Scott Marder, Rob Rosell and Jack Lambert Talk Shop about Darby Pop's Doberman
By Michele Brittany, a West Coast Bleeding Cool Correspondent
The 80s and 90s have some of the most entertaining action films – Lethal Weapon, True Lies, Last Action Hero, Rambo, Cobra, Under Siege, Die Hard – and the stars of these beloved films have been revitalized in such franchises as Expendables and Red, where ageing heroes will not go lightly into the night. With a collective background interest in over-the-top and just plain fun action films, writers Scott Marder, Rob Rosell and Jack Lambert have put their collective heads together and developed the new Darby Pop series Doberman.
The comic book series releases today, July 16 and introduces the reader to a manly man's LAPD cop in the form of Frank "Doberman" Doberano. The writers were found hanging out at their local marina and had a few extra minutes to answer some questions about the Doberman.
Michele Brittany: Hello Scott, Rob and Jack, can you tell me a bit more about yourself, your background, and your interest in writing comics?
Scott Marder, Rob Rosell, and Jack Lambert: Well, all three of us are from the East Coast (New York and New Jersey respectively). We met in college and have been working in television in Los Angeles for close to 15 years. As for other fun facts: Scott rocks an unusually large right calf muscle, Jack has an adult-onset peanut allergy, and Rob loves to wail on guitars.
Now, regarding more important stuff like comics, we grew up on 'em and credit them for being the gateway into our careers. Reading monthlies like X-Men, Batman, West Coast Avengers (to name a few) got us all in the rhythm of TV writing.
MB: How did the three of you meet? And is Doberman your first project together?
SM/RR/JL: We all went to Syracuse University together and met freshman year over a common passion for over-the-top action films, binge drinking, and staying out of the bitter cold (it snows non-stop up there and beer helps you stay warm). Doberman is our ode to those balls-to-the-wall action movie heroes we went nuts over growing up, and this is our first comic book together.
MB: Scott and Rob, you have worked together on Caveman, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and now on Unsupervised, obviously you have developed a good working relationship over the years. How does writing for television differ from writing a comic book series?
SM/RR/JL: How do they differ? That's easy…money. TV's got some. Comics in their defense appear to have some too as long as the hero's name ends in "man" hence Doberman. Smart, huh?
Another difference is that in television we have the luxury of an entire writing staff (6 – 14 people, depending on the show) to brainstorm with and beat out stories from start to finish, write dialogue and punch jokes, and generally just joke around with, versus comic series, which can be a bit more solo (but still a team effort with the artists, etc.).
There are a ton of similarities too though: you're both working against a deadline, constantly creating characters, and developing new stories for each issue or episode. And the huge thing they both have in common is that they're both fun as hell jobs.
MB: How is the writing process managed between the three of you? Can you describe how you are able to reconcile three writing styles into one cohesive writing voice?
SM/RR/JL: Our process is pretty run-of-the-mill. We simply turn a hot tub into a giant pot of Albondigas soup, climb in, and don't finish writing 'til we've devoured every last drop. The scalding cumin water is great for the skin. None of that's true aside from the fact that we all enjoy a good soak like any red-blooded American male (minus the delicious Mexican soup part – Scott keeps getting outvoted).
We three have a great shorthand because we've been friends for so long and have very similar sensibilities, so from the construction of characters to finding the story, it all basically boils down to what cracks us up the most. When it came to Doberman himself, we all had a similar vision for how he spoke so it was easy to blend our tastes.
MB: Darby Pop carries genre driven titles so far and Doberman seems to be no exception to the 80s and 90s buddy cop shows and movies. Can you tell me more about how you developed the story? And what pop culture references influenced you? And, who came up with the Italian Horn necklace?
SM/RR/JL: We can thank movies like Sylvester Stallone's Cobra in large part for taking themselves so seriously in their 80s over-the-top kickass-ness that they struck a chord about how funny a supercop comedy would and Doberman was born. After putting our heads together for awhile and finding a funny central story, great side characters started popping up in the world too, like Newton, Angie, and Kane and before we knew it, we had a full-fledged comic book!
We were definitely influenced by Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Seagal, Van Damme, Gibson, Willis, Russell – essentially any one-man wrecking crew who more than likely stars in a current Expendables movie.
