Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti are giving fans of their Jonah Hex series another gritty, horror Western with the 72-page graphic novel Abbadon, the pair's latest Kickstarter project.
Launched last week, Palmiotti and Gray's eighth Kickstarter project is offering everything from $5 digital versions of the book to more pricey, signed print versions with variant covers by top artists like Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke.
The story focuses on the Western boomtown, Abbadon, which is plagued by a series of brutal, bloody murders. Palmiotti and Gray team up a legendary lawman, U.S. Marshall Wes Garrett, and Abbadon's sheriff, Colt Dixon, to catch the killer.
Abbadon also made news, as just after the Kickstarter launched, Adaptive Studios picked up the property – to publish as a comic book. “To clarify, this is the first Graphic Novel that they are publishing. They are a digital and interactive publishing company that does a number of other things and they have two novels out now, Coin Heist and The Silence Of Six, both being available digitally. Paperfilms has partnered with them to create some original material and they pitched us an unproduced screenplay they loved called ABBADON that we fell in love with as well and thought would make a cool graphic novel,” Palmiotti told Newsarama via email. “It's a partnership on this project but the production is all on Justin and I. We did it as a Kickstarter for a number of reasons, first being that we thought people would love the story and second, we thought with enough funding, we can create a killer graphic novel and offer the people that support the project something that is exclusive to the Kickstarter, which we have.” So Palmiotti and Gray maintain the full rights to the project, and the Kickstarter is currently “the only place to get the book.”
The creators are working with one of their All-Star Western artists, Fabrizio Fiorentino, whose illustrations are complimented by the digital painting of Alessia Nocera. And readers should be forewarned that the content is for mature audiences — because Abaddon is a creator-owned project, this time around, there are no restraints on Palmiotti and Gray and their artists.
After seven other successful Kickstarter campaigns, Gray and Palmiotti have gotten pretty good at attracting their own audiences to fund their project, and they're not alone. By offering creators the opportunity for crowd-sourced, up-front cash, Kickstarter has attracted a slew of the top names in comics and even some already-established comic publishers. With 21 days to go at press time, the latest effort has 82% funding, with $35k pledged out of the $42.5k goal.
Newsarama talked to Palmiotti to find out more about the business of Kickstarter, the story of Abaddon, and what he recommends to other creators interested in publishing this way.
Newsarama: Jimmy, you've been going to Kickstarter quite a bit over the last couple years. What is it about the concept that works for the projects you do?
Jimmy Palmiotti: Abbadon is a Western and one made for mature audiences, so even though we have been writing Jonah Hex for over six years, we felt it was time to tell a story without the usual constraints. The concept and the characters are what appealed to us out of the gate and we really felt there was a great story to tell and an unusual amount of world building that could come with telling this type of story as well.
Nrama: Are you getting it down to a science at this point? Feeling comfortable with it?
Palmiotti: Each and every new Kickstarter we do has its own challenges. With each one we are trying to fine tune the process of delivery, printing and so many little things like the exclusive pledges and so on. This one we were lucky enough to get some interesting pledge support from Tim Bradstreet , Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke. Each project we try to make it more exciting and more value for the buyer’s investment. We pride ourselves that we are handling this as professional as possible and with this experience fine tuning the bumps in the road each time.
Nrama: Let's talk about this newest Kickstarter for Abbadon. Where did the story come from?
Palmiotti: This story was brought to us by our partners on this project Adaptive Studios in the form of an original screenplay by Spencer Marstiller. We fell in love with the story and adapted it into a graphic novel.
Nrama: What's the general premise of the story?
Palmiotti: Abbadon is set in the late 1880’s American West. It's a city steeped in sin, where anything is possible if you have the money, influence and power to obtain it.
Poised to become the next boomtown, Abbadon is plagued by a series of murders heralding the arrival of U.S. Marshall Wes Garrett. A legendary lawman, Garrett’s claim to fame is that he killed a notorious murderer, who cut a bloody swath across the country and left scores of mutilated men, women and children in his wake.
Garrett’s arrival exposes the secret that Abbadon’s sheriff Colt Dixon has desperately been trying to conceal – the victims have all been mutilated the same way they were by the killer Garret stopped — a man some called a monster, but the papers called him Bloody Bill.
Garrett and Dixon join forces to uncover the killer’s identity in a town so full of corruption that everyone is a suspect.
Nrama: Ah, so this is sort of a team-up. What can you tell us about these two main characters?
Palmiotti: U.S. Marshall Garrett and Sheriff Colt Dixon are both driven men with a lot of history and the fun of the story is watching them working together to find the killer. They each have a totally different style on how they serve justice and as the plot thickens we get to see what both men are made of.
Nrama: Then the villain of the story, the real threat, is this killer?
Palmiotti: Yeah, the real threat is a killer running around butchering people in horrible ways. Time is also an issue as the story breaks down and the longer they take to catch this madman, the bigger the body count gets. Nrama: The graphic novel features artwork by Fabrizio Fiorentino. What inspired you guys to work with him?
Palmiotti: Fabrizio Fiorentino impressed the hell out of us when we were working on All-Star Western together, and we had been talking about doing a graphic novel for some time. His artwork is all about the love of the genre and he nails it on each and every page. Add Alessia’s color to the work and what you see is a transformation that we couldn't be happier about. Nrama: The artist is complimented by the digital painting of Alessia Nocera, and the previews you've got on your Kickstarter page really set the mood for the horror-tinged, hard-boiled Western you're telling. How does the art affect the story? What do the visuals add to the story of Abbadon? Palmiotti: The visuals extend the world-building and give us a feel of what life was like back then. The art sets up and defines the entire city and attitude of the characters. More than most books, this art is super important, since it is about a historic place and the attention to details of the day are very important.
Nrama: After all this experience with Kickstarter, would you recommend it for everyone who wants to publish a graphic novel? And is it better with graphic novels than comics? Palmiotti: I would not recommend Kickstarter for most people, unless they really enjoy a ton of work, and have a nice relationship with their local post office.
Honest, I keep seeing some real disasters out there and people doing it because they think it's a quick buck, but it's anything but. You need to have a plan, work out all costs, make sure deadlines are met , interact with the people backing you and then the shipping and delivery has to be on time. It is a lot of work and this being our eighth one, I can go on and on about how this is anything but a quick money grab. As far as what’s better , to launch a comic or OGN, well, its up to the person selling it. If you do not have an audience out of the gate, I would suggest the easier route of doing a single comic first so you hit your goal. With Abbadon, we are hoping our Hex fans find interest in the book and we hit our goal eventually with their help. Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Abbadon?
Palmiotti: Well, I sure hope they give the link a shot and see what we are doing, and I want them to know that with our Kickstarters, we deliver the best book we can, all printed in the USA and everyone involved is a part of the project.