Today, DC released the third issue of The Kamandi Challenge, by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, which picked up on the cliffhanger left behind by last month's creative team, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Neal Adams.
At the end of the second issue, Kamandi went over a sheer cliff face, plummeting to his likely doom near the overgrown San Diego Convention Center.
"They left us with this thing where I'm like 'Oh, man, he's gonna hit the ground. How do we get out of this?' And Jimmy wrote it beautifully," Conner told ComicBook.com. "So I'm going to tell you this artistically. I do this with everything, which is why I can't get out a monthly book: Kamandi is falling off a cliff that could be a building or could not be a building in San Diego, like kitty-corner from the Convention Center. I'm thinking, he's falling and he's being saved by a couple of humanoid flying bats, who are coming off of a ship in the bay. I'm thinking to myself, 'Man, he would hit the ground before they'd be able to get to him.' Then I'm thinking, 'It's a post-apocalyptic sort of thing.' I researched it and it's on a fault line. And so I made it so that the big road right in front of the convention center, on the fault line, everything has completely gone into upheaval and the ground is thousands of feet below instead of 100 feet below. So I overthought everything and I was probably killing the editor and the colorist on this book. So that was a challenge, and Jimmy and I made it work. It wasn't easy, but we did."
"It's not that hard! I had giant bats to deal with, so I had to put giant bats to work," Palmiotti added. "And it makes sense that giant bats would just grab him and take him somewhere else."
Being a comic book that took place around that particular convention center, of course, there was a temptation to explore some Comic Con-themed humor.
"I have to say that this is one of the most fun things I"ve ever drawn. I don't know if it's just because it's been so long since I did interiors but I was just so gleeful to be doing it. I had really never drawn Kamandi before, but it turns out I love drawing that character so much. And I love drawing bipedal animals. That's my thing," said Conner. "Neil [Adams] wrote something at the end of last issue, and I was like 'Oh, we should have done that,' but the book would never have come out if we had done it — he was like, 'At the San Diego convention center, doing animal Comic Con where all the animals are dressed up like humans.' If I had to draw a comic book convention, the book would still not be out."
"I think I would have had hyenas dressed as Harley Quinn," Palmiotti laughed. "Well, that's for another time."
The series is conceived as a tribute to Jack Kirby, the creator of Kamandi, who would have turned 100 years old in 2017. The year-long event is one of a number of projects being published in the comics industry to celebrate the life and legacy of Kirby, including Marvel's Monsters Unleashed and a new, Kirby-drawn Artist's Edition of The Fantastic Four over at IDW.
The concept of The Kamandi Challenge is that each incoming writer/artist team will leave a cliffhanger to be picked up by the previous team, "challenging" them to get the characters out of the mess they've put them in.
"For me, it was, okay, now I've got to give them a cliffhanger, and because Kamandi always reminded me of Planet of the Apes, somehow in my brain, King Kong was there," Palmiotti admitted. "And when I wrote the ending, I was like 'I want to do a King Kong ending,' and I had Kamandi tied up like Fay Wray and this giant Kong-type guy comes down to eat them."
The pair, clearly excited by the fun of the issue, traded off the description like the married couple they are, finishing each other's sentences and laughing over the insane ideas of the story.
"Yeah, this sixty-foot jaguar, a giant jaguar," Conner chimed in.
"I was laughing because I'm like 'Okay, good luck,'" said Palmiotti. "I think I put in the script 'Good luck with that.' I don't have to worry about this now!"
"And he wears a jet around his neck and that was me again: 'What kind of jet is it? It can't be too big of a jet…' and then I'm like researching what the smallest fighter jet is, and taking too long to do something," Conner finished.
How will the next team (writer James Tynion IV and artist Carlos D'Anda) get out of it? You'll have to read next month to find out...and then check back here for a conversation with Tomasi about what he's leaving to the next writer.
That, of course, is part of the fun -- and the joy of exploration is meant to reflect Kirby's constant reinvention of the superhero medium.
"I grew up with The Fantastic Four. I was the guy who had Fantastic Four #1 and I think till #150, which is John Buscemi after Jack," Palmiotti told ComicBook.com. "I bought everything he did, as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, everything I could find at at the newsstand. And then when he started doing Mr. Miracle and Kamandi and Forever People, I bought all of that stuff. He's one of those guys: I loved his art but I could never draw like him. You can't imitate him, you can try."
"I tried!" Conner agreed enthusiastically. "I tried to actually ape him for an issue of [Marvel Knights Black Panther] and you would think it's easy but it's so not. He has so much energy in his work, and I'm always trying to get that energy in my work, and it's so difficult. He's amazing."
"It's funny: as a kid, my friends used to laugh and say 'That guy, he can't draw this and he can't draw that.' And I'd say 'Yeah he can; he can draw anything,'" Palmiotti recalled. "As you get older you start to realize that art is stylized. Jack had this style that was just POWER. And sure maybe the hands weren't exactly this, and he had his unusual way of drawing women, but it was his, and I was a fan of anyone who owned his work in the industry. Jack Kirby, Barry Smith, Bernie Wrightson, growing up Gil Kane, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, these were the greats for me. Even though they were doing the same characters, they looked nothing alike, and Jack was the pure energy. You just associate things with Jack, like Kirby crackle, you know? So getting to work on one of his creations was super exciting for the both of us. We're both fans, and hopefully the fans like what we did. Jack is the King of Comics. He earned that title, you know? There was no king after him."
You can check out both of this issue's cliffhangers, along with a note from Dan Abnett about his contribution to the series, in the attached image gallery.0comments
MORE The Kamandi Challenge:
- Breaking Down the Issue 1 Cliffhangers With Dan Abnett
- Breaking Down the Issue 2 Cliffhangers With Tomasi & Adams
- Check Out The Kamandi Challenge #1's Epic Guest Star
- 5 Reasons To Look Forward To The Kamandi Challenge
- Did DC Comics Ever Publish Planet of the Apes?
The first three issues of The Kamandi Challenge are availble in comic book stores and online at ComiXology today.