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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Just" Work for Hire

I went back and forth about whether or not I'd actually write this post, but I think it's pretty important. I've been lucky enough in my career in comics to meet a bunch of awesome and talented people, and I'm grateful for that. I read a comic today that made me pretty mad, though, and it made me decide to write a post about an experience I had with the writer of said book at this past New York Comic Con.

This writer is a really well-known creator of a bunch of wonderful indie books. Books I love. When NYCC rolled around, though, his latest release was the first issue of a series he'd written for a company owned property. I still respect and love the guy's work, so I won't give anymore than that. Anyway, I walked up to his booth, did the whole "nice to meet you" thing, and told him how much I loved his first issue of _________.

He looked at me as if I'd just said "Would you like a bite of this shit sandwich, good sir? I made it myself. Just now."

Nervous that I'd somehow walked up to the wrong table, I laughed and said, "You... you did write that book, right?"

He nodded and said, "Yeah, but it was just work for hire. Did it a while ago. I guess they're putting it out now."

Flabbergasted and a bit put off, I nodded, talked with him for a minute or two more, bought one of his other books, and left. Hoping he was just having an off day, I went online and searched to see if he had posted anything about having written this book. Annnd he did. He did an interview that talked about that book and another property he was writing (one that I love). In this interview, his response was dismissive of the interviewer's question and he even reiterated that both of these projects were work for hire, so that the devout fans shouldn't expect much.


I was let down that a creator I respect would say this about any work of his, much less work that I enjoyed. And as his just-work-for-hire series went on, I noticed the drop in quality every issue. As it went on, the levels of shits not given increased exponentially, climaxing in the final issue, which I got around to reading today.

And here's my thoughts. Some pretty cool blog recently described me as an "up-and-coming comics writer" so I'll go with that. My first gig was my dream gig... Angel. Working in a world that Joss Whedon, my writerly hero, created was more than I could have hoped for - but I only had two pages with which to tell my story. I made those two pages the best damn two pages I was capable of. And after that, did I fulfill my second dream of doing a Supergirl/Stephanie Brown/Stargirl team book? Naw, I got some work for hire. I've been writing comics for Zenescope ever since and, yeah, it's work for hire, but there is no "just" in the equation. I was offered a shot at writing a good portion of their 1000 Ways to Die graphic novel. I'd never seen the show, but you can bet I watched every episode I could before I went to script.

Point is this... if you, as a writer or artist or actor or whatever, can't find it in yourself to care about what you're writing, then don't write it. Just don't write it. I am the last person to say "never write for money" because, let's face it, that's an inherently flawed piece of advice to give to writers. If you're a Career Writer, what you're doing is attempting to make a living out of writing - you write for money. The dangerous thing is when you start looking at work for hire as a "just" instead of a privilege and a challenge to live up to. Thing is, there are hundreds of other hungry, talented writers out there who would love to get their hands on the book you are currently not giving a shit about.

And so help you if you give a fan a weird look for saying they like your work, even if it's something you just pulled out of your ass for a check. The day I do that is the day I stop writing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

BLOOD PONG: six page preview of my new creator owned comic

Hey all. So, one more post to celebrate Creator Owned Day! Here's a six page preview of my creator owned comic, BLOOD PONG. Frustrated with the modern depiction of vampires as romantic creatures, CHAD and JOHN, two vampires who spend their days playing beer pong with blood, hit the town with a video camera. They’ve decided to make their own reality/horror movie that gives vampires back their badassery.

The art is by the wonderful Ian McGinty (co-creator). We've been pitching it around, so it would be great to get any thoughts or reactions.,

Creator Owned graphic novel: THOMASINA'S HUMAN ZOO (preview)

Happy Creator Owned Day! To celebrate, I'm going to post two previews for upcoming creator owned graphic novels. First, here's a 2-page sneak peak at THOMASINA'S HUMAN ZOO, an all-ages graphic novel created by me and Sarah 'Pickles' Dill!

