What happens when the fate of the world falls into the hands of the worst person? Readers will out when Rick Remender launches The Scumbag, his latest creation from Giant Generation and Image Comics. Debuting in October, Remender is teaming with an all-star lineup of artists on the new series. Lewis Larosa draws the first issue. Subsequent issues will feature the artwork of Andrew Robinson, Eric Powell, Tula Lotay, Wes Craig, Roland Boschi, Simone Di Meo, Duncan Fegredo, Yanick Paquette, Mike McKone, Dave Johnson, and Moreno Dinisio. The series follows Ernie Ray Clementine, the product of a past era who's humanity's only hope of survival.
Ernie is "a profane, illiterate, drug-addicted, biker, with a fifth-grade education." He's also the only thing standing between us and the end of the world thanks to an accident that pumped him full of a serum that granted him superpowers. He remains a terrible person, but he's also the world's top super-spy, at least when the spy organization can find a way to bribe or bait him into doing the job.
ComicBook.com spoke to Remender about the new series to find out where the idea came from, how he assembled the artist lineup, and what readers should expect from the spy-comedy.
To start at the beginning, what was the genesis of The Scumbag? How did it begin and how long as it been percolating in your mind?
Rick Remender: I love stories about scumbags. The Big Lebowski, Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Walter White… look at a list of the best shows and movies of all time and you'll see this theme runs through a mess of 'em.
We're all voyeurs who love to watch the loser, we revel in taking part in their lechery, free from the consequences they suffer from their poor choices. To commit the crime of cliché: We love to hate 'em.
And none of them come anywhere near the league of bad choices as Ernie Ray Clementine, a profane, illiterate, drug-addicted, biker, with a fifth-grade education, and the only thing standing between us and total Armageddon because this dummy is going to become the world's most powerful super spy.
There's a good reason he ends up with the codename: Scumbag. And, as his boss quickly realizes, until they can find a way to extract the serum that gave Ernie his super-spy abilities-- the fate of the world rests in the hands of the worst person on it.
Basically, what if you gave superhero powers to The Big Lebowski? Or worse? What if the guy who got the superpowers wasn't a noble person, but a filthy 1970s stoner/biker/metalhead? What if 007's bosses had to barter with and bribe him to go on missions…? You get the picture.
It was a funny starting point and I couldn't let it go. I played with it from time to time but it wasn't until I added in the wrinkle that this scumbag's powers would only work when he's operating under noble motivations, a safety precaution cooked in by the formula's engineers, that it congealed into something I couldn't let go.prevnext
Your work spans across several different genres, from sci-fi to fantasy to crime and others. What's your relationship with the spy genre? Is it something you've wanted to dive into for a while?
RR: It is. I've had the itch since rewatching From Russia With Love years back. That lead me to reinvestigate the classic Bond series I'd grown up on and served to remind me what a lecherous scumbag 007 was originally, which fed into the Scumbag premise as well. But there's something about the art and the design and the tone of those originals that are undeniable so they are used as inspiration. Once I landed on the idea of leaning into the lead spy being a full scumbag, well, it seemed like a perfect way in. It's been fun. And with the world in the state it's in I desperately needed to have some fun.prevnext
What about the comedic aspect of the series. You've certainly done comedic work before -- Strange Girl had a wry, satirical bend to it, for example, and Fear Agent had plenty of laughs for another. How does The Scumbag compare?
RR: It's got a bit of DNA from all of those as well as my book Black Heart Billy, which is the basis of my Deadpool stuff. Our lead, Ernie Ray Clementine is a moron of a different caliber, he's the confident kind. And I've never written a lead who is so gross before, the rest of the cast are the reader, and Ernie is an alien, a relic of a bygone era. He's the gearhead stoner working on his Trans Am on blocks in the front yard blaring Iron Maiden, the last knight fighting for the suffocated spirit of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. They don't make 'em like him anymore… and for good reason.prevnext
Assembling the Team
How did the art team come together? Did you know you wanted this to be a kind of artist showcase when you started working on it or was that born out of the process?
RR: It is very hard to get an artist to commit to one book for a long run. It's a lot of investment, harder still is getting a really great artist to sign on for a long run. So, I had the idea to lure in a bunch of my favorite artists to each do a single issue. The great experiment is underway and going really well. This new ongoing series will feature a murderers' row of all-star artistic talent rotating each issue. The first issue showcases the stunning work of Lewis Larosa and Moreno Dinisio (who will color all the issues) along with Giant Generator's longtime letterer Rus Wooton. Subsequent chapters and covers will be by brilliant talents such as Andrew Robinson, Eric Powell, Tula Lotay, Wes Craig, Roland Boschi, Simone Di Meo, Marguerite Sauvage, Duncan Fegredo, Yanick Paquette, Mike McKone, Dave Johnson, and many more.prevnext
It's interesting referring to the main character as a relic from another era. How does that generational gap play into the series? Is it played mostly for laughs, or is that divide a big theme of the series?
RR: Ernie is stuck in a world he doesn't understand and can't navigate. Ernie's impulsive with a filthy sense of humor, allowing us to live vicariously through the lens of a man with no filter -- so, we're constantly embarrassed by his social blindness, but, like Larry David, we can't wait for his next blunder. Ernie isn't the reader, he's the opposite of our moral barometer. But, like Danny McBride in East Bound and Down, Ernie's sympathetic in his cluelessness and simple motivations but we see a glimmer of humanity.
We're rooting for him to do the right thing but his choices are always terrible -- leading to both grave and hilarious consequences.prevnext