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Robert Feldman talks about his popular online animated serial ‘Dr. Shroud’.

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For many years, Robert Feldman has been interested in superheroes, horror and comic books. After much consideration, Robert decided to develop his own ideas for a comic book and as a result, Dr. Shroud was born. The story of Dr. Shroud began as a small black and white newsprint that Rob handed out, due to popular demand he created three more issues but didn’t feel satisfied with using this technique. Three years later Robert discovered Macromedia Flash, he found this to be very popular amongst the internet users and decided this was the animation software for him. After lots of motivation and courage, Rob moved into the online animation arena by combining animation and comics to create Dr. Shroud the animated online version.

What is Dr. Shroud about?

It is about a plastic surgeon who is haunted by his past as a vampire. Dr. Shroud has been living life as a human with a human disguise, complemented with a family and career. When some vampires abduct his daughter, he sets out to find her by using his vampire abilities that he has been suppressing for years with chemicals and confronts his past head on. He uses an old cemetery as his base and with his mentor, he sets up a lair that provides him with all he needs. He removes his human mask, revealing his yellowed self and dons a suit that resembles his daughter’s raincoat as a symbol of hope. Setting out to find his missing daughter, Wendy, he swears to destroy all evil in the process. The actual vampire killing is an incidental of his overall goal.

How did you come up with your characters?

I actually took everything I loved as a kid, vampires, superheroes, the Drak Pak, Batman (1966) and a whole bunch of other influences and popped them together. In the beginning, I came up with an idea about a person looking for his missing daughter, similar to a reverse “Fugitive” meets “Twin Peaks”. I added the vampire element and some camp and off I went. If you look at Dr.

Shroud, he is a mixture of stuff…something for everybody.

Do you write, illustrate and produce the Dr. Shroud animation?

Yes, I draw, write and produce everything. It is a lot of work, but I found that it is best to do it all myself for consistency. Some very talented voice actors do the voices and while I write the main theme music, the bulk of the sound design is by Science Friction Music, a professional and talented company that produces music and sounds for film and television.

What is the process like?

I write a script, storyboard it and then draw each element on a separate sheet of paper. I do not draw directly into the computer, as I feel that it compromises the quality. I draw and ink each character, scan it, and then import it into Flash and vectorize the image. I then colour it in Flash and begin animating. It takes a long time and I produce about 200+ drawings each time. The work becomes less with each installment, as I re-use images a lot. Once the animation is complete, I synchronize the voices and the music.

When a new installment has been uploaded to the website, I notify the subscribers so they can cast their vote on what should happen. When the votes are in, I allow some time (about a month) before I can determine the outcome. Once that happens, I start work on the next.

Does that not take extra time? Should you not wait until you have episodes “in the bag”?

No, I like working directly from the votes. Yes, it takes longer, but the stories are truly reflective of how people think the story should go.

How was the decision of letting viewers decide what should happen next with Dr. Shroud made?

I saw that many people were doing Flash cartoons. While mine stood out a little more due to being a dedicated series (most cartoons are one-shots), I still thought that it needed something extra. I always loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid and thought it would be great to do something like that. Then I remembered that in the 80’s, DC Comics let readers decide what should happen with the new Robin…should they kill him off, or let him live? It was then that it all clicked and I thought it would be great to let the viewers decide each installment of Dr. Shroud, where I would write what they wanted me to write based on the majority vote.

Some options are better than others and from time to time I don’t agree with the votes, but I make it all work. It is a lot of work as you can imagine, but also a lot of fun! While Dr. Shroud Adventures viewed all over the web, viewers can only vote at Dr. Shroud website

Who is your major influence?

If you are talking about comic book influence, I’d have to say John Buscema, Stan Lee, John Byrne and Jack Kirby. For everything else, please see any television show on the air (include reruns) from 1974-1979. Once the 80’s hit, television took a big nosedive (Punky Brewster? Yikes!!) I am a big horror movie fan as well.

What is your ultimate goal, career wise?

To be able to just generate good quality material. I would love to be in a position that generates revenue from Dr. Shroud or some other property. If I could just work on DrShroud.com and be paid to do it, then that is it, whether that is licensing the character or episodes and having it produce income or producing a show. It does not make a whole lot of money at this point, but at least I can call it my own. I believe that by doing the work, and doing it consistently, it is inevitable that something will happen with it. Too many times people quit because the property does not move.  If mine does not, I’ll have at least accomplished what I wanted and feel really good about it.

Do you read comics? If so, which ones?

Yes. I pick up a book or two every now and then. Mostly Hellboy or whatever seems interesting to me. It seems that lately I have not read much of anything—just watched many movies.

Do you see your work as a television series or a movie?

I would love a live action TV series like “Power Rangers” and “Dark Shadows”. When I was younger, they had the Shazam/ Isis hour and it was cheesy and breathtaking. A live action movie with a well know actor or a high-quality CGI film would be great.

What can we look forward to, from you?

Good, fun material that gets better and better. Nothing too serious or too hilarious, I have properties similar to Shroud that I am looking to develop, but I need a lot more time and money. I’m currently working on “Dr. Shroud in La Maudite: Part 3”, the third part in a three part Dr. Shroud series.

 

The Dr. Shroud website features animated cartoons where you get to vote what happens next. “Dr. Shroud in: La Maudite Part 2” is now playing and you can vote where it should go.
www.drshroud.com

He will also be at the Las Vegas Comic Convention in October 2004 as part of the Big Cartoon Festival brought to you by www.cartoonmogul.com. Also, watch out for this summer for the new Dr. Shroud adventure, “Bedbugs Bite!”.

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@lewisheriz
Lewis Heriz
@themooks @skwigly Yeah! That's when it becomes << actual magic >>
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@themooks
James Howard
@lewisheriz @skwigly That first time you see it move is such a buzz and then you add sound and it just enters a whole new stratosphere.
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@lewisheriz
Lewis Heriz
@themooks @skwigly I know it's kind of obvious, but I used to see it as 'important but secondary'. I don't see it as secondary any more.
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@themooks
James Howard
@lewisheriz @skwigly Sound does bring it to life.
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