Introduced in a back-up story a few months ago, DC Comics' The Jetsons title kicks off November 1 with a much deeper and more involved story than readers ever got to see in the popular cartoon.
The Jetsons writer Jimmy Palmiotti is working with Pier Brito on art to build a future world that's filled with high tech gadgets and global threats, but all framed within the family relationships between the familiar Jetsons characters.
Readers will meet George Jetson, who still works for Spacely Sprockets but has a more specific job description; Jane Jetson, whose job with NASA has her metaphorically carrying the weight of the planet; daughter Judy, whose studies take on new meaning as she's learning filmmaking; and young Elroy, whose hanging out with the daughter of Spacely's competition.
And of course, readers will also see Astro the dog and Rosie the robot, although the story of her invention was told in a recent back-up story in The Flintstones that helped to introduce the new Jetsons concept earlier this year.
Although he worked on that back-up story with his wife, artist/writer Amanda Conner, Palmiotti's going it alone for the six-issue mini-series. Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about his plans for The Jetsons.
Newsarama: Jimmy, your story has all the elements of the original cartoon, but you've really fleshed out this world. I think the most striking difference between the comic book series and the cartoon is that your story feels like it's the real world – just one set in the future.
Jimmy Palmiotti: Yeah, I decided to set The Jetsons in a completely real world. This is set in the far future. The planet itself has had a thing called a Hanlon meteor hit the planet, and it devastated the planet. This is our future.
Pretty much everyone on Earth had to head out into space because there was no land left. Water completely covered the planet.
The remaining people on Earth took all the technology they had - all the space stations and satellites and stuff - and built these small cities that float above the planet.
Nrama: Which is sort of like the TV show, since everything took place above the Earth.
Palmiotti: Right, it's based on the visuals on the original series, where we never saw the ground. In the original Jetsons, it was always building with long sticks that seemed to go on to somewhere, and they never explained it.
So I thought we should kind of explain how this happened and how these cities are floating above the Earth, basically using the magnetism of the planet. The reverse magnetism - like those two little Scotty dog magnets that you push together and they kind of push away from each other.
Nrama: I remember those. This doesn't sound quite as humorous as the Jetsons TV show.
Palmiotti: There's some humor, but it's not a jokey as the original cartoon.
This is kind of like a Black Mirror version of The Jetsons.
People don't want the cartoon, because you can watch the cartoon. And honestly, the cartoon doesn't get into things. I watched a bunch of episodes, and it's mostly George is late to work, and Jane is dealing with George, and Elroy's curious. But it's really not dealing with deep things.
It relied on how quirky it was to have flying cars and to have robots talking to you.
I thought, "Well, we've seen that already. What's the sense of making something that's exactly like the old one?"
But the basics are still there. The family structure is still there.
Nrama: Does George still work at Spacely Sprockets?
Palmiotti: Yeah, he's still a technician. If you remember the cartoon, he would press a button or use a screwdriver – that was his only job. He sat around until someone called, and he was sleeping, and then he'd press a button, and that was his whole job.
George is a little more complicated in the series. He's the keeper of old-world tech, so he's able to fix things that other people can't. He's a hands-on guy with a hammer and screwdriver, where most of the technology in this world is all computerized, and actually has other computers fixing them.
We even have machines shaped like lizards that kind of crawl through tight spaces in electronics to fix things.
So George is constantly busy with Spacely Sprockets.
Nrama: And there's Jane, his wife.
Palmiotti: Jane's actually in a space station above the Earth. There's a threat coming to the planet, and actually it's all on Jane's shoulders. Jane works for NASA. And something's coming toward Earth that's going to destroy it - again. And she is sworn to secrecy, because they don't want mass panic on the planet.
So she's dealing with the fact that she can't talk to her husband or the kids about what's going on. So Jane's got a lot on her shoulders.
Nrama: Daughter, Judy?
Palmiotti: Judy's a little older. She's going to school and is taking film classes, which is another whole crazy thing.
