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 reader…so 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 books…it’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 killer…so 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.More from Kickstart Day:
- KICKSTART DAY: Burn Notice Writer Gives The Gods a HEADACHE
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- KICKSTART DAY: Brothers Saving an ENDANGERED Space Hero
- KICKSTART DAY: Hollywood Writers Launch Season of the WITCH