Palmiotti and Gray's latest is a mix of hi-tech hitmen, time travel, and gunfights in the Old West. The writing duo spoke to us recently about their new title for Image.
****Spoilers after the break!****
MTV Geek: Broad strokes: tell is a little about Jacob at the beginning of the story.
Jimmy Palmiotti: Jacob is a classic example of a good boy gone bad that keeps trying to redeem himself for the terrible things he does. He makes excuses on some level in his head to keep doing what he is doing, but he knows its only a matter of time before his assassin life catches up with him and those around him. What we tried to do is humanize the killer a bit and see why having another shot of doing his life over woks for him. He is a complicated character with simple needs and the old west is a perfect place to start over for him.
Geek: What kind of notes were you providing for the shootout sequence here?
JP: Jim pretty much followed what we set up and its all clear. The character had to make their way into the house by getting past the guards with a silencer. It’s brutal and direct and shows Jacob has no remorse.
Geek: Reading this sequence reminded me that you wrote the Punisher game from a couple of years back. What do you dig about these cold-as-ice killer types?
JP: I like the action and these sequences move the story along while showing that not all is easy as we think for our character. Jacob is a killer and an excellent one, but even he gets in a tight spot now an again. The difference between Jacob and Frank Castle is that Frank is slightly more insane.
Geek: The actual leap back in time doesn’t occur until a little under halfway in. Was there ever any concern about getting to that first twist in the story early enough?
JP: We had to build the main characters world, relationships and overall life before we could ask him to take the jump. Getting to know the character is key in making this all pay off the right away. If you don’t care, you stop reading. The story is about a lot more than time travel.
Justin Gray: We didn’t want push too much information and sci-fi in the beginning for exactly that reason. You have to understand who Jacob is and what he loses in order to appreciate the changes he goes through. The sci-fi elements are secondary to his development as a person.
Geek: Could you walk through some of the rules of time travel in your story for our readers?
JP: Real simple: You can only go back in time 142 years and no guns or modern tech is allowed to be taken back… or even fabrics because of the obvious problems that can be caused. It doesn’t get deeper than that except to say that what happens in the past obviously might change the future unless those sent back keep to the rules and live a quiet life.
Geek: Why do you think many of the people who come back end up staying in the town? It’s a big, wide country.
JP: That’s simple: [it’s a] support group of people you have something in common with. Most of the people sent back are in the relocation program because of something they did or were a part of in modern life that made them a risk, so they are just glad to be in a place where they can get a fresh start.
Geek: Griggs’ decision to clean up: it seems like it would cause more problems—dead locals, broken bloodlines, unforeseen circumstances of bullets going wide—than fix. What was he thinking?
JP: Griggs of all people should have known better, but he was not thinking straight and got himself and a lot of other people killed. Early in the story there is an indication that he wished he was going back with those sent, so to us, it seemed he too advantage of the situation and overstepped his authority. What he did was stupid and he knew it.
JG: He is also a man who wanted to go back in time, but wasn’t allowed to do so and so part of his motivation is purely selfish.
Geek: How much of the decision to write this about getting a couple of tough dudes from the future into a one-on-one shootout in the Old West?
JP: This scene is inevitable since the beginning of the book. The two characters are a lot alike and that’s what probably bothers Jacob the most.
JG: We set them on a collision course from the beginning, each a catalyst for the other’s actions leading to that final showdown.
Geek: This and your recent book, The Tattered Man were created as OGNs. Why did you decide to go this route instead of a mini or ongoing for these stories?
JP: Honestly, we could not afford to do an ongoing series and OGN’S have a longer shelf life for retailers and we still believe there are a certain amount of readers that like an entire story told—[with] a beginning , middle and end and we decided to give it a try with a few ideas. We have a few more coming in 2012.
JG: Ongoing or miniseries ask for a much longer financial and emotional commitment and we chose to deliver complete or at least closed chapters. It allows us to do more with less and is challenging in ways that monthlies aren’t.
Any thoughts about the continuing adventures of “Jacob Mills: Time-Tossed Marshall?”
JP: The book sold all right, but we are hoping for sell through. With the downloadable version at Comixology, we included the script in the price to see how that works so we will have to wait a bit. It all comes down to the business of the book. We put our own money into this, so if it turns a profit, expect some more.
JG: Anything is possible. We build worlds with the hope of making them substantial enough to support a continued mythology, but at the end of the day it comes down to supply and demand.