An Interview With The Zenescope “Zen Master” Pat Shand

Over here at Comic Crusaders, we love the comic industry, with all its varieties of comic type.  You have the super heroes, the mature books, the indie books and the magic type of books.

As such, we decided that we would catch up with one of the hardest working writers in the business, Pat Shand.

COMIC CRUSADERS: For people who don’t read your books, can you give a quick bio please?pat0

PAT SHAND: Hi! I’m Pat Shand, and I love cats. I also write. I’m currently on Robyn Hood, Grimm Fairy Tales, Charmed: Season Ten, and Hellchild at Zenescope. On the creator-owned side, I co-created the all-ages graphic novel Family Pets with Sarah Dill for Silver Dragon Books/Scholastic, and Anonymously Yours with Roberta Ingranata for Margin’s Press Dates: An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction book. Other than comics, I write Charmed novels for Joe Books/HarperCollins and I’m a contributing writer at Sad Girls Guide and Blastoff Comics. Basically, I used to sleep, but now I do this.

CC: How did you break into comics? Were comics a goal for you?

PS: Not at first. I was concentrating on trying to get a literary agent for a series of novels when I was in my teens, and then I shifted my focus to theater in college. I started to get really into comics around 2007 or so, and then began blogging. In 2011, I was offered the chance to pitch for the last Angel book at IDW. I knew those guys after all of the blogging, and they knew I was a huge fan of the series. I pitched a short comic, and got the gig. My first ever published comic was on a Joss Whedon series and it was drawn by Stephen Mooney and colored by Jordie Bellaire. Kinda can’t beat that.

CC: You are pretty much known for fantasy type books, what’s the appeal for you?

PS: There’s no specific appeal. I mean, I used to love fantasy, and I came up on Harry Potter, but as a writer, I’m not really drawn to that specifically any longer. I’ll be honest, I love the metaphor of fantasy, the idea of mirroring real world issues with magical conundrums – but when I think about stories now, I don’t try to approach them as genre. I’ve been writing primarily in Zenescope’s Grimm Universe and for Charmed recently, so you’re right that I’m known for that, but I’m as likely, if not more so, to write a story about a girl and her cat. Or a straight-up comedy, or horror. I’m bad at sticking to a genre, and I’m a super fickle storyteller, falling in love with whatever I’m doing in the moment and putting all of me into it, so I really hope to never get pigeonholed. I won’t be able to stick to whatever genre people think they want me to write.

CC: Can you explain a little about the process at Grimm Fairy Tales regarding the interpretation of some of the classic tales that are used?

PS: Right now, it’s not reinterpretation at all anymore. I’m honestly bored by the idea of reinventing stories, and while I’ve never really strictly done that, now I’m actively choosing to not do it in any way. I understand that a lot of readers see the title Grimm Fairy Tales and think that I’m just adapting the Grimm Brothers stuff, and that was true of maybe issues #1 – 40, back before I’d even met anyone at Zenescope. I started my run at #101, and now I’m nearing the end of it at #125 – if I was just reinventing stories at this point, it’d be so boring, for me and anyone reading. Right now, I’ll pull an element from the classics, like I introduced the character Wiglaf into Grimm. In the original Beowulf poem, he’s a scrappy little dude who is Beowulf’s right hand (he’s his go-to, pretty much) and helps him fight the dragon. In my run, he’s a foul-mouthed walking talking cat, because comics. I want readers who pick up the titles on a whim, who expect Robyn Hood to be an adaptation, to realize on page one that even something using that classic title can be something wholly new.

pat1CC: It seems that Zenescope have a somewhat salacious cover art policy, that is popular with fans; which may not be representative of the interior art. What are your thoughts regarding the depiction of women in that manner, when there is focus on how women are portrayed in comics?

PS: There’s a reason that the actual interior art of the stories doesn’t look that way, and that’s because those images are counter intuitive to the stories I’m telling and my ethics as a storyteller. The covers are a marketing thing, and I’ve given both the publisher and the public my thoughts on that aspect of the covers many times. It’s a shame that a lot of people assume that the books themselves are super sexualized because of a few covers – and I’m not saying it’s their fault for thinking that, I completely understand. I would think the same thing. The idea that someone who would really connect with Robyn Hood especially will miss the book because of a cover… that, to me, is heart-breaking. There’s a reason my creator-owned work doesn’t reflect images like that.

