It’s not an overstatement to say comic book writer Pat Shand has been writing a lot. With an Iron Man novel out in late 2016, a slew of Zenescope titles under his belt, and a new Kickstarter on the way you have to wonder how he has time to do it all. Well, wonder not, as we ask him that and more in our recent interview!
AiPT!: Pat, you’ve been a busy little bee lately with an Iron Man novel soon to be released, a comic book based on Equilibrium, your Zenescope titles and your creator-owned comic Vampire Emmy out back in June. How do you juggle all this work?!
Pat Shand: The comics are pretty easy to juggle. With the ones I’m also working editorial on, I see the art coming in so I can more directly collaborate with the artist. I know exactly when they’ll need the next script, and I can tweak as we go along. That process is more organic, and allows me to stagger my schedule nicely. The novels, though, that’s just prose with no artist, so it all falls to me, deadline-wise. That has been a learning curve.
One year ago, I’d written a few unpublished novels in my life, but nothing that I’d release now. As of today, I’ve written four novels this past year. I didn’t know I could do it until I did it. Two Charmed novels, one Iron Man, and one Avengers. I hope to equal or double that next year as I start to do more prose-work. I’d love to get back into writing novels not based on company-owned characters, though. I like the work-for-hire stuff a lot and I will keep doing it, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to write Marvel characters. The fact that I get to write dialogue for Iron Man and Captain America – that amazes me. It’s hard to even really wrap my head around, and I’m doing it now, today. But I originally started writing with the intention of publishing original novels, so I want to make moves on that end. I’m going to start doing so as soon as I finish this Avengers novel. Which I think will be today.
AiPT!: Can you go into the difference between writing a single issue and a novel? What is similar to each process and what’s strikingly different?
Shand: Time. I can write a single issue in a day, two days max. A novel takes a great deal more time, energy, and anxiety dreams. With a single issue, I can re-write the dialogue over the art before it goes to the letterer, and then I can tweak it to make sure it’s perfect when it goes to print. With a novel, the writer is alone with their words. Though, on the Marvel books, I have had awesome editors to help me not make an ass of myself, which is always great.
AiPT!: Tell us about your title Destiny, NY which will be on Kickstarter October 4th. What’s your elevator pitch (and keep it under 30 seconds!).
Shand: Think Strangers in Paradise twisted with magical realism. Kids who become the subject of prophecies are like the child stars of our world – they often burn out in the worst ways.
AiPT!: So what’s it about?
Shand: Destiny, NY takes the idea of a magic school and turns it on its head. We’re creating a world where magic is a real and mundane part of life, and some students have to live with the knowledge that their life hinges around a prophecy. When those kids complete their prophecy, they face the idea of knowing that they have completed their destiny, their life’s purpose, sometimes before they hit puberty. Destiny, NY follows Logan, our lead character, who completed her prophecy when she was thirteen.
What is next for her? When she is basically told that her life is complete, that she has done the greatest thing she will do, how can she move on from that?
This is teaching we could get behind. A page from Destiny, NY!
AiPT!: As soon as someone says magic school they think Harry Potter. Is this something on your mind while writing Destiny, NY?
Shand: Yeah, definitely. There is a character who riffs off of the Harry Potter archetype, but that won’t be a major focus. Though the fantasy elements inform a lot of the plot, the main focus is the romance between Logan and the women in her life, and how her completed prophecy has informed a lot of the choices she makes, preventing her from molding her life the way that she wants to.
AiPT!: Any chance you’ve seen the recent show Magicians? I was curious if you’ve read the books or if the show was an influence on Destiny, NY? What are the other influences?
Shand: No. My partner Amy watched the pilot, and I read the first chapter of the book or so years back and fell off (gotta get back to to it eventually!), but that’s not a primary influence for this. Destiny, NY is way more Blue is the Warmest Color than that kind of thing. I used to REALLY love fantasy literature, and while Destiny, NY touches on some of those elements, it’s been an exercise in examining what the world would be like if that magic weren’t magic at all, but was rather mundane, more down to Earth. It’s the un-fantasy fantasy story, where the focus is 100% on the characters’ personal lives rather than the magical elements. There is no big mystical threat. Instead, the threat is personal, existential.
A cover for Pat Shand’s Kickstarter comic Destiny, NY.
AiPT!: Pat, where do you find such great artists? I have friends who have ideas, but can’t draw. Any tips for them?
Shand: I go to conventions, I reach out to artists I see online. It’s interesting, as I begin to work in other media and with other publishers, I see my view of what I want to do and what I want my work to look like expanding. For example, on Equilibrium, that book looks like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s my first time working with American Mythology Productions, and they put Jason Craig on the book. Working with Jason is making me approach the story in a different way, which has been fun and enlightening. With Manuel Preitano on Destiny, NY he and I were working on titles together such as Wonderland and Robyn Hood, and he would always find the time to send me fun art on the side of the actual projects. So one day we were talking and decided to actually do a full project together, that was just ours, and that became Destiny, NY.
Each story, each working relationship is different. The only advice I can give there is to foster relationships with artists. I don’t think there is any other way to do it successfully.
AiPT!: You recently tweeted asking for “do’s and don’t’s” of Kickstarter campaign videos. What sort of things have you learned at this early stage, and what has surprised you so far?
Shand: Everything I learn is a surprise. I’m still very much navigating Kickstarter and learning the ropes. I’ll be able to answer this better when the campaign is done. Right now, I’m focused on making an awesome video. The videos really make or break it, from what I see. I want to be concise, short, engaging. And hey, Katie Kuffle, who is one of my favorite musicians of all time, is letting me use a song of hers for the video, so I think we’re off to a great start.
AiPT!: What sort of research or preparation is required to write something like Equilibrium? I assume you watch the film and maybe extra features on the DVD?
Shand: I didn’t watch extras, but I did research the film. I watched it over and over. It took a lot of planning, reconfiguring, asking myself what if? Not as much as Charmed, though. What was cool about Equilibrium was that I had a single film to study and to write a sequel to. With Charmed, I had to study, watch, and rewatch eight seasons of television and 24-issues of the first comic season. That was more intensive.
AiPT!: It’s 2020 and Pat Shand is the primo writer at Marvel. It’s his job to craft the big 2021 event, what’s your pitch?
Shand: Hah! If I say it here, it won’t happen. But if I do ever get to write for Marvel comics, I’d hope to tell relevant, fun, and ground-breaking stories that do justice to the characters’ lasting legacies.