I just got Robyn Hood #5. OMFG. There better be at least a #6. Nononononononono. It can’t just end like that. Uhg. Frustrated emotions!!!
Also, my boyfriend bought me Green Arrow and Black Canary #31: the Rise and Fall of Green Arrow. Uhmgfff…They don’t make beautiful comics like this anymore. (At least in my opinion).
Hi! Pat Shand, writer of Robyn Hood here. There is no #6. That is the end. All is lost. Cruel world!
…but there will be more one-shots and a Volume Three next year.
(Also, the REALM KNIGHTS miniseries featuring Robyn, Red Riding Hood, and others takes place about a month after ROBYN HOOD: WANTED #5.)
COMMENTARY on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #88
GRIMM FAIRY TALES #88
Written by Pat Shand
Art by Lalit Kumar Sharma
Colors by Rohvel Yumul
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
This is a very, very different flavor for me. I normally write very dialogue-driven books, so I think my previous two issues (“The Phoenix” arc, which in retrospect I should have pitched as three to pace the character development with the eponymous phoenix a bit more deliberately, though I’m still proud of the book for sure) had the same feel as, say, an issue of Robyn Hood or Realm Knights. With this one, my last issue on GRIMM FAIRY TALES before an arc penned by Troy Brownfield started up, I wanted to embrace the horror anthology feel of the series. That’s what made me love the book before I was involved with Zenescope, and while I think the strength of the GFT line now certainly rests in the mythology and the shared universe, I thought this was a cool opportunity to use primarily third-person narration to tell the tale of the Dark Queen’s resurrection.
When Joe and I first worked on the plot, I was trying to see how I could make this work on a deeper level to me. I want each of my books to say something beyond “Would it be cool IF…” I started thinking about the Dark Queen, who had been brought back wrong. She was once beautiful, and now she’s a horrific monster. There was a certain brutal dichotomy there, between the Dark Queen and her new dwelling place, Las Vegas. Vegas is pretty on the outside, with its blinding shiny lights and energy and music and neon whatever-the-fuck, but it’s got a dark and seedy soul… it’s got a monster inside, both figurative and now literally. I tried to use this issue to delve a bit into the all too human desire to wear masks to hide who we truly are.
Quick little recap of the resurrection. This could have easily been seen as a “part three” to the Phoenix story, because it continues right out of it, but I thought it was important to make it stand alone. The Dark Queen is going to be a big threat going forward, and I’m pleased that people can pick up this issue without any prior knowledge whatsoever.
I used the word “performed” twice in a sentence here. Balls.
Just want to slow down the writerly commentary for a moment to gawk a bit. Wow. Lalit’s art is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a comic before. It’s creepy, it’s strange, it’s loose in parts and tight in others – I think it’s some of the best and most creative linework we’ve had. I hope he comes back for more.
Malec has a bit of a temper. I realized that this character, he has bodyguards – but what does he really need them for? He’s living with Cindy, Morrigan, and a bunch of monsters. These human bodyguards wouldn’t be able to stop anything that could get past the rest of the house – so hey, I figure Malec uses them as punching bags.
Love the expression on the severed head. The panelization here is brilliant, too. The long, long panels doesn’t always work, but I love it here. Wish I could say it were my idea, but that’s Lalit getting creative with page design.
I was stoked to be the one who got to tell the old school Grimm Fairy Tales style origin of Lucinda, the Dark Queen. I love the way horror and dark fantasy danced together in the early issues of the series, and I hope I was able to successfully tap into that feel.
I think there’s something empowering about a princess who rejects her parent’s wishes for her. Even if she chooses evil, she’s choosing. And that’s an aspect that I love about the GFT ladies. Even when they’re evil, their motivation is incredibly strong and their choices drive them. I knew Lucinda was going to be one of the major, major Big Bads going forward, so I thought it would be cool to have a character that very willingly chose this life, unlike a lot of our villains who either have an ax to grind or were dragged into darkness against their will.
Pushing the mask metaphor a bit further here.
