COMMENTARY on WONDERLAND #13
Written by Raven Gregory & Pat Shand
Art by Antonio Bifulco
Colors by Leonardo Paciarotti
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
Raven was originally going to take back the reigns of the ongoing series here, but I came on and scripted two more issues under his guidance to close out the #11-14 arc. This first page is all Raven though, and I think it may be the first step in our attempt to add more physical mythology to the land of Wonderland itself. Also, this is the first and probably only time we’ll see the original Queen of Diamonds. Next time we’ll see her, much like Queen of Hearts, someone new will have filled the role.
One of the biggest things I was looking forward to with writing Wonderland was Jim’s insane lettering on this title. The Jabberwocky, Spades, and Hearts have some of the most creative lettering I’ve seen in comics, and Jim makes it sing.
As of now, I can honestly say, this is the page where I just buckled in as Raven took me on an insane person’s drive. To this day, I have no idea what the voices are that warn the Jabberwocky away from Lory. This is Raven playing his long game.
And here’s where I take the stage. The protagonist of this issue, Charlie, is looking very Morgan Freeman here… and let’s be real, from his dialogue, he’s intended to be read with Freeman’s voice. It’s been said that Morgan Freeman’s voice makes everything in this world a bit better, and I think that might be true of this issue as well.
It’s never revealed why Charlie calls his bus Bonnie, but a scene later in the book will spell it out to the attentive reader.
This may be one of the most text-heavy pages I’ve ever written. This issue has a slow and deliberate pace, and it’s tone is different than the rest of the series for a reason – Calie and Violet are a young mother and daughter, so they have a more hectic, youthful energy. This issue, however, reads almost like prose because of Charlie’s manner of speech and word choice. Very different, but I hope fans took to it. It’s not often you pick up a Wonderland book and read an issue about a 50+ year old man’s struggle at his job as the A-story, and that’s kind of the point. This arc, which I’m still amazed Raven let me steer, is all about breaking through the norm of what you expect in a Wonderland story and, in a larger sense, a comic book.
The red hair and hearts glasses may be Lory’s batshit-craziest transformation.
The mirror motif (rearview, windows, Lory’s entrance into Wonderland) continues. The bit at the end where Charlie speaks of the disappearances is the first time that we’ve tied the events of #11 and #12 into the overall arc. They were certainly standalone issues, but the shape of the arc is beginning to form right here.
Who doesn’t love a creepy little kid? (Me.)
I once read a quote by, of all people, Russell Brand – who is actually fucking brilliant, mind. The quote was: “We all have an essential self, but if you spend every day chopping up meat on a slab, and selling it by the pound, soon you’ll find you’ve become a butcher. And if you don’t want to become a butcher (and why would you?), you’re going to have to cut right through to the bare bones of your own character in the hope of finding out who you really are. Which bloody hurts.” Reading that made me reflect deeply on myself, my choices, and the things with which I build my life and my story. Charlie’s “essential self” here is that he is a bus driver – he’s okay with being defined by that, by being the shepherd that leads others to their destinations. We’re just not sure yet if that’s because of his own loss of direction or because of a genuine interest in other people. To me, and my interpretation is just that – an interpretation… I think it may be both.
Kid in panel two has a spinner on top of his hat. So nineties. What an absolute boss.
Charlie finds beauty in the small moments, because he needs to. He needs to dream about people when awake, because of the reveal of what he truly dreams about on the net page.
“All of my dreams are bad” might be the saddest sentence I’ve ever written. Charlie is a grown man, and a very mature one at that – but this sentiment seems almost childish in its phrasing.
In text shout out to Sheldon, Wonderland artist for the first two volumes.
And now, the mirror motif pays off. Charlie’s darkest impulses are reflected back at him. It’s absolutely an onslaught against him from Wonderland, as the Queen of Spades has chosen him to be one of her own, but none of these are lies. Charlie is horrified and begins to go into a state of shock here because he sees that, yes, his bitterness toward those who have wronged him has made him capable of sickening things.
One of Antonio’s best pages, I think. Charlie’s agony here is hard to look at.
And the elusive Lory bird…
Back to Wonderland. We reveal the new Queen of Diamonds, and she will be very, very significant in another series.
Two effects I love here; the playing cards floating through the background really make this page standout. I’m also glad we physically get to see Lory transform here, so we show how easily this character shifts from body to body.
