We here at UTF we were fortunate enough to sit down and field some questions with comic book writer, Patrick Shand (Godstorm, Angel, Robyn Hood). Quite a few topics are covered below with a strong focus on his his current work for Zenescope Entertainment.
UTF: When you first start breaking a story, where do you begin? What’s your process?
Patrick Shand: It’s different each time, actually. With Robyn Hood and Godstorm, Joe Brusha (President of Zenescope) wrote the outlines that Raven and I then revamped. For most of my 2013 projects, Raven and I intricately plotted out these incredibly long pitches. Joe and Ralph Tedesco (Editor in Chief of Zenescope) had the two of us down to the office last month, and we just sat in a meeting room and worked the kinks out of those stories, and essentially planned Zenescope’s publishing schedule for the whole year. That sort of collaboration is what makes comics so fun to work in.
UTF: When working with already established characters, how do you go about finding their voice?
Patrick Shand: Read read read. I’ve read the Grimm Fairy Tales trades more times than I could count. My first time writing a GFT story, I got to do a scene with Sela. She’s in almost all of their books, so I made sure to research intricately. It’s all about embracing continuity, and I know some writers have problems with that, but I think wrangling with continuity is a challenge that makes stories, more often than not, better.
UTF: How often do you throwaway ideas or put them in storage for future tales?
Patrick Shand: Happens every time I write a script.
UTF: After you’ve finished your script how do you approach the artistic side of an issue collaboration?
Patrick Shand: At Zenescope, the editors take care of a lot of that. Along with Anthony Spay (art director), they’ll find an artistic team and forward them any notes I may have. It’s cool because instead of just a writer and an artist chatting and then submitting the work to an editor, we’ve got a whole writer/artist/editorial team to ensure that the pages look good and follow continuity.
UTF: Since you’ve been in the industry, who’s been your favorite artist to work with?
Patrick Shand: No slight to the others I’ve worked with, because mostly everyone has been great, but I working with Jason Johnson was great. He did all of Godstorm, and just knocked it out of the park. Larry Watts who drew most of Robyn Hood just brings out the best in my characters, and Ian McGinty, the artist on one of my creator owned projects, is a genius. Those three just make me realize how lucky I am to be in comics.
UTF: Do you wish you could get them on a title that your currently working on?
Patrick Shand: I’d work with them any time. Ian is still very much in the middle of drawing our thing, though. Been working with him steadily for a couple of years now.
UTF: Are there any artists that your regret working with?
Patrick Shand: Nope. Even the ones I don’t connect with are learning experiences.
UTF: When you started out with Grimm Fairy Tales presents: Robyn Hood, what were the roots behind that interpretation?
Patrick Shand: Joe! He came up with the core concept, and then I fleshed out the character and made her my own. I always compare her voice to a Veronica Mars or a Buffy, but a lot of the times she says things that I would say… if I was, you know, a girl, clever, and driven by vengeance.
UTF: Since she’s very much part of the Grimm universe, did you find yourself feeling any pressure to craft a strong female heroine similar to the other storied leads?
Patrick Shand: Yes and no. I’ve been told that writing dialogue for women is my strongest point, and that was years before Robyn was around. Female protagonists are where I feel mostly at home, so writing Robyn just felt like meeting a friend that I didn’t know I already knew. Does that make me sound like I’m crazy? Maybe it does. (I’m crazy.)
UTF: What can you tell us about the upcoming crossover between Robyn Hood and Red Riding Hood?
Patrick Shand: This was me being sneaky. When I got the gig writing Grimm Universe #2, which was a Red Riding Hood one-shot, I planted the seeds for what could be a crossover issue. That way, when I pitched it to Joe, it made perfect sense to do. I approached it with love for both of the characters, but also I tried for a completely different tone. It’s very much in the vein of what Tarantino has done with his Kill Bill stuff and his pulpiest work. I tried to keep the script firmly grounded by the characters, their decisions, and their flaws, though, because that is the only way it will work for returning readers.
UTF: Who came up with the initial idea?
Patrick Shand: I remember I pitched it to Joe while I was at Austin Comic Con. Before going to sleep, I just popped the idea over to him in an e-mail, and when I woke up, I just got the response, “I like it.”
UTF: Any other series you want to crossover with?
Patrick Shand: Yep! Stay tuned.
UTF: In another corner of this shared space you worked on Grimm Fairy Tales presents: Godstorm, where did the idea for that series originate?
Patrick Shand: Same as Robyn – Joe brought us the concept, we revamped. This one we really took one thread and focused on, bringing Julian to the forefront as the main character. It allowed us to do those first two issues as gangster stories with a hint of foreboding god stuff, as opposed to what readers will expect. It’s issue three and four that really blows the doors off, but I thought it was important to lay the foundation and sell Julian as a character before getting into the Earth-shaking action.
UTF: What was your favorite part of the saga?
Patrick Shand: I like a lot of the Neptune stuff. He’s a tragic character, and I’ve always been interested in him since I first wrote him in last year’s annual. Really, though, the last two pages of Godstorm #4 encapsulate the whole series for me. Hope you like it when you read it.
UTF: Are there any imminent plans for the characters to return in other Grimm books?
Patrick Shand: Very yes. We’ve been teasing a new villain in the pages of Grimm Universe and Godstorm, and when you see what he does in Godstorm #4, you’ll get your first hit at the big picture of what this could mean for the Grimm Universe.
UTF: Do you have any regrets about the content now that it’s out there for the world to read?
Patrick Shand: I’ll always go back and read and think, “This line could’ve been smoother” or “This character is getting kind of monologuey” or something like that, but I’m very proud of what we’ve done with both of these stories.
UTF: After conquering this pantheon are there any other sects of Gods you want to reinterpret?
Patrick Shand: Hm. Perhaps. If the story makes sense. I like how the Greeks are larger than life but are actually more human and flawed than some of the human characters. I’d need a really strong take before trying to tackle another pantheon.
UTF: Out of the titles you’ve gotten to work on do you have a favorite?
Patrick Shand: Writers always say that it’s like picking between your kids, and it is. Robyn, though? She’s a really good kid haha. I love writing her. Also, though… I love what I’m writing right now. Biggest thing I’ve ever written, and I think it’s coming out really well. Sorry to tease, but it’ll be announced soon.
UTF: What’s next on your plate? I’d love to see you take a stab at a Big Two book (can’t help but imagine a young Ultimate Spider Woman under your direction).
Patrick Shand: Wow, thanks. That’s awesome. Tell that to Marvel, will you?
UTF: Do you have any dream projects that you would like to tackle?
Patrick Shand: Outside of Zenescope letting me write my dream stories (which they are – woohoo!), I’d love to take a crack at a Marvel or DC book, like you said. Also, I got my start at IDW’s Angel, so if Dark Horse ever came hollering for me to write some Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or Spike, I would totally beg Ralph and Joe to let me.
Really, though, I am very happy and satisfied with the work I’m doing with Zenescope, from the company owned stuff to the creator owned to the licensed. I’ve got a lot to talk about this year… just, you know, not yet.
So what did you fellow fanboys and fangirls think? Did you appreciate the questions we asked? Were the answers worth your time? Are you excited about the future of the Grimm Universe? Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.
I just want to close this out by taking the time to thank Patrick Shand for the interview opportunity.