Samurai Jack, the tale of a time-displaced samurai battling ancient evil in a futuristic world, originally made its home at Cartoon Network as a a critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite cartoon that ran for four seasons. Now, years after the end of the show, Jack’s journey is continuing at IDW with writer Jim Zub and artist Andy Suriano, who was an original character designer for the show. With the first issue of the new series coming in October, Zub was kind enough to answer a few questions about how he’s going to continue the story of the stoic samurai and his quest against evil.
Leo Johnson: I guess the first question has to be, were you a fan of the original Samurai Jack show?
Jim Zub: Absolutely! I’m a bit of an animation nut and before I started working in comics I worked as an animation Layout artist. Samurai Jack really caught my eye when it first came out. I was really impressed with its bold graphic animation approach and accessible fun stories. Getting a chance to write new Jack stories is an absolute thrill.
LJ: Will the comic be a retelling of Jack’s story, or a continuation of his long and epic journey, as was already being told in the show?
JZ: It’s a continuation of the story. Everything that happened in the four seasons of the Samurai Jack cartoon take place before the comic. That being said, the series is new reader friendly. Just like the cartoon, the broad brushstrokes of the story (samurai trapped in the future trying to get back to the past to defeat an ancient evil) is easy to understand and people can jump right in.
LJ: With the first arc are you looking to revisit familiar characters from the show, or make you own mark on the world of Samurai Jack?
JZ: This first story arc is all about introducing new elements and setting up new challenges for Jack. The cartoon rarely brought characters back from episode to episode (outside of Aku, of course) and we didn’t want to start the comic off by retreading old material. If we’re fortunate enough to get extended into an ongoing comic, and everyone involved is hopeful that happens, then we’ve got ideas for bringing back some favorite characters in future issues.
LJ: Samurai Jack is seemingly a somewhat similar story to your other books, Skullkickers and Pathfinder, but draws from different influences, mainly westerns and samurai stories and some sci-fi. Is it nice to be playing with a different sort of sandbox with Samurai Jack?
JZ: There are some broader similarities in terms of magic and myths, but it’s a very different setting with its own storytelling “rules”. I love the mix of fantasy, historical and sci-fi elements all slamming together with bold colors and graphic shapes. It’s a genre melting pot I’m eager to explore.
LJ: Jack is a very stoic hero and many of the episodes of the show featured very little dialogue. Has his quiet demeanor caused you to approach the character and story differently than you would approach, say, an issue of Skullkickers?
JZ: The cartoon used silence very effectively to build atmosphere and play off of the “wandering martial artist” archetypes that helped influence it. Just like in the show, we’re not having Jack say much, but when he does speak it’s with purpose and clarity. Secondary characters will be doing most of the talking and, whenever possible, I’m letting Andy’s amazing artwork set the tone without any of my words getting in the way.
LJ: Andy Suriano, who was one of the character designers on the original show, is the artist on the book. Obviously, he has some experience with Jack and brings a familiar design to the table. He seems like a perfect fit, but do you think you could ask for more?
JZ: Not in the slightest. With such a distinctive style I knew fans would be watching closely to make sure the comic looked “right” in order to really secure the legitimacy of the comic. Andy designed characters for the cartoon and his comic pages look like they moved from the TV screen to the printed page while using the strength of comic storytelling to enhance the atmosphere. I’m thrilled to be working with him on the comic.
LJ: While I’m sure you can’t disclose too much, is there a plan to finally have Jack return to his own time with the story that you have planned?
JZ: The Threads of Time story is a big one, that’s for sure. The challenges facing Jack will be intense.
Beyond that, all I can say is to make sure you pre-order your copy for October and read on…