Tomorrow, CODE RED #2 hits shelves.
It will be my 100th published comic book.

Tomorrow, CODE RED #2 hits shelves.

It will be my 100th published comic book.

asker

randomfire27 asked: Have you ever doubted your own ability as a writer?

mattfractionblog:

have you ever read this blog? 

like, always, every day, all the time, with literally everything I type. i already regret typing “have you ever read this blog” because I’m sure it’s not going to be read in the jovial, joking, manner in which it was typed, so i’m typing this, and already regretting IT, because it’s so fucking cloying and like-me-like-me-don’t-be-mad-at-me ARRGH i am going to stop now and get back to sucking FOR MONEY instead of sucking here FOR FUN

sometimes

Fucking poetry.

Also GPOY

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

PAGE ONE

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.

 

PAGE TWO

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.

PAGE THREE

I used the word “performed” twice in a sentence here. Balls.

 

PAGE FOUR

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.

PAGE FIVE

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.

PAGE SIX

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.

PAGE SEVEN

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.

 

PAGE EIGHT

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.

PAGE NINE

Pushing the mask metaphor a bit further here.

PAGE TEN

It’s not mentioned here, but the city that Lucinda’s parents ruled was called Inigo. Little Princess Bride love there.

PAGE ELEVEN

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?

PAGE FOURTEEN

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.

PAGE FIFTEEN

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.

PAGE TWENTY

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.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE

That. Freaking. Staff.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO

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 WONDERLAND #13

WONDERLAND #13

Written by Raven Gregory & Pat Shand
Art by Antonio Bifulco
Colors by Leonardo Paciarotti
Letters by Jim Campbell
Published by Zenescope Entertainment

PAGE ONE

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. 

PAGE TWO

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.

PAGE THREE

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.

PAGE FOUR

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.

image

PAGE FIVE

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.

PAGE SIX

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.

PAGE SEVEN

The red hair and hearts glasses may be Lory’s batshit-craziest transformation.

PAGE EIGHT

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.

PAGE NINE

Who doesn’t love a creepy little kid? (Me.)

image

PAGE TEN

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.

PAGE ELEVEN

Kid in panel two has a spinner on top of his hat. So nineties. What an absolute boss.

PAGE TWELVE

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.

image

PAGE THIRTEEN

“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.

PAGE FOURTEEN

In text shout out to Sheldon, Wonderland artist for the first two volumes.

PAGE FIFTEEN

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.

PAGE SIXTEEN

One of Antonio’s best pages, I think. Charlie’s agony here is hard to look at.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

And the elusive Lory bird…

image

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Back to Wonderland. We reveal the new Queen of Diamonds, and she will be very, very significant in another series. 

PAGE NINETEEN

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.

PAGE TWENTY

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

COMMENTARY on DEMONS: THE UNSEEN #3

DEMONS: THE UNSEEN #3
Written by Pat Shand
Art by Matias Bergara
Colors by Ben Sawyer
Letters by Jim Campbell
Edited by Hannah Gorfinkel
Published by Zenescope Entertainment

PAGE ONE

Matias Bergara, the artist for this issue, picked up the ball in a major way, making the book look consistent with what came before but also entirely his own. He’s strutting his stuff with some wonderful character/emotion work here, and the action he shows later in the issue is perfect as well. Colorist Ben Sawyer also helps make sure the book looks consistent in the art department. Overall, the art on this book leaves me a very happy writer.

PAGE TWO

I have had this conversation before, almost word for word. It was painful to write, because really both of my big UNLEASHED tie-in series, VAMPIRES: THE ETERNAL and DEMONS: THE UNSEEN, are about failing relationships. VAMPIRES was different in that it was about the lead character, Samira, returning to her lover, Blaine, after having gone through a spiritual awakening. She realizes he doesn’t fit in her life anymore, and she ends it in a way that you’ll have to read about when that book comes out in trade. Here, in DEMONS, Masumi and Gerard are two people who obviously don’t belong together. She’s damaged and she’s got a mission, and he’s intent on protecting her from the thing that makes her special. They don’t work, and they’re destroying each other. And yet, they’re so in love that they could never rip away from one another. This is equal parts me writing the “Can someone whose passion and whose reason for being IS their work ever truly give themselves to another person?” (which is something I’ve struggled with as a writer and as a human) and part allegory. Allegory for what though… I’ll let you decide.

PAGE THREE

I’m loving the panelization here. Matias has his panels rip across the page, which works as this is the thing that is tearing Masumi and Gerard apart.

