WRITER COMMENTARY on Robyn Hood #2
Robyn Hood: The Ongoing Series #2
Written by Pat Shand
Art by Claudia Balboni
Colors by Slamet Mujiono
Letters by Jim Campbell
This is the first ROBYN HOOD issue that Larry Watts hasn’t drawn since… wow, since 2012. Dan Glasl drew the original miniseries #1, and Rob Dumo drew #3. Starting with #2, and then picking up again with #4, Larry and I have delivered an uninterrupted fourteen issue run. Larry and I are both incredibly proud of that, and also sad that he couldn’t complete the first arc. However, he and I are both also stoked about Claudia Balboni’s work on the series, and the reaction from readers so far has been awesome.
Also, though, if you want more Larry Watts art in your life – and why wouldn’t you – check out his ARMY OF DARKNESS series, which Dynamite is publishing. He and Cullen Bunn are starting the series with a brand new #1, and I’m telling you. I’ve said it since I saw his first page on the original series. Larry Watts is the truth. Follow him wherever he goes. Because I will.
But now let’s get mean. I remember hanging out with Larry in our hotel room at Calgary this year. He remarked how much he loves comics, namely SAGA, that start and end with splash pages. We went back and forth, debating over what we were doing in ROBYN HOOD: LEGEND at the time, and I told him that the ongoing will give us space to breathe, especially after we get the ball rolling. So it feels downright mean that the first issue with a splash opening and closing it out is the first one that Larry doesn’t draw. TOTALLY didn’t plan on it.
Anyway, all that aside, this is my favorite page of the issue. Claudia’s test – which, for fun, I’ll add to the end of this entry – showed how well she pulls off action. She proved quickly she’d be perfect for this issue and the next, both of which are pretty rock ‘em sock ‘em, but it was when she sent me this.
And now, the cut back to where we left off last issue. The roller derby story was always going to start in this issue, but I initially had an overloaded outline for #1 that separated the Priest story from the derby girls. It didn’t work at all, so when I figured out that we were going to mash up this super dark villain with the fun derby aspect, I thought playing with that gothic juxtaposition at the jump was the way to go.
I posted an entry about this page before. Check it out here.
The Priest was originally going to be a doctor… but the whole creepy doctor thing is so done at this point. The idea was to create a figure that is seen as a healer, but in reality he uses his power to poison his victims. I ended up choosing a priest because religious figures are meant to heal, but on a spiritual level. I thought that was even creepier.
Like I said last time, I saw some debate on Facebook over whether the use of the Priest here is sacrilegious. Maybe it is. That isn’t for me to decide. This arc isn’t a grand statement against religion. I believe that peaceful faith can be wonderful for a person. Not me, but someone else. However, there is a very pointed message here about people who abuse their positions of power to corrupt, to get what they want, and to hurt people.
Robyn looks badass in that coat, doesn’t she?
And here’s the first hints at the bigger picture of the Robyn Hood ongoing… as well as the clarification. This Priest? He’s appropriating the imagery and he’s using words from the Bible, but he’s not a traditional Catholic priest. He says, “God is no man, nor women. We are God.”
The placement of the SFX as the Priest gets kicked through the window is genius. I love Jim Campbell.
We’re making a conscious effort to have the citizens of New York (Humans of New York?) as constant characters. Truth is, you can’t kick a Priest through a window at any time at the biggest cathedral in the city and not have folks notice. You can’t go around wearing a costume like Robyn’s, carrying a poorly concealed bow and arrow, and not have folks notice.
Marian’s bedside manner, doe.
Kicking myself for not adding a panel with a passing nurse wondering what the hell is going on in this room.
There’s so much plot and misdirection in this issue, as June tells her side of the story and, later, as Robyn figures things out in her narration… but I’m wishing I pulled back on the words here. I’ll likely see where I can trim for the trade.
