Interview - Pat Shand (Unleashed)

Remember Pat Shand? He's the one who's brought new life to an old character in Zenescope's Robyn Hood. He's also putting a new spin on an old god in Zeus, courtesy of Godstorm. Now, he's spearheading Zenescope's massive universe spanning event called Unleashed, which he was more than happy to talk about.

Oh and Jessica Nigri pops up as well. She's swell.

Omnicomic: Where did the original idea for Unleashed come from?

Pat Shand: Raven Gregory called me up after I turned in a draft of Grimm Universe #1. He was like, “We have to keep adding characters to the Grimm Universe… every month, we should add at least one major character. Add a villain who can just – who can KICK the Dark One’s ass!” The Dark One was the Big Bad of all of the prior Grimm titles, so I knew I had to think up someone badass. The Being came out of that.

I wrote a few pitches for a miniseries that spun out of the Being’s role in Godstorm, but they were more self-contained than what Unleashed ended up being. Raven called me up with the idea of the Being unleashing classic monsters on the Grimm Universe, and together we fleshed out the idea into perhaps the most surprising thing we’ve ever done. By the end of this, readers won’t believe the ride we’ve taken them on. It is not what you expect.

Omnicomic: Who exactly is The Being? What's their motivation for releasing all manner of nightmarish creatures?

Shand: He’s a mystery. His name isn’t even really “the Being,” that’s just what we call him in office and for PR because it gets tiresome saying “that, uh, the villain who does the thing with the monsters and, um, you know who I mean.” His motivation has a bunch of layers and each issue will reveal a bit more about his plan… but let’s just say that the way he’s approaching his end goal will leaves the heroes of the Grimm Universe facing by far the worst crisis they’ve ever encountered.

Omnicomic: Of the five factions (Hunters, Vampires, Demons, Werewolves, Zombies), who are you rooting for?

Shand: Well, the hunters are the good guys (mostly), so I’m probably supposed to say them. They’re teamed up with Sela, Belinda, and Samantha (the leads of the main Grimm Fairy Tales title) in the fight against the Being and his army of monsters, but they’re a complicated bunch. The hunters have been trapped for over a century in a realm with nothing but monsters.

But that said, the vampires are really freaking cool. I’m loving those characters and how being locked away in the Shadow Realm for years and years has sort of warped their minds.

Omnicomic: Are they all fighting for the same prize?

Shand: They may think they are. The main vampire character, Samira, she is loyal to the Being – she has become religious in her faith toward him… while other creatures, especially demons, would be harder to control. Pretty difficult to win a demon’s loyalty.

Omnicomic: Historically, literature has presented divides between some of the evil factions. For instance, Vampires and Werewolves don't tend to always get along. Will Unleashed factor in some of that historic lore in the story?

Shand: Nah, that’s been done to death. There are some great vamps vs. weres stories, but we want to pave new ground as much as possible with these classic monsters. Samira’s confidant (and kind of pet, actually) is the first werewolf, a hulking beast named Ravenous.

Omnicomic: One of the teaser images shows a re-imagined Van Helsing, loaded for bear with crossbow bolts and knives. Is it safe to say she'll need all that weaponry?

Shand: Haha, well, that is mostly just Jamie Tyndall’s love for weapons. Whenever he draws one of our characters, he loads them to the teeth with these awesome little weapons – I’ve tried to utilize that in some of my stories. Like, in Robyn Hood vs. Red Riding Hood, I reached a story beat where Red was disarmed and needed a weapon to throw at Robyn. So I just deferred to a Tyndall cover and decided that we’d have her wear one of the straps of throwing knives he had her donning in one of the covers.

Helsing, though, in the text of the story, she is an inventor. The crossbows that she has are steampowered, and each time she comes to a battle, she will have a new weapon. Nothing traditional, though. While she could have knives as back-ups, for sure, she’s much more likely to whip out a gun that shoots eight wooden stakes at a time.

Omnicomic: And for playing the part of the new heroine, here's hoping you've got Jessica Nigri on speed dial.

Shand: She did a great job as Robyn Hood at NYCC. I did a signing with her for the launch of #1, and the fans loved her.

Omnicomic: Are there long term plans to make some (or all) of the characters in Unleashed recurring characters in the Grimm Fairy Tales universe?

Shand: The surviving ones, yes. Not everyone gets out of this book safe. There is a major, major death in the first issue of the series, and there will be many more by the time the book ends.

Omnicomic: Does Unleashed present a storyline that will have long-lasting effects on the universe? That is, will events here ripple throughout other Zenescope titles and future storylines?

Shand: Yep – none of the books will be the same after this. While I’ve been adamant that you can read each of our series individually and get a complete story, those who read our whole line will see the long shadow that Unleashed casts over this universe.

Omnicomic: What conventions/shows can interested readers expect to see Zenescope showcasing Unleashed?

Shand: Every show from April and on. We’re publishing Unleashed #0 and #1 in April and it will run through September. This is our big event this year…though we do have some other major releases that will get a special spotlight.

Omnicomic: Anything you want to plug while you have the floor?

Shand: Nothing I can officially confirm, but Ralph Tedesco did release this sneak peek at a new Robyn Hood cover on his Facebook, saying, “A little Artgerm tease... Robyn Hood's on her way back!”