THOMASINA is a work in progress and will be pitched to various publishers this summer. Leave comments and feedback, please!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Doctor Who/Sherlock parody in my upcoming graphic novel THE COMIC CON TALES

Here’s a preview page from my upcoming graphic novel THE COMIC CON TALES. Inspired by Chaucer’s classic “The Canterbury Tales,” this graphic novel tells the story of a group of friends who take a road trip from New York to San Diego Comic Con. Along the way, they each share a tale. This is the first page of “The Fangirl’s Tale: Professor Whom and Detective Sherrock,” illustrated by Oly Pelaez.

Of course we can’t say the names, but we’re pretty clearly parodying Doctor Who and Sherlock fanfic. The story gets pretty… well, you see, it’s from the mind of a character who writes some pretty intense fan fic, so I think anyone who has been really involved with fandom will get a kick out of it.

Comment if you want to see this happen! THE COMIC CON TALES is made up of many, many stories, comedic and serious. Every story is illustrated by a different artist, and the script is the strangest most diverse thing I’ve ever written, and I’m pretty proud of it.

Hope you dig it. Tell your friends!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Final Comic Book Wednesday

Welcome to the final installment of...

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #33

Yep, you read that right. After this issue, I'll be unable to continue my weekly blog. It's been a blast writing about the books I read here, and I think it's actually increased my enjoyment of those comics. I've been working as a Screenwriting teacher at Five Towns College, and my workload has increased threefold this semester... and I think it's time to focus all of my writing attention on - well, you know, my writing. I'll still write about comics, and I'll even post reviews, but I definitely can't do it on a weekly basis any more.

So alas... let's get to it!

Thankfully, this was a good week. Angel & Faith, TMNT, and JLD all delivered fantastic reads, and even the books that didn't totally impress me weren't quite bad.

Angel & Faith #6
Daddy Issues - Part One
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Rebekah Isaacs
Dark Horse Comics

It makes sense that the best installment of Angel & Faith thus far has the best cover. Steve Morris' cover, featuring a younger Giles emerging from a Russian doll-version of Giles as we know him... it's perfect. It's perfect because it intrigues and mystifies while also accurately representing the inside story. It also functioned to tease the fandom a bit, as it was released before we got a chance to read A&F #4, which many fans thought to be the climax of the "Angel resurrects Giles" arc. However, it wasn't, and Christos Gage is telling that slowburn story over the course of the whole twenty-five issue series. What this cover did was make the fandom wonder if Giles was going to be brought back successfully as Ripper - which is a great idea, but Gage has something else in mind.

Angel, while still obsessed with the idea of bringing Giles back, continues his mission of using Giles' Watcher's Diary as a yellow pages of the supernatural. He goes after a Lophrage demon, a mosquito lookin' mamajama who we're introduced to in a kickass flashback to Giles' time in Watchers Academy. The show, because of obvious age issues, never gave us a look at the teenage, pre-Ripper Giles... but now, in this comic, all those old impossibilities are nothing but memories. Along with the rest of his senior class, Giles has an encounter with this horrifying Lophrage demon, which serves to give Angel a new mission as well as to shed some light on why Giles became Ripper in the first place.

Faith is kept busy, investigating a vampire named Mother Superior. Faith's story is still very tied to Nadira, who is about as fun to read as Rona was to watch in Season Seven, but at least the Slayer Juniors get very little page time here. As Angel brings Faith on board with his Lophrage hunt, it becomes clear quickly that the elusive Mother Superior is involved with the demon in some way. I'm just going to go ahead and spoil the reveal at the end, because... well, anyone who has seen the covers knows, and really - anyone that knows Drusilla knew it would be her as soon as the name "Mother Superior" was mentioned. What other vamp who would warrant a reveal would choose such a name?

The real reveal, though, is that Drusilla is sane. This intrigues me a lot, because the optimist in me thinks that this may be Christos Gage attempting to tie his stories into IDW's work on Angel and Spike, considering Drusilla's sanity (and the fragility of it) was a major, major aspect of Brian Lynch's final Spike arc. On the other hand, I can see Drusilla using the Lophrage demon to steal other people's sanity - but there's enough speculation on the boards. From where I stand, it was the best issue of the series so far. I love how we're playing with the motif of fathers (Angel - Drusilla, Giles - his father, and Faith - her father... who we meet in this issue as well), which solidifies my hope that this series isn't just throwing Angel and Faith together for the hell of it. This series is about something, and I'm very, very engaged.

