Rolling Stone sat down with artists Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner to learn more about the process behind Blondie: Against The Odds. Below is an exclusive piece of the interview!
How did the idea for the Blondie book come together?
JIMMY: I think the general idea came about and got put together with the crew at Z2 comics before they thought of us, but once the deal was set in place, they were looking for someone one to write the biographical end of the book and discussed the overall feel of the book. That’s when Amanda and I came up on the radar because we are pretty vocal about the love of the band in our past work and interviews. Add to that, the story is told in a way that is all New York and hiring a kid from Brooklyn that grew up during this time really does help bring a certain texture and ambiance to the story we’re telling.
AMANDA: I didn’t grow up in New York. I was in the suburbs. But the whole suburban girl who moves to the city to make it big (like Debbie), and mix it up with some very cool people pretty much inspired my life. Those are some of the parts I’m going to be bringing to the book.
Did the creation of Harley influence Debbie? How so?
AMANDA: Wait, you mean “Did the creation of Harley have any influence from Debbie?” right?
I think Debbie and her attitude and her style and her sense of fun have been influencing and inspiring my art and characters for years. Harley included! I read somewhere that Debbie is a frustrated comic-book hero, and I could totally relate to that, because I grew up completely thinking that “super-hero” was going to be my career path.
Now, if you actually meant “Did the creation of Harley influence Debbie?”, then that is totally a Debbie Harry question.
Check out the inspiration I’m talking about in these photos and art:
Photo Credits: #1 Donna Santisi, #2 Adrian Boot, #3 Chris Stein, #4 Justin Thomas, #5 Chris Stein | All Art by Amanda Conner - Harley Quinn copyright DC Entertainment
Did you work closely with Debbie and Chris? What was that like?
JIMMY: The book is still being worked on and I’ve spoken to Chris. I imagine as things go forward, we will be interacting a lot more about the details of the storytelling and dialogue along the way. They are looking over everything we are writing, fact checking, and adding some perspective that only they can provide, giving the book a certain edge and feel like no other. In the end, they lived this, so they have an exclusive unique perspective that Amanda and I are doing our best to capture and bring to the readers. With both Amanda and I being fans, the whole experience has been quite surreal and a total pleasure on so many levels. All we want is to do them justice and create a unique visual storytelling that matches the attitude and music of the band. This whole project is a big deal for us.
How long did the book take, overall?
JIMMY: The book has many working parts, and our part will be about a half a year total. I expect we will be making additions and tweaks along the way up until the book is sent to the printer. Since this is a graphic novel, the artist on our end is John McCrea, who is painstakingly trying to not only capture the look and feel of the band, but his representation of a Downtown New York music scene in the late ‘70s has to be graphically represented correctly. This New York was a different city back then. Crime, drugs, poverty, and the general zeitgeist of late ‘70s New York City all are major characters in this story, and had a lot to do with the band members and the influence of the music they made.
The book traces the band’s rise from the NYC clubs to stardom. Were you guys big Blondie fans going into this? How much research was involved?
JIMMY: My collection of their 45’s, albums, clothing and fan club magazines give me away as being a huge fan of the band from the very start. I spent many a late night checking out the music scene when punk and New Wave were becoming a thing in the late 70’s and have seen Blondie perform a number of times when they started and many times after. I was the perfect fan in every way. I loved the music, was a vinyl junkie and collected just about everything related to the band that there was. That said, even with knowing so much of this, there is a ton of research put into this project, because we are dealing not only with the sequence of events, but we are also getting a look at what the band was going through, how they saw the world changing around them, and their impact on the world of music, art, and fashion. Amanda and I have done a lot of leg work to get things just right and hope that we can do the band justice, and represent them the way they deserve to be.
AMANDA: I am gonna have to do a lot more research than Jimmy, because he grew up in New York, and was actually there for the late ‘70s- early ‘80s music scene. I loved Blondie when I was growing up… and I still do. Their music, their style, everything. I wanted to be Debbie Harry when I was growing up… and I still do.
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