It’s not mentioned here, but the city that Lucinda’s parents ruled was called Inigo. Little Princess Bride love there.
Lucinda is very much unlike the Dude, in her lack of abidingness.
PAGE TWELVE & THIRTEEN
As drawn by Lalit, the Dark Queen here has one of the coolest capes in comics. It is impractical as all get-out garment-wise, but man. Who wouldn’t bow to someone in that scary of a cape?
Much like the whole city/monster, monster/woman thing I’ve got going on, there’s some subtext boiling beneath the surface of this page. Malec could have sent anyone to call for Lucinda to come down, but he chose to send one of his beautiful human mistresses. The Dark Queen is this horrific monster and Malec is bitter about her anger toward him, but he’s not voicing it toward her. Instead, he sends something very beautiful, very young, and very not Lucinda.
I’ll let the readers imagine what Lucinda whispered to the mistress that has her looking so destroyed.
PAGE SIXTEEN & SEVENTEEN
This is by far and away the most gruesome scene I ever wrote. An entire double page spread devoted to showing highborns, falsebloods, and mythological creatures on platforms with barbed wire nooses around their necks…
PAGE EIGHTEEN & NINETEEN
…And then a whole ‘nother DPS to drop them to their deaths. Even Cindy, who is a known gorehound, looks shocked on this page. The narration here is perhaps my favorite bit I’ve written, because I’m shit at poetry but those three captions could be a solid poem on their own. I mean, a poem that’s also totally fucked, but a solid poem nonetheless.
Yeah, I need Lalit on another book. This was a dark and scary one to write, and he just made it so much freakier. Love it.
That. Freaking. Staff.
A big thing we’ve been trying to do is reestablish the Dark Horde as a major threat. Malec had the horde flee during the Dream Eater Saga and it seemed he was doing so in Unleashed, but I subverted that last arc to show that no, he’s merely moving them off the grid to focus on resurrecting Lucinda. It went a long way, I think, to redeem Malec as a villain in the reader’s eyes, and I didn’t want to subvert that, but Lucinda definitely disses him big here. She thinks she knows the best way to reestablish the Horde, and hell – from what she’s saying toward the end, maybe she’s right.
Man, looking back, I almost forgot how fun this issue was to write. I wrote it on super crunch time while I was at Phoenix Comic Con, staying at Raven’s house… and yet, I think it’s probably the strongest of my three issue run on the title. Hope to hop back on soon, because the Dark Horde is always great to write.
Thanks for reading!
-Pat Shand, 8/30
COMMENTARY on REALM KNIGHTS #1
REALM KNIGHTS #1
Written by Pat Shand
Art by Butch Mapa
Colors by Kevin Volo
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Okay, let’s state the obvious here. This is a #1 issue of a brand new series, so obviously it’s something completely new and it’s doing its own thing… but I make it clear from the first page that it’s as much a sequel to GOSTORM as UNLEASHED was. Part of using Neptune, Zeus, and Hades a lot is that I want to put them in big profile books so more people go back to read GODSTORM, but I also think these characters have so many more stories to tell.
Also, for the first time… we see Zeus, Neptune, and Hades’ father, Cronus.
Man, Hades loves “hell” puns.
While the true fun of REALM KNIGHTS is the superheroic action, grounding it all with the government background has been a blast. It gives the threats a more real world sense, which can often be lost when you’re writing a book that has Neptune, Robyn Hood, Captain Hood, Red Riding Hood, and Van Helsing walking around together. The blending of magic and real world, like the Stranger giving the glamoured file over here, helps keep this book from floating too high into fantasy land.
“Agent Fassett” is a shoutout to my former TA and current friend, Ryan Fassett. He is a fantastic writer and, mark my words – he’ll do big things in this industry.
I love Agent Cell’s dreadlocks.
Though we don’t flat out say who the Stranger is, check out the similarity in position and style to the last panel and the panel on Page One when Cronus is reaching to his scythe. Hm…
Part of the fun of REALM KNIGHTS is that I had to think up of very different scenarios for our scattered knights to be in when the government calls on them. Since Britney (Red Riding Hood) and Cross (Captain Hook) were members of the original team and were largely absent during the events of UNLEASHED, I liked the idea that they’d been consistently working as Realm Knights since then, which explains their absence from Sela’s life. They’ve been doing this for over a year now, so they’re actually adjusted and having fun with it.
