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TAKING ON DEATH ITSELF – PAT SHAND TALKS CHERRY GILBERT

Interview conducted by James Ferguson

Pat Shand's career in comics has been fascinating to watch and has certainly produced its fair share of great funny books. After writing exclusively for Zenescope for a few years on books like Van Helsing, Robyn Hood, and the flagship title, Grimm Fairy Tales, Shand exploded onto the independent scene with Destiny, NY, a series of comics set at a fantasy high school full of interesting characters. That world continues to grow with each new story. The latest, Cherry Gilbert: Necromancer, co-written with Vita Ayala and illustrated by Matteo Leoni, is currently on Kickstarter. I had a chance to speak with Shand about the book, crowdfunding, and more.

James Ferguson: Let's start with the basics. Who is Cherry Gilbert?

Pat Shand: Cherry Gilbert is a teenage Necromancer – a senior student at a school where kids who are the subject of prophecies go to learn in the heart of New York City. She’s haunted by death. Her life has been rife with loss and grief, which has hardened her a bit. Now, she’s about to take a road trip with Meadow, a bubbly, pumpkin spice latte guzzling motormouth. Meadow’s prophecy is that she’s destined to die – and soon. On this trip, Cherry and Meadow will take on death itself and show it who’s boss.

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JF: Cherry Gilbert ties into the Destiny, NY series. How much of that comic do we need to have read in order to jump into this one?

PS: Readers can jump straight into Cherry Gilbert: Necromancer if they want. It’s designed for new readers and the first page will catch up readers on everything they’d need to know. However, those who follow the Destiny, NY series have four years of backstory that will enrich the experience. Cherry Gilbert: Necromancer takes place directly following Volume 4 of the series, where Cherry has been a supporting character since Volume 1. The idea is for every spinoff – this, Gangster Ass Barista before it – to both create a brand new experience for the unfamiliar, while giving Destiny, NY readers more of what they’ve loved with a new twist each time.

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JF: How did co-writer Vita Ayala join the project?

PS: I always do a bonus chapter in the back of Destiny, NY where I’ll collaborate on short, character-focused stories with creative friends and artists I admire. I liked Vita’s writing a lot, so I invited them to do a short focused on any character they wanted in Volume 2. Vita picked Cherry and delivered a great story. I’m always thinking of new directions to take with Destiny, NY and Cherry Gilbert: Necromancer was an early favorite title of mine. When I saw how easy Vita was to work with and how smoothly the story came out, I knew it’d be fun to dig in deeper into Cherry and co-write a full graphic novel.

JF: The Destiny, NY series has had a helluva run through Kickstarter so far. How has the experience been and what are your plans for the future with it?

PS: My plan is to build. I want to try out multiple directions, because the idea of the series has always been that everyone matters.

Destiny, NY is about Logan McBride, a prophecy girl who completed her destiny when she was 13. Now, she’s 30 and trying to figure out her place in a world that tells her the greatest thing she’ll ever do is done.

At the start of the series, the way I’d introduce new characters is through Logan. Then, once they’re established, anyone they meet can become a new focus character. I wanted to create a fleshed out, real world of unique characters that each have their own story.

We’ve done four volumes of Destiny, NY, plus an anthology of short stories that take place between the volumes. Our first spinoff was Gangster Ass Barista, focusing on Trinity, who was kicked out of a motorcycle gang and is now trying to make ends meet by serving coffee. Now, Cherry Gilbert: Necromancer.

I have plans for at least one more spinoff called Sells Weed, Sees the Future about a seer named Taylor who develops a strain of weed that gives people the same power she has – to glimpse the future… temporarily. That book will launch next year, along with the fifth volume of Destiny, NY.

Beyond that, there’s no telling where we’ll go. I want to keep Destiny, NY going for a long time, and as I go, I imagine I’ll pick more characters and ideas that I can turn into their own titles. I’d even do novels set in the Destiny, NY Universe if Kickstarter backers support the idea.

So many interconnected universes are superhero stories, and most are owned by corporations. I started Destiny, NY as a creator-owned indie graphic novel about people and I believe that we can build a universe off of that. Now, we go onward.

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JF: Being that this is far from your first Kickstarter campaign, is there any advise you wish you had received when you started running these?

PS: Not advice, necessarily, but something I didn’t know going in is that Kickstarter campaigns aren’t always building off of the previous. I thought that once I established myself and showed that I could deliver, that every campaign would build off of the last one. That’s not true though. Every campaign takes its own journey. Sometimes, a new concept will interest people – sometimes it won’t. Sometimes, coming back to a title for a Volume Two will excite returning readers and draw in new readers. Sometimes, backers would rather something new and different from you. It’s all about seeing what works and what doesn’t and adapting.

Horror DNA would like to thank Pat Shand for speaking with us. Cherry Gilbert: Necromancer is currently on Kickstarter. At the time of this writing it has already surpassed its funding goal. The campaign runs through May 21st, 2020.

 

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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