The most awesome aspect of the book, though, is Rebekah Isaac's artwork. Her characters are the perfect marriage of stylization and capturing likenesses. The action moves nicely, the small character moments really sing, and it has a dark, consistent tone that elevates this book quite a bit. I may like the lightness and the wordplay in the Buffy: Season Nine book slightly better than the story Gage is telling, but Isaacs' art just makes this one the winner. That might be, though, because BtVS:9 is such a vast improvement over BtVS:8, which Angel & Faith has just been really consistently good.

I hope this title continues to grow, but it really has everything right. I hope that the one-shots and the comedic stories are a bit better going forward, but Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs knock the arcs out of the park.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6
Story by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Written by Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
IDW Publishing

I originally tweeted that this was the best of IDW's ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, but I'm going to amend that... it's the best since the first issue. And don't think I'm trying to turn this issue into Pluto, but I just went back and reread all of the issues, and that first one is really the perfect comic book. This one continues the story in an incredibly exciting way, continuing to blend the original gritty comic with the pizza-celebrating cartoon, creating a book that all generations of fans can embrace.

In this one, shit begins to hit the fan. It's revealed that Baxter Stockman hired Old Hob to bring down the turtles, and this uneasy alliance makes for great reading. It leads to the awesome reveal at the end of the issue which reintroduces the MOUSERS to the TMNT-verse, but the best think about the Hob/Stockman team-up is the humor. My favorite scene in the comic:

HOB: Holy...
STOCKMAN: Impressive, aren't they? We've been developing them as part of a program to locate and destroy I.E.D.s on the battlefield.
HOB: I.E.D.s?
STOCKMAN: Improved Explosive Devices.
HOB: ...
STOCKMAN: A booby trap that goes boom.
HOB: Ah. Gotcha.

All of the plotlines from the previous issues continue here. Casey Jones meets up with April O'Neil, the turtles and Splinter continue to talk about and debate their presumed reincarnation, and the Foot Soldiers brew up some trouble. It's all building toward something big, and I can't wait to see what the ongoing and Brian Lynch's two remaining microseries bring.

Aquaman #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Ivan Reis
DC Comics

I liked this. I liked it a lot better than JL#5. It's about as "written for trade" as JL, but the thing about this book is that it's a hell of a lot stronger than JL, so the overall effect is a bit less damning. It's a quick read, but the narrative device of throwing Aquaman into the desert and then showing us how he got there by alternating from the desert to the past is strong.

The current arc is leading to a major storyline having to do with Atlantis, and I'm very much looking forward to it. I like Aquaman as this likable, badass, overlooked hero. I like that the events of the previous arc are still bothering him. I like that the new mystery is still attached to the events of "The Trench" storyline, giving this book a cohesive "big picture" feel. I like a lot of things about this book and I think that, in good time, I may even love it. This issue doesn't do much to make Aquaman climb to the top of my pull list, but I'm consistently enjoying it.

Justice League Dark #5
In the Dark finale: There Was a Crooked Man
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin
DC Comics

And the first arc of one of my favorite New 52 books comes to a close. It's a satisfying, if not perfect, ending that leaves me wondering where the hell Milligan's going to take the story. The dark tone that makes this series such a creepy read permeates this issue especially, so there is no happy ending for June Moone... but it's not heart-crushingly dark either. At the end of the issue, our team of characters isn't a team at all. Hell, they don't want to see each other, and I don't blame them. Milligan is cooking up some nastiness for them in each issue, and none of these people are true heroes. They lack the moral fiber of Superman and his kind, but some of them still try to be heroes... which leads them to clash. A lot.

One minor complaint was that Constantine was a bit too much of a jerk here. I know he is no longer the man who wants to save the world that we first ran into in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, but he's a bit... well, he's sort of like Spike in the finale of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For those of you that don't worship at the altar of Whedon, that means that Constantine claims to only be interested in saving the world because he is on the world. The Constantine I've read has lost a lot, but isn't selfish enough that he only values his own safety. Maybe it's just him being a hardass and I'm reading too literally, but that was a bit jarring for me.

