Stargate fans know Daniel Jackson. Played by James Spader in the original film, then essayed by Michael Shanks on television, the character is a cornerstone of that particular universe. This summer, Dynamite unveils new adventures of the beloved character on the comics page. We caught up with writer Doug Murray to learn more.
Newsarama: As one of the characters that stretches back to the original film, Jackson remains a lynchpin of Stargate. Why is he so important to the mythos, in your estimation?
Doug Murray: Daniel Jackson represents both the common man--in that he is not military and has a very non-miltary way of looking at the world, and the uncommon man--in that he is very, very smart and has managed to both decode parts of the Ancient history and, for a brief time, ascend to a higher level. As such he has the true 'outsider' view of everything that happens--both from a human (common man) viewpoint and an inhuman (ascended figure) viewpoint. Daniel is the voice of reason--someone who asks questions first and acts afterwards. He shows all the best aspects of humanity.
Nrama: Michael Shanks has made Jackson an iconic science fiction character. What elements of his performance are essential to you as the creator of the comic?
Murray: Mr. Shanks has presented Daniel as a soft-spoken individual with a remarkable intellect. He sees things others do not--much the way Sherlock Holmes and, more recently, The Mentalist (on TV) do. It is this 'power' that makes him invaluable as both a team-mate and friend. Mr. Shanks shows all of this in a very under-stated way--his Daniel Jackson is sure of himself--but a bit shy. His response to Vala is proof of that. He is the man many of us would like to be--smart, good-looking--and set on doing the right thing no matter what it costs.
Nrama: Jackson started off as more of an intellectual, but grew into more of an action role. How do you see the balance in the character?
Daniel Jackson Page 1Murray: I see Daniel Jackson as an intellect first, a man of action second. He likes to fully appraise the situation before taking any action--a trait that serves him well in many stories. Unlike other SF heroes, he does not look at the pretty face and miss the fact that it hides something ugly. He always appraises situations with the mind--not the body.
Nrama: How do the other characters see Jackson versus the way that he perceives himself at this point in his experiences?
Murray: Characters like Cameron Mitchell and Vala see Daniel Jackson as a powerful figure to be admired and imitated. He's has been through the wars, fighting evil face-to-face and mind to mind--and has come out alive and stronger than ever. Mitchell would like to be just like him--and Vala would like to bask in his reflected glory--and use it to make herself rich. Daniel, however, while aware of his gifts, seldom credits himself with any remarkable acts--he is more willing to believe that whatever success he has had is a matter of being in the right place at the right time or, in many cases, being saved by the acts of his team-mates. He almost always defers to them first--perhaps more often then he should.
Nrama: Is it hard to develop a plot and premise for a character that’s had a substantial fictional life?
Murray: I think it's rather easy. Daniel Jackson has a very strongly drawn character and character arc. Using that already-created character is just a matter of building a plot--and since the Stargate Universe has untold millions of worlds and civilizations available, that is actually rather easy.
Daniel Jackson Page 2Nrama: What’s the worst thing that you (or anyone) can do to Jackson?
Murray: Treat him like a common 'hero'. One that reacts with fists and guns to any adversary. It's something Daniel Jackson would never do--he's a thinker first, a fighter second (and a lover perhaps tenth). Treating him like Captain Kirk or James Bond cheapens him.
Nrama: Tell us about the art; how is Dynamite developing a unified look for the Stargate universe?
Murray: Sorry, I haven't seen the art and don't know who the artists are. I have great faith in Dynamite, however, when it comes to such things. They have consistently come up with great artists to do the things I've worked on and I have no doubt they'll do so once again.
Nrama: What’s next for you after Stargate: Daniel Jackson?
Murray: I'm hoping to do more Stargate stuff, and to return to Jungle Girl--and, of course, as a longtime fan (from the first magazine), I'd love a shot at Vampirella!