Most people have long assumed DC and Marvel Comics are the only comic book publishers worth reading. Those people would be very wrong. If you’re not familiar with Zenescope Entertainment you might just miss the boat on an exciting year of comics. The comic book publisher has big plans and epic stories planned for the 2013 year including a company-wide event known as Unleashed. After talking to him twice in 2012 we caught up with Zenescope writer Pat Shand to talk writing, his books and Zenescope’s big year.
AiPT: It’s been a few months since we last spoke. What’s been going on with Zenescope, and perhaps more importantly, with Pat Shand comics?
Pat Shand: Craziness. Much with the craziness. We’ve got a giant event book coming up, we’re teasing some future Robyn Hood stuff with a super pretty Artgerm cover, and we’ve got a whole bunch of things that I can’t even mention right now. Oh, and a creator-owned comic or two coming from me this year. Along with an upcoming announcement that’s going to make fans’ heads explode, maybe a few literally. Sorry for the mess.
AiPT: For anyone who doesn’t know, could you give us your elevator pitch for the book you recently finished writing, Robyn Hood? Why should they be interested?
Pat Shand: It’s the story of a girl who has nothing building herself up into something incredible. It’s a bit of Hunger Games, a bit of Veronica Mars, and a bit of Game of Thones stirred up in a big ol’ pot. And seasoned with a bit of Buffy for flavor. It’s fun, tragic, and I had a blast writing it. I hope folks reading it feel the same.
Robyn Hood #1 cover art by Stjepan Sejic.
AiPT: With Robyn Hood under your belt has your view of the Zenescope universe changed the way you approach your work?
Pat Shand: Yeah, for sure. I’ve actually been really humbled by getting messages on Facebook and tweets from folks saying that they gave Zenescope a chance based on Robyn Hood, and now they’re sticking around for more of our titles. While I’d written annuals in the Grimm Universe before, Robyn Hood was the first time that I really got room to play around, and the fact that Joe, Ralph, and Raven trusted my storytelling enough to let me deviate from the original idea for the series and make it my own; that’s awesome, I think, and very rare in comics.
Exclusive: Unleashed #1 cover art by Stjepan Sejic
AiPT: Zenescope has an event series coming out called Unleashed. Tell us about that. How long will it run, how many tie in books are we talking about and what’s your involvement?
Pat Shand: Raven Gregory and I broke the story together. We’ve been outlining, revising, and throwing out new radical ideas for months now. We took our work to the Zenescope office for a story summit in December, and with Ralph and Joe there, we got everything approved and fixed points in the story that weren’t working as well as others. We also decided who we’d hire for two of the tie-in series.
Because when Raven first envisioned the series, the idea was for me to write the whole thing. A seven issue core event series, and five tie-in series. Raven later suggested hiring out for a few of the series, and I conceded that it made a lot of sense. So though the plot still comes from me and Raven, Troy Brownfield will be writing Zombies: The Cursed, Mark L. Miller will be writing Werewolves: The Hunger, and Raven is writing Hunters: The Shadowland.
That leaves me with the main Unleashed, Vampires: The Eternal, Demons: The Unseen, and running point with all of the other writers to make sure that the characters that pop up in more than one of the books have strong voices and that the whole event is cohesive, while still allowing each book to stand complete on its own merits.
Exclusive: Unleashed #1 cover art by Ivan Nunes
AiPT: Can you tell us why the event is called Unleashed? It sounds like a monster mashup based on the titles you mentioned, but then I’m thinking from the title its focus might be werewolves (i.e. leashes and dogs).
Pat Shand: Haha, not really. The Unleashed bit ties into how all of these monsters were kept in a sort of prison dimension until a strange creature called the Being (not his real name – he doesn’t have one) opens the dimension, unleashing them on Earth. Werewolves are in the book, but the biggest threat throughout next to the Being is probably the vampires. Well, those, and also the human flaws that will send our protagonists down some dark, twisty roads.
Exclusive: cover art by Giuseppe Cafaro
AiPT: It sounds like you’ve been very busy. Going from writing one book to what sounds like many, how do you manage your time? Do you write one script at a time, or dabble in multiple?
Pat Shand: It depends. I’ll usually just bang ‘em out one after the other. That way, by the time I’ve received notes on one script, I’ve already completed another. That gives me the distance to go back with a fresher eye than if that script was the last thing I was working on. But yeah, it can get rough. Juggling with day jobs is a bitch. That said, I’m hungry to write more. I’m insatiable. And also tired. Very tired.
Exclusive: cover art by Giuseppe Cafaro
AiPT: Can you tell us more about your creator-owned work? What inspired it?
Pat Shand: We’re actually gearing up for my first creator-owned release this March. It’s a young adult comic called Thomasina’s Human Zoo and I co-created it with Sarah Dill, the awesome artist who does the Distillum webcomic. We’re going to do a digital release monthly, and then when we will put it out as a graphic novel.
It’s about an orphan girl who lives with her grandma, aunts, and uncles. She was raised on fantasy books like Harry Potter and Narnia, so she sort of grew up with this hope that a wizard would come take her away and show her that she’s magic. That it’s all be worth something and that she’s special. We catch up with her as a teenager, and how she deals with the truth of this tragedy.
Annnnd then her family gets turned into animals and she has to figure out what the heck is going on. It’s a poignant and silly and heartwarming tale about a girl trying to find herself in a world that keeps making less and less sense.
Exclusive: cover art for Thomasina’s Human Zoo by Sarah Dill.
AiPT: I really love the model you’re selling this as; first as a digital release and then in paperback form. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Double Barrell, but that started by published in a similar way this past year and from what I gather it’s a success. Where can people look to purchase this series?
Pat Shand: I’m thinking Comixology. I’m going to be posting links all around like a madman when it’s out, so I’m thinking not many people will have a hard time finding it!
AiPT: Rapid fire time. Top 3-5 favorite comic books of all time?
Pat Shand: Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is probably the best graphic work of all time. Hm. I’d put Y: The Last Man, Blankets, and Watchmen up there as well. Those are a bit obvious, though. I think my favorite is Brian Lynch and Joss Whedon’s Angel: After the Fall. It revitalized my love for the medium. Also, probably one of the best runs of all time is Bendis’s Avengers. From New to Dark to Mighty to Prime to _____ to New again, it’s just a tremendous achievement. The kind that I aspire to in the future.
AiPT: What’s your most memorable moment writing comics?
Pat Shand: When I killed your favorite character. I mean, considering the names I’ve got on the chopping block, that can apply to nearly anyone reading this, I think.
No really though, I think it was the first night that I just pulled an all-nighter and hammered out a script on an incredibly short noticey deadline. That was for Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2012, which actually ended up being the beginning of the whole Godstorm saga. It showed me that I write very differently under pressure, exposing a whole new writerly self… if that makes sense.
AiPT: What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?
Pat Shand: The ability to travel through time without having a negative impact on the timeline. Really, I just want to be the Doctor.
AiPT: What’s your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?
Pat Shand: Facebook. Checking email for new art. Twitter. Sleep. Cats. All of those mixed together in various ways. The fucking Internet.
AiPT: What are you obsessed with now?
Pat Shand: I love the VlogBrothers a lot. Fruit Ninja. Reading wise, I’m really digging Game of Thrones, Scott Snyder’s Batman, and Whispers by Josh Luna when I’m able to find it.
AiPT: Thanks for your time Pat. Appreciate it.