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A Conversation With Rob Schrab
An interview with David Maddox
March 2008

© Rob Schrab
Rob Schrab
Rob Schrab
Rob Schrab grew up in the small farming community of Mayville, Wisconsin. While attending art school in Milwaukee, he did stand-up and improv at night, joining the comedy group the Dead Alewives. That led to a Dungeons & Dragons skit that later turned into the popular CGI short "Summoner Geeks." After college, Schrab went into a successful illustration and cartooning career. He poured the money he earned from this into self-publishing Scud: the Disposable Assassin. Not only did Oliver Stone's production company option the comic for a feature film, Scud wound up becoming a video game for Sega's Saturn system. Schrab also worked on a new Comedy Central series with Sarah Silverman, helping to write six episodes, and directed four of them. He has co-written the hit animated film Monster House and done a video for Death Cab for Cutie.

Rob Schrab Website
Scud: the Disposable Assassin Website
Wikipedia Entry
SF Site Review: Return of the Over-Used Muse

Return of the Over-Used Muse
Scud: the Disposable Assassin #21
Scud: the Disposable Assassin #22

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Artist and writer Rob Schrab has crossed many pop cultural boundaries in his career. He has written for television shows, an Academy Award nominated film and created countless online films. But what he may be most remembered for is a little comic book called Scud: the Disposable Assassin that was abruptly cancelled after a twenty issue run back in 1998. Ten years later, Schrab brings his tale to a close. He took a moment from his busy schedule to catch SF Site up on his artistic exploits.

Can you remember the inspiration for your first artistic endeavor?

Oh God, well I think, I don't know, at a very early age I was encouraged towards drawing and art. I think it was as simple as my mom saying "Wow, you really can draw." I think it was that parental nod. All I wanted to do was make my mom and dad happy. I learned very quickly that if you started drawing a picture people gathered around. The better the picture, the more they talked about you. So that was kind of my way to, as an in, to get people to like me, I guess. And that happened as early as preschool.

So not really a plea for attention but a way to get noticed?
I think it was a plea for attention. I mean, of course, in the High School years when women started to be involved, it got pretty darn pathetic at times. But you know everybody uses something to get people to like you and drawing was my first way to justify myself.

Did you have any heroes or role models (or outside influences) from that time?
I was a big fan of the Dungeons & Dragons art growing up. Doctor Who was a huge influence on me. Big time. Still is. Love the new series. (It) brings tears to my eyes. I watch it and adore it. And then I was introduced to Japanese anime... Battle of the Planets and G-Force. Voltron, that was huge. All that stuff started governing which direction I was going to go with my art. And the comic books I would pick up on occasion. We didn't have a comic shop growing up in Mayville (Wisconsin), so if I wanted comics I would have to buy 'em at the grocery store which was limited to super-hero comics (like) Superman, Spider-Man. I like Spider-Man. I though he was cool, but nothing really grabbed my interest until I went to college and started looking at more independent books.

What's the story behind the creation of Scud: the Disposable Assassin?
I'm a big fan of robots, not a fan of drawing human characters at all. I find it very, very boring and difficult to make a human character iconic so I wanted to do something of a very simple. Something that looked like it could be animated and something like a robot fighting a monster. I just started with the name, you know 'Scud.' This is early 90's and Scud is being thrown around all over the place because of the Gulf War. And I was like "You know that kind of sounds like a detergent." It was like something you would buy to clean your tub. I thought, you know, what would be real neat is to have an assassin that had this pop art detergent box-like look to it. I though what if there was a robot bought out of a vending machine, like a disposable razor or lighter. This kind of future where there were disposable robot assassins. I wanted it to be a series so I thought that the character would be fighting a different villain once a month. So let's make it a disposable assassin, if he destroys his target he blows up. As a result, we put his primary target on life support and then he becomes a freelance assassin and went on a job once a month. Then he could fight a different monster once a month. That's pretty much all I wanted to do. But it totally became its own universe with lots of rules and different characters. It became pretty cool.

