A little more than a year ago, I found myself unexpectedly hooked on Syfy’s Eureka.
Perhaps not so unexpectedly, the Syfy network announced the entertaining and enjoyable show would end following the forthcoming fifth season, which has wrapped production and is set to air sometime this summer.
As the end of Eureka draws near, though, co-creator Andrew Cosby is as busy as ever.
A geeky dad and self-described “hack of all trades” who works in comics, television, movies and has been known to “go a little nuts around Halloween,” Cosby recently took some time for an email interview with GeekDad about Eureka, fatherhood, and what just might be the next big “v-word” in rabid fan circles.
Booth: Let’s start by talking about Eureka. Can you give a brief history of how the show came about, and what your inspirations and goals for the show were?
Cosby: It actually started as an animated series pitch, just this half-baked concept collecting dust in the dark recesses of my Scotch-addled brain. You know, one of those ideas you don’t do anything with and then wind up yelling at the screen when someone else beats you to the punch. But not this time, thanks to my good friend and co-creator Jaime Paglia, who approached me while I was working on my first television series, Haunted. That’s the Matthew Fox show you haven’t seen. Anyway, Jaime and I had written a movie for Akiva Goldsman over at Warner Bros (about a hit man hired to kill Santa Claus – don’t ask), and we were looking to do something else together. We went to lunch, put our ideas on the table, and Eureka was the one that stuck.
As a product of the Lucas/Spielberg generation, I’ve always been a massive sci-fi geek, so this presented the perfect opportunity to write weekly love letters to all those great science fiction movies of yesteryear. You see, my own recipe for success is to continually tap that little 8-year-old living inside me on the shoulder and ask him what he wants to do today. On this particular occasion, the chubby little bastard put down his bowl of Cocoa Puffs and yelled, EUREKA! Which gave the rebellious 30-year-old on the outside a chance to take a risk with a unique genre hybrid, blending sci-fi and comedy, which was traditionally something you simply did not do, at least not if you wanted to, you know… get paid and stuff. Thankfully, the folks at Syfy (back when it was still called Sci-Fi) saw the method to my madness and took a risk of their own. Now, here we are five seasons later, with the most successful cancelled series in the history of the network. Go figure.
Booth: Talk a little bit about your roles in the show’s production as co-creator, writer and the other duties you took on, and how they’ve evolved.
Cosby: I was the show-runner in the beginning but eventually stepped down and let Jaime take over so I could work on other projects and continue building my new comic book company, BOOM! Studios, which ultimately went on to become the seventh-largest comic book publisher. That made the 8-year-old in me very happy. And we were making quite a splash in the film industry at the time, with a few big movie deals right out of the gate, which kept my agents very happy. Meanwhile, Eureka just kept chugging along and ultimately reshaped the way Syfy approached original series. When I build ’em, I build ’em to last. And when I fail, I fail spectacularly.
Booth: What has been your favorite thing about developing and watching the series unfold?
Cosby: It’s always amazing to see something from your imagination take on a life of its own. And really weird when they friend you on Facebook, which just started happening. There’s nothing more surreal than interacting with a fictional character you created, and nothing more rewarding than seeing the words you type one day coming out of the mouths of your actors the next. It’s wonderfully fulfilling, especially in comparison to features, where the incubation period from script to screen can be interminable. But undoubtedly, the best part of working on Eureka has been the friendships I cultivated with the people involved, especially Ed Quinn and Colin Ferguson. We were fast friends right from the start, and that friendship ultimately grew into a whirlwind bromance. They are the Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper to my Zack Galifianakis.
Booth: What’s been your favorite episode, story arc or moment?
Cosby: I loved the WWII time travel relaunch at the beginning of Season Four. That was something Jaime and I had talked about since the show’s inception. In fact, Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt about the atomic bomb and the fact that mankind’s future rests in the hands of scientists and not soldiers was a huge inspiration for me in creating the show in the first place. I’d actually used it in one of my earlier comic projects, G.I. Spy. But if I had to pick a favorite single moment from the entire series, it would be Beverly Barlowe poisoning Susan Perkins at the end of the pilot. I know that’s an odd moment to choose, but it represents a certain darker tone I felt was missing from the series after my departure. For me, those edgier bits really make a world of difference. They somehow ground things, which allows you to really stretch the boundaries in other areas.
Booth: So, with the cancellation news coming mid-season, where were you in the filming schedule? Was there time to craft the final storylines to wrap up the series to your satisfaction?
Cosby: As you know, there were short-lived rumors of a six-episode sixth season, which would have given the writers ample opportunity to wrap up the series as originally planned. Jaime and I have known from the very beginning where the show was going and how we wanted to get there. We didn’t think there was a chance in hell the network would let us get away with it, but at least we always had it in our back pocket. Unfortunately, things came to a very abrupt conclusion, which didn’t give Jaime and the team a lot of time to plan. But we’re talking about an extraordinarily talented group of writers, so they were able to spin a bit of the old Eureka magic, and I think our audience will be well satisfied – at least as satisfied as you can be when one of your favorite shows gets the ax.