The art is perfect. Mikel Janin's work is perfect for this book, and I hope he's in it for the longrun. He is perfect for this book and certainly vice-versa.

I know some folks have lost patience with the slow-boil narrative, but this is one of the most consistently enjoyable books in my pull list. I can't wait to see what fate has in store for these poor bastards next.


Thanks for reading. I'm going to keep updating this blog, so hang around. I've got a lot more to say.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Comic Book Writer Talks SOPA/PIPA

Originally posted 1/18/12 on my Tumblr.

This morning, Facebook pissed me off. A bunch of my friends were equatingcaring about SOPA to not caring a real problems such as AIDS, starvation, cancer, etc. I posted some snarky statuses to get across the point that being vocal about the dangers of Internet censorship doesn’t equate to being a heartless monster, but I was silly about it. EricaCV pointed out, though, that I may be better off using my “writerly influence to spread further knowledge and understanding about the situation.” She’s right - on Facebook I went for the lulz, and that was a bit of a mistake… because I think one of the fundamental misunderstandings about SOPA/PIPA and those of us who are against it is that we are merely scared of losing the Internet as a source of mindless entertainment.

It’s a hell of a lot worse than that.

Now, here’s where I stand. Piracy isn’t a shiny beacon of awesome, and I’m not for it. Obviously. I work as a writer in the comics industry, and it’s one of the most grating things to see how often our (incredibly cheap) books get pirated. Hell, take this for example. A few weeks ago, my latest comic (Grimm Fairy Tales: Holiday Edition 2011) came out, and I searched it in Google. (Yes, I self-Googled, I’m weak.) The first result wasn’t a fan’s reaction. It wasn’t a review. It was a site that offered an illegal download of the book that had literally only been out for a few hours. Bummer, right?


I started thinking. I used to run a review site. On that site, I would talk about all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I would review the comics, I would post pictures of stuff that was coming out, and I would make stupid little parody images on Paint. I used Google images to pepper the site with covers from the comics to make the site prettier. That site is how I got noticed. By making friends with some of the people who worked on the Angel comic and showing that I cared about the character and that I could write, I put my foot in the door. I later wrote a story for that comic, and have since been building a career in the comics industry. The seeds for all of my current success grew from that blog… which would have been shut the fuck down in an Internet governed by SOPA/PIPA.

So would this Tumblr. Likely, so would your Tumblr. So would countless other sites that have provided entertainment, offered education, and decreased World Suck. Yes, it’s true that the pirates would get shut down, but I say this as a man trying to make it in an incredibly rough industry… it is absolutely not worth it.

For more information (and I can surely say more articulation) you can check out what Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Steve Niles, and many other great writers are saying all over the Internet. Look around, and see if you agree with them. It’s your prerogative. Your freedom. My point is this: without a free Internet, I wouldn’t have published a thing. And I’d wager that I would be a hell of a lot less informed about the world as a whole than I am now.

The world is at your fingertips. Don’t let them snatch it away from you.

-Patrick Shand

Morning Glories #15 review, Ghostbusters #5 review, Legend of Oz Wicked West #2 review, Batman #5 review, Birds of Prey #5 review,

Comic Book Wednesday #32

I had some dental surgery this week... so seriously, thank everything that is good for comics. Here are some books that you should be sure not to miss out on.

Image Comics

Morning Glories #15
P.E. part three
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma

Anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis knows my feelings about Nick Spencer's Morning Glories. I tend to go on and on about how brilliant it is, how engaging the mystery is, how well-crafted the dialogue is, and how Joe Eisma just knocks every page out of the park. This issue is no different. It's scary, tense, and has the best use of a flashback intercut with scene "in the now" that I can remember reading. Morning Glories is like that TV show that you look forward to watching because everything about it just better, from the writing to the acting to the damn editing. This is the comic book version of that dream show.

This series is a Lost style mystery and, at fifteen issues, it has nearly as many mysteries as that show did in its heyday. Since Nick and Joe plan on creating 100 issues of Morning Glories, we know that none of those answers are coming anytime soon... and yes, that's frustrating. In the best way possible. The mythology and the mystery remain in the background, with Nick keeping his attention squarely on the characters. Almost all of this issue is made up on conversation, and I love that.

