In the end, we exist to entertain. We are not going to change anyone’s faith, or make someone want to pick up a gun by reading this book. This isn’t glorified violence. This is just an over the top adventure with a religious backdrop.
Gray: This isn’t solely about Catholicism; it is about the intrinsic human belief that the strongest of us have a responsibility to protect the weakest of us from evil. That is also the core basis of every superhero ever created.
Nrama: Thanks to the preview you gave me, I know that Weapon Of God starts out with a devastated Las Vegas, and later goes on to show St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan being bombed. You’re a tried-and-true New Yorker, and the cities had more than its fair share of disasters. As a writer, can you talk about the decision to write another and how writing events like these is important for you as a writer?
Palmiotti: We were shooting for a threat that had some scale to it, and targeting areas of relaxation, play and worship seems to get to the heart of who Apollyon really is and what he is about. The story is told at a pace where these events are horrible, but are also set pieces to build tension.
Nrama: Illustrating this book with you is Giancarlo Caracuzzo. While he may not be a major name in comics yet, you’ve worked with him on three previous occasions – from Jonah Hex to Random Acts of Violence and the great The Last Resort series at IDW. I know you’re very choosy about who you work with, especially on such a personal effort as creator-owned books like Weapon of God. What made Giancarlo the right person to come in and draw this religious action thriller?
Palmiotti: Well, he lives in Italy, which makes him very familiar with the content and the opening settings of the book. Another is that he has always done an excellent job with the variety of stories we worked together on and this one is no different. I love his storytelling and the ease of his work. He is a guy we keep going back to for a reason.
Nrama: Weapon Of God is the latest in a string of Kickstarters for you, but it was originally intended to be serialized in the now-cancelled Creator-Owned Heroes anthology at Image. What’s it like finding Kickstarter and your fanbase as more reliable at getting a project off the ground that going the typical route?
Nrama: The people that kickstart the book are the people that want to get it for themselves…and are willing to invest in our madness. These are the die-hard fans that speak with their money. When we were publishing Creator-Owned Heroes with Image comics, we were only selling to retailers and their guesstimate orders and not directly to the fans. As well, there was at least 1/3 of the comic stores not even ordering the book, so with Kickstarter, we get to see who it is that supported us in the past and aim the pledges at them and at the same time, we have been collecting fans each Kickstarter and delivering quality product to them. The awesome thing is they keep coming back for more. Honest, I could have sold another 1000 Sex and Violence books had we more time. With this Kickstarter, our 4th, we are learning what are audience is looking for with us and applying it. Another thing we do, that a lot of people don’t, is deliver the books on time and keep people posted. Their business is so important to us.
Gray: A single Kickstarter project takes more work, TLC, dedication and sacrifice than any other book we do. You can’t imagine filling your home with a thousand packages, driving to the post office twice a day for months at a time, shipping product all over the world. The reason is that we are a tiny team of people that are creating (this means writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, editing, designing, marketing, packaging, filming & editing trailers, shipping and providing global customer service) for a single graphic novel. We are doing the job of a major publisher with less people and resources. Sometimes this is at a financial loss as it was with Creator-Owned Heroes. Why do we do this? It seems crazy right? The truth is that we love our fans, we love comics and we believe in the philosophy that we should deliver the best possible product to earn your dollar. There is such a sense of joy that comes with shipping your work directly to the people that support it.