In "The Night of the Undead," something zombie-like is attacking the customers at the Springdale Shopping Mall, and it's up to Scooby and the gang to team up with the Chief of Police and a mall security guy to get to the bottom of things!
We caught up with writer, Paul Kupperberg, to talk about Scooby-Doo #157.
Bad Wolf: Were you always a Scooby fan?
Paul Kupperberg: No, not really. I was older when Scooby Doo first hit the air, around fourteen, and the show was clearly aimed at a younger audience. I saw a few early episodes...I was a hardcore comic book fan so I did watch some Saturday morning cartoons, but that’s about it. But once I was pitching Scooby Doo stories, I did watch a couple of episodes, plus read a bunch of issues of the comic and, of course, it’s hard to be as into pop culture as I an without knowing all the clichés about the characters: Scooby’s appetite, Shaggy’s speech pattern, the ritual unmasking of the villain and all that.
The Big Bad Wolf: This upcoming issue sounds almost like a tribute to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, is that correct?
“The Night of the Undead” was actually a retread of a pitch I had made for an earlier issue of Scooby Doo, which was a nod to DC writer Geoff Johns and the “Blackest Night” storyline running in the DC titles. Scooby editor Harvey Richards asked a few writers for pitches. He chose someone else’s story for that, but asked me to re-jigger my pitch for this. It was a matter of changing some character names and making the rings in the Johns story into dog-tags for “The Night of the Undead.” Romero never even occurred to me.
The Big Bad Wolf:
Are you a fan of Dawn of the Dead and the “Dead” franchise?
Not in the least. I’ve seen, at best, clips from Romero’s films over the years. I don’t like horror movies. They don’t scare me; they just bore me. I kind of sit there watching, just anticipating what’s coming…”And the boogey man’s gonna jump out…NOW!” Recently, a friend sat me down and showed me ALIEN, and I couldn’t wait for it to end…I think I developed restless leg syndrome wanting this thing to be over. I just don’t get horror movies beyond the classic Universal monsters and, maybe, some of the Hammer films. My favorite horror movies are “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Freaks,” so you can see where my tastes run. When I do write horror, it always comes off kind of tongue-in-cheek. I did a short story for VAMPIRES, a prose anthology from Moonstone Books, called “Dog Bites Man” that I’d intended to play straight, but as soon as I started writing, my narrator came out as a snarky reporter for the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS (in a world where everything published in that late, lamented tabloid was true), short, balding, nearsighted Leo Persky, better known to his readers as he-man adventurer Terrance Strange. Total farce, but with, I hope, some genuinely yucky horror moments.
The Big Bad Wolf: You have worked on a bunch of high profile comics throughout your career. What is the difference between working on a Scooby Doo zombie story as compared to a Superman story?
At its core, there’s no difference. You take a character and shape a story that fits their particular traits. And for both Scooby and Superman the reader has to be able to suspend their disbelief, accept that a man can fly or that a dog can “ralk.” But Superman you have to take seriously, as a writer and a reader; his stories are about saving the world. Scooby…not so much. Everybody knows EXACTLY how a Scooby Doo story ends…the mask comes off as the mystery is explained and the villain confesses, adding that he’d have gotten away with it “if not for those darned kids and their dog!” It’s goofy, silly fun, but every story hits exactly the same notes and if the mystery is not, shall we say, air-tight, no one kicks. It’s not about solving the mystery—usually you can do that by about page 2—it’s about watching the characters go through their paces and the satisfaction of solving the mystery or debunking the supernatural element they’re faced with. Then again, my favorite of all the Scooby Doo stories I wrote was “Sunday In the Park With Scooby” (SCOOBY DOO #143), which is a Shaggy and Scooby solo story where they solve all sorts of mysteries, big and small, without even realizing they’re doing it during a Sunday stroll through the Park while they snack from all the food and treat carts around.
The Big Bad Wolf: What is the best thing about writing Scooby-Doo?
It’s fun. It’s taking classic themes or ideas and making them work within the Scoobyverse. I’ve pulled on all sorts of inspiration for these stories: Edgar Allen Poe, 1950s horror movies like “Them” and “The 50 Foot Woman,” my memories of and love for Coney Island in my native Brooklyn, my stint as an editor and writer with the late, lamented tabloid WEEKLY WORLD NEWS…whatever. I love writing humor and kids comics, and I’ve been doing a bit of it lately, for Scooby, of course, as well as BART SIMPSON COMICS, and for Archie Comics.
The Big Bad Wolf: How was it working with Scott Jeralds on this issue?
I didn’t exactly work WITH Scott, as I turn in a script, usually not knowing who’s going to draw it, but he did a great job illustrating the story.
The Big Bad Wolf: What impressed you the most with his artwork?
The story looked pretty much as I imagined it would as I was writing the script. It’s great when the artist not only understands what you’re asking him to draw but can also actually make it happen on the page. Scott did that.
The Big Bad Wolf:
Where can our readers find out more about your work?
I can be found on Facebook, and I also have a blog that I post to too infrequently, AND THEN I WROTE at Kupperberg.blogspot.com. These days, I’m a regular contributor to the SCOOBY DOO and do the occasional story for Bongo’s BART SIMPSON COMICS…check your local listings. Or Diamond catalogue. I’ve also recently started writing for Archie Comics, doing short stories for the regular titles as well as writing two new monthly titles that will launch this Summer, ARCHIE LOVES VERONICA and ARCHIE LOVES BETTY, which continue the storylines from the recent imaginary marriage story arcs from ARCHIE #600-605 by Michael Uslan. Michael’s writing the first issues of the new series, which are best described as “ARCHIE Meets MELROSE PLACE,” and I’ll be taking over the plotting and scripting beginning with the second issues…both drawn, I might add, beautifully by Norm Breyfogle, of Batman fame. I’m also writing a new quarterly comic for Moonstone, CAPTAIN ACTION CLASSIC, as well as all sorts of other comics, short stories, articles, and, yes, coloring books (PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR rule!).
The Big Bad Wolf: Thank you for your time,
Paul. Best of luck!
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