Rob Kutner on the Writers Strike, His New Books (Including One in the MCU), and More!

Rob Kutner Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales

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Rob Kutner is a prominent writer and member of the Writers Guild of America. With over 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, he has written for a diverse range of shows, from CONAN to Teen Titans Go!, not to mention a number of graphic novels.

His latest book, Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales, provides a front-row seat to see kids (and trolls and vampires) on the grossest challenges in the world! 

Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales

Kutner also has another book coming out this September that will surely be a hit with Marvel fans. Find out more below in our interview with Kutner! We discussed the ongoing WGA strike, his new books, and the future of Hollywood (and Comic-Con).

As a writer and member of the Writers’ Guild, how is the ongoing WGA strike affecting you and your fellow writers? Can you shed some light on the issues at stake and what the public should know about the strike?

Rob Kutner: I’m currently working on non-WGA projects (books and animation — which really should be WGA but that’s a whole other topic!) But I’m out on the picket lines a lot, and it’s simultaneously a celebration of solidarity (esp. with the actors now joining us), a big grind, and a huge bummer, especially for those whose shows and work are suddenly in deep-freeze.

The tl;dr is: For 100 years, Hollywood studios and all the unions (writers, actors, directors, craft/tech) had a healthy, profitable working relationship. But the streaming model has drastically reduced pay and exacerbated working conditions to the point where very few can make a living at it. The studios are still extremely profitable, but seem determined to break labor rather than give up what would be 2% of their annual revenue so we can earn a living wage making their content.

They also refuse to guarantee in words that they won’t use AI to replace our jobs. A lot of us have written about humans fighting robots; few thought we’d be doing it already!

You’ve written for a diverse range of shows, from “CONAN” to “Teen Titans Go!”, not to mention a number of graphic novels. What challenges and rewards have you experienced while writing for different genres and audiences?

Rob Kutner: Late-night shows were amazing in terms of immediate gratification and responding to the world’s events and trends. However, their topicality often faded in relevance quickly. Animated shows and graphic novels have given me a new exciting creative palette to work on, but both of those take a year or longer to appear! So for me, it’s balancing my desire for enduring projects, vs. my ADHD.

As an accomplished author, how does your writing process differ with books from writing for a television show?

Rob Kutner: Given the immediacy issue, with TV you’ve got to get it written, revised and out the door usually within a few hours!

Books are a deeper and longer process. Graphic novels are particularly interesting because the “panel” method of storytelling forces your brain to think about time in a completely different way. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND, FANBOLTERS?

You’ve worked on prestigious events like the Oscars, Emmys, and White House Correspondents’ Dinners. What is the most memorable or rewarding moment you’ve experienced while writing for these high-profile occasions?

Rob Kutner: Ironically the Oscars came right after the resolution of the 2007-2008 strike. Some say it might have even helped (as the studios didn’t want to have embarrassing protests at the event). So we came back to work on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and a week later we were off to LA to write his jokes as host of the Oscars!

You’ve lived in some pretty diverse places like St. Petersburg Russia, Jerusalem, and even faced deportation from Uzbekistan. How have these experiences influenced your writing and creativity?

Rob Kutner: Have you been tailing me, Emma!?! I think getting outside one’s home country/culture completely reboots your perspective on how people are, and interact, and what’s really “essential” in contrast to the stupid crap we get all worked up about in our day-to-day bubble.

I think this is part of why sometimes my projects take such wild swings from unusual perspectives. At the very least, I’m trying to use creativity and comedy to burst people out of their own bubbles.

You attended San Diego Comic-Con this year, can you speak a bit on the evolution you’ve seen with that convention over the years? Obviously with the SAG and WGA strikes in place, this year was considerably different – but the film and television presence there has seemed to be declining, even before Covid. Do you think we might see it returning to more of its roots in the future?

Rob Kutner: The studio presence has indeed been pulling back, as Disney/Marvel seem to want to focus on their own launch events like D23. However, this year all the big events featuring SAG actors (panels, teases, etc.) were cut down or eliminated. So more people were on the convention floor buying books and comics. It was a bonanza year for small press and indies, which is awesome. Let’s hope it get backs to being more of an actual, y’know, comic-con.

Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales

What’s your inspiration for your horror-comedy kids’ anthology, “Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales“? And what can readers expect from it?

Rob Kutner: My kids and I have particularly enjoyed the Goosebumps and Captain Underpants/Dog Man books, so I was drawn toward combining those sensibilities I love the idea of making kids laugh by indulging in the “forbidden” areas of gross bodily stuff, to give them a book that “proper” adult gatekeepers would frown at — but would bring even non-reader kids into the fun of words, pictures, and stories.

Look Out for the Little Guy

You’ve got another book coming out in September that you ghostwrote. What can you tease for us about that release?

Rob Kutner: You may recall that the movie Ant-Man & The Wasp 3: Quantumania opens with Scott Lang retired from superheroing and reading from his memoirs.

Marvel decided to make that a real-life book (Look Out for the Little Guy) and hired me to ghostwrite it “as” Scott Lang. Scott’s name is on the cover, but in the acknowledgments, he thanks me as his “writing coach.” This means, technically, that ya boy is IN THE MCU!

Do you approach projects where you’re ghostwriting differently than you approach other projects? Does the writing process differ at all?

Rob Kutner: Interestingly, after 20 years of channeling the voices of comedians like Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, it was a matter of just learning to think like a different yukster, Scott Lang.

What’s next for you?

Rob Kutner: I have another kids’ graphic novel coming out next year, and an animated pilot being made independently (non-WGA-struck), and I hope to be sharing them with you both soon!

For more details on what Rob Kutner has coming up – head over to his website!


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