Nrama: His boy, Elroy?
Palmiotti: Elroy's a little older. He's still the boy who's interested in exploring. He has a sort-of girlfriend named Lake Cogswell, who is actually - you know, the competition of Spacely Sprockets - Mr. Cogswell's daughter.
But Lake and Elroy are best friends.
We open the book with George's birthday coming up, and Elroy wants to get his dad something special.
Lake borrows one of the ships that goes underwater. So they go under the water on the Earth below to get his dad something special.
And it goes from there.
So we're sort of looking at the new, better world with no weapons and no crime. But dealing with the exterior stress - the things now happening in the world - and then the relationships between the family, which is the best part of the Jetsons.
Technology both helps their lives and hinders their lives.
Nrama: That sounds familiar.
Palmiotti: Yeah, it's not a big stretch, if you think about the way we deal with technology today. Kids now deal with each other electronically. When we were young, we would talk to each other and it didn't leave a trail behind. It didn't consume our lives. We didn't stay up at night looking at computer screens, and we didn't have to justify our existence with Instagram and Facebook.
These technologies can be fun and positive, but more than likely, a lot of times, they aren't because they're taking us away from what's important. At least I think so.
Nrama: So they've got a lot of stuff on their plate, this family.
Palmiotti: They do, but they stick together and work through it.
I expect that some people will love it, and some will hate it. It's probably going to be somewhat polarizing, but anything that's taking a risk is polarizing. As a writer, I want to take people in unexpected places.
Nrama: What about the art? What does that bring to the series?
Palmiotti: The two artists on the series are Pier Brito and Alex Sinclair. And I have Dave Sharpe doing letters - he's our letterer on Harley Quinn.
And everyone pretty much knows Alex Sinclair. He's the top colorist at DC Comics. I mean, he colors Harley Quinn every month. Anything by Jim Lee is colored by Alex. Alex is the top guy.
So when we talked about it and I showed him the art, he said he wanted to color it because this is something fun and new for Alex.
And then talking about Pier Brito, Pier is pretty much new to American comics. He's a European. He's done some European books, and I actually met him at a convention. And we talked. He illustrated a Kickstarter I did called Denver. That book was about the world being all water and the only city left was Denver, so I'm kind of laughing because we kind of went from that to the Jetsons together. And he's just like, wow, the world is very wet in your brain. But I'm like, well, this is just a matter of luck.
But I pitched Pier to DC, and Pier did some designs. And Dan DiDio right away said, "This guy's amazing! Where did you find him?" I said, "I didn't find him here! I found him out there." I do bring a lot of artists in to DC. John Timms is another one, on Harley Quinn - I met him in Costa Rica.
I travel a lot, so I meet a lot of great artists. Some of them just don't know how to get their work in front of people, so I'm happy to not only introduce them to DC, but to get them working on my projects, because if they're that good, i want them!
Pier is just brilliant on this. He understands the vastness of the world, so he does these beautiful, big establishing shots. Issue #1 has an opening page that's just beautiful.
He has that European sensibility of establishing everything in the art. A lot of American art, they kind of go right to the fight scenes and right to the big characters and everything. The European feel is very much about the world-building, the world they're living in.
That's especially important in the Jetsons, because this is a world we don't know. So it was super important to do this.
Pair that with Alex's colors, and it's just a beautiful book.
And this is a comic you're not going to read in four minutes. This is one where you'll really dig in. I have a little pet peeve about reading a comic in two minutes. I'm not crazy about it. I like to have a full story. That might come from growing up reading these really crazy books with a lot of stuff to them.
That said, the art is such a good complement to what I wrote. I mean, Pier, the stuff he did - everything I explain to him, he takes a step further. That's really what you want.
His storytelling is as clear as anything. Joe Kubert said, you should be able to draw a story without having to read the word balloons. You should be able to understand it. And I think the first issue of the Jetsons, you can honestly take the word balloons out and get what's going on. And that just goes to show how brilliant the art is.