There were rumors of a Scud film. What happened with that?
Yeah, Oliver Stone at one point optioned Scud to be made into a film and that's the reason why Dan Harmon (Schrab's writing partner of many years) and I moved out here to Los Angeles. We wanted to be involved in writing this but they wouldn't let us write it so we were pretty irked about that. We just didn't know how the business was run. We thought "Well, we want to write it" and they would say "Okay, you can write it." But they wanted to get a full fledged screenwriter to do it. So in order to prove them wrong we started writing our own script. When it was time to renew the deal I just held off because I didn't want to go down that route again. And the script they had wasn't really a direction I wanted to go and I just wanted to know that I'd gotten more credits.

So 10 years between the end of the original series and now, what have you been doing with yourself?
Well, I left comic books because I got a two picture deal with Robert Zemeckis' company. Back in 1998, the first script that we wrote for them was Monster House. That sat on the shelf until a few years ago, but that was (mine and Harmon's) first script that we wrote. During that time we struck a deal and we did a television pilot that a lot of people have seen online called Heat Vision and Jack which starred Jack Black and Owen Wilson. It became a cult hit and hopefully one day it will be turned into a movie. That's one idea we're working on. Dan Harmon and I created this thing called Channel 101, a website where we get young filmmakers. It's become quite popular, started a lot of careers. As of right now I'm working on the Sarah Silverman Program.

What was the driving force that finally got Scud back to the comic pages?
It was a bunch of things. Shocker Toys wanted to do an action figure and they told me Scud was voted as the number one. Well, I don't know if it was the number one, it was probably in the top five action figures, that (was requested to be made). After all this time, people still cared about Scud. And because of Monster House and the Sarah Silverman Program and my name kind of being all over the place, I was getting a lot of fan mail. Somebody forwarded to me that Kevin Smith was talking about me on his message board. He said this really, really nice thing about the book and that it was a favorite of his. I was really flattered that there was all this love still out there. And about the same time Image Comics came to me and said "Hey, we'd like to reprint all the books in one big book." And I said "Well, you know I'm going to feel really, really stupid if that big book comes out and the final chapter's not there, so let me kick out a final chapter." The book was supposed to be 30 pages long but it ended up being 111, so they split it up into four books.

Have you ever had to compromise your vision of the character or have you always had complete creative control?
It's pretty much been me from the beginning, I've never compromised anything. The only compromise would be working on the movie which is the big reason I pulled it. I understand you have to compromise with any kind of adaptation whether it's a novel or a comic book or a video game. There's got to be some compromise. I just didn't like the way things were going. I did a deal with MTV about 5 or 6 years ago to do a Scud television series and it was great because I was executive producer. I wrote the script. I was all over the place. I was the co-director with the animation director, casting and it was going to be my dream. I was like "Wow, this is going to be perfect." And it was just like so many things in Los Angeles, it just fell apart. Things changed up top (at MTV) and the new guy really didn't get it, so that was it. It's too bad because if that had gone forward... I think Scud works better in a series rather than a movie because you want to kind of do a sequential series of stories rather than one big chunk.

Any plans on licensing out the property?
No not really. I kind of want to get out this final chapter, me just putting it behind me in a decent place. If Scud never existed past the comic book I'd probably be fine with that. I think it's a great character. It's a hard nut to crack in terms of taking it to a movie or TV show. And I'm kind of moving forward, things are going really great with me. I'd rather do a new comic book with a new character, just keep moving forward.

Where could an interested party or reader locate some of your other work?
www.robschrab.com! That's got all my short films on it, it'll bring you up to date with what I'm doing, when the Sarah Silverman Program will be on, updates on possible Heat Vision and Jack stuff. Also there's a link to my personal artwork and sketches.

Any advice to your fans, fans of Scud or artists in general? C'mon hit us up with some words of wisdom.
Do what you love and don't stop doing it. Don't listen to anyone who tells you something is not going to work.

Copyright © 2008 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.


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