MUST READ: Jim Zub on how creator owned comics economics have improved

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And when I say must-read, I mean MUST READ, as it really lays out fundamental changes in how the industry is working for creator owned books.. A few days ago I noted how an old post on the economics of Jim Zub on Skullkickers, his Image comics, had gotten a second life on Facebook with it’s very low numbers on comics profits. In the comment, Zub promised an update, and he’s delivered with an analysis of his new book, Wayward. As you can see from the above graph, it’s a HUGE change, and it’s all due to the rise of Image Comics:

The Image model has always been about investing in yourself and reaping the benefits of that investment if sales are strong. I knew that going in with Skullkickers back in 2010 and, even when our sales were borderline unprofitable, I stuck with the series as a way to establish myself as a writer and show people our team could produce a high quality comic month after month. Now, four and a half years later, I’m seeing the benefits of that consistency and the growing creator-owned market with my new Image series called Wayward.

Zub enumerates a number of ways Wayward has surpassed Skullkickers, including his larger profile in the industry at large, and the material being more suited to today’s market: “Cute supernatural teenage girls (surrounded by cats) kicking the shit out of monsters on the street of Tokyo plays to a bigger audience than a bro-centric slapstick violent D&D tale, especially in 2014-2015.” While you should read the whole thing, one particular bullet point is worth highlighting:

• Retailer Outreach: I’ve also done a ton of retailer outreach over the past four years. Having well regarded work is wonderful but only if retailers feel confident they can sell the books. As we headed towards the launch of Wayward, the crew at Image and I did a lot of communicating with retailers about the series, showing them exclusive artwork and previews, doing everything we could to prove to them that this was a series they could confidently sell to their customers. That lead to several comic shop and convention-exclusive variant covers for Wayward #1, bolstering our launch numbers by thousands of copies while creating extra interest in the series.

While some may see the “variant method” as a danger sign, I think the numbers on these variants are still low enough on an individual basis to avoid threatening overall comics sales. It’s also CRUCIAL that today’s retailers are more open to diverse material. I don’t like to live in the past, but some of my 90s conversations with retailers begging them to consider selling Simpsons comics spring to mind. But you know it was a different world 20years ago. It’s a different world than it was even FOUR years ago. While Zub notes that neither he nor Wayward artist/co-creator Steve Cummings are rolling in dough, they have enough to pay the rest of the team, and for Cummings to work on the book full time. AND they have a war chest to help promote and keep the book on its successful sales trajectory.

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Zub notes that the first Wayward trade paperback is coming out in March, so even his numbers post serves as a way to promote the next work.

Good sound tips all.

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Above: the triptych cover for Wayward #6-8 by Cummings.

Review: Munchkin#1. Fun Game, Fun Comic

By Davey Nieves

Munchkin #1
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Writers: Jim Zub, Tom Siddell, John Kovalic

Illustrators: Mike Holmes, Rian Sygh, John Kovalic

Colors: Fred Stresing

Letters: Jim Campbell

Publisher: BOOM! Box

 

The world of table top card games is a universe in and of itself. Much like exploring space you have to be willing to come into contact with any life forms you discover. My sea crab nature prevents me from doing so but I can appreciate the cunning and strategy involved in crafting a game like D&D, Magic The Gathering, or Cards Against Humanity. Apparently I’m not the only one; BOOM! Studios BOOM! Box imprint decided to do a comic book series based on the popular card game Munchkin.

Originally a satire of fantasy roleplaying, the game has since taken on non-fantasy and non-gaming elements, and the new comic series is a direct reflection of that. For anyone that’s never played Munchkin; the game is more of a parody take on card gaming, only with a purpose. Kick open the door. Kill the monster. Steal the treasure. Screw over everybody you come in contact with. Welcome to the quirky world of Munchkin. The book features four stories set in and around the world of the game, featuring Spyke, Flower, and all the other characters, monsters, and settings players have come to love.

Let’s just talk about the best and worst of the stories found in this first issue, because there’s a fit for each. Jim Zub writes a great six page story dealing with one of the game’s most prominent themes, betrayal. One experienced character seemingly guides a noob through a dungeon as he’s simply trying to level up. The jokes in the story are sharp enough that you’ll ignore the “saw that one coming” ending. Tom Siddell’s “Humans Got No Class” story definitely lacks the punch that the others in the book capture. The story is about a group of players trying to lure their friend into joining the game only for the rug to be pulled out from under them. While it has its own charm, the punchline of the story just doesn’t make you laugh as much as the other tales did. Tom also writes a three page opening called “What is a Munchkin?” that’s hilarious.

