Exclusive: Jim Kuhoric celebrates 40 years of the Six Million Dollar Man
Before there was Stone Cold, there was the Six Million Dollar Man, a bionic wonder who hit high speeds in slo-mo and threw cars that sounded like missiles as they sailed across the 1970s TV screen.
Now that cornerstone of Superhero TV, Six Million Dollar Man, will celebrate its 40th anniversary and finally have a sixth season courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment in a new comic book by writer Jim Kuhoric and artist Juan Antonio Ramirez.
To get the scoop on this anniversary milestone, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer met exclusively with Kuhoric and asked about all things Steve Austin … bottom line.
Cosmic Book News: First, Jim, were you a fan of the original Six Million Dollar Man TV series? It's hard to believe it's getting ready to celebrate a 40th anniversary.
Jim Kuhoric: You know, I think I might be one of the biggest Six Million Dollar Man fans there are. I grew up with the series and Steve Austin was a huge influence in my life (and he still is to this day). It is hard to believe that we are celebrating 40 years of the Bionic Man. It has been far too long since the original Six Million Dollar Man has had new adventures in comics. I loved the old SMDM Charlton comics and magazines. Some of those issues had art by legends like Neal Adams and Steve Ditko that were nearly perfect at conveying the adventures. As a kid I loved when every issue came out and I’m hoping that we can capture some of that magic in the new SMDMS6 series.
Jim Kuhoric: I’ve been talking with Dynamite Entertainment’s Publisher, Nick Barrucci, about my passion for The Six Million Dollar Man for several years now. I’m sure he was tired of my constant insistence that fans really wanted adventures set during the series original run. But in the end the timing was right for us to revisit the classic Six Million Dollar Man continuity and give fans additional stories based on the era and likenesses of those characters. I was one of several writers that pitched for the series. When I turned in the story outline, bible, and episode guide for my proposal, it was approved by Dynamite and Universal as the official direction for the first story arc to reintroduce the series. Finding out that I had the honor of bringing these characters back is really one of the highlights of my career in comics and as a fan of the show.
Jim Kuhoric: The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six is a direct sequel to the original television series. Kevin Smith did a wonderful job of reimagining Steve Austin in the Bionic Man comic book. He was able to take these concepts that we love and update them with new technologies and motivations. But our series is true to the original television run. We’ve gone back to the original age of bionics and picked up our adventures right from the last weekly episode that aired in 1978. This is Steve Austin in all his groovy 70s apparel and attitude. Can you dig it?
Jim Kuhoric: The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six is rich with characters from the original television series. We have major recurring roles, spot cameos, and new developing characters as well. Steve Austin’s world has a lot of recognizable faces and we will be seeing the majority of them in the pages of the new comic series: from Oscar Goldman to Rudy Wells to even Barney Hiller, the “Seven Million Dollar Man.” We want to bring a sense of familiarity to the series and pay homage to the incredible variety of characters and actors that have been a part of this pivotal sci-fi program.
Jim Kuhoric: What I love most about The Six Million Dollar Man was how much fun it was. Every time I think about my favorite episodes and characters I get this feeling that reminds me of what it was like to be a wide-eyed kid again and drinking in the imagination of the series. We want to bring that sense of wonder to fans today and introduce new readers to one of the most significant original series to ever air. In our first arc we will tear Steve Austin down. He will face betrayal, corruption, Cold War enemies, familiar foes, and an alien menace like he has never encountered. Steve will be forced to adapt to a world that seems determined to make him suffer. We’ll be able to watch as he begins the slow climb out from the horrors heaped upon him. And we will have all the fun of classic Six Million Dollar Man special effects and sound effects to bring back those nostalgic days of watching the Bionic Man on television.
Jim Kuhoric: We have a lot of recurring characters in the series but one of the most important features of our arc is to give Steve new threats to face. Honoring the past is a big part of our presentation for nostalgia sake. But to really challenge a bionic man, you have to continually up the ante. He’s fought unstoppable machines, androids, and Bigfoot – but we intend to give him a few more nemesis to encounter during the run of the Season Six arc. And I hope that a few of them become mainstays in his adventures just like the bad guys from the original television series run.
Jim Kuhoric: You can’t have The Six Million Dollar Man without the special effects and sound effects. They were such an integral part of what made the show unique and innovative for the time period of its original production run. I can’t tell you how many times my elementary school friends and I would run around in slow motion “da-na-na-na-na-ing” pretend fights and adventures. It is a challenge to portray those features in a comic book, but we are finding fun and unique ways to accomplish the task. From “slow motion” bionic panel sequences to running a scene together with sound effects to express the action effectively, we are experimenting with ways to bring those important features to life in the comic book.
Jim Kuhoric: Juan Ramirez’s art is nothing short of incredible. The first pages I saw were the two page intro spread that represents the classic Six Million Dollar Man montage opening sequence. I knew right there that he was the man for the job. His interpretation of the script had a beautiful originality to it and was very true to what I was looking for. It’s this beautiful loose and flowing style that just seems to express exactly the gist of what the story is calling for. Juan is a superstar in the making and I am honored to have him on the main art duties.
But what can I say about all of the contributors? I mean Alex Ross doing the main covers still boggles my mind. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with Alex before but I’ve been a fan of his ever since his first published work. And the paintings he created for the series have been phenomenal. He so beautifully captures the essence of the series with imagery that feels like it was created during the original television run.
And I want to give a shout out to Ken Haeser for his work on the “Lil’ Dynamites” cover line. His alternate covers on Six Million Dollar Man Season Six have such a joy to them that they really make me smile. He’s a tremendous talent that I hope I can work more with in the future.
Jim Kuhoric: Ahh, Jaime. Everyone loves the Bionic Woman. Lindsay Wagner is such a charismatic actor and she brought a very organic life to Jaime Sommers. If you remember how her character developed, she began as a guest star on The Six Million Dollar Man and spun out into her own series a short time later. We approached Jaime’s role in SMDMS6 in the same way. She is in the first arc of our story as a “guest star” and our plan is to build her role up in future issues. If fans love the series, I would be thrilled to go back and do the same follow up series to the Bionic Woman.
Jim Kuhoric: The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six has really reinvigorated my creativity and I’m enjoying where it is going right now. I would love to do a classic Bionic Woman continuing series if fans enjoy what we are doing on SMDMS6. For that matter, I have a bunch of short stories for supporting characters that I’d love to give some time to. Maybe we could get Dynamite to go for a Six Million Dollar Man Annual this year that we can use to do stories on Rudy, Jaime, Sasquatch, and all the other great characters from the series. I think that’d be a lot of fun.
We are moving forward with a sequel to Dead Irons that I’m super excited about. I recently had an opportunity to meet fans at the Virginia Comic Con and the reaction to Dead Irons really blew me away. My friend and special effects artist Brody Williams transformed cosplay models into Silas and Annie Belle Irons in front of me at the show for an incredible photo shoot. I walked away from that wonderful convention determined to get the next chapter of Dead Irons out this year.
There are still a handful of properties that I would love to revisit. If our friends at DC ever want to go back to the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash universe, I have many more stories from those classic franchises to tell. In fact ... I have a Leatherface vs. Ash outline all done and waiting for the call.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jim Kuhoric for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our nosy M.E. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci who helped make this interview possible.
“The Six Million Dollar Man: Season Six” #1 will hit stores March 12!