Warring space gangsters. An unforgiving, unearthly terrain. And one straight-shooting, tough-as-nails outlaw stuck in the middle.
When you look at the future of sci-fi, the answer is Cold Space, the upcoming series from BOOM! Studios from Samuel L. Jackson and Afro Samura executive producer Eric Calderon. With Jackson's likeness being used for the character of Mullbery, Newsarama caught up with the actor to talk about genre fusions, his favorite comics, and what makes up the dingy futurstic world of Cold Space.
Newsarama: Sam, you've been making all the rounds with your pop-culture cred over the past decade. Star Wars, doing voice work in Afro Samurai and Astro Boy, appearing as Nick Fury in the Ultimates and the Avengers films, and now helming a comic of your own with Cold Space. Could you tell us what that progression has been like for you?
Samuel L. Jackson: I don’t really think about my career as progression. I just take each opportunity as it comes. Thankfully, these kinds of comics and animation roles find their way to me just like dramatic or action roles do. I’m OK doing it all if I like the script and feel I can add to the overall entertainment by being involved. I do what I do.
Nrama: The protagonist of this series, the on-the-run outlaw known as Mullbery, is modeled off of your likeness. What can you tell us about Mullbery as a character? How have you and Eric played off one another to get this guy off the ground?
Jackson: He’s a guy with a simple motive. Make a buck. But to do that on the run and out in space takes street smarts. Which means he’s got to be quick talking and quick on the draw, just like the old west. E and I worked on Afro for years together and talked lots about our love of westerns, samurai movies, and comics. So, I guess we just put that all together one day. It wasn’t a long development process or anything. It just kind of popped in E’s head one day. He pitched me over the phone and I was like, ‘Cool. Let’s go for it.’
Nrama: Cold Space's premise -- an outlaw stuck between two sides of a civil war -- definitely reminded me of western hits like A Fistful of Dollars, or even Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django. Can you tell us a little bit about these warring factions that Mullbery might fall between?
Jackson: What we wanted to do is make a world that’s not full of shining towers and regal settings. Been there already in Star Wars. So, we just kept it simple and gave gang leaders basic financial goals. On one side you’ve got Mario Waid an entrepreneur who just wants to keep his restaurant ‘The Royale’ the hottest spot in town. On the other side you’ve got GK, a tough ex-miner whose bar and place-of-ill-repute is his first step out of the tough life he used to know. Now he wants to insure that he and his kin will always be comfortable. For him, that means running the whole damn town.
Nrama: Now, you've worked with Eric in the past, on Afro Samurai. For you, what are the strengths that Eric brings to a project like this? How do you guys bring that unique energy from that show, and bring it to a silent, static medium like comics?
Jackson: E’s a cool cat as a producer and as a writer. I work with tons of people in films. But E’s the guy who brought me into adult animation and comics. What we both always look for is bringing something classic together with something new. Also, since we’re both big comic readers - my pull list at Golden Apple is a bit bigger than his - we’re just trying to create the energy of what we want to read ourselves. I don’t think of films as ‘moving’ and comics as ‘static.’ They’re just all entertainment.
Nrama: Up-and-comer Jeremy Rock is providing the interior art for this project. What's your thoughts on him? What do you feel he brings to the table on a project like Cold Space?
Jackson: I didn’t know Jeremy’s work before Cold Space. But I like the cowboy western base he’s giving the characters and I dig the expressiveness in the faces. Not everyone’s yell and furrowing their brow all the time. Characters actually look like they’re acting.
Nrama: With your involvement in comics increasing so much over the few years, are there any comics that you've seen as influential, or as something you'd like to emulate, for Cold Space? For you, what is the gold standard you're shooting for?
Jackson: That’s a tough one. I read lots of genres of comics, graphic novels, and manga. Personally, I lean towards the darker realistic stuff. The crime stories like Sam and Twitch, Fell, 100 Bullets. But I also read the super hero stuff and recommend lots of manga. One of my favorites is Lone Wolf and Cub. I actually had dinner with the creator and writer in Japan, Kazuo Koike. I wouldn’t say we’re trying to emulate any of these. We’re trying to make our own thing. If anything, I’d say we’re just trying to make something bad-ass.
Nrama: For people who may still be on the fence about Cold Space, are there any teases or just flat-out awesome moments you can hint at?
Jackson: Yo, I’m in it and I say it’s good. Do you need more than that? Do you!?!?!!