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For a book that has three different artist; the style feels universal and not one bit out of place in this cover to cover satire on gaming tropes. Mike Holmes, Rian Sygh, and John Kovalic each illustrate a story (sometimes two) and each capture necessary whimsy the sight gags need to keep the readers attention. While Rian’s work is probably the smoothest of the three none ever feel foreign compared to the others.

Overall Munchkin is a fun read for fans and non-fans alike, but any lasting appeal will only land with hardcore fans. Bonus, there’s even an exclusive Up A Level card for players that ships with the first print of every issue. BOOM! Box knows who they’re selling this book to and have designed it that way. If you already know and enjoy the world of Munchkin go pick this up.

 


If you remember the word munchkin as something uncle Jesse called Michelle on Full House then follow Dave on twitter@bouncingsoul217

 

The Beat’s Annual Comics Industry Survey, Part One: The Return of Siegel & Shuster and “Casey”

Yep, it’s our annual survey of the comics landscape, from the mainstream to the indies and everything in between. Each year we send out surveys to as wide a swath of comics pros around the world as we can muster…among the answers you’ll find lots of news of 2015 projects, predictions of the year ahead…and right off the bat some startling news from Jeff Trexler about a possible legal bombshell in 2015…and the return of Casey from James Sturm’s epochal comic strip “The Sponsor.” Hold on to your hats and let’s get going.


trexlerJeff Trexler, lawyer

I write for The Beat and TCJ.com. My personal sites are in hibernation, but one day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back.

2015 Projects: I have an active law practice, so …

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Catching up on all the articles I planned to write based on my notes from the San Diego and New York Comic Cons. There’s some fun stuff, not all of it legal.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The biggest legal story would have to be the Kirby settlement. That case was on its way to the same fate as previous attempts to flip work-for-hire judgments under the 1909 Copyright Act, but the denouement was straight out of a Mister Miracle comic.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? This might not be the biggest legal story, but one thing that many people don’t realize is that the Siegel and Shuster Superman lawsuits are still alive, with more decisions likely in 2015 and even 2016.

How can this be, you ask, when one of 2014’s other big stories was that the Supreme Court had dinged both of these cases?

The Siegel case situation is somewhat bizarre. You might recall that after the Supreme Court let stand the 9th Circuit’s ruling that the 2001 term sheet between DC & the Siegels was actually a final settlement, Toberoff tried to keep the case alive with a few new arguments . They weren’t particularly novel – rather basic, actually – but they were the sort of thing a lawyer typically would have tossed in the mix from the beginning. As I pointed out on The Beat, by failing to raise these arguments earlier he had actually waived them, thus illustrating one of the dangers of getting so swept up in what you might win that you lose sight of the details that can help you get there.

The court followed the same line of reasoning – arguments waived; case over. But then, at Toberoff’s request, two months later the court amended its judgment to throw in a declaratory judgment that the Siegels’ termination filing in 1999 was valid in regard to Action #1, Action #4, Superman #1 (page 36), and the first two weeks of the Superman newspaper strip. In other words, the material was officially not work for hire.

This ruling was rather unusual, given the 9th Circuit’s determination that the 2001 settlement agreement made everything afterward moot. Perhaps the judge thought that this was a harmless sop to history given the other legal hits to the Siegel, but it was at base a trap. Toberoff didn’t ask for this to make the Siegels feel good; he was setting up yet another appeal. His argument: the lower court should have exercised its discretion and considered the waived anyway. Were Toberoff to luck out and get a more sympathetic panel, it just might flip the lower court’s ruling re the Siegels claim that they voided the agreement but uphold the ruling that the termination was valid.

DC responded to this as one might expect. Since the 9th Circuit had declared everything after 2001 to be moot, the court had authority to issue a declaratory judgment that the termination filing was valid.  What’s more, DC doubled down on the problems with Toberoff’s waived arguments and returned to one of its own earlier arguments that the Siegels’ 2004 lawsuit was invalid, since it was filed a year after the statute of limitations had expired.

Will the Siegels win? Well, the case will go before a new panel so there’s always a possibility. Should they win? I’ll leave the moral and ethical questions to each of you, but legally, let’s just say that there are some judges who would find Toberoff’s appeal here to be so disrespectful of the 9th Circuit’s previous ruling and the fundamentals of procedure as to be offensive. Again, there are others that might welcome the opportunity to flip the case back to the Siegels, so we’ll just have to watch what happens.