 

PAGE FOUR

I think having a character say “I love you” has to be so earned. It can come off as very trite, and very melodramatic. I know it’s such an every day thing, but I don’t think it’s something that should be used as a crutch in relationship drama. Here, when Masumi tells Gerard “I love you,” it’s two things. It’s a goodbye, and it’s a promise that she’ll return.

 

PAGE FIVE

Jim Campbell’s lettering in this last panel is an example of why I’d be pleased if he is the only letter I work with for the rest of my career. He’s just… well, the shit.

 

PAGE SIX

Writing these commentaries helps me see plot/style things I do a lot. I’m fond of the quick cutting back between two action scenes to either juxtapose what’s happening between two different characters, or build tension as two different goings-on are about to merge. I just did that in the script I finished last week, WONDERLAND: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS #4, so I think that’ll be the last time I do it. Gotta keep things fresh.

 

PAGE SEVEN

I think one of my favorite things about Masumi is how unapologetic she is about thinking her mother is a piece of shit. It’s a bit of a cliché in genre fiction to have the warrior so reverent to his or her parents and/or master that even speaking of them badly means your life, and Masumi loves to subvert that. Her mother is both her parents and her master, and yet Masumi doesn’t respect her. She believes that her mother’s choices have damned her to this life, and yet – here she is, doing the exact same things her mother did.

PAGE EIGHT

There is a lot of body horror in DEMONS. The character being possessed by the seven deadly sins here has been drawn by Jason as an attractive, friendly woman – and Matias twisted that and turns her into this nightmarish, twisted creature. I remember getting this page, and asking to go more horrific, and Matias knocked it out of the park.

 

PAGE NINE

Shang appearance!

 

PAGE TEN

Here’s when Masumi puts it together – we, the readers, found out last issue, but the fact that the Seven Deadly Sins are the ones attacking here has been kept from Masumi. The fact that there is an Eight sin called Despondency, and that is the demon bound to her sword… that was a bit of improv here. I thought of that last minute and threw it in, because I thought it was pretty poetic with what Masumi is about to face. It also added a personal thing between Masumi and the Sins, and having that relationship between hero and villain revealed at the last moment  adds a layer of meaning that makes me look way cleverer than I am.

 

PAGE ELEVEN

Another bit of subversion Masumi does here – I don’t much like meaningless death, but I don’t get supernatural heroes who don’t kill their supernatural villains. I wanted to give Masumi a real battle here, facing a demon she couldn’t kill, because of the fact that it’s bound to a host. A host that the readers have been following since even before they met Masumi in this series, so hopefully are a little emotionally invested in. The relationship between Kaitlyn (the host of the Sins) and her husband grew organically to reflect Masumi/Gerard, which was never my intention until I found it happening before me. So much of this series came about naturally through living with the characters.

 

PAGE TWELVE

Oh Gerard.

 

PAGE THIRTEEN

Bhagavad Gita and Oppenheimer reference with “Now I am become Legion.”

 

PAGE FOURTEEN

Writing Legion was difficult. I essentially had to create a Big Bad that is almost as powerful as the Being… but that could be defeated because it thinks it knows Masumi’s way. The art here, the way Matias and Ben show the blurs of Legions motions, and the reactions of the characters to its presence, goes a long way to quickly and visually establish how Legion is not your every day villain.

 

PAGE FIFTEEN

This was one of the hardest pages I ever had to write. I remember when I first got the lettering proof, I was visiting my parents. I was on my laptop, seated across from my mother, and I was already emotional because, having written the thing and approved the art, I knew where it was going of course. But when I scrolled to this page, I literally screamed aloud. There were probably whimpers through reading the rest of this. Much with the tears, too. It was a thing. I think it may be the most shocking thing I’ve ever done. I normally like to give major characters who we kill very graceful deaths, but I think having Legion just kill Gerard horribly, blowing him to bloody chunks, is more realistic and better demonstrates why he never should have been there in the first place. And, from Masumi’s point of view, why she should have never let him into her life.

Every panel here, from Gerard’s gory death, to Masum’s face in shadow, to the shovel Gerard used when he first met Masumi clanging to the floor… perfect. Matias and Ben brought this to life (and, you know… the other thing) in a gorgeously horrific way.

 

PAGE SIXTEEN

Another shocking thing to read after having distance from writing the issue, is how quickly Masumi abandons her code and kills Kaitlyn. In truth, Kaitlyn was dead from the moment the Sins entered her body – how do you come back from that? But to have Masumi kill her as a reaction to Gerard’s death was hard for me to choose to do, because I love Masumi and I think she’s a good person at heart… but Kaitlyn’s death is a tragedy, and now she’s as involved in it as Legion. We follow through on the promise of #1, that Masumi is a “bringer of death.”