We introduced the new Realm Knights liaison, in GRIMM FAIRY TALES #86. Her name is Jessica Ciampo – her last name is taken from a friend of mine, Victoria Ciampo. Her role in this miniseries is vastly expanded. Shang, on the other hand, has a limited role. He was very involved in the Realm Knights one-shot, but it just made sense after he spent a year imprisoned by the Being in UNLEASHED that he sit out the major tiffs and take more of an advisor role in this series.
Van Helsing’s house is a thing of beauty. I sometimes wish I rewrote this scene to have Ciampo seek out Helsing and Sela on a BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER-style graveyard mission, but seeing this house that Butch Mapa designed makes me pleased with my choice.
Gotta give a splash page reveal to Helsing, the most high profile addition to the Realm Knights.
God, forget the Victorian house… there is nothing I love more than how Sela is dressed here. I’ve been making an effort to develop these characters’ wardrobes beyond what we see in their costumes, because I think it helps us imagine that these are real people with real lives beyond the stories on the comic page.
Something I had to address immediately is that no matter the threat we create here, his power will be a joke compared to that of the Being. So how do we take care of that, and not make it seem like an anticlimax? I figured address it, crack a joke, and move on.
The unfortunate thing about the timing of REALM KNIGHTS #1 is that we’re seeing Robyn in jail… and we don’t see how she got there. Stay tuned to the remaining issues of ROBYN HOOD: WANTED. It could have lined up better, but it was either keep it as is and have Robyn for the whole series, or have her come in the last issue… and I thought it was important to have her around for the whole shebang. She’s, as far as I’m concerned, a definitive staple of the team at this point.
For two ladies that don’t get along, Robyn and Red sure as hell find each other together a lot.
This argument between Jessica and Shang was to establish two things. When Agent Aranda (named after my bud Brian Aranda), the late liaison from the original REALM KNIGHTS one-shot, promised Robyn a pardon in exchange for her compliance… he was acting totally on his own, without approval from his superiors. Shang knows that, but he doesn’t care – he’s bringing Robyn back on the team because he knows she’s valuable, and also to show Jessica that he is in charge of this, not her. Readers of the one-shot already know that the government isn’t trust-worthy, but this is the first time we’ve seen Shang act on his distrust of their higher ups.
I’d been chomping at the bit to get Robyn and Helsing in the same room together. They have mega chemistry. Sela thinks so too – look at her jealously mean-mugging in the last panel as Helsing and Robyn hit it off.
Robyn and Red continue to bump heads. That doesn’t stop folks on Tumblr from shipping them. The most common Robyn ships are Robyn/Will Scarlet and Robyn/Marian, but I’ve seen a few posts of people shipping Robyn and Red. Someone even called the ship “Red Robyn. Yummmm.”
Another friend reference. Michael Wisnowski, the high ranking agent from the original one-shot, is named after Steve Winowski, one of my best buddies. Steve is way less of a jerk than Wisnowski, though his hair isn’t nearly as suave.
There’s Robyn with her “Macguffin hunt” comment, calling me out on the genre tropes I’m using. I live for the meta.
I may fall back on this a lot, but I love the role call panels. Adds an epic feel to the team, I think.
Not all artists can make their characters act, but look at how Butch illustrates that iffy glance between Jessica and Wisnowski in the last panel. That says it all.
Hades is so Hamlet.
Annnnnd another hell pun. In actuality, though, Hades is one of my favorite characters to write. Right up there with Robyn, Helsing, the Being, and Will Scarlet. He’s devious and snide and he’s angry and just loaded with pathos. I refuse to call him a villain, but man he works as a sympathetic foil.
Thanks for reading. This issue came out last Wednesday, so head to the comic shop if you don’t already have it!
- Pat Shand, 8/27