David Schrader talks about BABY BADASS
Baby Badass is a wild concept. A killer baby in a post-apocalyptic world run by corporations. It’s also a story about starting your own comic imprint, creating your own comics and selling it to a publisher. David Schrader stopped by First Comics News to let our readers know everything you ever wanted to know about killer babies.
First Comics News: How did you start your writing career?
David Schrader: I moved to Los Angeles while still a teenager and performed stand-up, writing unproduced plays and spec scripts, which landed me an agent. After making several shorts I wrote and directed a feature called NoHo that made a mark at the IFFM in the mid-90’s, this was right around the time of Clerks, slacker comedies and the rise of independent film. Those times wouldn’t last. I partnered with a great writer named Christy Stratton to make the Being John Malkovich parody Being Ozzy Osbourne, which got the attention of Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, and led to a ton of meetings, pitches, and some feature options. Later, I co-wrote and directed the horror film Bloodline but stuck mostly to comedy. I didn’t quite have the stomach to continue stand-up, so I moved into improv which is a much more collaborative environment and something I felt helped my writing immensely.
David: Kristian and I have been friends for many years– he’s an artist and a real comic book expert, which helped in the development process. We came up with the idea and basic story premise way back in 2006. Years passed, and as we started to take it a little more seriously he did the original designs for the first issue characters. I wrote the full series once the webcomic stalled as Kristian and his wife actually had a real baby to raise.
1st: The two of you formed Hybräu Comics?
David: No, Hybräu is a small production company I started with Matt Friedberg. We shoot commercials and shorts and have several projects in development. I knew I wanted a physical copy of Baby Badass to pitch, so I put it under the Hybräu banner. It was a clumsy attempt at synergy.
1st: Hybräu Comics published Baby Badass #1, was there ever a #2 published by Hybräu Comics?
David: No, that was our first and last comic release, and there’s only a handful of those original issues still around. Artist Tim Larsen was brought on so we had something to pitch and give away to try and build awareness.
1st: Baby Badass debuted at Long Beach ComicCon 2015, what type of reaction did you get from the first issue?
David: I would say some people were intrigued and totally into it, while others were frightened and confused. There’s a niche for violent, 90’s vengeance-based action-comedy and we angled for the Deadpool and Adult Swim crowd. We also had a cosplay Joey and a Baby Badass doll (which is still going strong).
1st: How did the deal with Action Lab come about?
David: After all the fits and starts with the webcomic and an animated show pitch, we finally had a complete issue in hand. I sent it around to several publishers, not knowing what I was doing or what to expect. Luckily, Jason Martin at Action Lab Danger Zone saw something in the characters and the hinted-at backstory of the first issue. They had a lot of cool creator-owned titles, and at this point, they had just started making Zombie Tramp an ongoing. Jason was enthusiastic and in 2015 we signed a deal to do a four issue arc. Unfortunately, it took two more years to do two more issues, but by this time their format changed to 32 pages and I realized the first volume could be told in three issues.
David: It’s a mini-series, with plans to do a second arc in late 2018 or early 2019. I would love for it to be ongoing since one of the benefits of it taking so long meant I had time to extrapolate and build this totally f-ed up near future world.
1st: Where did the idea of an adult trapped in a baby body come from?
David: I think pot brownies had something to do with it.
1st: Who was Alphie Omega?
David: He was a super-soldier created to kill on the battlefield at an unprecedented clip. His died tragically (at this point, mysteriously) and his DNA was one of the last vials to survive and be used by M.O.T.H.E.R. to create a new hybrid clone that becomes Baby Badass. A little of Alphie’s backstory is revealed in issue 2, but there’s much more to come, including some shocking twists and twisted shocks.
David: He is a hybrid clone killing machine with the DNA of 33-year-old badass marine Alphie Omega. Created in a lab by the evil M.O.T.H.E.R. (Military Organization to Harness Evolutionary Resources), he didn’t fully form, and even though he had concentrated strength and all of Omega’s smarts, skills, and abilities they tried to pull the plug– but he awoke before a control chip was activated and escaped into the New West desert.
David: It’s 2043, and the future ain’t pretty. The surface world is a dry, angry, violent place filled with aggressive, degenerate assholes and pockets of habitable spaces amidst oddly-beautiful, toxic, desolate wastelands. It’s been described as “Mad Max meets Idiocracy,” a Tatooine-like landscape of scarred topography populated by scary and scared Reals, Bots, Freaks, Virts, and Leets.
David: That’s the name of the asteroid that is headed to earth in 2027. They shoot a bunch of nukes at it which causes it to break apart and crash down on every continent along with all the nukes that missed, causing about 80% of earth’s population to perish. Good times!
1st: How do we go from the good old USA to The United States Under God?
