This December, the “Grimm Fairy Tales” take flight and head to Peter Pan’s uncharted world of Neverland courtesy of writer, creator and Zenescope President, Joe Brusha – but this isn’t the Neverland of your childhood – Disney or otherwise. “Neverland” is a new, darker take on J.M. Barrie’s classic “Peter Pan,” the story of a boy who stays forever young and his adventures in the mystical world of Neverland.
According to the writer, “Neverland” has been in development for nearly half a decade. “I’m just excited to finally get it published,” Brusha told CBR. “I wrote the first draft over four years ago when we first started publishing and it’s been sitting on the shelf waiting to be fit into our schedule ever since. So it’s exciting to finally get it out.”
Brusha’s process for the Grimm version of Peter Pan came from an early dislike of the protagonist…and a desire for Captain Hook to prevail. “‘Neverland’ was actually one of the first story lines that I came up with for the Grimm universe,” he says. “I was never a big fan of Peter Pan, and I always found myself rooting for Hook when I read the story or watched the Disney version. So the idea to make Hook the hero of the story sprang from that.”
Brusha and Zenescope have adapted the world of Peter Pan for the Grimm Fairy Tales universe with visually stunning art and an equally intriguing concept. “It’s a dark re-imagining of Peter Pan, and everything has been turned around from the original story,” explained Brusha. “Pan is the villain and Hook is the hero. Most of the characters from the original appear in the series – they’ve just been given the ‘Grimm Fairy Tales’ makeover. The croc has been transformed into a really monstrous beast that I think fans are going to love.”
“Neverland” is the latest title in Zenescope’s ever-expanding “Grimm Fairy Tale” universe. The publishing company first focused on Lewis Carrol’s classic “Alice in Wonderland” with their “Return to Wonderland” miniseries, followed closely by “Beyond Wonderland” and “Escape from Wonderland.” Much like the various “Wonderland” series, “Neverland” is only loosely connected to the “Grimm Fairy Tales” core title. “While it connects to the overall Grimm universe, it is more of a stand alone story,” says Brusha. “I won’t say that there are no cautionary elements in the story, but it isn’t set up the same way that ‘Grimm Fairy Tales’ is. I would say its structured more like ‘Return’ and ‘Beyond Wonderland.'”
With a storytelling technique similar to the “Wonderland” series, fans can expect a pointed absence of “Grimm Fairy Tales” core characters Sela and Belinda – but don’t count them out just yet. “If there is a sequel, there’s a possibility that they may make an appearance,” he says. “Pan and Neverland have been hinted at in the regular ‘Grimm’ series, but this series focuses on Neverland and its characters almost exclusively. It’s a new chapter in the ‘Grimm’ series that adds new characters and mythologies to the existing ‘Grimm Fairy Tales’ universe. I think fans of the ‘Grimm’ and ‘Wonderland’ series, and the twists we put on those stories and characters, will respond the same way here. It’s the same formula but with an exciting new storyline.”
For Brusha, this project represents the personal challenge of creating a comic book with mass appeal, even beyond that of the normal “Grimm” audience. “I think it’s the same as every other project I work on, which is trying to tell an interesting and compelling story that you hope fans respond to,” he says. “It’s hard because I try and write stories that I would be interested in as a fan, and you never know if those types of stories are going to appeal to a wider audience.”
As for “Neverland” itself, fans of the “Grimm” universe already know to expect a different spin on the classic story. “I think it’s darker than any other take that I’ve ever seen,” says Brusha. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a version of Neverland done where Pan is the bad guy and Hook is the hero. I hope fans of our ‘Grimm’ series are as excited about ‘Neverland’ as I am. I think they are really going to enjoy this series, and if the reaction is anything like it was for ‘Wonderland,’ I’ll be very happy.”