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MTV Geek Interviews Jimmy Palmiotti

Interview conducted by Charles Webb

Last year, writers Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and artist Paul Gulacy unleashed the WWII time travel thriller Time Bomb upon readers. Taking a team of scientists back to Nazi-controlled Germany to disarm a bomb set to detonate in the eventuality that the Axis forces lose the war, the story finds its leads in hostile territory in a daring operation to save the future by changing the past. Jimmy Palmiotti was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book for MTV Geek in anticipation of the collected TPB edition from Radical Publishing coming out in February.

MTVGeek: What was the initial seed of inspiration for Time Bomb for yourself and Justin?

JP: There were a number of influences that went into coming up with the Time Bomb concept. When I was a kid growing up in the ’60s-’70s, I was in love with a movie called Where Eagles Dare starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. This movie left an impression on me, and I always had the idea in my head that if I could go back in time to World War 2, what would I do? The idea of killing Hitler is the most obvious and overdone idea in my eyes, so I thought it would be cool to create another “event” that would warrant people going back to change the future. As I got older, the idea started to grow and when Justin and I were working together, we stated to put a bunch of ideas together and these bits and pieces eventually became the Time Bomb book. The idea itself has been in my head for a very long time, and I am eternally grateful that Radical came to my rescue and let us do the book I have been dreaming about forever.

Geek: Could you tell us a bit about the N.W.O.? How does this organization end up getting roped into secret excavations and time travel?

JP: They are my version of the United Nations… a group that looks over the events of the world and steps up to handle any situation… they are also a mix of the C.I.A. and the Secret Service. They have their hands in everything and are world changers, on some level.

Geek: When dealing with the time travel sandbox, do you get more pleasure out of writing to the tension of avoiding changing anything in the past or allowing characters to disrupt things to see what will happen?

JP: If you read the book, we take the idea of changing things and outcomes and explain it quickly and simply since time travel stories can really get stuck in that endless spin. What we did is present a future where man is or will be extinct and figure out that anything they do in the past won’t make it worse. The whole mission relies on the idea that they can prevent something from being triggered… and destroying it might be a simpler alternative. The book tries to steer you away from the math aspect of time travel and more into the unlimited madness we present.

Geek: The story takes place in 2012—was there some significance to this?

JP: I figured I get it done before the end of the world? Well, that’s not really the case. Looking back, we probably should just have said “tomorrow,” but we gave it a year. A lot of the technology in the book is based on real ideas being worked on now—time travel not being one of them—and we wanted it to feel current and not the far future. Justin and I are both science buffs, so we applied our shared knowledge as much as we could into the story. I love the sci-fi genre as long as it is somewhat accessible to me… it starts in a place I can relate to. It’s why Blade Runner and Terminator work on so many levels.

Geek: Are there any bonuses planned for the collected edition of the book?

JP: The bonus is you don’t have to run to the store to find the issues, and there is an interview, some bios, and art in the back that round out the package quite nicely. I think it’s going to be great that people can go out and read all 150 pages in a row and experience the story that way.

Geek: You get one trip back into the past for 24 hours and a team of 5: what are you going back to change?

JP: That’s a loaded question… and one I actually thought about—especially after 9/11. The more you think of the concept, the more ideas you could come back with. The idea that I could try to stop those planes on that day is an easy one to say out loud… but imagine before that, trying to tell the police that planes are going to strike the World Trade Center. Would it be better to find the pilots and assassinate them, and if I did… wouldn’t I be the one in jail? And so on… it’s a never-ending game you could play actually… all the way back to Jesus on the cross. On a personal level, I might go back with heart medicine and prevent my dad’s first heart attack. See? It’s never ending.

Geek: What’s next for you?

JP: Well, we have another book coming out called The Tattered Man that is a cross between a superhero book and a horror title. That will be coming from Image comics. We continue on Jonah Hex and for as long as we can on Freedom Fighters… and for Radical comics, we are now working on what looks like a smaller page count crime genre book that I really can’t say much more about at this time. We like to mix up our genres as much as we can, and the audience now is a lot more interested in trying new things, so it’s a great time to be a storyteller.

Click the image below to go the original article at MTV.com, which includes an exclusive extended preview of TIME BOMB #1!

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