The Italian Horn necklace actually came from a buddy of ours nicknamed "Duke" cause he too was a macho dude who had a reputation for blasting open cans with his Italian Horn at a moment's notice. The dude's totally awesome and inspired some other aspects of Doberman too. Like how they both order surf & turf no matter what the restaurant's cuisine is. Or if they're both getting thrown out of a bar, would prefer to have it done "wild west-style" by the seat of their pants.
MB: Our hero, LAPD police officer Frank "Doberman" Doberano, sports the typical rebellious manly cop stereotype, but I assume you have some surprises in store for the reader?
SM/RR/JL: Frank may look like your classic ultimate man's man cop but he is by no means an open book. We allude to an odd friendship shared with a deer named "Dildo" out in the wild, offer glimpses of the dead Babylonian fighting style Frank often wields, as well as flash an occasional window into his sketchy childhood (the man's middle name is Carpet for God sakes).
Long story short, the dude's more complicated than any equation a genius janitor could solve at a leading Ivy League school, that's for sure.
MB: Doberman has some humorous tongue-in-cheek moments. Did you find you needed to hold back at all? Are there any blooper panels?
SM/RR/JL: For the most part, if anything was ever in danger of falling out, it was more due to page count than raciness. The guys over at Darby Pop were definitely on the same wavelength as us content-wise and liked pushing the envelope.
As for bloopers, well, that deer we mentioned earlier got a bit more screen-time, but we're making a buddy cop action comedy, not some odd piece about man-on-deer love, right?!
There's also a completely alt version of Doberman where it's the exact same story except everyone is pants-less (see: Doberman: The Donald Duck Version coming out this fall) and we don't shy away from showing anything. Does that qualify as a blooper or just plain offensiveness?
MB: Turning to the rest of your creative team – Brandon McKinney (pencils and inks), Zac Atkinson (colors) and Troy Peteri (letters) – I thought the layout of the first issue was well illustrated with good use of space, color palette, and clean lettering. Can you talk about working with Brandon, Zac and Troy to make Doberman look exceptional?
SM/RR/JL: Not only are Brandon, Zac, and Troy amazing, but the staff at Rikers Island Correctional Facility have been even better for giving us around the clock access to these guys while we made Doberman. I don't know what violent or bizarre crimes got each of them incarcerated but the only crime we've seen so far is expert artistry.
Even though we've only known them for a just a few months, they've been rock stars who've been totally in sync with our vision. It's just been awesome watching them bring things to life and they've all supposedly used this opportunity to get off toilet snaking duties too so it's been a win-win for everyone. They're not really inmates by the way; we just thought it made them sound more badass.
MB: Is Doberman being planned as an ongoing series?
SM/RR/JL: Our new boats in the marina certainly hope so. You should drop by to watch one of our pathetic three boat regattas. Please Lord make this series ongoing. Or even better, have someone like Todd Phillips find it at a comic shop and turn it into the next big summer action comedy. Either/or – no biggie – just nothing in between.
MB: And lastly, can you tell us if you have any other comic book titles in the works?
SM/RR/JL: We're gearing up for another character-driven action comic but are having trouble getting the life rights to independent presidential candidate Ross Perot 'cause that wily Texan bastard just won't croak, so things are on hold 'til then.
Hopefully Doberman blows the doors off the comic book industry and there's demand for more from our camp…Here's to hoping!
MB: Thanks to the hot tub loving writers of Doberman for taking time out from their regatta to commit to paper their thoughts about working on this new action comedy cop comic book series from Darby Pop. If you would like to meet Marder, Rosell and Lambert, and maybe have them sign an exclusive Tony Fleecs SDCC cover of Doberman, stop by the IDW booth Saturday, July 26 at 10 AM. And, It's rumored they'll also be at the Saturday afternoon IDW: Pop Culture Mix-Tape panel at 4 o'clock in Room 4.
Michele Brittany is an independent popular culture scholar and semi-professional photographer and editor of the forthcoming title James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy (McFarland & Company). She regularly posts reviews and analysis on the spy/espionage genre on her blog, Spyfi & Superspies.