David: I’ve always felt this country and its political system is susceptible to a full corporate takeover and/or a crazed theocracy, not just in the shadows, but in full view of a dispirited, disinterested, or weirdly supportive populace. Baby Badass is a bizarre little sci-fi grindhouse action comedy, but at its heart, it’s a simple cautionary tale.
1st: Joey (Josephine) is a sincere, virginal, beacon of innocence who eventually snaps out of a state of post-traumatic ambivalence to confront the insanity she’d been forced to endure. Initially seen as a sexy siren cipher, she comes into her own once she finds the Baby in the unforgiving desert
David: She is a voice of reason, a sweetheart with a secret, the moral center of the tale and the real star of the story. She sets things in motion with her desire for a different future, her optimism in the face of depravity and devastation, and her discovery of a DaJa, a long-lost digital talisman which could tip the balance of power in favor of the good guys once and for all.
David: Shirl is the ballsy, blowsy, bartender at the Bearded Clam, a no-good biker strip bar in the middle of the New West desert. She’s taken Joey under her wing and attempts to protect her not only from the horrors of the world outside but from the degenerates and drooling lunatics in the bar itself, including Shiver.
David: Shiver is the owner of the Bearded Clam, a rundown biker strip bar in the New West desert. He’s toxic masculinity personified; violent, reactionary, and none too bright. In addition to his Spaxx drug-running, he plans to sell Joey’s virginity to the highest bidder.
1st: What is Kroft?
David: Kroft is the name of the former President of the USUG, and one of the few controlling corporate entities in the country. They have a hand in everything; basic “food and drink,” what’s left of manufacturing, bot maintenance, and “relief houses.”
1st: What is M.O.T.H.E.R.?
David: Military Organization to Harness Evolutionary Resources. This division of the USUG focuses on lab experiments to help maintain and overcome troop level deficiencies. It’s run by the ruthless Colonel Killjoy and the brilliant but sadistic Doctor Lawrence LaPeer.
David: Not much is known about LaPeer except that he’s head of the Playing God Project which helped bring Baby Badass into existence. He’s a brilliant scientist and sycophant to the psychotic Colonel Killjoy. Somewhat conflicted about his role, he wonders if he’s using his skills wisely and is terrified that people will find out about his French heritage.
David: Killjoy is the head of M.O.T.H.E.R. and was once Alphie Omega’s commander. Obsessed with both taking control back from the Corporate Armies that dominate the North American landscape and also fuzzy memories of Broadway musicals, he’ll stop at nothing to destroy Baby Badass, what he considers the freakish mistake they let escape.
1st: How did Dr. LaPeer and Colonel Killjoy end up working together?
David: Doctor LaPeer possessed one of the keenest minds left in the country, and Killjoy needed someone that could bring M.O.T.H.E.R. back to prominence by building an army of bullying badasses and ferocious freaks of nature. Most of their experiments tend to escape and usually wind up in the hands of the Way Underground, the resistance group that’s revealed in issue No. 3.
David: Cara is like a lost puppy, and represents the remnants of the inhumane, throwaway society that led up to the current state of affairs. AI became lost, untended, and left behind in the new order of things.
1st: I get that Baby Badass is an adult in a baby body, but aren’t you worried about the reaction to presenting sex and drugs with a baby. I know storyline wise this isn’t but visually this is child pornography?
David: Whoa. Let’s pump the brakes on this one. It’s made very clear in issue 2, before their trip to Cinderville that he is in NO way a baby. He even clarifies this with Joey, and although he doesn’t yet know who he actually is– that’s what drives his quest, after all, he does know that’s he’s a fully functioning adult male with the strength of 30 to 300 men (depending on his rage level) and the speech, manner, wants, needs, and thought processes of a 33 year old badass marine. “Baby” Badass is just that — a nickname.
David: This is revealed in Issue 3, as they find their way to the Way Underground. Later, the two of them will find out a shocking secret that will upend everything they think they know and give them new reasons for a fight to “save what’s left of the world.”
1st: What makes Joey stick with Baby Badass?
David: She has an instant maternal instinct, and a desperate yearning to break free from the cruel circumstances she’s found herself in. She saves him, and then he saves her — it’s a cycle that will repeat itself as their bond grows stronger throughout the series.
1st: You have a 33-year-old Marine killer stuck in the body of a baby if that alone doesn’t get readers attention, what can you tell fans who might still be unsure, to make them run to their local comic shops and pick up a copy of Baby Badass?
David: Sure, he eats hearts. And yes, he rips people’s spines out. But there’s more than meets the eye with this little bundle of bedlam. There’s a lot of gags and jokes, some salacious situations, and an exciting adventure with a colorful cast of characters that prove the post-apocalypse doesn’t have to be so drab. Give it a chance. If you buy all the books and still don’t like it, I’ll personally buy you a Coke.