Samurai Jack is continuing his adventures with IDW Publishing. The series is heading towards its eighth issue and the first trade is right around the corner, too. To celebrate the franchise's awesome return to comic books, we had the opportunity to chat with the series' writer, Jim Zubkavich, about why this latest run is worthy of your time and money.
COMIC VINE: What makes Samurai Jack unique?
JIM ZUBKAVICH: Samurai Jack is franchise that brings myth, fantasy, science fiction, and comedy all together in an irresistable genre melting pot. It’s high brow design meets low brow pulp adventure; Akira Kurosawa by way of Hanna Barbera.
CV: What are you doing to make sure the book is a satisfying read for both new readers and die-hard fans of the franchise?
JZ: Like the cartoon series, each comic story is relatively self contained, making it incredibly easy for new readers to jump on board at any point. Jack’s core character motivation is simple, but the variety that comes from his classic “stranger in a strange land” conflict keeps fresh and enjoyable.
Long time Samurai Jack fans will enjoy that we don’t just retread the same kinds of situations that have been done before. Like the series, we’re trying to keep moving forward with new places, new antagonists, and new challenges aplenty for our samurai hero.
CV: What's your favorite part about writing this title?
JZ: Almost any kind of story can work in Samurai Jack, from slapstick comedy through to zen-fueled psychological exploration. Genndy Tartakovsky and his crew did an incredible job at building a structure that seems to effortlessly encompass endless possibilities.
CV: Did you approach IDW about the series or did they reach out to you?
JZ: In late 2012 I’d been talking to Carlos Guzman (Editor at IDW) about a different comic project but it didn’t work out in terms of scheduling with other writing work I had on the go at the time. I told him I’d stay in touch and let him know when I was available. In early 2013 I did just that and he mentioned that IDW was looking for a proposal for Samurai Jack and I could throw my hat in the ring if I was interested. I was, I did, and thankfully it all worked out. So, in the end, it was getting in touch at the right time that started the ball rolling.
CV: What's the biggest challenge behind bringing an animated property to the pages of a comic?
JZ: Andy [Suriano] and I strive to give the comic series the same sense of atmosphere and kinetic action that made the cartoon something special. Obviously this is a different medium, but we work really hard to make sure it rings true in terms of design, pacing, and dialogue (or, in many cases, the lack of dialogue).
CV: Can you talk a bit about what you have planned down the road for the book? Any more cameos lined up? New stories planned?
JZ: Carlos, Andy, and I have set up a structure where we’ve been doing 5 issue “big” stories, like the Threads of Time, and then 5 issues of shorter one or two part tales. That gives us some epicness but also allows us to experiment with fun tonal shifts that feel very much in tune with what Genndy and co. did in the animated series.
The upcoming single issue stories are full of kooky stuff. Issue #8 is a story without any dialogue. Issue #9 will have readers turning parts of the comic to read it as Jack is pulled into a twisting vortex. Issue #10 delves into Jack’s memories and emotions in a special issue I wrote just in case we didn’t get an extension on the series. Thankfully we did.
I can’t say too much yet but issues #11-15 kick off another big connected story that ups the stakes. Jack has been weakened and Aku finally sees an opportunity to finish off his archenemy. Big exciting stuff.
CV: What's your favorite episode of Samurai Jack?
JZ: I really like “Jack Versus Mad Jack”, “Jack and the Scotsman”, and “Samurai Versus Ninja”. There are a ton of great episodes.
CV: IDW is handling a lot of very awesome properties right now. Would you love to see Samurai Jack have a crossover with any of them?
JZ: Obviously Jack will be a big part of the Cartoon Network crossover IDW is putting together but, beyond that, I think I could craft something really fun with a Samurai Jack-TMNT team-up.
CV: If you could have Samurai Jack fight anyone from any fictional universe, who would you pick and why?
JZ: A battle between Samurai Jack and Usagi Yojimbo would be one for the ages.
CV: If you had to sell readers on this series in 5 words or less, what would you say?
JZ: Jack is back every month.
SAMURAI JACK, VOL. 1: THE THREADS OF TIME goes on sale May 14.