In the future, robotic assassins, or Scuds, can be bought out of vending machines. Once a Scud kills it's primary target, it self-destructs. That's the basic premise behind "Scud The Disposable Assassin."
"Our Scud realizes that he will die if he completes his mission so he mortally wounds his target and puts her in the hospital, said series creator Rob Schrab. "The series was Scud becoming a freelance assassin to pay for the life support bills." Schrab sat down with CBR news to talk about Scud's return to comics this February.
"Scud" ran from 1994 to 1998 from Schrab's Fireman Press. In an era that was dominated by chromium covers, variants of all types, and the rise of Image comics and ended with a downturn in the industry that saw many publishers and shops closing up following a speculation boom, Scud was a rarity. It was an independently published comic that found popularity with comic fans across the nation, much like a small title from Mirage Press managed with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in the "Crisis" and Secret Wars" dominated 1980s.
"Scud" was even poised to duplicate some of that success in that it was optioned for film by Oliver Stone, though that option has long since lapsed. The character was also featured in two video games, one for the Sega Saturn system and a PC platform release.
The series came to an abrupt halt, but not to an end. The last issue was published in 1998 and ended on a cliffhanger. The next issue and resolution to the story never came. "I lost my mind," answered Schrab when asked what happened. "No. Seriously, Hollywood came a' calling. Dan Harmon and I got a two-picture deal with Robert Zemeckis' company (one of those was 'Monster House') and things kind of spun out from there. I was really burnt out on 'Scud' and comic publishing, too. It was a big dream of mine to work in movies so I boned out when I got the chance."
Schrab filled in the blanks on his last ten years. "My writing partner, Dan Harmon, and I got picked up by United Talent Agency based off our work in 'Scud,'" said Schrab. "We wrote a writing sample and it got passed around. This led to deals with Robert Zemeckis, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, The Jim Henson Company, DreamWorks, FOX TV, blah, blah, blah. That enough name-dropping for you? As of right now I'm writing, producing and directing 'The Sarah Silverman Program' for Comedy Central."
"I missed Scud," said Schrab of why the return to the series and character. "I missed drawing, too. When 'Monster House' came out people started remembering my name. I got a lot of fan mail again. I really thought people didn't care any more. I was wrong."
The plans for Scud's return and conclusion started off simply, but they didn't stay that way. Said Schrab, "Originally, I was going to do a single-issue conclusion but the book quadrupled. It's four issues long now. 111 pages. My biggest project to date. I really did fall in love with the book all over again. It's like I never stopped."
With the character having been out of the public eye and not widely available on comic store shelves over the last ten years, there is a whole new audience of comic readers poised to discover "Scud." Will the fact that the series' return is meant as a conclusion to a story begun a decade ago hinder their enjoyment of the tale?
"I've been testing it with some non-Scud fans that know nothing of the Scud universe," said Schrab. "The feedback is that it tracks very well for the newcomers. After my test audience read the conclusion, they asked to read the original issues because they enjoy the universe so much. I think the fans that have been waiting, will enjoy it tremendously. I do."
However, it would take much more than a simple throng of new readers coming to the book in order for Schrab to change his plans. This is how he'd like to end things for the Assassin. "This conclusion is really how I want to end it. The book would have to go super nova for me to reopen the story," said Schrab
Long-time readers may wonder how the ending may have changed in the ten years since the cliffhanging issue 20 was produced and now. Without giving away details, Schrab said, "When you read issues 21-24 know that the middle of issue 23 was how it was going to end back in 1998. It would've been an angry, pissed off finale. I'm glad it never happened.
"In June 2008, the entire run of Scud the Disposable Assassin will be compiled into one big-ass book," said Schrab of the plans to collect the series run. A couple of one-shot spin offs that came out during the series original run will also be included. "That's issues 1-24 plus 'Drywall: Unzipped' (Scud's sidekick's origin) and 'Black Octopus: Sexy Genius.' The book will be almost 800-pages long. I can't wait; you guys are going to love it!"
While "Scud" may be coming to an end, Schrab said that he didn't want his creation of new comics to come to a conclusion also. "I want to. It just takes so long to do. I can make six episodes of a TV show in the time it takes to make one big book. We'll see though, I would love to come back with a brand new idea. Comics are so great to get your stories out there."
"Scud The Disposable Assassin" #21 releases February 13, 2008.