Not only is this book great, it's also an insane value. This book costs $2.99 - the same price as our twenty page DC books... but this is a thirty page story. With no ads interrupting it. Yeah, Morning Glories is the ultimate comic book experience.

IDW Publishing

Ghostbusters #5
Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Dan Schoening
PCOC pages by Tristan Jones

The new arc begins with this issue. While it's not as instantly gripping as the start of the first storyline, it's still a hell of an entertaining read. The majority of the comic, before the baddie takes center stage, has an almost day-to-day feel, and it seems to be setting the tone for the ongoing adventures of these characters. Fun dialogue, great interactions, and some of the best visuals in comics - this series remains at the top of my pull list.

Big Dog Ink

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #2
Written by Tom Hutchison
Art by Alisson Borges

If you didn't catch the first issue, the premise is simple: The Wizard of Oz as a western. Damn near a Tarantino-esque modern take on a spaghetti western, to get to the core of it. Dorothy Gale pulls no punches; she's badass and will punch the teeth out of your mouth you say something she doesn't like.

(A lot of people say things that she doesn't like.)

The story really kicks off in this one as we begin to see Hutchison's interpretations of the classic cast. The Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and the Wicked Witch are all present here, and they all make this book a bunch of fun. The most inventive reinvention (heh) is the sort of living doll take on the Scarecrow.

The writing is fun, the art is downright gorgeous, and the presentation is flawless. The cover is extra thick, giving this book some nice weight to it. When you go to your local shop, take a glance through this book - I guarantee you won't put it down.

DC Comics

Batman #5
Face the Court
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo

If you have this fun little thing called the Internet, you know what people think of Scott Snyder's Batman. It's nearly universally loved, and for good reason. It's fantastic. Best book of the New 52. This issue is no different. It's trippy, emotional, and... well, it's the scariest that the series has been in a long time. And I'm not talking "Joker's face nailed to the wall" scary. That isn't scary. This book is moody, foreboding, and disorienting. As Batman stumbles through the labyrinth, you'll get lost with him, shifting the book to the side, on an angle, and upside down to read. It's damn good writing with damn good art. You're missing out on a defining moment in superhero comics if you let this book pass you by.

Birds of Prey #5
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Layouts by Jesus Saiz / Finishes by Javier Pina

This story is just not letting up. It's pretty obvious that Swierczynski is a thriller writer, because the mystery is genuinely interesting. Black Canary, Starlette, Katana, Poison Ivy, and (maybe?) Batgirl reach a very confusing point in their investigation of the s'ploding peoples, and I am completely stunned by the way that Swierczynski is executing this story... because I have no clue what's going to happen next. Not a shadow of an idea. I can't speculate, because I'm just so lost in his storytelling that my instinctual Writerly Instinct of "he's gonna do this, isn't he?" has completely shorted out. This is right behind Snyder's Batman as the best superhero title from DC.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Comic Book Wednesday #31

Comic Book Wednesday
Issue #31

Here's what I've been reading over the past three weeks. Some good, some great, some not-so-much.


The Cape #3
Written by Jason Ciaramella
Inspired by the short story "The Cape" by Joe Hill
Art by Zach Howard

This saga of misguided revenge gets even scarier this time around. Ciaramella cuts this tale up with flashbacks of a much more innocent childhood, giving the horrific scenes a harsh dichotomy. The story, while simple, is as riveting as it is batshit crazy (flying dude takes down a plane with a CHAINSAW), and it remains on the top of my pull list. The issue ends with the deranged Eric preparing for a showdown of sorts with his brother Nicky, who just happens to be the primary object of Eric's war on his family. Shit is going down, and I'm pumped to see how they end it all.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Microseries #2
Written by Brian Lynch
Art by Andy Kuhn

I already covered this one in my Best of 2011 blog, but if you missed that... man was this good. Hilarious, witty, and just pure fun. Easily the best thing to come out of the consistently excellent TMNT series from IDW.