Annnnnd of course, everyone is playing everyone. The card symbolism, along with the dueling soldier toys, is indicative of how the Queens, Lory, and the Jabberwocky (whom I pseudo-affectionately call “Jabby” in scripts sometimes, likely to Raven’s dismay) are all keeping their hands in the game for Wonderland very close to the chest.
Thanks for reading. This issue came out two weeks ago, so if you’re reading this without having read the issue, I think we may have to see other people.
- Pat Shand, 8/27
In two days, UNLEASHED PART FIVE will be released.
While the series goes for six issues, the final issue is an epic epilogue that ties up character arcs and sets things in motion for what’s next for these character. Part Five is the devastating climax.
The Being. Sela. Van Helsing. Roman. Masumi. Elijah. Belinda. Samira. The Maker. The Innocent. Shang. Ilys.
We’ve been following their tales for a while now… and by the end of this issue, we’ll be saying goodbye to more than one of them. Death and betrayal abound as the Being’s true plan comes to light. Sela reckons with the daughter that had been stolen from her. Belinda discovers the truth of her resurrection. Van Helsing, Roman, and Elijah are faced with choices that will change their paths forever. Masumi buckles as the weight of her loss crushes down on her. The Maker and the Innocent stand to watch a battle that they cannot fight.
After this… nothing will ever be the same.
Written by me, art by Miguel Mendonça.
COMMENTARY on WONDERLAND: DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE #3
WONDERLAND: Down the Rabbit Hole #3
Written by Raven Gregory & Pat Shand
Art by Gregbo Watson & Yusuf Idris
Colors by Francesca Zambon
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment
This was totally Raven. I’ll totally be saying that sentence again whenever I want to blame something on him (even if I wrote it, tehehe), but in this case, I just have to give credit where it’s due. I’ll often get calls from Raven, especially concerning Wonderland, that begin with, “WHAT IF WE (insert crazy and/or brilliant idea here)!?” The first issue was a product of that. Raven called me and said, “WHAT IF WE HAD THE ENTIRE FIRST HALF OF THE ISSUE BE THIS EPIC, TRIPPY BATTLE – ALICE VS. WONDERLAND, BOOM! And then, you know, we’ll have this page of bubbles and then boom, she’s in her therapists office.” He did that again here – he called me and was like, “Dude. Dude. Dude. Rabbit Hole three. The first page? Alice is going home… BUT SHE AND HER FAMILY ARE GOING BACKWARDS.” No one could write this successfully except Raven. No one on this planet. And yet, here it is. Kudos.
PAGE TWO and THREE
This is when Raven and I started getting the feel for what Gregbo is capable of. You’ll see that in the fourth issue, which is mostly double page spreads like this.
Here is when the overlap really begins. I dialogued this page that Raven had laid out in panels. He was way better at the deep ties to the original series, because he wrote it. I’ve read RETURN TO WONDERLAND as a fan before I ever wrote for Zenescope, so while this is a dream come true for sure, I also had to defer a lot to Raven’s intimate knowledge of the universe.
There’s that famous picture again. Bad things tend to happen when Alice looks at that picture.
Has a rabbit ever looked that intimidating? Actually, I just remembered DONNIE DARKO. I fold.
Here was a really hard part of this series. We have to reconcile the core concept of this series (Alice is not insane, but is rather aware that Wonderland is coming for her family, and she has to stop it) with her depiction as an insane white-rabbit loving, almost catatonic woman in RETURN TO WONDERLAND. Writing her is a balancing act, because we’re writing a woman who kind of IS losing it, who has to appear that she’s flly losing it, but in actuality she is fighting with everything she has. I think that is most evident in the white rabbit scenes.
I’ve complimented Raven enough. I am here to say that the conversation on this page got me a call from the creator of these characters, Mr. Gregory himself, raving about how excellent I am. Raven still repeats bits of this conversation to me, months after the script was written. (Bows.)
But really, both of our growing egos aside, this was the moment where I felt at home in this series for the first time. I like the second issue of the book a lot, but I did not feel natural walking in Alice’s shoes until this conversation. It’s drawing this parallel between the various members of her family that shows that, while they’re viewing her as this fragile, broken thing to be either mended or avoided or even to fear, their depression makes all of them interested in her and very… very… curious.
Charles Dodgson. Doesn’t he just ooze douche?
