Two of the most recognizable kids comics today are DC Comics’ Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and Looney Tunes books! Based on the beloved cartoons, these series detail the continuing adventures of Scooby and the gang, and Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and more. They’re an excellent choice for younger readers who might be resistant to reading–who can say no to these classic characters?
As part of Kids Comics Month, we got to chat with writer/artist Scott Gross, who tells us how he got into comics as a kid and what’s coming up for the Mystery Gang!
TFAW.com: Hi Scott, thanks for taking some time to talk with us!
Scott Gross: My pleasure–very excited!
TFAW.com: What’s your personal history with comics? Did you read them as a kid?
SG: I think the first comic I ever actually read was the Marvel Secret Wars series in 1984/’85–I was 9. With most comics I ignored the stories and just devoured the pictures, copying the characters and their poses. How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way was a big influence early on.
TFAW.com: Did you start writing comics or drawing them first?
SG: Probably drawing, picturing my internal monologues or things I was daydreaming about. I would just draw to myself and never even write in the word bubbles. Same as today, really.
TFAW.com: What draws you to work in kids comics?
SG: You need a niche to fit into the industry. Everybody else was competing to draw Batman, like that’s so great. My tastes run towards comedy anyway, so I decided to try the “humor” books–which are aimed at kids. It’s the only place you can at least attempt to be funny and work in comics today. There’s no comedy in Batman, but there can be in a good Looney Tunes story. And it’s satisfying artistically because I get to emulate the work of some true design geniuses–Chuck Jones, Maurice Noble, and Iwao Takamoto, to name a few.
TFAW.com: Did you watch the original cartoons of the properties you’ve worked on as a kid?
SG: Of course! Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo?! That’s meat-and-potatoes where I come from.
TFAW.com: You’ve been doing some incredible Looney Tunes covers. What’s it like drawing these iconic characters for a new audience?
SG: The great thing about LT is that for any cover assignment, there is something in the long, grand history of the cartoon shorts that you can refer to for inspiration. Even if it’s just a color scheme–all you need to do is go back and watch the classic cartoons, and it’s all right there.
TFAW.com: Do you have a favorite Looney Tunes character to draw?
SG: They’re all difficult. Any young artist should take solace–they’re hard for me too. I would say my current favorite is Eggbert Jr.–the little yellow chick bookworm genius who Foghorn is always trying to teach a lesson to.
TFAW.com: With Scooby Doo, you’ve been writing as well. How did that come about?
SG: Once I proved myself as an artist I started emailing my editor pitches with different story ideas, each about a paragraph in length. Some got approved and I wrote them up as 10-page scripts. From then on I was writing the stories too.
TFAW.com: What do you focus on with your stories?
SG: I would say to any aspiring writer–and this applies to everything from writing for Batman to writing a sitcom–Stick to the Rubric. Scooby Doo stories have an established formula–they work because they all conform to the same structure. Within that structure there’s room for infinite creativity. I put the Mystery Gang in some wild scenarios, pitting them against unique, off-beat foes, but no matter how creative I get, there’s always going to be Scooby Snacks, Jinkies!, a shady politician or businessman, and “I would have gotten away with it, if not for those meddling kids.”
TFAW.com: The original Scooby Doo cartoon’s message was really, “there are no such things as ghosts and monsters,” but newer movies and cartoons have switched it up. What’s your approach?
SG: Whether it’s Scooby Doo, Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks, or the upcoming Yogi Bear–there hasn’t been a contemporary remake of a classic cartoon property that wasn’t terrible. Most of the time it’s because they tamper with the established formula–they don’t “Stick to the Rubric.” No, there are definitely no such things as monsters or ghosts. The classic approach works because in each new case the Mystery Gang thinks that maybe this time things are different, that the supernatural phenomena are for real. And then at the end they unravel the case and discover the truth. Again, Stick to the Rubric.
TFAW.com: Can you tell us what’s in store for Scooby and the gang?
- Historical Mysteries
- The Tombs of Ancient Egypt
- Theft of the Hope Diamond
- Secret Naval Experiments
- Government Conspiracies and Cover-Ups
- Art Crimes
TFAW.com: What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to getting comics in kids’ hands today?
SG: Young people are waiting for artists like me to create a funny, sexy, hip mass-market comic strip for mobile phones.
TFAW.com: Have you had any personal interaction with your fans? How are they responding to your work?
SG: Everywhere I go, from small conventions, to Comic-Con, to adult social settings–everybody loves Scooby Doo. Even young kids, deluged with a tidal wave of new characters and media, respond to the designs and loveability of the classic characters. I get many requests for original artwork and commissions, and delight in encouraging young readers to follow my Scooby stories and dream up their own adventures.
TFAW.com: What else do you have coming up that you’re excited about?
SG: I also contribute to a LA-based comedy magazine called The Devastator. It publishes original cartoons and humor essays from writers and artists involved with film, TV, stand-up comedy, and comics.
TFAW.com: Thanks again!
SG: Thank you for including me–looking forward to browsing your site for my holiday gift shopping. 🙂
Make sure to check out Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and Looney Tunes–or learn how to purchase a subscription, for a holiday gift that lasts all year! While you’re here, take a peek at Gross’s great artwork below:
Are these comics making you nostalgic for after-school cartoons? Do you ever purchase kids comics? Post your comments below!