THE BIG CON JOB takes a look at the lives of the superstars from yesterday in the convention circuit. If you've been to conventions, you've probably seen these stars signing autographs. Jimmy Palmiotti and Matt Brady, with Dominike "Domo" Stanton on art, are diving into this world and giving it a twist. Working show to show isn't the easiest thing to do and when a unique opportunity pops up, the characters will find themselves in a different situation that could change everything.
We spoke with the creators to find out more about the project and where the ideas may have come from. We also have an exclusive look at the first issue, on sale March 4, 2015, from BOOM! Studios.
COMIC VINE: Where did this idea come from?
MATT BRADY: A long while back I had mentioned this weird idea to Jimmy after a few too many years covering a few too many cons. Jimmy dug it then, but the time wasn’t right for it. SDCC was still just this niche thing that “weirdos” went to, and older genre material hadn’t quite come roaring back in a multitude of re-makes, re-vamps and re-starts like it has now.
JIMMY PALMIOTTI: The timing was something that had to be considered and I was told this idea from Matt, and for a while we both sat on it. I think with the cons now being almost every single weekend of the year somewhere, a wider audience of people can relate to the idea of this premise. We also waited for the right company to come around and be interested. I had brought this to a couple of publishers and they had no faith in the idea. When BOOM! Came along, the guys got it out of the gate and the papers were drawn up right away. The secret to a part of this business is the right book for the right publisher.
CV: How did you guys all get together on this project?
MATT: I hand it all to Jimmy on this one – after leaving Newsarama a few years back, I’d done some comics and other writing here and there, and I really was enjoying working on the creative side of things, rather than the reporting. Out of the blue a year or so back, I got an e-mail from Jimmy, asking if I had ever done anything with that “con job” idea we’d talked about all those years earlier.
JIMMY: A great idea stays with you and I was happy Matt didn't go anywhere with it when I called.
DOMO: I was recruited after the idea was being put into motion. Almost like hired muscle, I'd been in contact with BOOM! for a while hoping to get something off the ground. Finally the talent coordinator contacted me asking if I'd rather work on a franchise book or a mini, no names given, no descriptions or anything. I flipped a coin, the mini won, so they sent me this ambiguous script for a 2 pg test, I tell you it was like trying to join Fight Club haha. From what I understand there were other "applicants" but for some reason, here I am now, 2 and a half issues into the story and I still have no clue who wrote any of it (haha that last part is a lie...)
JIMMY: Domo was picked because his sample pages were the best. They caught the emotion and storytelling in the pages and we knew right away he was the right artist for the job.
CV: What’s the tone of the series? Seems like it gets a little dark?
MATT: There’s not that much that’s dark in it. It’s really about a group of friends who’ve known each other for years. There’s a real “family” vibe to it – and our “family” just happens to be formerly famous television and movie stars. Like everyone, they get older, and they’ve come to realize that things aren’t quite working out the way the pictured them. So, when a chance comes for them to change their situation….they go for it. But it’s not an easy decision for any of them.
DOMO: Not so much "dark" as real I would say. We live in a time now where becoming irrelevant is almost impossible. With all kinds of social media, podcasts and such, retired stars these day have many resources to keep in touch with their fans and be taken care of. Unfortunately that same security wasn't alotted to many of big stars from the 70's and earlier. These character are living THAT story.
JIMMY: There is an expectation to this book, a lot of people asked me about it, saying they think they know what is going to happen or where it goes and I think some will be surprised at what we deliver to them. The story and characters are a very organic lot and we didn't want to make this a chess board type of caper story.
CV: Do you see a difference in the future for comic creators versus actors?
DOMO: Not exactly sure what you mean by creators "versus" actors because they've always felt like separate entities to me, but everything changes with time. I remember back in the 90's when you'd see creators like Rob Liefeld in Levi's commercials, Todd McFarlane prefacing the intro to his Spawn cartoon series, Dawud Anyabwile promoting his "Brotherman" series on primetime talk shows, etc. You don't see much of that in this present era of comics, but you do see more comic writers going on to making movies and tv shows. Who knows what the next decade will bring, but I guess to get back to you're question, I do think that as long as comics are being made, more actors will be hired to play those roles.
CV: Does this series mean you guys won’t be pulling some similar sort of CON JOB in the future?
MATT: Not me – I left Newsarama and went into teaching! I write here and there, but my wife has prohibited me from every going solely freelance again, so…state governments willing, I’ve got a retirement waiting for me. Hopefully no con jobs.
DOMO: In the future? As if I haven't already put a plan in motion?
JIMMY: Check your pocket. Okay, now open your wallet. Everything still there, right? That's because I put it back in there. Those charges on your credit card, well, you still have time to report the card stolen and not have them be your responsibility. Now, tomorrow, when that Amazon package comes to your door, that's my gift to you.
CV: Without naming any names, was there any inspiration for the characters’ likeness or personalities?
MATT: There was one strong inspiration for me that kicked off the whole story all those years back, but if you’re looking to match our characters up with specific celebrities – that’s not what we’re trying to do. You’ll recognize the archetypes we went for, and maybe they have some characteristics of that “type” of characters’ more famous actors, but our gang is our gang. Since we’ve been working with them, they’ve really become their own individuals.
DOMO: Definitely. Jimmy and Matt gave me a few bases to play around with, as well as a lot of wiggle room to insert silhouettes and likenesses I felt matched best with what they wanted. I guess they liked them. No chairs thrown through my apartment window yet.
JIMMY: We suggested some for visuals, but honest, we couldn't use exact people since its fiction. Cast this for a film and I can go to town.
CV: You don’t have to give details but do you all have or have heard crazy con stories (I'm looking forward to Jimmy’s memoirs).
DOMO: Well, next to Chris Bachalo (whom I've never met), Humberto Ramos is one of my biggest influences and all time favorite artists. As a first introduction, let's just say fate decided one year at a Heroes Con event to put an extremely drunken me in an elevator with him... alone.... Nuff said...
JIMMY: I have a variety, but I have never been an actor. This book is about actors and not comic book people. Now I have a story or two involving an actress I know…but a gentleman never talks.
Be sure to check out PALMIOTTI & BRADY'S THE BIG CON JOB, on sale Wednesday, March 4. Also, be sure to keep an eye on your wallet next time you're around Jimmy.
Here's a look at the first issue.