And now we’re really starting to cross over into RETURN TO WONDERLAND territory. I thought that’d make the book harder to write because we’re essentially doing “the scenes in this already very tightly written book that were not there in the first place,” but somehow, this is when I found my footing. Also, check for Raven’s clever reference to Lacie, the piece of herself that Alice left in Wonderland. We had to walk the line by making this new reader friendly while also having those nods to the originals.
I kind of regret making this a splash. Maybe we should have given the last page a bit more room to breathe, split the conversation between that one and this one. Either way, it LOOKS good. I also like to look back, though, and evaluate my own choices so I get better. Oh, wait, never mind, I can just blame Raven! TOTALLY RAVEN.
I loathe cheaters… and yet, I found myself striving to make Lewis sympathetic. In RETURN, he was seen with what looked to be a prostitute. I wanted to humanize him more, and show the struggle of a man dating a dangerously depressed person. I would never make the choices that Lewis made, but I think it’s important that we look into why they were made.
The Alice/Lewis scenes are the heart of this series for me. Lewis got the least page time in RETURN TO WONDERLAND, so I wrote this as sort of a marriage between a sequel to Raven’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND and Lewis’s story in RETURN TO WONDERLAND. Here is Alice trying very, very hard to remind Lewis that she is not what he has been treating her as. She is not gone. She is here, and she loves him, and she wants him.
I hate writing sex scenes because I am always afraid of writing something gratuitous. I think all of the love scenes in RABBIT HOLE are tense, heartbreaking, and plot driven, though, and there is nothing titillating about them. They are uncomfortable to read because they were uncomfortable and very sad to write. I hope and think that translates, because this is not foreplay… this is the deep, cracking sound of two people breaking together…
…and then breaking apart.
The Lewis/Alice dichotomy is especially at work here. The voice in Alice’s head is speaking to her, but the words it is saying also apply directly to Lewis.
Faceless Alice terrifies me.
Who hasn’t been scared of being grabbed by something in the tub or in a pool? I think it is one of those base, irrational, human fears. I probably owe mine to that horrific episode of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? Maybe this will ruin some other reader’s psyche. Hope so.
Thanks for reading. ZOMBIES: THE CURSED #2, written by Troy Brownfield from a plot by me and Raven, is also out today.
- Pat Shand, 8/7
The Shape of Things to Come
Two days ago, Zenescope Entertainment announced Unleashed. It’s a massive event comic book, comprised of the main Unleashed series and five tie-in books. I’m going to use this entry to answer questions fans have been having, add some new information to the pot, and clear things up.
UNLEASHED #0 cover by Anthony Spay
1. The Basics
Unleashed is about a creature that we have been referring to as ”the Being.” This is not his his name - he is too old to have one. For reasons that haven’t been revealed, the Being opens a rift into a dimension that has been used as a prison for monsters for centuries. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, and more are unleashed on the Grimm Universe, and our heroes are facing the biggest crisis they’ve ever been up against.
2. FIVE TIE-IN BOOKS!?
My immediate answer to this is don’t worry. The entire Unleashed story takes place in UNLEASHED #0-6. The tie-in miniseries also stand alone, telling complete stories that focus on the new characters we introduce in Unleashed. I’m writing the main Unleashed arc, and all of the minis were plotted by me and Raven Gregory. Here is some more info on those series.
Written by Pat Shand
VAMPIRES: THE ETERNAL #1-3
Written by Pat Shand
WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3
Written by Mark L. Miller (Jungle Book, Grimm Fairy Tales)
HUNTERS: THE SHADOWLANDS #1-5
Written by Raven Gregory
DEMONS: THE UNSEEN #1-3
Written by Pat Shand
ZOMBIES: THE CURSED #1-3
Written by Troy Brownfield
Here’s the release schedule:
Q: Will your vampires be monstrous or romantic?
A: This question actually has been asked a LOT in the last two days. The answer is… read the first few pages of Vampires: The Eternal #1. There is a pretty significant explosion of blood that will answer your question. We are definitely using these creatures to explore fears of death and why humans have been so enamored with vampire stories for as long as they’ve been around, but the opening of the book clearly makes a statement - that our vampires think it’s their job to erase what modern vamps have become.
UNLEASHED #0 cover by Jamie Tyndall, featuring VAN HELSING (co-star of Unleashed and Vampires: The Eternal)
Q: Who is drawing these books?
A: Superstar artist Nei Ruffino is doing the full art for Unleashed #0. That’s all I can say right now. (Really though, with Nei what more do you need?)
Q: Is this a crossover?