 

PAGE SEVENTEEN

All of the UNLEASHED tie-ins (with the exception of HUNTERS: THE SHADOWLANDS, which is a prequel) happen between UNLEASHED #1 and UNLEASHED #2. In #2, Masumi joins with Sela and co. AFTER the events of this series, but that comic came out three months before this one, so Masumi’s despondency (see there?) had to be kept in mystery.

 

PAGE EIGHTEEN

This silent page, especially the blue coloring in the final two panels, makes me almost regret taking Gerard away from Masumi. Her reaching to touch his spot in the bed just had to be dialogue free. And just to show how brilliant Matias is, he spaced the panels out so it takes the eye longer to move from panel to panel, so readers don’t just see a lack of dialogue and skim the page.

 

PAGE NINETEEN

I love the Being for his mercy kill here. It’s violent and it’s wrong, but it shows the dark brand of compassion that we can only get away with when writing this character. It gives Kaitlyn’s husband the escape that Masumi is not allowed to give herself. Giving into the perfect despair.

PAGE TWENTY

The Being playing Masumi and Legion against each other adds to the intrigue of the Being. At this point, we still don’t know what the hell is plan is. This page is a bit monologuey, but I’d do it all again just for that “Look at me. Talking to ghosts.” bit. It’s horribly sad, but at least Kaitlyn and her husband’s spirits are together here.

 

PAGE TWENTY-ONE

I almost wanted to end the story on Page 20, just for that last panel of the Being… but I needed to check back up on Masumi here, and I think adding the Samantha bit follows through on the fact that this is, in fact, a tie-in series. It gives the book a firm “before/during the first half of UNLEASHED #2” timing, and readers have been asking for timing clarification for the UNLEASHED series a bunch.

 

PAGE TWENTY-TWO

I originally wanted these pages blank, but I was re-reading the script and wishing that I could give Masumi and Gerard their happy ending. Then when I saw that Gerard had said that very thing, “At risk of being corny, that sounds like a happy ending,” I instantly saw the harsh dichotomy between what he and Masumi hoped for, and what ended up happening.

 

PAGE TWENTY-THREE

And this, this sad story ends. It’s depressing and it’s harsh and it’s maybe even a little mean, but I’m also thinking it may be the comic I’m most proud of. I love these characters enough to mourn for them every time I read this and, to me, that means something. I hope it means something to you as well.

WRITER COMMENTARY

I’m behind on posting my commentary on DEMONS: THE UNSEEN #3 and WONDERLAND #13. Deadline on scripts, of course, has to come first! I’ll be catching up by this Wednesday in time for the release of REALM KNIGHTS #1.

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

PAGE ONE

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.

PAGE FOUR

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.

PAGE FIVE

There’s that famous picture again. Bad things tend to happen when Alice looks at that picture.

PAGE SIX
Has a rabbit ever looked that intimidating? Actually, I just remembered DONNIE DARKO. I fold.

PAGE SEVEN

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.

PAGE EIGHT

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.)

PAGE NINE

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.

PAGE TEN

Charles Dodgson. Doesn’t he just ooze douche?

PAGE ELEVEN

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.

PAGE TWELVE

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.

 

PAGE THIRTEEN

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.

PAGE FOURTEEN

Good boy.

PAGE FIFTEEN

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.

 

PAGE SIXTEEN

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…

PAGE SEVENTEEN

…and then breaking apart.

PAGE EIGHTEEN

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.

PAGE NINETEEN
Faceless Alice terrifies me.

PAGE TWENTY

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

COMMENTARY on UNLEASHED PART FOUR

UNLEASHED PART FOUR (Grimm Universe #5)

Written by Pat Shand

Letters by Jim Campbell

Published by Zenescope Entertainment

- MAIN STORY

Art by Butch Mapa

Colors by Jason Embury

- “HAUNTED” BACK-UP STORY

Art by Ricardo Osnaya

Colors by Rohvel Yumul

PAGE ONE

UNLEASHED is a complicated beast. It’s an event with six series… one main UNLEASHED series that takes place in all of Zenescope Grimm Fairy Tales titles, and five tie-in spin-off series (Vampires: The Eternal, Werewolves: The Hunger, Demons: The Unseen, Zombies: The Cursed, and Hunters: The Shadowlands). When Raven and I were plotting this beast, we wanted to make sure that you could perfectly understand the UNLEASHED storyline no matter which of the tie-ins you read. You should be able to approach each book and get the whole story. While having read the entire crossover paints the biggest picture, each of the pieces should be clear – at least that’s what we attempted. I think, by the end of this all, we’ll have mostly pulled that off. That sort of extends to the beginning of this issue. The main story will be divided into two trades, with #0-3 in Volume One and #4-6 in Volume Two. I wanted to start this comic and just give a very fluid recap to what happened in the first three issues. Just the essentials… because we’re about to get into some pretty weird stuff.

