Today’s Feature – February 9-10: Robert Feldman

February 10, 2008 at 12:09 am (Today's Feature)

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So you walk into the studio of the animator and creator of some of the most popular horror cartoons in the world, and what do you find? Probably something like a creepy clown coin bank made out cast iron or something at least as ominous as that. Well if you wandered into Robert Feldman’s studio, the guy behind terror cartoons, “Dr. Shroud” and “The Hyrde,” you’d find exactly that. Then you’d turn around to see…of all things… a lot of bright lights and some relaxing scenery. Eh, well, not so scary. While his office isn’t exactly frightening, that doesn’t mean he can’t send a few cold shots down your spine with his gore-intensive work.

Feldman’s creations, Dr. Shroud (a plastic surgeon and reformed vampire trying to save his daughter) and The Hyrde (Inspector Spectre, Ghoul Gal and Zombor, supernatural beings sworn to protect a lone trap-door to the Netherworld) are quite different in their approach, but there are some characteristics they share. It’s something a part of each and every one of us can identify with; “the tortured soul aspect… they all want something they can’t have.” Both of these cartoons also come out of Feldman’s own EarWorm Media, a company focused on producing animated content for mobile devices and the web for markets around the world. The episodes have been catching such significant attention that you’ll soon notice them popping off the web and rolling out on VCast around the country and on other services in the UK and Asia.

The big screen could be the next stop for Dr. Shroud and the Hyrde. In fact, in the words of Mr. Feldman, “right now the script is being read by a pretty big studio, so… we’ll see what happens.” Either way, the potential for the horror cartoon genre can only expand with creators like Robert Feldman around. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Robert Feldman

PensEyeView.com (PEV): As the animator and creator for both Dr. Shoud and The Hyrde, how did that start?

Robert Feldman (RF): They started really as a comic book, way back in 1998. I guess the idea itself is about ten years old. I heard this thing “Flash” going around… everyone was talking about “Flash”. I’ve been working in HTML at the time, and friends of mine were telling me how they were doing all this work in Flash and I should check it out. This was about 2000, and right after that the dot-com era crashed. I thought, ‘again, I’m a little bit late.’ But I started to full around with it and taught myself enough about it. Then I launched Dr.Shroud and started putting up episodes. It came pretty easy to me, in that I was just so desperate to get something out there. I realized after the dot-com crash it really provided an opportunity for a guy like me to do it out of their homes and gain a following. The reach of small press comics, wasn’t getting distributed the way it should and I thought I could reach millions of people on the internet.

PEV: Were you always interested in animation and comics?

RF: In comics, yeah… But not so much animating. I always thought it was out of my reach. I was doing more cell animation, which is much more labor intensive. It was really just really out of people, not only mine, but out of a lot of our reach. Then Flash came along it became possible and I got into the animation portion. There are the traditionalists that will discount Flash but if you can produce something that is good animation wise, and you may not have training.

PEV: Do you have an art background?

RF: Yeah I do. For the most part I self taught but always took classes in high school and college. I have a degree in graphic design. It was always there, no matter how many times I tried to ignore it. It didn’t really fit into my life in at certain points but now I completely embrace all aspects of it.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of comics were you into?

RF: Um, you know, I guess it was more 80’s comics. I grew up with the whole Marvel thing. Captain America, X-Men. But moving into the 80s when I really got into it, I was reading a lot of X-Men. I mean at that time, everything was about X-Men, all about Wolverine. He was so cool! Now he’s kind of cliche. Then Alpha Flight. Later on I started reading some Hellboy. But really it was a lot of independant stuff… the one shot ones. The kind of stuff that isn’t really published any longer. I like what is new and different.

PEV: How has the web affected how people reach out to the comic world? More attention to comics?

RF: There is still a division, I think. You have these fans who really love the online animation but may or may not be comic fans. I don’t neccessarily buy comics if they see something online. I do think that we are already collectiong and oppositly gravitating to the web since they already like comics. I think Flash cartoons tend to be pretty funny one shots.

PEV: Who, in your opinion, is the best comic book character of all time?

RF: Of all time?… In the comic book world, I would say Batman. It seems to have the most longevity and fan-base. The animated series, again that is pretty seperate. I mean, I know mine kind of has both worlds, but that is pretty rare. But, I would say online would be Homestar Runner that it relies solely on the attention it gets from its fans. It is pretty self sustaining.

