Writing the final issue of ROBYN HOOD
ROBYN HOOD: LEGEND #4 was written last night in a flurry of espresso, feels, tears, and manic-manicness. And then, after that, I wrote 3/4 of the next issue. Now that I’ve cleaned up the mess of #4, it’s time for me to do the same with #5.
And then write my final few pages of the Robyn Hood trilogy. It’s insane to think that Robyn Hood Volume One was my first EVER miniseries for Zenescope Entertainment. Hell, it was my first ever miniseries, period. Now, over one-hundred comics later, the story is ending tonight.
Here’s to Robyn. And to you, for reading the series enough that we got THREE VOLUMES. That’s crazy. CRAZY. I remember I had two versions of the story. There was the version that I told myself was going to happen.
VERSION ONE. Robyn Hood #1 sells decent. I knew it’d be at least decent. I did a shit-ton of press on it, Zenescope’s marketing was on point, the covers were phenomenal, and I was basically just confident we wouldn’t fuck that up. But I thought, best case scenario, Robyn Hood #1-5 sell decent and then I get to use the character in other parts of the Grimm Universe.
VERSION TWO. Robyn Hood #1 does REALLY WELL and then every thing we do with the character after the first series does REALLY WELL and I can tell this story exactly how I want to. But this is the painful line of thinking, Patrick, this hurts. Don’t think this way. This will never happen.
So, I got to tell my crazy story. I’m about to finish it. Again, thanks for sticking around.
And fuck, wait until you see what I’m launching the month after the final issue…
randomfire27 asked: Have you ever doubted your own ability as a writer?
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
Being a happily exclusive, happily salaried staff writer for Zenescope Entertainment, it’s easy to begin seeing writing as writing Grimm Fairy Tales stories. I have a lot on my plate — I’m scripting between five and eight titles a month for Zenescope and, now that I’ve been made editor, I’ve a slew of additional duties. Add a day job and a big move… and I’m pretty busy. I’m not Charles Souleing it (hats off to that man indeed), but I have let my non-paid writing fall by the wayside.
And I think that’s dangerous.
The Grimm Universe, which is, I believe, the largest shared universe in the comic book world that is not published by the Big Two, has characters that I’m as passionate about as my creator-owned characters. In 2013, I had been content with writing the adventures of Robyn Hood, Liesel Van Helsing, Sela, Zeus, the Being, Hades, and all of these characters that I have used to tell stories that matter to me on a personal level. I did release two creator-owned books — Family Pets and Suckers — but those were primarily scripted some time before the year began.
The danger of writing solely within one universe is that if you’re only scripting characters set in one world with shared dilemmas in a shared universe, you may be doing that universe a disservice. One of the elements I’ve been striving toward is making every book I write feel vastly different from the other books I’m scripting. Currently, I’ve got Robyn Hood: Legend, B.A.R. Maid, Wonderland: Asylum, Ascension, a Godstorm sequel, and a brand new Helsing series on my plate. If there is any crossover in tone or even character voice, I won’t have done my job. I think the answer to keeping them separate is not to write less — the act of writing, every single day, is essential to my being. I think to keep these books strong, and to keep myself sharp as a writer, I should also write prose. Every day. I’d like to look into doing more theatre, and perhaps film. I think, instead of further diluting the gumbo that is my writing load, it’ll make me clearer, more ardent, and, perhaps most important of all, more me.
I mentioned that writing is essential to me. I’ve been thinking about that a lot today. It’s a bit eye-rolly that the New Year is such a big day of reflection and promises of change… but it’s so common for a reason. People love having a catalyst for change and, at this point in my life, I may be in more need of self-assessment and reevaluation of what is, in fact, essential to my being more than ever.
So, to you all, happy New Year. I hope it’s a damn good one. I’m planning on catching the sunset tonight, but before then, I’m writing an article about Stephanie Brown. And then, I’m going to get Helsing #1 in, because damn I’m excited for this story.
- Margaret Atwood (via cannonbonecracks)
Ouch… maybe that’s true.
THE LAST DAY - a short story
by Patrick Shand
She exhaled, cigarette smoke streaming from her mouth. Though it was August, I instantly thought of winter, when every breath turns to fog before your face.
“Pretty night,” I said, looking up at the starry sky. I nudged the ground with my sneaker, making the backyard swinging bench rock lightly.
Mackenzie put out her cigarette on the sole of her shoe, and leaned back on the swing, her red hair falling behind it. The skin of her upper arm rubbed against me as the swing moved.
“It’s alright,” she said, staring into the starry expanse. “I mean… you’ll never get too much in Long Island. Stars, I mean. Too close to the city.”
“It seems like a lot,” I said.
“That’s because you’ve never left Long Island, JF,” she said. She leaned her head against my chest, and I smelled her perfume—she was wearing the one I liked best—which badly tried to cover the smell of the weed we had smoked.
I chuckled. “Are you high?”
She seemed normal—I mean, you could tell when she was really gone, because you’d lose 98% of the food in your house in a period of ten minutes—and I wasn’t that high either. We didn’t have rolling papers, so I had to rip a page out of a book and roll the weed in that. When we smoked, we mostly tasted the paper, so I’m not sure how much it could’ve worked. I did feel off though, as if I were halfway there. My chest felt tight, like there was a pocket of air caught under my sternum trying to push its way through my bones.
