FanExpo Boston 2018: Jim Zub On Writing Samurai Jack

by Tito W. James

Tito W. James: Have you been to FanExpo Boston before?
Jim Zub: I haven’t been to FanExpo in Boston before, so I’m really excited. They have a great set-up and run-down of guests.
TWJ: Is there anything that stands out to you from contemporary comic culture?
JZ: It’s such a wild time in terms of visibility. What’s nice is that we no longer have to fight to get casual audiences to read superhero stuff. People love the movies, the video games, all the works in and around superheroes–the challenge is how we can make sure people are reading the comics.
TWJ: You’ve written a lot of stories ranging from creator-owned to licensed IPs. Can you tell me what it was like to write Samurai Jack?
JZ: Before there was going to be a fifth season for Samurai Jack, IDW acquired the license and was looking to do a comic book series that would pick up where the animated show left off.
IDW took multiple pitches. I was one of six writers who put pitches in and those got filtered through to Genndy Tartakovsky and Cartoon Network. Mine was the pitch that got picked in terms of the direction we wanted to go and it seemed to be a very logical pick up from the fourth season. I got to work with Andy Suriano, who was one of the character designers on the show and we really gelled. We knew what we wanted to get out of the series. It was a real joy from start to finish.

TWJ: What made you want to work on Samurai Jack?
JZ: What made Samurai Jack great to me, was that it was a genre melting-pot. The show seemed to be able to contain anything. It’s a post-apocalyptic future ruled by Aku, but there’s also samurai warriors, magic, and mystical stuff.
There’s science fiction, fantasy, martial arts, there’s some slap-stick comedy episodes then there’s some zen philosophical episodes. It felt like a huge genre container that we could put cool new ingredients into and just stir it all up. Samurai Jack is clearly influenced by so many different things but it just brings the material to a boil in its own way.
TWJ: What was your personal take on Samurai Jack as a character?
JZ: For me, Jack was this character who had been through so much over time. With each passing year that he’s in this Aku-Future he’s had to learn to adapt and become more than what he was before. In order to survive, he has to start taking parts of that future-world into himself. I mean, you see that in the fifth season where he’s riding a motorbike with guns and weapons. He’s had to evolve to survive and make it to the final battle with Aku.
I’d like to thank Jim Zub for taking time for this lengthy interview. If you want advice on how to break into comics you should check out Jim’s personal blog.

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