PAGE TWO
The Keepers are interesting characters. Besides the Innocent, who appeared to Sela and Belinda in THE DREAM EATER SAGA, we’ve kept these characters mostly cloaked. Raven revealed that Love is actually Alice Liddle, and in the last installment of UNLEASHED, I revealed that Hate is Venus while also taking off the Maker’s hood. These characters are essentially the avatars for the word they represent – the sort of gods of the Grimm Universe. I was hesitant to bring back Venus after just killing her in Godstorm #4 this January, especially because I also resurrected Belinda in UNLEASHED, but I can’t think of a character more appropriate for the avatar of Hate than the fallen goddess of love. Plus, with no arms, she’s got the Venus de Milo thing going on, and that’s too cool not to use.

PAGE THREE

UNLEASHED is a story about faith, but we tried to keep it from getting too too religious. I edited this script twice after it went into production to make sure readers didn’t think we were saying “the Maker is, flat out, GOD.” He IS the Maker, and he is a creator of life, but as an agnostic, I didn’t think it was my place to give this overarching universe a be all end all god.

 

PAGE FOUR
And here we are. The origin of the Being. We’ve been building toward this since the Greek gods first appeared, and now we’re getting to the meat of things. The Being’s motivation is still cloudy, but now we know where he came from.

PAGE FIVE

A lot of people have been surprised at the outright emotion the Being has expressed. It’s ironic because he’s literally invading the world, allowing millions of people to die, but when he’s about to kill Heather Angelos in #1… he pauses and apologizes to her for what he has to do to her. A lot of that stems from this – when the Being tries his hand at creation and fails, you can see the rage and sorrow in his face. He’s been carrying that with him, stewing in it, and it’s come to define him. Look at that last panel. When the Being threatens to kill Sela in #1, he tells her that he’ll mourn her. He’s not lying.

 

(text blocked out)

PAGE SIX
Butch just nailed this page. The last sequence of panels, where the Maker lies to the Being, knowing what it means… the emotion on the faces is perfection. Such great storytelling.

PAGE SEVEN
The Being is every bit as powerful and intelligent as the Maker… so he catches on rather quickly. But it’s too late for him.

PAGE EIGHT
Here’s where we really explain the mythology of the Shadowlands. The Maker created this pocket of space to use as a prison, and sealed it with his blood – the blood of a god. He thought that only the Keepers would ever been seen as deities, but then the humans began to worship the Greeks… and it’s the power of that worship that elevated them to gods. So their souls now, to Zeus’s dismay, also function as keys to the Shadowlands.

PAGE NINE
I might do the montage splash page too much, but each artist has pulled it off so wonderful and brilliantly.

Also, though it’s a small panel, I can now say that Robyn appears in Unleashed! See if you can find her here.

PAGE TEN

The Keepers dialogue bubbles never have tails… but we’ve also never had such elongated scenes with them. I almost wanted to say give the bubbles tails so we know who is speaking, but letterer Jim Campbell did a wonderful job laying out the bubbles so we can tell who is saying what.

PAGE ELEVEN

Here we explain a bit of the Keeper mythology I got into before, and answer the questions of how Venus and Alice are alive HERE… and how they helped created the Realms, if they died on Earth fairy recently. It’s a little bit of a cheat, but I think we’re safe – in bringing back Venus and Alice, we are giving Hate and Love some weight that could pay off the next time we see them. And Raven has been using Love in Wonderland, so I’m pumped to see where he takes that.

PAGE TWELVE

The Being has been keeping Shang in that chair for… if the timeline is right, over a YEAR now. He must need a shower at this point.

PAGE THIRTEEN

The Being’s connection to the Maker is so strong that he can sense the Maker on the planet. Be aware, though – the Maker and the Being are never in the same physical space in this issue.

PAGE FOURTEEN

When the Being tells the Maker that he has missed him for too long, when I was writing it, that was honesty. He wants to see his father as much as he wants to take his vengeance.

If the Innocent seems a bit bitter here, it’s not without reason. She’s been involving herself in the lives of Sela and the others in a bunch of different titles, attempting to help them, to save the world, while the Maker has just sat by. All the Maker did was raise Shang from the dead, hoping he’d guide Sela… but clearly, the Innocent doesn’t think that’s enough.