“We should’ve saved it, probably,” I said.
She sat up straight. I saw in her eyes that she was tired, maybe wanted me to drive her home, but I didn’t want her to leave so I didn’t pursue it.
“I wanna draw this. The sky,” she said.
“I thought you didn’t think it was that nice,” I said.
A sly smile made its way across her lips and she stuck her tongue out at me. “I changed my mind, Troy.”
I couldn’t help but smile too. I loved when she called me that. Probably because she was the only person I knew—not counting family, of course—who sometimes called me something other than JF. The name “Troy” may not be a great name, but hell, it’s better than JF. People have been calling me JF since fifth grade. It stands for “Jew fro.” Not something you’d like to be known for, eh? I mean, it’s something that even my friends call me, so it isn’t like I go home and cry about it. It’s just nice to be called something real once and a while.
“Want me to go inside, get a pencil or something? Paper?” I said. “I could…”
“No, no. Let’s just sit here.”
“Not a problem.” And it wasn’t. Some of the best moments, at least in recent years, were spent sitting here with Mackenzie. Watching her long red hair spread across the flower-patterned cushion of the swing-bench, like fire raining down on a bed of daisies. She was beautiful, and I think that I might have loved her, if I even knew what the word meant. She probably knew.
For a long time, we stared up into the sky. Every now and then, a plane would pass. It sort of shattered the image, seeing something man-made careening across the sky, but we still watched anyway. I’m not sure how much time passed before we saw it, because what happened before and what happened after really doesn’t matter.
Mackenzie and I saw it at the same time. Mostly, it looked like a clamshell. A closed, metal clamshell, round but flat. There was light coming from it, but not the blinking sort of light that comes from a plane. It was more of a glow, like the white-hot light of a star captured in the sides of this craft. I stared into the sky, incredulously watching it move, my mind churning at overdrive.
“A balloon?” Mackenzie murmured, but I didn’t answer. I laid my hand over hers, and she turned her hand over, locking her fingers between mine as we watched the thing in the sky.
I might have believed it was a balloon or some kind of man-made craft if it didn’t move like that. Its movement was smooth, more like a tiny fish gliding underwater than anything flying through the sky. It was fast, so incredibly fast, that a blink would cause you to miss half the spectacle. It was over before we could truly marvel at it; the thing, the craft, glided so quickly into the distance, descending on a downward angle as it went. At that rate, it would surely crash into the canal just beyond the Northern Woods… But seconds, a minute passed, and I heard nothing.
I was about to say something to Mackenzie, but when I turned to her, I was caught by her excited and incredulous gaze. Her face said everything. We couldn’t have seen it, but we did, we did!
For a moment, I’m sure my face said the same thing—I felt it inside, the excitement and a whole shitload of fear—but then, when I looked back towards the sky and saw that it was the same crisp sky as before, I sighed. “No,” I said, breaking the dazed silence. “No. We’re high.”
“Not really. More like buzzed. And hardly even that,” Mackenzie said.
“Well… well maybe you were right,” I said. “It was a balloon.”
“Right,” she said, cocking her eyebrow. “I’m no, er, ballooneer, but that… did you see the way it…?”
She was right. I mean, I think she was. The way it sped across the sky as if it were its natural habitat. Unlike the plane, it fit into the sky perfectly. Looked like it belonged. I might have been wrong, and there might have been some scientist or ballooneer who knew for damn sure I didn’t see what I thought I saw and could prove me wrong, but they didn’t matter. I was—we were—fairly certain.
I laughed loudly. It wasn’t a sound of mirth, more like a release of nerves. I was grinning stupidly. “I… That thing was headed down,” I said. I noticed that Mackenzie was still holding my hand. I didn’t want to let go, not to get her art supplies or to run from whatever had landed, but I looked at her, my eyes probably big as saucers, and said, “Should we, like, go inside and watch the news or something? To see if… I don’t know… anything is happening?”
I felt ridiculous saying it.
She shrugged. “Nah. Not unless you really want to. I mean… if something happens, we’ll know. Probably first.”
“Heh,” I said. Another expulsion of nerves. “Kinda scary.”
She leaned back, the strands of her long red hair flowing down the flower-patterned cushion like a river of blood. “A little. But mostly not.”
She lit another cigarette and returned to watching the sky. The tip of it glowed brightly and the tobacco crackled softly as she inhaled. She giggled, blowing a stream of smoke in my direction.
“Want one?” she asked.
Once again, she leaned back, resting her head against my chest. She does that often, switching positions and then switching back again. She tapped my chin with her index finger as if she were knocking on a door.
I looked down at her. She was looking up at the sky.
“Does it make you feel small?” she asked.
I considered this. Fact was, it didn’t matter what I may have felt—I was small. No getting around that. To the universe, everyone was. Everyone is small, and everyone is expendable. What I saw that night pretty much solidified that for me. But with Mackenzie’s head against my chest, her red hair spreading down from my heart to my lap like blood, none of that really mattered.
“No,” I said. “It doesn’t.”
“Good,” she said. “Me neither.”
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.