Cowboy Bebop has reached fans across the globe as a hit anime, manga, animated film, and a current Netflix series. With all of the varied takes on the futuristic hustlers and scoundrels, it was only a matter of time before the property received its very own Western comic book.
Writer Dan Watters, no stranger to the superhero and fantasy genres, gets to indulge in his passion for the original source material and the latest Netflix version in his new series from Titan Books. Joined by artist Lamar Mathurin, the pair do the original justice, while carving out a unique corner of the Cowboy Bebop universe for long-time devotees and those just looking for an exciting science fiction and crime story mash-up.
Watters spoke to us all about the new series, his upcoming continuation of Home Sick Pilots, and his time writing in the Sandman Universe in this exclusive interview.
How did you become involved in the Cowboy Bebop series at Titan?
Dan Watters: Editor Jake Devine emailed me and asked me if I was a fan of the anime, which I very much was and am. It took me a minute to say yes. In all honesty- I feel that the original is such a wonderful piece of art and storytelling that it was a bit of an intimidating thing to tackle. But then my storytelling brain started ticking over all sorts of possibilities.
Cowboy Bebop started as an anime series, then a live action film, then a tv series, and now a comic. Do you find yourself drawing from each, or primarily the latest Netflix iteration?
Watters: We are adapting the live-action version, but that wasn’t out when I scripted this book; so we definitely leaned on the anime a bunch, aware that both adaptations- live-action and comic- were being created with love for that source material. I also feel that, since we’re working in a drawn medium, part of our job is to bridge the gap between the two other versions. To run with what is intrinsically Bebop in both.
Bebop also received a manga adaptation. Do you find any similarities between your series and traditional manga?
Watters: I know that Lamar is quite influenced by manga and anime in particular. For me, I see it all as comics. There are tools and skills and influence to be picked up from all sources, and I will quite happily steal from anywhere, ha!
What does artist Lamar Mathurin bring to the series as an artist and collaborator?
Watters: A ton. I knew I wanted an artist who could make this book feel distinct from any other version, but still feel very much a part of this world. Lamar delivers that in spades, and it’s been a joy to watch him bring this story to life with such care and joy.
For those currently watching the series on Netflix, how does your comic set up in that world?
Watters: Our story is very much in the spirit of the series, in that it can be read without knowing much about the rest of it, ha! I always admire how Bebop allows the individual stories to stand on their own merits, and I wanted this to carry that vibe too. There’s a beauty to the simplicity of it. The crew flies around in the Bebop. The fridge is empty. They need to catch a bounty… let’s jam.
Which character in the crew is your favorite to write?
Watters: I think that’s changed issue by issue. I knew I wanted to make sure Spike, Faye, and Jet all got their own moments to shine, though I really enjoy the arc we’re taking Jet on through these four issues. If we do it right, I think that should hit home really hard for a lot of fans and readers.
You are about to start the third arc in your Home Sick Pilots series for Image. What can you tell readers about the next arc?
Watters: Home Sick Pilots is a book about the singer of a teenage punk band who forms an unbreakable bond with a sentient haunted house, which then follows her across America. Sometimes that’s about as fun as it sounds. Sometimes it’s about as traumatic and terrifying as it sounds. This third arc I’m really excited about- we’re leaning into the horror manga elements, and Caspar Wijngaard- my artist and co-creator- has been flexing some new tricks that make those really stand out.
Memories of working on the Lucifer title as a part of the new Sandman Universe at DC?
Watters: Lucifer was a great job to have. For two years I wrote a story every month about the devil and how he affects the world. Though I guess a memory which stands out was flying to New Orleans to meet Neil Gaiman and the other Sandman Universe writers. It was February, and the temperature had dropped dramatically; the French Quarter was buried under an inch of snow, and icicles were hanging from palm trees. It very much had the air of a Sandman story waiting to happen.
Watters: I’m also currently wrapping the end of Arkham City: The Order of the World, a story about the lost and forgotten villains and wretches of Gotham City, and I’m also scripting the first issue of my next DC series; which hasn’t been announced yet, but is very much a dream gig…
Cowboy Bebop #1 is currently available at your local comic shop.