"I'd have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those darn kids!"

That phrase is so iconic, some people use it who aren't aware it comes from the various iterations of the "Scooby-Doo" cartoons and movies, where the gang investigates some supernatural shenanigans that almost always turn out to be some guy in a mask.

But what if the monsters were real? That's the premise of a thrilling new comic book series called "Scooby Apocalypse," whose first trade paperback is available ($16.99, DC Comics). It's written by fan favorites J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen.

Q: What were your marching orders on "Scooby Apocalypse"?

J.M. DeMatteis: The premise — the Scooby gang in a post-apocalyptic world facing real monsters — was set from the start. That was [DC Comics co-publisher] Jim Lee's original premise. Beyond that, we were pretty much free to do what we wanted with the book. Keith G. and I have been working together for 30 years now, and we'd worked with the amazing [artist] Howard Porter before, so we are a well-oiled machine at this point and I think the folks at DC trust us to keep things interesting.

Keith Giffen: We knew going in that this was going to be a different take on Scooby and crew so the marching orders were pretty loose … but all boiled down to "don't screw it up."

Q: The characterization of the five principals in "Scooby Apocalypse" varies from the movies. What led you to these newish personalities and relationships?

Giffen: I don't give a lot of thought to the characters' personalities when starting a book. Oh, I know who they are and what's been done with them but have never felt bound to that. Character growth should be organic, and that's hard to achieve with a rigid set of behaviors/motivations. My primary objective was to take the established characters and tweak them, is the best way to put it. Confound expectations while respecting what's been done before. Hope I accomplished that.

Q: Daphne is certainly a surprise — she's a much stronger character than usual, an ambitious TV reporter who is the object of Fred's romantic attention. Velma is a scientist with a lot of secrets. Shaggy is now a dog trainer, with Scooby a cyber-augmented trainee. All of this is surprising, and yet the way they're written seems to fit smoothly within the broad outlines of our preconceptions. Meanwhile, you've introduced Scrappy-Doo to "Apocalypse," who might be one of the most hated cartoon characters ever. Can fans bank on a terrible fate for this irritating canine?

DeMatteis: We've been featuring Scrappy-Doo in some backup features, and he's developing into one of the most fascinating, and tragic, characters in our cast. So, no, I don't hate Scrappy at all, and I don't think people reading the book will, either. That's the fun of having the freedom to reinvent these characters.

Giffen: I'm not averse to terrible fates. … Scrappy has a lot of untold potential. I'll admit here that taking a generally loathed character and making him work is a challenge I've never been able to turn down.