Actually, this might be my favorite page of the issue. The interaction in the first panel is basically me having a conversation with myself every day. What’s special about this page (besides how awesome it looks and how cute Dagny is on Robyn’s workshop table) is that this page got the attention of Hank Green and a HUGE portion of Nerdfighteria on Tumblr.
See said entry here: http://patrickshand.tumblr.com/post/96025814378/so-robyn-hood-is-a-nerdfighter-thats-canon
I’m a HUGE Nerdfighter. Big fan of the Greens, got DFTBA tattooed on my wrist, I have a Pizza John hoodie, and I gave Robyn a Pizza John shirt in the issue – hence all the fandom attention.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about now, here’s a quick breakdown. Trust me. This will improve your life.
The Nerdfighter community (Nerdfighteria) centers around the Green brothers, who run VlogBrothers, the popular YouTube channel. Together, they’re responsible for countless charities, projects, channels, educational videos, conventions… I can’t even keep track. Hank is an accomplished musician, and runs DFTBA records. John is the author of The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking For Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines, among other works. They are great people, fascinating thinkers, and they have made the world a better place. Check ‘em out.
PAGE TWELVE / THIRTEEN
Catching up to the derby splash at the beginning of the issue. Claudia draws Marian’s enthusiasm so beautifully in these pages. I mean, I’ve said it a bunch, but Marian… she’s a lesbian witch who, until recently, lived in a patriarchal, Medieval fantasy realm. Something like roller derby couldn’t happen there. The music she loves couldn’t happen there.
Marian’s arc is a love song to our culture and the parts of it that empower women and, in particular, empower gay women. As we go on, Marian will see parts of our society that are uncomfortably reminiscent of her home realm, but playing on the dichotomy of Robyn’s cynicism and Marian’s joy, and what each means to the other, is a central part of the overarching statement we’re making here.
PAGE FOURTEEN / FIFTEEN
Because I can’t help myself, I put my girlfriend Amy into this spread. She’s Birdy.
Coming up with the Derby names was hard as heck. I’m pretty tickled by Kawaii Kween and Jean-Paul Harder. Some of the real names, though, owe a debt to the Riot Grrrl movement, and in some cases, I’ve mixed and matched names.
I’m not sure, but I think Slamet added those veins without being prompted. It makes the scene – and Birdy’s “Gnar…” – so much better. It’s the little things, really.
Fuckin’ hindsight. This page got a bit too prosey. The set-up owes a debt to the popular prose urban fantasy genre, and I think I embraced the internal monologue a bit too fully on this page. Could’ve been punchier.
I do think Robyn’s final line here makes up for it.
Pete’s really the anti-Will Scarlet, ain’t he?
Claudia nailed Pete’s facial expression here. Heavy exasperation and a bit of pleading.
PAGE TWENTY / TWENTY-ONE
Truth is, I wanted Sam and June back for the climax, so I needed to pull them out of the hospital. I considered writing a scene that showed them deciding to leave, but I figured they just showing up works better. Sam might have hired Robyn, but I love that she just can’t sit this out.
Okay, so we’ve got an insert panel, so it isn’t a true splash. But it’s something I wanted to do for a while. I had this huge double page spread in mind that shows an anthill perspective of this underground bunker, but the location just didn’t work for what I was doing. When I decided to limit the Priest’s power by only allowing him to siphon souls when he’s physically close to the witches, it hit me that it would be scary as fuck to put him directly UNDER them in an abandoned subway. It took some research, but I think it’s a striking image to end on, and led to some really cool stuff next issue.
That’s all I’ve got! ROBYN HOOD: THE ONGOING SERIES #3 hits shelves October 29th and #4 – which starts a new two-part arc – is still available for pre-order before the final FOC cut-off in the comic weeks (hurry!), and #5, is also available for pre-order. Call your shop and let them know you want on board.
Robyn Hood day!
ROBYN HOOD: THE ONGOING SERIES #2 is out today!