Whispers #1
Written and drawn by Joshua Luna

This is among the best first issues I've ever read. It's my first comic by Josh Luna (I bought the Ultra TPB at NYCC, but I haven't read it yet), and I'm stunned by how good it is. I read a preview of it last month, and I was intrigued by the depiction of OCD, but this... the whole story is just such a complete mind trip. Anyone who has even had even a slight case of OCD will relate, but this comic doesn't focus on just that. Sam, our protagonist, has recently discovered his strange ability to travel around town, incorporeal and invisible, visiting people he knows while he's asleep. It's a simple concept, but the execution is just... well, honestly, it's perfect. I can't recommend this enough. I bought this comic because I want to support creator owned books, but I'll keep coming back month to month because of how brilliant the writing and art is. Best book of the new year, so far.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5
Slayer, Interrupted
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Art by Karl Moline

Karl Moline is my favorite BtVS artist, so it was great to see him return for this issue. The story has been called both a sequel to Restless and Season 8's The Chain, but I liked this issue a lot better than either of those stories. While (in my opinion, of course), the former two tales got lost in the dangerous territory of style over substance, this issue delivered the awesome with dream sequences that delivered the wonkiness while still adding to the overall story of the season in a manner that is both clear and entertaining. There are some major developments here and, while I'm sure the internet is already pissed off about the end of the issue, Chambliss and Whedon are taking the series in a surprising direction that's already a hell of a lot more down to earth than Season Eight. I'm thoroughly enjoying this book.

Angel & Faith #5
In Perfect Harmony
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Phil Noto

I dig Phil Noto's covers, but his sequential art didn't do much for me in this issue. It was a fun, light issue - essentially, it's what you expect when you hear the concept. Harmony reaches out to Angel and Faith to investigate a particularly damning sex tape that someone is threatening to leak. There are some cool moments with Clem, who is always a joy to read, and some great Snarky!Faith lines, but man... Rebekah Isaacs was sorely missed.


Justice League Dark #4
In the Dark part four: By the Light of the Moone
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Mikel Janin

Dark and intriguing, JLDark is everything that it should be. Considering that this book is made up of the most interesting characters in all of DC coming together to fight the baddies too dark and nightmarish for the Justice League proper to face, that's big praise. Every beat of this slow boil story has been an immersive and mind-melting experience, and this issue brings this roller coaster of a book to its highest peak. Shit is about to go down, and I can't wait to see how these characters deal with it. Especially Constantine. Man, can Milligan write him some Constantine.

Green Lantern #5
Sinestro part five
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

The fight to defend Sinestro's home planet from the team of villains that he created comes to a head. Geoff Johns creates the perfect balance of action and drama in this book, and Sinestro continues to be one of the most interesting protagonists in all of DC. Hal Jordan's romantic issues with Carole also gets resolved by the end of this issue, and that happens a bit too... easily. That plotline comes off as a bit "Let's give Hal some girl trouble," which feels a bit weak in contrast to the captivating relationship of Hal and Sinestro. I'm very glad that DC didn't just give Sinestro the Green Lantern title for a few issues for shock value - they're really going through with it, and the end product is as engaging as the idea is ballsy.

Aquaman #4
The Trench conclusion
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

Every bit as engaging as Green Lantern, Johns brings his first Badass Aquaman storyline to a conclusion. Oh, what? This series isn't called The Badass Aquaman? Could've fooled me. Johns is pulling out all the stops here to make Aquaman the badass that Grant Morrison already knew he was. The action is great, and double page spreads are used liberally, but not in a way that takes away from the content of the story. It feels like decompressed comics should feel... like you're watching a widescreen film. And this... well, this is that summer blockbuster that leaves you coming back for more.

Batgirl #5
A Candy Full of Spiders
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Adrian Syaf and Vincente Cifuentes

Best issue yet. The minor flaw of Simone's recent writing pops up here again... if you hadn't noticed, it's Batgirl's very occasional incredible lame quip. I had to stop reading when Batgirl kicked her opponent in the face and said "Kiss my rear end!" I mean, is she seventy-five now? Besides that jarring moment, this book is damn solid. We get a follow-up on Barbara's meeting with her mother, as well as a villain twice as interesting as Mirror was. The first part of this new arc has already blown the last one out of the water, and Simone has consistently kept this book on my pull list... and with the way I've been cutting, that's no small feat. The art is mostly good, though some anatomy issues (Batgirl's pose on the first page and Bruce's weird hand on the final page) pop up, and Barbara's mom could've looked a bit less like she was Barbara's age. Despite those issues, though, this remains among the strongest of DC's recent efforts. Get it get it get it.

