Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On the eve of the Godstorm...

In one day, Godstorm #0 will be released in comic shops all over the country. To celebrate that, and maybe tease you a little bit, I'll tell a little tale of how the series came to fruition.
Last April, Ralph Tedesco (editor in chief at Zenescope and co-creator of Grimm Fairy Tales) asked me to write theGrimm Fairy Tales 2012 Annual, which told the stories of Greek and Roman gods in the GFT Universe. Based on Joe Brusha's outline, I spun a yarn about the gods of old living in modern times. Some of them have adjusted quite well - Zeus is living as a business man named Gregor Brontios, Venus is a fashion icon, and Ares is... well, still loving war, and there is no shortage of that in our world. Others... not so much. Neptune has become a homeless wanderer, and Hades has been locked in the underworld after refusing to join Venus in her plan to reclaim their former glory and take over Earth. And that really was the crux of it - Venus, not content with her fortune and fame, was rallying the troops for a war against humanity... and I was the guy that got to set it up. Very gratifying.

(GFT Annual 2012)
The issue debuted at Wizard World Philly, the first show where I hung out at the Zenescope booth. I was in my glory - the GFT Annual was out, and the day before, Raven Gregory had called me to give me the job writing Robyn Hood. At that point, I knew nothing about the book. The conversation with Raven had gone, "Pat, GUESS WHAT YOU'RE WRITING! Robyn Hood! New flagship title for Zenescope! It's all you, man!" Annnnd that's all I knew about that book. It was called Robyn Hood and I was writing it. I was approached by Dave Franchini from Zenescope, and he congratulated me on getting that gig. "Man, I love Robyn Hood. So, you know, don't fuck it up," he said (which was the best advice I'd gotten about the book - Ralph and Raven would later repeat that to me). He told me what he knew about the book, which was that Robyn was a lady (I'd assumed, and honestly hoped, because I'd already crafted a voice for the character) and that it was spelled with a "y." Compared to what I knew about what the book would be, that was a veritable wealth of information. Then, off-handedly, he said, "Yeah, with that and Godstorm, we're gonna have some cool stuff." Before he could even explain, I knew what Godstorm had to be. The series that I set up in my annual - Venus going to war with the other gods and humanity to reclaim her former glory. He said he thought Joe Brusha would write it, and all I thought was, "That's going to be one hell of a story."
Fast-forward a bit. I'm writing Robyn Hood, and going through a bit of a personal issue. The writing was going well, but I was in a pretty bad place. I was talking to Raven, who had quickly taken on the role of more than an editor but also a personal mentor, and he was giving me advice. He was like, "No matter what goes down, just look in the mirror and be like, 'I will get over this. There is no one like me. I'm Pat fucking Shand and I'm writing Robyn Hood. And probably Godstorm too. No one else can say that!' Bam!" After I'd processed the advice, I asked him, a bit nervously, "Wait, what? I'm writing Godstorm?" He laughs. "I think!"

(Godstorm #0)
A week later, I've got the gig and I'm crafting a story arc from the ideas that Joe gave me and Raven. I had the freedom to really make this story, which has a giant impact on the GFT Universe, my own. It follows through on the promises we set up in the annual, but it's also a crime drama; there is the epic battles of supernatural powers you'd expect from such a title, but it's also about a regretful father and a woman who turns his vengeful son into a weapon; it's a completely modern story that I was able to lace with everything I love about classical literature; it's at once the biggest, most action-packed story I've ever written and the quietest character piece I've done; it's a strange, weird mix, and I'm pumped to see what people thing. Reviews have been strong so far, and I honestly feel good about the book, and the characters have all forced their way into my heart and brain to the point where... well, just about every day, I think, "What would Zeus (or Hades or Neptune or so on and so on and...) do if I put him in this situation..."

(Godstorm #2)
If anyone enjoys the book nearly as much as I enjoyed writing it, I'll be very pleased indeed.
Godstorm #0 hits shelves tomorrow. For more information, follow this blog and my twitter, or visit www.zenescope.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

SLIPSTREAM coming December 2012!


So, I'm not at SDCC. To keep myself from being too depressed about it, I'm going to be announcing a few projects that I have, until now, kept hush-hush about. The first announcement is...


You heard it here first - this is my first superhero comic, my first work with Big Dog Ink, and my first time playing in the Critter universe! For those unfamiliar with Critter, check out this brand new superhero universe from Big Dog Ink right here. Created by Tom Hutchison, the ongoing Critter series is the flagship title of Big Dog Ink, and it is putting the fun and adventure back into superhero comics.