PAGE FIFTEEN

And now, we’re getting a bit X-Men-esque. The Maker has punged the Being into their shared mindspace, so their consciousness can duke it out. We had a lot of debate over this at the writer’s summit – I forget who, but someone thought it was a bit too unreal. I totally see that, but I think Butch was able to make it work and really sell the emotion of this war between these two beings that essentially share a spark that no other creature in creation has ever had.

PAGE SIXTEEN

Is it just me, or does the Maker look like a pissed off dad here? I think the Being just took his Corvette for a joy ride.

PAGE SEVENTEEN

But really… can you die in a dream (space)?

 

PAGE EIGHTEEN

My favorite stuff to write the Being say is when he’s just incredulous that people think he’s evil. It’s indicative of his warped sense of reality, but also his longterm plan… which won’t be revealed in this issue, of course.

PAGE NINETEEN

I wanted to really tread the line here – the attacks that the Being is throwing at the Maker are as much creations of the Maker’s fears as they are the Being’s will. They are both mentally throwing everything at the other.

PAGE TWENTY

I may have teared up a bit when the Being screams at his father, “How could you do that to me?” It’s so human, and a little childish – at this point, we’re trying to subvert the idea of what a Grimm Universe villain is at every turn. He is not what you expect…

PAGE TWENTY-ONE

Wanted to make it clear, here, that the Maker isn’t dead. One draft of the previous page had his head explode, and even though it’s a vision, I thought it was too much. I made sure to have him speak a lot here, so he doesn’t appear to be even mortally wounded. His entire objective was to weaken the Being – but he does, indeed, have a role to play in the next issue.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO and TWENTY-THREE
One of my favorite shock endings. The Maker was distracting the Being so Sela, Belinda, Samantha, and the hunters could take him down with their best shot.

PAGE TWENTY-FOUR
Bet no one saw that coming this early, huh?

PAGE TWENTY-FIVE

Sela’s looking mighty evil in the ad for the next issue…

PAGE TWENTY-SIX
Might be the Angel fan in me, but I love the classic monster-chases-civilian opener. I’d been dying to write a Belinda solo series since the first time I wrote for Zenescope, and this short gave me a little taste of that.

PAGE TWENTY-SEVEN

Fun production story. The issue originally didn’t have this story at all. I’d intended this issue to be a shorter comic than the rest of the series, so we could price it at $3.99 and advertise it as a jumping on point. Everyone else thought, correctly, that the structure of UNLEASHED was a lot in the first place, and that keeping each of the main series priced similarly would work better. So I was tasked with creating a new short story… even though #4 leads directly into #5. So I wrote this little Belinda tale that takes place BEFORE the main action of this issue. It’s set back when Sela, Belinda, and Helsing were researching the Being in UNLEASHED #2. I think it works rather well as a fun little character driven capper to this mythos-building issue.

PAGE TWENTY-EIGHT

Belinda’s got this delicious guilt on her shoulders. It’s not like she’s a redeemed hero at this point. In the Grimm Universe timeline, she was out there killing people and ruining lives two, three years ago. The people she’s hurt and still around, and having her surrounded by them, having to live with that, is something this character will be facing every time I write her.

PAGE TWENTY-NINE
Belinda was always a fan favorite, and while UNLEASHED was absolutely the right place to bring her back, we also resurrected her in the middle of a series that introduces a giant new and exciting cast, and the buzz has really focused a lot on Helsing. I’d like to see some fan reaction to Belinda’s new role in the Grimm Universe.

PAGE THIRTY

Whoa, there’s a throwback. Who remembers the sorcerer Belinda worked for in THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE issue? That was centuries ago in the Grimm timeline, but it still haunts her.

PAGE THIRTY-ONE

As Belinda is being haunted by her victims here, all I can do is think, “Hey, that dude kinda looks like Roman.”

PAGE THIRTY-TWO

Been trying to get Baba Yaga into this series for a while. I originally had her show up in VAMPIRES: THE ETERNAL #2 instead of Masumi, but it didn’t feel organic so I cut it. As soon as I decided to focus this short on Belinda, I knew I had the perfect role for her. Question is, is she true friend or temptress? At this point, no one knows. I’m still waiting for Baba to whisper her secrets…

PAGE THIRTY-THREE

At this point, Belinda is now fully relying on Sela, her one time mortal enemy, to guide her on her path to redemption. That, readers… is a slippery slope.

-Pat Shand, 8/31

Unpacking July comps from Zenescope