Booth: Talk a little about the reaction your hearing from fans of the show, and whether any sort of spinoff or standalone movie or miniseries would be a possibility, given the love the fans have for these characters and this world you created.
Cosby: he fans have been awesome and extremely supportive. They’re the reason we broke all those records and became such a huge hit. But no one likes it when their show gets canceled. I haven’t had any death threats or anything (aside from that one from Colin, but that’s because I drank the last of his good Scotch), but I have definitely fielded more than a few disappointed emails, tweets and Facebook posts. It’s sad, really. I mean, we invite these characters into our homes, get to know them, even fall in love with them… and suddenly they’re gone. There’s enough of that sort of thing out there in the real world. Who needs it invading our living rooms, right? I wish I could ease the pain by telling them there are spin-offs, movies, video games or even an animated series in the works, but right now there just aren’t, at least not to my knowledge. Maybe that will change. After all, when it comes to Eureka, anything is possible.
Booth: Moving on to your own geek interests, talk about your influences as a kid – what stories or movies or comics made the biggest impact on you and why?
Cosby: Hands down, my favorite comic was The Fantastic Four, with X-Men, Spider-Man and The Avengers batting cleanup. I always did lean more toward Marvel, at least when I was a kid. Except for The Flash. I really loved The Flash… fastest man alive… which incidentally makes for some really awkward play time with your buddies. I mean, you gotta tell everyone, “Slow down! I’m moving really fast now!” Suck.
Later in life I discovered the joys of the darker side of comics… 2000 AD, Batman, Swamp Thing, Grendel, Sandman, pretty much anything with Vertigo on the cover, or written by a Brit. I might be the only kid in the world who became a Punk because of Judge Dredd, and not the music. God bless Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and the rest of those British bastards for injecting a bit of the Bard into the business.
But comic books are only one of my many geek passions. I love it all, really – anime, zombies, toys, video games, robots, monkeys, robot monkeys, fantasy novels, horror books – I’m a total pop culture fanatic, especially when it comes movies. That might be one of the reasons for Boom’s unusual success. My co-founder is a true comic book guru, the kind of guy who knows the names of the letterers and who inked which issue of what. He’ll probably be buried in a long box. But I’m the real film fanatic. Movies are my life. I eat, drink and breathe cinema every moment of every day. Just can’t get enough of it. And it all started when I was a kid. My parents had no filter for what I was allowed to watch, so I was seeing stuff like Alien, Universal Monster movies, Hitchcock films, The Exorcist, Jaws, Halloween, you name it, all way too young. It warped me… but in a good way.
Booth: You co-founded and wrote regularly for Boom! Studios comics: Talk about the formation of that company, and what projects there you’ve enjoyed the most.
Cosby: My co-founder was literally publishing comics out of his garage, reprinting books by well-known creators under the Atomeka brand. He was doing rather well and eventually decided to split off from his Atomeka partners to do his own thing. That’s when BOOM! began. The company’s first book was Zombie Tales, which I created after a panicked phone call from Ross, who had agreed to do an anthology but was worried that it wouldn’t sell. So I came up with Zombie Tales right there on the spot, knowing that it would be creatively cool and financially less risky to do an anthology with a built-in audience. Plus, we had plenty of writer friends willing to do stories for us, so it was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a no-brainer. At the time, there wasn’t a glut of zombie stuff out there (believe it or not), so the book was a big success. But the company still needed real funding. Fortunately, my in-laws were running a brokerage firm at the time and were looking to invest in an interesting media venture. They wanted me to start a production company, but I convinced them to fund a comic book company instead. The rest, as they say, is history.
As for my favorite Boom project, it’s hard to say. You try to love all of your children equally. I love Savage Brothers. Had a lot of fun on that one. Mister Stuffins was a story I’d carried with me for years. It was based on my childhood teddy bear. We had some amazing adventures together… before he lost his eye. But I digress.
Everything I did with Mike Nelson was pure joy. That dude can write with the best of ’em. Working with Mark Waid was an amazing, educational and humbling experience. Convincing Disney to let us do the Pixar books was another major coup. I still remember typing up a list of ideas on where we should take those stories if we were lucky enough to secure the license. Keep in mind, there was some major competition for those books from some pretty heavy hitters. Thankfully, the guys at Pixar loved my ideas and gave us the shot. Honestly, I’ve been fortunate to work with so many amazing creators on so many cool projects, it’s impossible to picks favorites.
All that being said, I’d have to say the best book Boom publishes, hands down, is Mark Waid’s Irredeemable. In fact, it’s one of the best books out there. And that’s not a Boom guy talking – that’s a fan.
Booth: Boom has published such a wide range of titles for various audiences, from Disney-affiliated properties and kid-oriented stuff to darker fare. Was that something you had in mind from the start, and what sort of stories do you most enjoy telling?