Slipstream: Origin, written by me with art by the wonderful Owen Gieni, is the latest in a series of one-shot Critter spinoffs. It'll hit shelves in December 2012 (for those keeping up with the things that've been announced so far, that's the same month as Robyn Hood #4, Unannounced Project #3, and probably Super Unannounced Project #??). A cover will be coming soon but, until then, here is a Critter cover by Slipstream: Origin artist Owen Gieni.

Slipstream captures the same sense of fun that Critter embodies, but with a sci-fi twist. I won't spoil anything, but when I started plotting the comic, I was inspired by how much freedom Tom was letting me have with Slipstream, so I decided to make the comic about Slipstream building herself up from nothing and becoming the hero that we see in the monthly Critter title. It's completely standalone, but I hope it'll make folks eager to read more of Slipstream's adventures, because that character has been in my head for a while now.


Now, because I'm a fan of hearing about the writing process, I'll give a bit of background on how this comic came to be. It's funny that I'm announcing this in my Not at SDCC blog, because this tale proves how important it is for freelancers to go to cons. I met Tom Hutchison at NYCC 2011. I had only had one comic published at that point (Angel: Yearbook at IDW), but my work on Zenescope's Grimm Fairy Tales Holiday Edition 2011had already been solicited. Wanting to showcase my first work in the industry, I made a business card that had my contact info and little images featuring cover art from my soon-to-be-published comics. I found the Big Dog Ink booth, and was fascinated by their titles. I gave Tom my business card, and he recognized the Grimm Fairy Tales comic on it - funny sidebar, Zenescope editor and all around great dude Raven Gregory was checking out the booth too, and heard us talking about GFT. So I met Tom and Raven at the same time! Anyway, I asked Tom if I could pitch stories to him, read up on Critter, and wrote some ideas for one-shot stories. Tom dug Slipstream, and the rest is history. Moral of the story? Cons are important. If you can go, go. I hope to see you at NYCC 2012, and surely SDCC 2013.

More tomorrow!


PATRICK SHAND writes ROBYN HOOD, GRIMM FAIRY TALES, 1000 WAYS TO DIE, and more for Zenescope. He has written ANGEL for IDW, SLIPSTREAM for Big Dog Ink, and short stories published in various anthologies by Pill Hill Press, Rainstorm Press, and Wicked East Press. His plays have been produced in Manhattan and he currently teaches screenwriting and scriptwriting at Five Towns College.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm Writing ROBYN HOOD for Zenescope!

So here it is. The big news I've been teasing for a while and, really, the coolest thing I've done in my career thus far. I am writing Zenescope Entertainment's new flagship series, ROBYN HOOD. I've been plotting and chatting about this with Raven Gregory for a while now, so it feels good to finally be able to let the world know! More will be revealed this week as we continue to tease, but this series encompasses everything I love about comics and I can't wait for you all to read it.

I promise all you Robin Hood fans out there, while this is clearly a new take, I'm as into the original ballads as any English major can be. Hell, when we're able to reveal the title of the first issue, I think you'll be assured that the Robber in the Hood is in good hands.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reflection On: Grimm Fairy Tales 2012 Annual

Grimm Fairy Tales 2012 Annual, which I wrote, comes out today. I drove to the comic shop, bought some copies, grabbed the rest of my pulls, and headed home. I just finished reading the book through and, even though I've obviously seen the completed comic before, it still felt a bit magical (cheesy as that is) having it in front of me like this. It's my fifth comic in total and my third time playing in Zenescope's Grimm universe, but I just can't get past the sense of excitement. I've got comics coming out nearly every month from here on out, and I hope to never lose this sense of joy of getting to participate in the grand, epic, longform story that is Grimm Fairy Tales.

Writing comics really is the best job in the world.

From now on, I think it'll be cool to write something here every time I put out a comic. Whether it be commentary, a reflection, a story about the comic, or something else entirely, it'll be a fun way to celebrate.

I actually knew about the GFT annual before I knew I was going to write it. I'd seen Sean Chen's cover to the issue and Mike Debalfo's cover to GFT: Angel one-shot (which continues some story threads from my annual) around the time I was finishing up co-writing this year's GFT: April Fools with Ralph Tedesco. My thought upon seeing those covers and hearing what those books were about was, "Man... it would be awesome if I got to write one of those." Very shortly after, Ralph reached out to me about scripting the Annual, and I enthusiastically agreed.