As for the Shuster heirs/Mark Peary case, the appellant here is in fact DC Comics. On December 9th, 2014, filed notice with the 9th Circuit that it is appealing the lower court’s denial of its state law claims that Toberoff unlawfully interfered with the 1992 Shuster settlement agreement and 2001 Siegel settlement agreements. The issue, in short, is not Superman but Toberoff.

The Siegel appeal is well underway – the briefs were filed as of September, and now we wait for oral argument (if any) and the court’s ruling. The briefs in Shuster/Peary case are scheduled to be filed by July 2015.


sarahSarah Gaydos, editor IDW

2015 Projects: Editing: Edward Scissorhands, Star Trek, Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash Up, Disney, Infinite Loop (US release)…and more!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I can whittle it down to three: the rise of the creator, Amazon purchasing Comixology, and the continuing rise of women as creative forces and readers.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? I *hope* it is more and more innovation on how to get more comics in the hands of new readers. I’ll certainly do my part.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Any and all Li’l Bub videos.


cropped-eleri-bio-pic-littleEleri Mai Harris, cartoonist/editor

2015 Projects: I just finished working on an epic about bear hunting that drove me nuts

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Clearly Simon Hanselmann’s wedding to Comics at SPX in September was the society highlight of 2014? For The Nib, our story of the year was a comic by an anonymous artist about her rape

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? I’m hoping that the biggest story will be a clear shift from more traditional news media outlets to creating dedicated comics sections, as Fusion did with Jen Sorensen in 2014.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Reading the entire Tony Edward’s Captain Goodvibes collection on the beach in Australia in January.


alison sampson_spacenAlison Sampson, artist

2015 Projects: I’m drawing a creator-owned book with Steve Niles- Winnebago Graveyard is a classic scary story. Our Think of a City project will run through all of 2015 and into 2016. Right at this minute, I’m working on a cover, and I’m hoping to be doing more design work and illustration including more unorthodox comic pages, next year

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Rights ownership leading to big financial wins for some- Image creators, Boom! Studios, Marvel films, and the rise of the comics-to films and tv interface.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Fallout from the rise of creator-owned work and the increased confidence around it: previously silent voices being heard, and the rise of more genuinely diverse work from companies known for their superheroes.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Drawing to expand the form of comics, and I’d like to visit the US again. The guilty pleasure would be eating seafood every day when we do get to the US.


jim zubJim Zub, writer

2015 Projects: Wayward and Skullkickers for Image, Samurai Jack and Dungeons & Dragons for IDW, Conan-Red Sonja for Dark Horse.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Diversity in comics, both in the fictional characters we read and the creators who weave their stories. The discussion of people of color, gender roles, LGBT, sexism, and our expanding social consciousness reflected itself in mainstream news and filtered down to the way the comic industry sees itself. It’s slowly changing the business in a good way and I hope the trend continues.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Reboots of reboots. Both DC and Marvel are trying to find the magic mix of new #1’s/new directions while clinging to their legacies with old + new universe crashing crossover events. It looks like they’re both going to reach critical mass in 2015 and seeing if they succeed or fail will be fascinating stuff that people will analyze and discuss for years to come.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Chip Zdarsky’s Howard the Duck series. I’m curious if Chip’s no holds barred humor will flourish in the Marvel Universe or if they’ll have to sand off the edges.


micheal davisMichael Davis, artist/publisher

2015 Projects: Milestones2: African Americans In Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond:curator Dec 2015  -the immediate squeal to the wildly successful galley show Milestones:African Americans in Comics, blah, blah, blah.

The show opened Dec. 2014 for a 4 month run and was immediately extended. Making it one of, if not the most successful shows at The Geppi Entertainment Museum.

The Hidden Beach Project Winter 2015: a co venture with Hidden Beach Records. A never seen before merging of music & comics

The Underground 2015? Really? A story of the Underground Railroad—over 10 year odyssey written and illustrated by Michael Davis Dark Horse Comics

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014?  Spiderwoman’s ass
What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? The Static Shock Live Action show
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? The reaction of Variant Comics when they get called on the carpet legally. They continue to leave up untrue information and have been asked repeatedly to correct the issue.


casey_gillyCasey Gilly, journalist

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? CAFs. 

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Treatment of women in the comics industry.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? More pictures of Justin Jordan’s cat, Tom Waits.

