He’s the one with the badass space cannon, thank you very much. In Cold Space from Boom! Studios, cult hero and award-winning actor Samuel L. Jackson gives voice to Mulberry, a deep-space gun smuggler who’s only in it for the money. On the run in the midst of a galactic war, Mulberry crash-lands on a remote planet with nothing but his wits and a sidearm to save his bacon. To craft the story of this futuristic outlaw, the actor teamed up with his longtime creative compadre, Eric Calderon, who brought unforgettable anime series Afro Samurai to the small screen. Here, Jackson talks to Kirkus about his latest persona.
You’re one of the guys working in Hollywood who has a genuine interest in comic books. What appeals to you about the medium?
I’ve always read comics ever since I was a little kid. So, I grew up with the medium alongside movies and regular books. It’s really a part of who I am. I continue to read them today. I’ve got a pull box at Golden Apple Comics in L.A.
What comic books ring your bell?
I like the police procedural and crime books a lot. So, Sam & Twitch, Fell, and 100 Bullets. I also really like DMZ and Scalped.
How did you and Eric Calderon come up with the concept for Cold Space?
It was pretty quick actually. We both dig samurai movies, science fiction and cowboy films. So, it just popped up one day. Eric came to me with an idea of a space western starring a character in the mold of Han Solo and Yojimbo and I was like, “Cool.”
What kind of fellow is Cold Space’s “hero,” Mulberry?
We imagine him as the classic “nameless wanderer.” But in a setting like Cold Space what really matters most is just plain survival. That means that Mulberry is a hustler, a gunslinger and a tough guy. We’re going to try and avoid “saving the universe” plots, revenge stories and other heavier plot lines. We want to have fun with this guy and just see him get in and out of trouble as he tries to earn a buck.
Some say you pretty much play yourself in Cold Space. How is creating a comics character based on your image different from creating a character on film?
I don’t think of it like that. Mulberry is still a character. Of course, we’re making him sound like me. But, that’s a coincidence that helps the story, since Mulberry’s main skill is his wit and ability to manipulate and dominate. The process itself isn’t that different than film or what Eric and I did on Afro. We discuss the story. He makes the first draft. I give notes and touch up the dialogue.
Eric says you bring Mulberry’s voice to life. What’s the key to sounding like Samuel L. Jackson?
Ha! I’m just me! This is who I am and how I grew up.
You guys have done well for yourself with Afro Samurai before this. What’s the creative process like between the two of you?
We use our guts tempered with experience and research. I watch so much. I read so much. I try to keep up-to-date on TV series, films, comics, scripts and everything I have time to absorb. Eric also reads and watches lots of stuff. We share notes and talk about what we like out there. We try to put a little classic stuff alongside something new.
Working with Eric has also been interesting because it’s been with the kinds of animation and comics that I don’t get with my other work. With Afro, I got to explore into the world of action anime, a scene I’ve always sampled, but never had the opportunity to perform in. With Cold Space, it’s the world of comics that I already love, but it’s my chance to put something original out there.
What goes through your mind when you see yourself on the cover of a comic book?
It’s always good. I’m a performer, so I get a thrill by being on stage or seeing myself on film, so seeing an illustrated version of me is always cool too.
Samuel L. Jackson and Eric Calderon
Illustrated by Jeremy Rock
Boom! Studios / Dec. 7, 2010 / 9781608860210 / $16.99