PEV: When you sit down to work, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourself in?

RF: Lots of music… and really, hmm… well, it’s actually the opposite of what you see (laughs). The music I listen to is very upbeat. It’s fast, and pretty brightly lit. A lot of the time, I was doing the work at night, usually one in the morning, I have four year old and a one year old, so it gets quite hectic in the house. I would be up at night working to one to two in the morning. Once you hit two in the morning, things get pretty weird (laughs). The environment was pretty much in my living room, working to all hours of the night, trying to get these things done. Now in my office I have a pretty cool setup. It’s not dark and dismal.

PEV: What kind of music are you into now? Who are you listening to?

RF: I’m going through my iPod right now… Some 80’s stuff. Jason Mraz, some old Counting Crows. It’s pretty all over the place. I have some… I’m pretty embarrassed to admit, some Neil Diamond (laughs). Some Tears For Fears, the newer album. Depech Mode.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?

RF: You know, that’s a good question! Kind of odd. I don’t think they know what to think of it. That’s a really good question!… I’m glad you asked that. I was recently thinking about that. I opened an animation studio, called EarWorm Media. They don’t really get it, they don’t know what it is or where it is distributed. Unless it is on TV, they don’t really know what to make of it. I don’t mean just my family, my friends as well. They are all very supportive though!

PEV: Would you like to see the animations in a movie or on the big screen?

RF: Oh yeah, of course. I would rather see live action, whatever it has to be. In fact right now the script is being read by a pretty big, studio, so… They’re not big-big, but big enough. We’ll see what happens. It’s an 80-90 page script, a lot action and CGI.

PEV: You also have shows with VCast, correct?

RF: The episodes, are being rolled out to all the carriers world wide. It is a very slow and painful process. By painful I mean it is frustrating because you never know where it is at the moment. As the year progresses it will be rolled out to 30 carriers and I’ll be creating new episodes. It is a rolling effect.

PEV: How are the characters in Dr. Shroud and The Hyrde different?

RF: Um, they’re very much the same in that they all share the tortured sole aspect. They all want something that they can’t have. They are very much alike in that aspect and the look. The Hyrde is different in that there is a little bit more comedic relief and they have different personalities in how they handle things. Dr. Shroud is a very serious, tongue and cheek vibe to it. But at the same time, it intentionally eery and sundered. The Hyrde is a lot of action and things happening all at once.

PEV: When you are not working on the sites, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

RF: Chasing my kids around (laughs). And stopping them from putting things on the floor in their mouths (laughs). It’s very frantic.

PEV: Where do you see both works in ten years?

RF: I’d like to see it everywhere; cereal boxes, toothbrushes… But realistically I do see definitely a feature film and some licensing coming out of it. Especially from the mobile side; you build a brand from the mobile device and then it spills outward. The horror genre in general is a hard sell. It is becoming more widely acceptable but the horror cartoon genre doesn’t seem to be well received at times. That does seem to work against me. But on the other side you get films like, “The Corpse Bride” and other darker things that have an following and I see potential for my property to expand. I do see a greater potential as we move forward.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

RF: Someone refereed to me as meek. And I don’t think they know the meaning of the word (laughs). I mean, I may be a little mild at times but far from meek. You think of the meek mouse and I am the complete opposite.

PEV: If I were to walk into your studio what would I find?

RF: You would find a creepy clown bank, I got off eBay. It’s this cast iron clown bank and when you put a coin in the hand and push a lever in the back and then it eats the coin. Also a good cup of coffee.

PEV: What one word best describes you?

RF: Honest.

PEV: In regards to series, is there an up and coming series or artist that we should all be looking out for?

RF: You got to give it up for James Farr who does the Zombie series. He is really a talented dude. Also, Adam Phillips is pretty good. You know what, between those guys they get a lot of notoriety, so they are not really up and coming. I would say Mark Parker, from College University and Clock Suckers. He is really talented.

PEV: I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

RF: No, no problem, I really appreciate it. I’m sorry I didn’t have a very good answer for the shocking thing about me question. That was a very good question!

PEV: Don’t worry about it (laughs). Thanks again.

RF: Talk to you soon.

For more information on Dr. Shroud or The Hyrde, check out www.DrShroud.com and www.TheHyrde.com

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