For those familiar with the Grimm universe, this issue finally puts the spotlight on Venus (who will go on to co-star with the other devious GFT villains in the BAD GIRLS miniseries, coming next month). Zenescope has been building to a big Greek/Roman god arc for a long time now, since introducing Venus in the back of the ninth Grimm Fairy Tales trade. Raven Gregory built on the mythology of the gods in his recent arc on GFT, and it was an honor to spend this Annual with the diabolical Venus as she puts the final pieces of her plan together.

For newcomers, and I hope there are a few of you, I tried to write the Annual as if it's the epic first act of badass fantasy movie. At it's core, it's a story about rebuilding and feeling out of place - the time of gods is over, so what does that mean for the gods? What is their place? Where do these epic Greek/Roman mythological figures fit in? Do they assimilate or do they destroy?

I was an English major in college, and spent a lot of time studying, reading, and writing about these myths. It's a dream come true to get to write comics in general, but a special privilege to write a comic with Venus, Zeus, Hades, and more. You really can't get more iconic than these characters, and I hope I've done them (and Joe Brusha's epic plot) justice. If anyone has as much fun reading it as I had writing it, I'll be pleased.

Friday, May 18, 2012

REVIEW: Vowels by Skye Ogden

I recently had the chance to read and review a graphic novel called VOWELS by Skye Ogden. It was my first time reading a book from Gestalt Comics, and it surely won’t be my last, not only because of how interesting their other books look, but because of how damn good Vowels was.
This book came out in 2007 and managed to pass me by until now. It’s a completely “silent” graphic novel, and it pulls the wordlessness off by distilling its images gracefully into visually uncomplicated but morally complex images of humor, connection, tragedy, and hope. The characters are anthropomorphic non-humans that have quite a lot in common with our society and history. The narrative follows them through different time periods and bookends stories of heartbreak with basic but visceral tales of predators and prey, and the “humans” involved in these roles are never simplified.
It evokes A Contract with God in tone and, oddly enough, Goodbye Chunky Rice in style, but never copies either. Writer/artist Skye Ogden has a startlingly original voice (a bit ironic for a wordless book) and Vowels is a true vision. Fans of Top Shelf and Fantagraphics would do well to pay attention to Gestalt Comics, because if this book is any indication of the rest of their catalogue, they are preparing to inject a dose of much needed originality into the comics industry.

-Patrick Shand  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So, I'm taking a hiatus from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and whatever other social networking thingers I do for some reason. I've got writerly deadlines during finals week, so I'm going cold turkey to prevent myself from getting all distracted. I'll be back Saturday, May 12th!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Incoherent Rambling about SAGA #1

A few hours or so ago, I finished reading the first issue of Brian K. Vaughan's new series, Saga. He co-created it with Fiona Staples, who always does great work... but if I'm being honest here, I showed up to the party primarily for BKV. I often go back and forth about who my absolutely favorite comic book writer is, and I almost always settle on either Brian K. Vaughan or Alan Moore. Nick Spencer, Scott Snyder, Brian Lynch, Joss Whedon - they're all up there, for sure, but BKV's work on Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Runaways has completely changed the way I look at comics as a medium and perhaps even the way I look at storytelling. BKV is a master, and this is the first time that I've had the privilege of following one of his comics from the first issue on the day of its release.

Saga gets off to a great start. Perhaps the best start of all of BKV's series. While his other series often take a few issues to fully live up to their premise, I'm already invested in the strange characters that populate the world(s) that BKV and Staples have created. The seeds of many interesting ideas have been planted, and a lot of it hits home in really weird ways because I'm working on a book called Roadkill with Ian McGinty (my Blood Pong co-creator) that has a few similar themes. Romance in the midst of an intergalactic war is nothing new, I suppose, but I'm ecstatic and absolutely relieved that BKV's version is nothing like my own. There's nothing scarier than when the best writer in comics announces that he's doing a new series with a concept similar to something you're working on.

Anyway, that aside, the writing here is as excellent as I'd hoped and (frankly) expected. Especially the stuff with Prince Robot IV. That character (an alien whose head looks like a TV screen - he may or may not suffer from erectile dysfunction) proves that those worried about BKV's normally pop-culture infused writing suffering in this aliens-only story can breathe easy. Vaughan's strength is that all these characters, no matter how alien they get (and man, they get alien as all fuckout), have insecurities that we can relate to... but through the screens of fully fleshed out alien cultures.

It's too early to say "Saga is great and will revolutionize comics," but I think this first issue has come at a great time. Image Comics seems to be attempting to prove that the comics industry has talent, that creator owned books are the future, and that the line should remain drawn at $2.99.

And hell - I'm with it.

-Patrick Shand