Cosby: I had one simple goal when we started Boom: Do what the other guys aren’t doing, and do it well. I knew if I combined my love of comics with my rebellious nature and desire to break new ground, something interesting might happen. And maybe with a little luck and a lot of hard work, we might even stay in business. As it turned out, we were extraordinarily lucky and supported by some very generous friends, who gave freely of their time and talents. Even other comic book companies supported us. I’ve got great relationships at Dark Horse, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite. Mike Richardson published my first comic book. We learned from the best and followed in the footsteps of giants.
As for the stories I most like telling, they’re the ones that the fan boy in me demands. I try to follow my heart with everything I do. That way, if I fail miserably, at least I was doing something that inspired me. And hopefully, it will inspire others in the process. It can be anything, as long as it hits that creative sweet spot. One day, that might be a gruesome Lovecraftian thriller… the next it could be pulp sci-fi adventure. Today, it’s Vikings. Go figure. I’m a hack of all trades.
Booth: You’ve also mentioned that you’re definitely a geek dad – you said one of your two daughters wanted to be Cthulhu for Halloween, I think – in what ways have you aimed to share your geeky hobbies and favorite geeky things with your kids?
Cosby: I love being a dad. There’s nothing better. My girls are my world, my muses, my true inspiration. When my first daughter was born, it was like this whole other part of me opened up inside. It changed everything. All those petty little problems of everyday life suddenly came into perspective. Compared to the awesome responsibility of this tiny little human who had suddenly come into my care, everything else was cake. And I’ve worked overtime to “nerd them up.” We watch movies together, play games together, read the same books, microwave the same action figures, you name it. My girls have given me a second childhood, and I never really left the first one behind, so it’s a lot of fun around our house.
My youngest has this wickedly dark sense of humor. She loves monsters, vampires, ghosts, anything that’s gross or bloody. Her favorite movie is Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, which she saw when she was three (Please don’t report me to Child Services). On a recent play date, she pointed to the water drain in the garage and told her friend, “That’s where we keep the dead people.” It’s like living with Wednesday Adams.
My older daughter is much more the fantasy, Harry Potter, fairies and unicorns, sensitive soul type. She’s currently learning how to play Dungeons & Dragons and already wanting to create her own adventures. “The ones in the books are too predictable, Daddy.” Speaking of books, we’re also collaborating on a new children’s book. She has an amazing aptitude for storytelling. For example, I often test out new projects by telling them as bedtime stories, and on this one occasion, I got to the end of the tale, and my eldest scrunches up her nose and says, “I like it, but I wouldn’t end it like that.” Can you believe it? I’m getting notes from a freakin’ 8-year-old. And the worst part is… she was right.
Booth: What are you working on now – it came out last year that you’re developing a new Tales from the Crypt series, for instance – and what projects have you completed that we’ll be seeing soon?
Cosby: There’s so much amazing stuff going on right now, where do I begin? I guess one of the most exciting endeavors I’m currently working on is Big Air Studios, an innovative motion picture production, distribution and acquisition company my partners and I created to take maximum advantage of the revolutionary advances in technology currently impacting the motion picture industry, which we all know is undergoing some ground-breaking changes right now. Digital retailers like Apple iTunes, XBox, Netflix, Amazon and Film Fresh are rapidly expanding, not to mention all the new companies emerging every day. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and internet-connected televisions are allowing consumers to access content like never before. I wanted to be on the bleeding edge of this new entertainment frontier, so we spent a couple of years developing Big Air and its digital delivery pipeline. We built it so they would come, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
On the writing end of things, I just finished a project for HBO, which my team and I put together in a way that gives me substantial ownership of the series and complete creative freedom. It’s this badass Viking series, and I fully expect thousands of screaming fans dressed as the new V-word come next Comic Con. Might even give a cameo to the best dressed. How cool would that be? I’m working with Omni Film Productions out of Canada on that one, and it’s been an absolute pleasure.
As for Tales from the Crypt, we’re still trying to find the right home. If we pull it off, it’s going to be something really special and totally unexpected. I’ve got a few other pilots floating around out there, including this awesome new sci-fi series with Suzanne de Passe, and a horror series with Lloyd Levin (Hellboy, Watchmen).
It’s been a busy year. I wrote more TV than I ever thought humanly possible – at least for this human – and still somehow managed to find time to put a couple of movies into the pipeline, one of which I’ll be directing – a frightening new spin on a familiar horror trope. Wish I could say more, but the powers that be would skin me alive. I’m also doing an animated movie with one of my favorite directors. I can’t name names just yet, but his last animated feature was just nominated for an Oscar, so I’m feeling pretty good. All in all, I’d say 2012 is shaping up nicely.
Of course, if the Mayans were right, I’m gonna be really pissed.
[This article, by John Booth, was originally published on Monday. Please leave any comments you may have on the original.]