NEWS: Thomasina’s Human Zoo (young adult graphic novel)

Hey all. Big big news. Silver Dragon Books, the all agents imprint of Zenescope Entertainment, will be digitally publishing my creator-owned comic book series, Thomasina’s Human Zoo.

Thomasina’s Human Zoo, created by me and Distillum artist Sarah Dill, will be publishing monthly from March - August 2013. After the six issues are out, it will be collected into an original graphic novel that will be solicited through Diamond Previews. I’ll post order codes when it is up in Previews, and will be linking you all to the downloading sites when each issue goes up.

Adventures in Poor Taste spoke with me about the book. Click the link for the whole interview, but here is the Thomasina bit: ”It’s about an orphan girl who lives with her grandma, aunts, and uncles. She was raised on fantasy books like Harry Potter and Narnia, so she sort of grew up with this hope that a wizard would come take her away and show her that she’s magic. That it’s all be worth something and that she’s special. We catch up with her as a teenager, and how she deals with the truth of this tragedy.

"Annnnd then her family gets turned into animals and she has to figure out what the heck is going on. It’s a poignant and silly and heartwarming tale about a girl trying to find herself in a world that keeps making less and less sense."

More info to come!

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?”

“Bit.”

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.

“No, thanks.”

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.”