Disco Ain’t Dead If You Do The Astro Hustle
Jan 06, 2019
by Vince Brusio
At Studio 54 they tripped the light fantastic. At Dark Horse Comics, they have a fantastic light, and it’s reflecting off of the world’s biggest disco ball they call Jai Nitz’s Astro Hustle #1 (JAN190432). This new comic which reads like The Fifth Element on steroids and bath salts is a journey into aerial adventure and absurdity, and in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview writer Jai Nitz breaks down the g-force that will keep you pinned to your seat within the first few pages of his book that’s due to hit comic shops March 6.
Vince Brusio: Pirates of the Caribbean meets Saturday Night Fever? Is that close to describing Astro Hustle? This looks like a Terry Gilliam film. Something close to Time Bandits meets The Fifth Element. How did you brainstorm Astro Hustle?
Jai Nitz: Astro Hustle is like blending the veneer of Treasure Planet and Ice Pirates with an ABBA video: Disco space pirates. But the guts of the story owe more to Dreadstar, American Flagg!, and The Godfather more than anything else. I love the Gilliam comparison! Time Bandits, Brazil, and Adventures of Baron Munchausen are all favorites of mine. The original brainstorming was me thinking of why I liked Han Solo and Firefly so much. The idea that came from that was still rooted in cosmic piracy, but the end product was very different. I think that’s why Dark Horse is the best home for us.
Vince Brusio: What's the setting for Astro Hustle? What is a typical day in the life for this glitzy Liberace-big-hair-and-bling sci-fi story? What helped you visualize this world so that it could be put into full-color pictures?
Jai Nitz: The setting combines all my visual references for disco-era sci-fi like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the original Battlestar Galactica, Flash Gordon, and others. Astro Hustle is a version of space travel that includes scumbags, crooked cops, lowlifes, unworthy royalty, and bounty hunters. Written down, it’s a hodge-podge, so Tom Reilly comes to the rescue. Tom cooks all my visual references into a gourmet dish rather than reheated leftovers. I’m so lucky to have him on the art duties. Tom’s work ethic, eye for detail, and flair/style have brought Astro Hustle to life.
Vince Brusio: In this world of gangsters, girls, bounty hunters, and authorities, who are your main characters in Astro Hustle besides Chen Andalou, and what are their relationships to him?
Jai Nitz: Chen Andalou was a two-bit space pirate… sixty years ago. He was put in cryo-freeze for his crimes, but his ship was lost in space. Chen’s dad was a political activist and his younger brother led a galactic revolt. Now, his younger brother Hanuman is the President of the Galaxy. That puts a huge target on Chen’s back. Enemies and allies alike want to use Chen for their own purposes. We see that in issue #1 when we meet a lawman named Captain Igor Roberts, and the pirates of the Pixie Ghost led by Carbon John. To pretty much everyone, Chen is a walking winning lottery ticket and that fuels the friction in Astro Hustle.
Vince Brusio: How far ahead are you on production for this book? Are you pretty measured in your schedule? How do you like to work on this project? Paint by numbers, or infrequent bursts of imagination?
Jai Nitz: We are working on issue #4 right now. Tom has already drawn issues #1, #2, and #3. Crank has lettered three issues as well. Our amazing colorist, Ursula Decay, is working her way through the issues as we speak. The entire creative team has an ownership stake in Astro Hustle. I had assembled the entire team before we took the book to Dark Horse and we had three issues of art in the can when we were approved. Being so far ahead has given us time to properly promote the book and get it in the hands of reviewers and tastemakers. Wait until you see the quotes we have for the book. The first ad we produced has a quote from Nicholas Meyer, the writer/director of Star Trek II, IV, and VI. If The Wrath of Khan isn’t some of the best sci-fi, I don’t know what is. To have his seal of approval means everything to me. I’ll wrap up the fourth issue before the end of the year and Tom will be right behind me on pages. Have I mentioned he’s fast?
Vince Brusio: If you could go freestyle at a comic convention panel, and speak directly to the audience so as to get them jazzed for this book so they put it on their pull list at the comic shop, what would you say to the crowd?
Jai Nitz: I’d tell any potential readers and retailers that Astro Hustle is the book they didn’t know they needed. The story is fun and compelling. The art is fresh and dazzling. The colors and letters are above-and-beyond. Dark Horse and the creative team are committed financially and creatively to doing our best. The issues are all longer than standard Marvel or DC books, plus we’re including extra stories of new characters and properties to make each issue unique. Based on the Hollywood interest we’ve already seen, I wouldn’t be surprised for Astro Hustle or the backup stories to be collector’s items in the near future. The best way to not miss it is to pre-order it from your local comic shop.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.