A: No. It’s an event, but each series is self-contained. While the shadow of Unleashed looms over the tie-in miniseries, each of these books can be enjoyed on their own. None of them will be side stories or ancillary; each story is just that… a story in and of itself.
Q: What do you need to read before this to be sure you’re caught up?
A: The Being is revealed in our Godstorm series, I did some early set up in Grimm Universe #1, and there is a short Unleashed prequel story in “THE BEST OF ZENESCOPE,” a one-shot that we’re putting out in February… but really, nothing. Not a thing. You can come in having read every Grimm Fairy Tales book, or you can come in blind. 100% new reader friendly.
Q: When does Unleashed begin?
A: April. To be sure that your comic shop doesn’t sell out, please pre-order your comics in February Previews.
Q: What else will Zenescope be doing during Unleashed?
A: There are a bunch of series that won’t tie in at all. We don’t want our whole publishing line to be one story. I’ve got a one-shot (not announced yet) comic in April, and I’m launching two brand new series (non-Unleashed) in May. Details on those next month. The other books, such as what Raven is doing with the Wonderland ongoing and what Mark is doing in Jungle Book: Last of the Species, will not be official tie-ins to Unleashed.
My NYCC Schedule
Hey all. Quick post before I head off to New York Comic Con. Here’s my schedule for the week.
I’ll be at the Zenescope booth 12-5 every day, so you’ll be able to find me there even during my non-signing times.
Here’s when I’ll be officially signing:
2:30 - 3:30 Robyn Hood signing! I’ll be signing with cover artist Jamie Tyndall and cosplay extraordinaire Jessica Nigri.
4PM Godstorm signing with NYCC exclusive cover artist Elias Chatzoudis. Godstorm #1 debuts here.
1PM Godstorm signing with NYCC exclusive cover artist Elias Chatzoudis.
4PM Godstorm signing with NYCC exclusive cover artist Elias Chatzoudis.
12PM Pat Shand signing.
Hope to see you all there! Now, remember, we are debuting… well, basically everything at the booth. Those who come to the booth will be able to purchase NYCC exclusive copies of GODSTORM #1, Giant Size GRIMM FAIRY TALES 2012, and the GRIMM FAIRY TALES Halloween Edition 2012 before the regular comics hit stores.
GODSTORM Expanded Reading Order
A lot of people have been tweeting at me, messaging me, and blogging about how Godstorm ties into the other Zenescope titles. While all of the Grimm Fairy Tales titles are linked, there is a definitive build to the events of Godstorm. While you can definitely read the series on its own (I’d be a fool and a bad writer if you had to read supplementary comics to understand it), I figured I’d offer a somewhat official list to those who want to get the big picture.
1. Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2012: Venus, one of the main players in Godstorm, attempts to align herself with the other power players in efforts to begin a war against humanity. This sets up the overarching storylines for her, Neptune, and Zeus. You can purchase the issue through Zenescope or digitally through Comixology.
(1.5 Grimm Fairy Tales presents… Angel one-shot: Now… I’d never write a series that absolutely required another writer’s work to be read, but this will certainly add to the overall experience. Dan Wickline, current Sleepy Hollow writer, wrote this one-shot that focused on Zeus’s daughter, Heather. I wrote a recap panel in Grimm Universe #1 that catches the audience up to speed on this character, but this is certainly worth reading. This resolves the Ares subplot from my annual.)
2. Godstorm #0: While this is part of Godstorm and directly sets up Zeus’s arc and Zagreus as an impending threat, I purposely wrote it so that it adds to the experience while not being essential to understand #1-4. It’s a prologue, sure, but it has ramifications, character-wise and especially thematically, throughout the series. You can purchase the issue through Zenescope or digitally through Comixology.
3. Grimm Universe #1: This just came out today! It picks up Neptune’s story from the annual and takes it in a really dark direction. Hades plays a big part, and Heather does as well. This standalone story sets a lot of things up for the overall direction of Grimm Fairy Tales as a fictional universe, but also sets up character arcs for Neptune and Heather that will play into Godstorm #3-4. This is in stores right now and just hit Comixology for digital download.
4. Godstorm #1-4. And that’s it! Here’s the series that has all been building toward. #1 debuts at NYCC, and hits local shops next Wednesday (10/17).
Tomorrow: My New York Comic Con schedule.
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!”
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…”
If anyone enjoys the book nearly as much as I enjoyed writing it, I’ll be very pleased indeed.