Rob Kutner is a humorist extraordinaire. With clever wordplay and satiric wit, he has brought his comedic flair to a multitude of mediums, including The Daily Show and Conan, as well as comics.

His previous comic escapade, Shrinkage, was a prescient adventure into the mind of a president who had none. Now, Kutner and artist David DeGrand, are about to drop their new YA graphic novel, Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales (First Second). In Snot Goblins, Kutner and DeGrand weave together absurd scenarios, side-splitting puns, and gross-out humor that will have you gagging (in a good way).

AJ FROST: Hi Rob. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me about this disgusting but hilarious book. Can you tell me how the idea for ‘Snot Goblins’ came about? What inspired these cartoonish tales?

ROB KUTNER: The illustrator, David DeGrand, and I met working on Mad Magazine and realized we were creatively sympatico. Then he approached me about pitching a kids’ book together. David had this concept for a collection of funny horror stories prioritizing grossness – or maybe just the phrase “Snot Goblins,” which kinda says all that in two words!

FROST: Having a vampire work for a kosher butcher is truly inspired! How did you go about paring down what must have been hundreds of ideas for this book and selecting the entries that readers will devour here? What was the creative process like for you and artist David DeGrand?

KUTNER: First off, remember I come from late night, where “paring down hundreds of ideas” is part of a day’s work. In this case, David and I would send each other one-line riffs on possible title/concepts for each story, until there was one where we would both immediately be like, “yeah, that’s it!”

FROST: I know that these are different types of stories, but your previous comic, ‘Shrinkage,’ was focused on another part of human physiology (the brain). What fascinates you about the body and its endless capacity for humor?

KUTNER: Wow, I hadn’t made that connection! Galaxy brain AJ. I suppose that I like humor that bridges everyone’s humanity and upsets the high and mighty. And nothing brings the high and mighty back down to earth like being reminded that, at the end of the day, we’re all meat bags filled with poo and goo. 

FROST: Can you tell me if/how DeGrand’s art for ‘Snot Goblins’ inspired the way you approached the storytelling? Did anything he do push you to go bigger, bolder, grosser?

KUTNER: I’d like to think we pushed each other both in this direction! But yes, David’s style is so immediately tactile, it inspired me to seek out any excuse for some kind of fluid, ooze, or icky substance to appear in panels whenever possible. 

‘FROST: Weird’ Al Yankovic, in his blurb, crowned this the next Great American novel. High praise indeed! Going back to an earlier question, I wonder, on a more serious level, what amount of time and effort it took to craft the stories here? How long did it take to choose what could work and what was left on the proverbial cutting room floor (hopefully sterilized!)?

Grossness saving the day again. Courtesy of First Second.

KUTNER: Fortunately, David and I were fortunate enough to work with an incredibly talented (and also fellow weirdo nerd-boy like us) editor named John Morgan. He’s eagle-eyed at spotting what doesn’t work, and even better, suggesting alternatives. So once we three developed a creative groove, it actually moved faster than you might think. The real time-intensive part was David’s intricate(ly disgusting) illustration. Those poop-floods and snot waves don’t draw themselves!

FROST: What do you want readers, especially younger readers, to take away from this book? Do you want their parents to actually take away this book?

KUTNER: LOL, definitely the last thing – or maybe even teachers, as they’re secretly passing it around in school! As a kid, I remember kinda learning about the world, history, politics, etc. through the likes of Mad Magazine and SNL parodies. I’d like to pay it forward. But mostly I want kids to get excited about a book (and by extension, reading) because it has a whiff of the “forbidden.”

FROST: On a note that is unrelated to ‘Snot Goblins,’ I read that you collaborated with none other than Scott Lang on his memoir, ‘Look Out For The Little Guy.’ How was it to work with Lang on his upcoming book?

KUTNER: Let’s just say he gives an entirely new meaning to “micro-managing.”

FROST: What’s next for you? Any exciting future projects that readers can look forward to?

KUTNER: Several, but none I’m allowed to talk about yet! 

FROST: Thank you so much for your time!

KUTNER: Always a pleasure to talk with you, AJ!

Snot Goblins and Other Tasteless Tales is available at your local bookstore and/or public library.