EDITOR’S NOTE: HAPPY TO OLBLIGE:


ivan_brandonIvan Brandon, writer
2015 Projects: DRIFTER

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014?  WOMEN. The fictional women inside the comics, the real-life women crafting their stories, the readers that made all of that possible. Women dominated the sales charts on original content and corporate properties and dragged the industry kicking and screaming into the present.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? I’m gonna go with women again. I haven’t seen this kind of fire in the audience in my whole career.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015?  Can I say Howard the Duck? I’m not really feeling guilty about it, but I’m pretty sure Chip will figure something out.


644513_10100998538113412_148358532_nCalista Brill, Senior Editor at First Second
2015 Projects: Jay Hosler’s amazing LAST OF THE SANDWALKERS! It’s like Watership Down with insect scientists!

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Ms Marvel! And by extension the continuing (if grudging) trend of mainstream comics inviting a wider variety of readers into the club.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Scott McCloud’s THE SCULPTOR.
What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Finally catching up on SLEEPY HOLLOW!

FirstSecondSandwalkers


joe_keatingeJoe Keatinge, writer
2015 Projects: Writer of Shutter and Tech Jacket, for Image Comics

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? It’s a tie between The Walking Dead show having more viewers than NFL football and Raina Telgemeier changing the definition of what a “mainstream” comic is in the 21st century by consistently dominating the New York Times bestsellers list with multiple perennial titles.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? The Walking Dead show and Raina Telgemeier announcing a joint Presidential run for 2016.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I don’t like the idea of “guilty pleasure” as people should just like what they like, but in terms of just things I’m looking forward to in 2015 — I am excited Master Keaton’s getting released so I can resume having a new (to me) serialized Urasawa book every other month.


James Sturm, cartoonist, educator

14_Print_Format
2015 Projects: I’m working on a kamishibai project in collaboration with a performer and a kid’s book. I just wrapped up a nine-page comic for the D&Q 25th anniversary book—The Sponsor comic was the first two pages.Casey_excerpt

SturmWhat was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The story I am most fascinated by for 2014 and 2015 is seeing how comics are spreading into the world-at-large as an indispensible tool for communication and education. Graphics medicine, comics journalism, and graphic facilitation are just three examples of ways that the language of comics is being applied in various fields.

The other thing that is very exciting: how much truly fantastic work is being produced right now. It’s hard to keep up.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Guilty pleasure and masochistic pleasure: following the Knicks and the Mets as they go from awful to awesome (in my heart I am an optimist).


GiulieSpezianiGiulie Speziani, writer

2015 Projects: A few titles coming out in the new year that I can’t mention yet.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? The Milo Manara Spider-Woman variant cover. It was an extremely divisive topic–everyone had a strong opinion about it. People got in heated debates about the pose, the artist’s history, what it means for women in comics etc. My twitter feed was very entertaining that week.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Something Star Wars related.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Mad Max: Fury Road. Judging from the trailer it looks over-the-top amazing so I don’t feel that guilty about it.


ian_harkerIan Harker, cartoonist/publisher
2015 Projects: GHOULANOIDS – Derek Ballard

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Breakdown Press

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Emily Carroll

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Potential BLADES & LAZERS Special Edition


 

JeffreyBrownphotoSMALLERJeffrey Brown, cartoonist (Photo by Jill Liebhaber)
2015 Projects: Darth Vader and Friends will be out in April, while Jedi Academy 3 comes out in the fall. Currently working on a middle grade series about Neanderthals.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? I don’t even know, because the past few years all of the biggest stories in comics are overshadowed by film and TV stories related to comics adaptations. So the biggest comics stories are actually really, really tiny.  So I’m just going to say Mike Dawson’s essay about what it means to ‘make it’ in comics.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Instead of big budget film adaptations of comics, independent producers will begin adapting single comic pages into youtube videos.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? Episode VII


Talent_sdcc2013_11_VAN_JENSEN_IMG_9662_580_534da3a6b11d76.94398290Van Jensen, writer

2015 Projects: I’m working on The Flash and Green Lantern Corps for DC, and I’ll have a new creator-owned series coming out from Dark Horse, plus the occasional bit of journalism.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2014? Honestly, I have no clue. The deeper I am in the comics world, the less I feel like I have a grasp on it. It felt like a very fractured year, with lots of really excellent books and also a lot of noise. It did seem like maybe we crossed some kind of tipping point with new audiences finding and consuming comics in really large numbers, and that influence starting to spread across even mainstream books. But I think it’ll be some time before we can really process that.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2015? Other than the DC move to Burbank?