Batman & Robin #5
Written b Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason

If you've liked the first four issues, you'll enjoy this. It offers nothing incredible or new, but... well, it's a solid read. Damian ventures off with Ducard, Batman's latest nemesis, and I think it's pretty obvious that he's going to turn on him in favor of Batman. There have been moments, especially in the first and fourth issue, that awed me, but if I'm going to stick with this series something major is going to have to happen to keep me engaged... soon.

The Ray #2
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Jamal Igle

Jimmy and Justin, the writerly team behind Power Girl, deliver another really fun comic. Protagonist Lucien Gates breaks the fourth wall, telling us his story as he experiences it, and the action and monsters are highlighted with the human drama kept to a minimum. It has a certain darkness to it, but the darkness teeters on the edge, coming from the villain instead of from the hero himself like most modern superhero comics. In fact, as the Ray, Lucien is essentially a goofball. A goofball with the badass power of light, yes, but a goofball still. The comic is a quick and enjoyable read and, while it isn't as effective as the duo's other efforts, it's worth the spot on your pull list for the four issues it's going to last.

Action Comics #4
Rocket Song
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Kubert
Baby Steps (back-up story)
Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by ChrisCross

Grant Morrison's main story in this month's Action is decent. As readers have come to expect from Morrison, it's pretty damn inventive; we see the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El's voyage to Earth through the mind of the spacecraft he flew in on. It loses steam once the craft lands, as it blends a bit of story from the first Action arc with something that seems to be set in the future. It's all a bit confusing and, while I'm sure it'll make sense with next month's issue, it makes for a rocky read considering the fairly straight-forward beginning. What makes the comic more than worth the cover price is Sholly Fisch's back-up story, which focuses on a recently wed Jonathan and Martha Kent. It's eight pages of well-written and drawn human drama, giving readers a real portrait of two people who are struggling to have a child. I've been a critic of ChrisCross's work in the past, but he does quite a nice job here... and Fisch's script is, beat for beat, perfect.

Detective Comics #5
Wheel of Misfortune
Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel
Russian Roulette (back-up story)
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Szymon Kuranski

This is another book that, after this read, I'm going to follow through the trades. The writing isn't bad, nor is the art... it's just that nothing here is particularly strong. Batman watches over Gotham, Batman broods, Batman chases a villain, and then we reveal the Penguin - who was already featured on the cover. The back-up features Catwoman and the son of Hugo Strange teaming up to take on some Russian gangsters. It's not bad by any means, but I don't think it's a comic that I'm willing to shell out three bucks a month for.

Superman #4
Mind for the Taking
Written by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino

The first issue of this series was great. It was journalistic, emotional, engaging, and simply a good Superman book. Everything that has followed failed to live up to the high standard the first issue set, and I'm sad to say I'm dropping this book because it's such an iconic title, but I got six pages into this book before I closed it, sighed, and put it away. The story hasn't gone anywhere since the first issue, and it doesn't seem as if that's changing this time around. Maybe the second half of this issue is stellar, but I just don't have the patience to get through it. I'll come back to this book later, but I'm clocking out of this storyline.

Supernatural: Caledonia #4
Emma of the Isles Part II
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Grant Bond

I've been a big fan of this series, but it peters off a bit with this issue. Emma meets up with Sam and reveals the reason she called him... evil siren/mermaid kind of creatures. The depiction of these beasties is cool, but the last third of the book is a bit jarring. Sam's behavior is confusing, as is some of the action. Sam witnesses something happening with one of the creatures (after already being dragged away by one and then saved by Emma) and then suddenly realizes how unsafe he is in his location... but he was only unsafe because he went to the beach, where he already knew the creatures were! Sam's fear and subsequent behavior (so scared, gotta wait for Dean!) struck me as a really weird moment in an otherwise stellar series. Hope the next issue gets things back on track.

NEXT TIME: Batman, Birds of Prey, Ghostbusters, Supergirl, Morning Glories, Legends of Oz: The Wicked West.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012