CC: I have mentioned how it seems your writing is similar to someone like Joss Whedon or Chris Claremont, is that a fair comparison? Who are your inspirations and influences?

PS: Joss Whedon, Alan Ball, Tegan & Sara, Terry Moore. Friends I’ve made in writing like Dennis A. Allen II and Tanya Everett, they inspire me. Creators like Noelle Stevenson and Sina Grace and Shannon Watters, they inspire me so much. Kieron Gillen. Churches inspires me. My girlfriend Amy, the love of my life, inspires me.

I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison, though, because it’s not my place to decide. That’s on the reader to decide. I don’t know much about Claremont’s work, if I’m being honest. I don’t have as much X-Men knowledge as most of my peers in the industry.

pat 3CC: Regarding Charmed, with the show being done a while back, where do you get your inspiration/ideas from for the book? Were you a fan of the show?

PS: I was a fan, but I had a long, long time to research before I started writing. I got the gig in either late 2011 or early 2012 and it didn’t get put on Zenescope’s publishing schedule until late 2013, so I had a good long time to re-watch the whole show and basically make my own series bible for it. I have three notebooks with all this mythology and character motivation stuff that I scrawled down while watching. The story didn’t come out of that, though, I was doing that more to get a real handle on where the characters were emotionally and so that I could learn the mythology. The actual plotting came from the same place where I pull all of my stories. From myself. I can’t trace the origin of any specific plot development, but it’s all just a lot of me. It’s gratifying to see the fans respond positively, because it’s not just me telling a Charmed story, it’s me putting a piece of myself out there for people to read, review, and either love or hate.

CC: Who’s your favourite sister?

PS: I probably wouldn’t have answered this question in the past, out of fear of the fandom’s reaction. I don’t have that fear anymore. It’s Prue, by no small margin.

CC: How many more “Seasons” does you foresee for the Charmed title?

PS: None. I’ll write the novels for Joe Books, and those are set between Paul Ruditis’s SEASON NINE comics and my SEASON TEN, so it’s sort of like a pseudo-season. I don’t know how many they’re going to publish, but I’m currently finishing up edits on the first and I’m about to complete my first draft of the second one. If there was a story worth telling post-Season Ten, it’s not like I wouldn’t consider it, but I think I’ve had my fill of long-form Charmed stories for now. If I did a Season Eleven, whether as a series of novels or comics, though again the latter is staggeringly unlikely, I’d probably do a lighter series of mostly standalone stories rather than a big to-do like Season Ten. I used to flat-out say “never,” but the novels have been fun, so who knows.

CC: With your work on Charmed and Angel, what are the chances of a Grimm, Buffy, Angel, Charmed crossover?

PS: I don’t know about a crossover, but I’d love to write Angel again, and Buffy would be a dream gig.

CC: What are you currently reading that floats your boat?

PS: Stephen King’s current short story collection. Ales Kot’s work is floating the shit out of my boat. Ales makes my heart sing and my brain pop. Welcome to Showside, Paper Girls, Lumberjanes, and The Wicked + The Divine are all excellent.

CC: Which characters that you haven’t worked on, that you think, man that would so cool?

PS: Buffy, Thor, the Lumberjanes, the Avengers. Annnnd uh, Snoopy.

CC: What’s next for you and Grimm Fairy Tales?

PS: I’m leaving at #125, and that’s a wrap. It’s been a fun run. Very proud of it. Especially Wiglaf, because c’mon. I want to do a lot more comics, I want to help put on more creators, I want to get back into the theatre scene, and I want to put out more creator-owned work.

I’m sorry to hear you are leaving Grimm, but I am looking forward to your creator owned work from .  Don’t forget to give me a shout when its ready for a review.  Thank you for your time Pat.

For those that are interested in reading Pat’s work, check out the review section for a selection of reviews featuring his Zenescope characters.

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