If you are a frequent visitor of whatchareading.com, you’ll know comics reviewed on a daily basis, such as Grimm Fairy Tales and Robyn Hood are published by Zenescope Entertainment. They have a wide range of titles which are all equally entertaining and fun to read. The main theme of the titles is a new take on classic fairy tale characters. I personally have become a huge fan of Zenescope and it was only natural that my latest interview be with the editor and writer of titles such Wonderland and Steampunk, Mr. Patrick Shand. We talked about everything from his inspiration, to what’s in store for the characters and Zenescope.
Joe Grodensky: The first Zenescope comic I ever read and reviewed was the Guardians trade paperback which I found to be a fun story and got me into Zenescope going forward. The first of your Zenescope material I read was the Steampunk series. What gave you the idea to take fairy tale characters, turn them upside down and give the readers something completely different?
Pat Shand: You know, Zenescope has been doing that for years, even before I came on. By the time I started writing for them, they’d already gotten away from sticking to the exact fairy tales and had developed a pretty in-depth universe, not unlike Top Cow did with their Witchblade and Darkness stuff. The characters Zenescope had weren’t beholden to the mythology or fairy tales they came from, so creating within that universe didn’t really have any different rules than any other comic book shared universe. I introduced characters like Wulf and Wiglaf, inspired by Beowulf, and Robyn and Marian from Robyn Hood who obviously come from the Robin Hood ballads, but from the start my goal was to make sure they stood on their own as modern, engaging, original characters, despite being distantly inspired by their namesakes. I give little winks to the originals at times, especially when writing the main Grimm Fairy Tales books, but I went into this wanting to create something so new that people who were drawn to the books because they liked the originals got the chance to fall in love with a new and wholly different character, rather than just a copy.
JG: The traditional Robin Hood is a man who robs from the rich and gives to the poor in Sherwood Forest. What inspired you to create Robyn Hood, a blonde female living in New York City?
PS: Zenescope came at me in 2012 with the concept of a female-led Robyn Hood, and the structure of the first issue. I spun that off into what has now been running for four years, and we’re coming up on releasing our 39th and final issue in April. Robyn Hood has been super close to my heart, and so much of what I was going through as a person is within those pages. It means very, very much to me. Of all the titles I’ve worked on, it’s also the one that readers are by far the most passionate about, so that’s been so rewarding.
JG: One issue that was a personal favorite of mine is Grimm Fairy Tales #119 because it reminds me of something out of X-Men with the students learning their powers and abilities. What were your comic book/literary influences growing up that made you want to write comics and eventually write Grimm, Steampunk, etc.?
PS: We’ve gotten X-Men comparisons a LOT, which is funny to me because I was never an X-Men guy. But hey, as far as comparisons go, you can’t do much better than that, huh? There are definite parallels between the basic mythology of the Grimm Universe and X-Men, but the feel I was really going for here was more Harry Potter meets Supernatural. I read comics a bit when I was younger, but didn’t get back into them until my early twenties, when IDW and Dark Horse were doing their Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. I was much more into writing for theatre, film, and prose, but once I got back into comics and fell in love with what companies like Image, Vertigo, and later Boom! Studios were doing, I thought that this could be a medium where I can tell stories in a completely different way. As far as other influences, I was an English major, so it makes sense that I’d end up spinning tales that have roots in these classic stories.
JG: Wonderland #44 is about to be released and as extreme as the story was, it still felt like the Wonderland of old. Even going back to Steampunk, there are elements of the characters that are left alone like Alice’s blue and white dress. How do you and the team maintain that balance where you want to re-invent these characters without taking away from the original source material?
PS: I honestly don’t really care much about maintaining anything from the source material. Steampunk is different because that’s an alternate universe tale that uses the characters in a different world, but the main titles we do like Robyn Hood, Grimm Fairy Tales, and Wonderland which I edit but Erica J. Heflin writes, I don’t want them to harp on what came before. The originals will always be there. I think people, even people who pick up a comic based on a public domain character, are eager for something new.
JG: In conclusion, I’d like to say thank you once again for this interview. I really enjoy everything you and the Zenescope team are putting out there. What can we expect going forward in terms of stories and characters? Oh and one more thing, if you had to choose a favorite character from the line-up, who would you pick and why?
PS: Going forward, I’m writing Robyn Hood through to it’s series finale in April. I’m currently writing Grimm Fairy Tales, Hellchild, and Charmed: Season 10, probably until August, when my runs on those titles are fulfilled. After that, I can’t say, but stay tuned to social media to see what’s up next. You can find me @PatShand basically anywhere. I mostly post pictures of my cats.
As far as favorite characters, it’s gotta be Robyn Hood and Marian Quin. Their journey, I feel, has been important for me personally, and I just love them as characters and their chemistry. No matter who I put them with, in their own title or when they crossover into other books, they’re dynamic, interesting. Part of me will always miss writing them.
*Once again, I would like to thank Pat Shand for taking time to speak with me. It was very insightful and I look forward to all the new things he and Zenescope have to offer in the future.
You could find Pat Shand on Twitter @PatShand;
You could also find Mr. Pat Shand on Tumblr at Pat Shand