Pat Shand is a name you may not have heard of yet. He's the second staff writer picked up by Zenescope Entertainment (along with Raven Gregory) and cranks out a good chunk of their monthly books. Besides his work in comics, he writes and produces off-Broadway theater and teaches screenwriting and English at Five Towns College in New York. So he has a wee bit of culture… but don't hold that against him.
I got a chance to chat with him about his two upcoming creator-owned projects Family Pets and Suckers.
BLEEDING COOL: Let's start with Suckers. There has been a lot of talk about taking vampires back from the romance novel folks, but in this story it's the vampires themselves who want to make the world know they are scary still? How does the 'found footage' format play into the story?
PAT SHAND: The found footage thing not so much an aspect of the zero issue, but starting in #1, the vamps are carrying a little cheap camcorder around with them for the whole arc. Do people still say camcorder? I do.
So, these are two creatures of the night who have been isolated for a while, pretty much going out for the occasional hunt, playing blood pong, and watching horror movies together… so when they set out to create their own horror flick, it gets pretty bloody. And silly. And a little cute/bromantic/weird. The closest thing I can compare it to is doing to the horror genre what SKULLKICKERS did to fantasy. It's really unlike any other book out there right now though, so when folks start to see the shape of what we're doing, I think they'll be surprised.
BC: You are doing this as a horror/comedy and definitely geared toward adults. What is the balance of horror to comedy and as a writer, how does your approach to comedy differ from tackling a more serious script?
SHAND: It's funny, I never really thought about that. I approach each book I write with the intention of telling the best story I'm capable of telling. I have just as much fun telling a blood-fueled comedic romp as I doing a more serious or dramatic tale. I mean, there are way more awesome sound effects in this book, so it does have that perk. Typing SPLORTCH into a script never gets old.
In theory, there are things you can get away with in a comedic book that wouldn't fly in a serious book. However, I think when people see the fun kickassery that embodies #0, they will be a bit surprised at the content in the following arc. We keep the same tone of course, but we're also tackling serious topics. The first issue is about the mistreatment (and subsequent revenge) of women in horror movies, the second is a critique of society's stigmatization of AIDS and the ignorance with associating the disease with the homosexual community. I think that kind of stuff is what will make the jokes even more biting, horrible pun unfortunately intended.
** Note: You can read the zero issue of Suckers on-line for free! **
BC: You are also working on Family Pets, an all-ages fantasy story. From reading the plot it almost seems like a reverse-Kafka with the family going through the metamorphosis. How would you describe the series and what themes are you playing with here?
SHAND: It's about a girl whose parents die, and she spends her whole childhood reading fantasies about empowered orphans like Harry Potter, Narnia, etc, and she's just waiting for some wizard or sorcerer or someone to come and tell her that she's special. But that doesn't happen, and she has to cope with a normal life… that is, until a strange occurrence turns her entire family into animals and her one pet snake into a dashing British teen.
It's VERY different from Suckers and my other Zenescope work obviously, but I love these characters. God, I wrote the final issue last night and was just overcome with… forgive me, I've been on Tumblr too much… FEELS.
I hope we get to do more Family Pets, and I hope you read the comic, because when we say all-ages, we mean that your kids will love it as much as you, and vice versa. At least that's the hope.
BC: You have a tendency to write strong female characters from Family Pets to Robyn. That's not something every writer can do. Where does the inspiration come from for your female leads and how do you approach them differently from male characters?
I write women the same way I write men a lot of the times. Strong, flawed, brilliant, broken, healing, just-trying-to-live-in-this-world…ing. I used to write a lot of theatre, and I'm going to be doing some more soon, and I had the good fortune to be surrounded by a community of brilliant actors, the majority of whom were female. I spent a lot of time working on the voices of my female characters, and I definitely think it's a strength of mine. I struggle with the male perspective very much sometimes, actually.
BC: Moving to non-creator owned projects, you have Realm Knights launching soon as well as the Unleashed event and Robyn Hood: Wanted wrapping up. How do you juggle working on so many books at once and what would you say are the biggest selling points of each of these titles?
SHAND: It does seem like a lot, but I am such a fan of comics that I can't help but want to always be in the process of creating. If I didn't have five or six books going at a time, I'd be keeping myself busy writing other stuff. It's a tight schedule, and I also teach and have a day job, so it does get hard to balance… but I love these stories, characters, and worlds so much that doing a bit of schedule acrobatics is very much worth it.
So, quick breakdowns!
ROBYN HOOD: WANTED is the sequel series to ROBYN HOOD, my first big Zenescope launch. It's a female version of the original legend (and I was an English major with a focus in Medieval lit, so there are big nods to the original ballads), and I like to pitch it as Veronica Mars meets Game of Thrones.
UNLEASHED is Zenescope's big event book right now. The elevator pitch is "Fairy tales versus classic monsters!" but at this point in the series, with the fifth issue about to come out, we're really late into the game and we're starting to show that this is about something bigger. The antagonist, a nameless creature I've been referring to as "the Being" for ease, has been revealed as an Adam-esque figure who has risen from a hell dimension… and he thinks he can do a better job at protecting the Earth than his father, who is essentially a dormant god. It's an emotional and dark family saga hidden within a summer event, and it's one of the books of which I'm most proud.
REALM KNIGHTS launches next week, and it's (though we are not calling it this, until… well now!) essentially a superhero team book. We take Robyn Hood, Sela (our Snow White character), Red Riding Hood, Captain Hook, Van Helsing, Neptune, and Shang and pit them against Hades and Cronus. With government spy action. It's Avengers by way of fairy tales, Medieval legends, Greek/Roman mythology, and horror icons. Writing that book was a book worm's dream come true, and I'm still stoked that I got to script dialogue for all of those characters.