The Peacock streaming service officially launched last month, bringing an impressive roster of NBCUniversal movies, TV shows, and live programming to viewers. In addition to existing titles and a rotating array of movies, Peacock debuted a handful of original series at launch, including the family-friendly DreamWorks Animation animated series Cleopatra in Space. Inspired by Mike Maihack's series of graphic novels of the same name, Cleopatra in Space follows a teenage version of the future ruler of Egypt, as she deals with the ups and downs of being a high school teenager -- with a twist. After she is transported 30,000 years into her future to a planet with Egyptian themes ruled by talking cats, and she is said to the savior of a galaxy. Joined by her newfound friends, Cleopatra sets out to return back to her original time, and also learn some lessons along the way.
One of the most prominent creatives on Cleopatra in Space is Doug Langdale, who serves as its executive producer and co-showrunner. Langdale is no stranger to the animation landscape, with a decades-long career that includes creating Dave the Barbarian and The Weekenders, and co-writing The Book of Life. But on Cleopatra in Space, Langdale's creative influence can be seen in a whole new way.
In celebration of Cleopatra in Space hitting Peacock, ComicBook.com got to chat with Langdale about the series' debut, his work on the upcoming Usagi Yojimbo animated series Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, and so much more. Keep scrolling to check it out, and share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
ComicBook.com: How are you doing at the moment, given everything that is going on right now in the world?
Doug Langdale: It's weird because if you had told me a few years ago that there was going to be a global pandemic and one of the most protected lines of work is going to be animation, I would not have believed you. But, as it turns out, this is maybe the best line of work to be in, because literally everything can be done from home. So that's cool. Basically, we work all the time now, and then we take breaks where we go out in the car like it's a giant hamster ball, and just kind of roll around, and look at things from our safety bubble, acting like we're connected to the workforce.prevnext
What was your relationship with the Cleopatra in Space series prior to joining the project?
I was not familiar with it. When they first talked to me about the project, I did not know what it was, and then I read it, and loved it, and did the show. We knew we wanted to use them as a starting point, we didn't literally translate the books, because it pretty much felt like Mike [Maihack] already had executed that story perfectly. It was like, "Why do the exact same thing again?" So we took the characters and their set up, and then some key character bits, and sort of invented our own thing.prevnext
What was it like to find that balance between honoring the source material, and giving something that established fans are looking forward to and expecting, but also creating something new at the same time?
Mike was very on board with this right from the start. He's great, and super supportive of what we wanted to do. Part of it was just, we wanted to tell that sort of day-to-day story about the characters. In the books, I think the second chapter is like six months later, or something. There's some time that passes. And we were like, no, we want to follow Cleo [on a different timeline]. Like, the second episode should be the next day. As soon as we decided that we wanted to follow her on a day-to-day basis, it really changed how we approached the story. And then, it just didn't seem to make sense try to force it to fit that same course, so we just kind of let it go where it wanted to go, and it meandered off in different directions.prevnext
I love, just from a visual standpoint, the entire world of Cleopatra in Space, and all of the sci-fi elements that you weave in. Were there any particular sources of inspiration, outside of the source material, that kind of found their way into the show?
Yeah, we tried to obviously work some ancient Egyptian motifs in there, and make it an element of the design. I don't know if there was a lot of specific inspiration. We kept looking at other things, and usually, it was like, "No, not like that... Not like that... Not like that." Everything we would look at, we were like, "We're not totally sure what we're going to do with, but not that. I think it ultimately was a pretty different look, just because we weren't satisfied with things that we were looking at.
If there was any inspiration drawn, it would have been probably from '70s French comic books. A lot of that relatively simple line work, and then really amazing watercolor washes. There's a bit of that look in there, and then we went pretty bold with the color choices.
One of the things we did, was we divided the school up into, I think it was three color-coordinated divisions. We never actually mentioned [it] in the show, but there are three different colors of uniform that represented the divisions of the school. I think it was command, combat, and science. And that really had a big impact on look. Those three colors that we picked became a big part of the color scheme of the show.prevnext
What was the process like of figuring out the tone of the series? Because I feel like it's very family-friendly, but it also doesn't talk down to younger viewers.
When we started out, they always sort of give an age range for the show. People used to say "Two to eleven!" and I'd always be like, "That's a wide range." I don't know that two-year-olds and eleven-year-olds are really that similar. I forget what ages they gave me at the beginning of Cleopatra in Space, but I really don't think about it much. I just try to make a show that I would enjoy, and then not have a lot of material that's just going to go completely over the heads of the audience. So it's just telling the story that I want to tell that don't have a lot of obscure references to tax code.prevnext
What are you most proud of with this first season?
I really like the way that Cleopatra herself develops throughout this season it's like she grows as a person. It was nice to do a show that was pretty serialized, so you really see that sort of episode-to-episode growth where she makes some bad choices, and learns from them, and gets better. She's definitely, by the end, a more mature character than she is at the beginning, and it's nice to follow her through that.prevnext
What are you most excited to see the audience respond to?
I probably will never know because I cannot read anything about the show at all. I just can't about anything that I worked on. My philosophy is always to never read a single comment ever, ever, ever. So to the extent, I'm able to keep myself in a bubble.
I completely get the feeling. Being a person working on the internet every day, it's a lot to learn to not read the comments, even when it's tempting sometimes.
I did a little bit a long time ago, and I learned that I will remember every negative comment, and will not remember any positive comments.prevnext
I know you are involved with the Usagi Yojimbo animated series. I'm going to assume that you can't say much about it, but is there anything you can tease?
I am working on it with my wife. We're running the show together, and that literally may be all I can say. I'm not really sure. I know that the press releases have gone out, and it's a spinoff of the original Usagi Yojimbo property. And I think that's about all I can say about that. But it's going great. I can say that much.
Awesome. Was that a franchise you were already a fan of?
Oh yeah. I think everybody knows Usagi.0comments
Cleopatra in Space is now available to stream on Peacock.prev