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2015? I’m really looking forward to our son starting daycare so I can have more writing time, but I feel incredibly guilty over that. So it goes.

Interview: Jim Zub Discusses His “Wayward” Path

By Matt O’Keefe

Jim Zub has been on a tear since Skullkickers debuted in 2010. In four years he’s gone on to establish himself as writer of properties such as PathfinderSamurai Jack, and Disney Kingdoms: Figment. Now he’s going back to his creator-owned roots with Wayward, a comic book series from Image with Steve Cummings about a group of teens taking on the supernatural in Tokyo, Japan. I spoke with Jim about the thrill of launching a new title, and the journey that led to Wayward.

Wayward01-00

Art by Steve Cummings and Ross A. Campbell.

This is your first new creator-owned book since 2010. Is launching a new series more exciting, or terrifying?

I thought it would be easier but, the minute the press release went out and Wayward was fully announced, I realized I’d forgotten that stomach-wrenching fear of putting out a new creator-owned series. It’s wonderful, but there’s definitely a bit of fear wrapped up in it.

Establishing a new title and getting people to try it out, that can be a tough prospect. I’m doing everything I can to make sure readers and retailers can see that we’re hauling ass on this and doing everything we can to launch strongly.

Japanese mythology has been left largely unexplored in Western fiction. It must be exciting to introduce such a rich world to readers who are largely unfamiliar with it.

Absolutely. Japanese mythic lore is such fertile ground for exploration on so many levels and I’m incredibly stoked to be able to use that foundation and bring a modern spin to it. Readers won’t need any prior knowledge in order to dive in and enjoy the character story but, by the time they’re done reading, I hope they’re intrigued and want to read more.

Wayward01-00-Alina

Cover art by Alina Urusov.

What kind of Japanese mythical elements will we see in WaywardGhosts? Demons? Gods?

Yes. Yes. No comment. :)

The sheer variety of yokai at our fingertips is kind of staggering. I feel like our first story arc is just scratching the surface and that’s a very cool feeling.

That being said, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that it’s all monsters all the time. Yes, the creatures and spirits are important, but it’s a really a story about these teenagers in Tokyo and their struggles.

Is Wayward Rori’s story, or do you consider it more of an ensemble piece?

It’s an ensemble, but Rori is our touchstone character who brings readers into that world, so the first arc is heavily weighted around her experiences. As the story goes on it expands past her and takes on a larger scope.

How far have you laid out Wayward? Is there an overarching story you’re telling?

The first arc is obviously tightly written and I know where our second arc goes, though Steve and I are still brainstorming ideas that will be a part of it. I’m really hoping readers connect with our cast and we launch strong so we can have a long and healthy run where we can explore bigger ideas about myth, belief, and supernatural elements in the modern world.

Interior art drawn by Steve Cummings with colors by John Rauch and Jim Zub.

Interior art drawn by Steve Cummings with colors by John Rauch and Jim Zub.

You and Steve Cummings created this series together. What were some of the benefits of knowing who was going to be drawing your story from the start?

Building a story with an artist and feeding off each other’s strengths right from the get-go is really empowering. There’s an enthusiasm and interplay that I don’t think you get when you’re writing a concept for no one in particular. Steve wanted to do an urban supernatural story set in Tokyo and I was eager to write something dark and engaging to meet that vision. The visual elements were right there from the start and in a visual medium like comics that’s ideal.

How has what you’ve learned about the comics industry since starting Skullkickers informed Wayward?

Well, right off the bat, I’m hoping 4 solid years of writing comics, more and more each year, has improved my storytelling abilities. I have a better sense of what’s possible on the page and how to communicate those ideas to an artist.

Beyond those aspects of the craft, I’ve promoted Skullkickers steadily at conventions, stores, online… slowly but surely broadening my network and hopefully proving to readers and retailers that the comics I create are worth supporting.

Over the past 4 years I’ve had other creator-owned projects I’ve developed but something always got gummed up – artist availability was the most common, but there were other projects that didn’t feel like the right book at the right time. I used to get freaked out that if I didn’t have a follow-up project out immediately I wouldn’t be able to “make it” in this business but now I’m more zen about it. I don’t want to have my name on something half-baked just because I can put it out. Wayward is Steve and I both putting our all into it.

Interior art drawn by Steve Cummings with colors by John Rauch and Jim Zub.

Interior art drawn by Steve Cummings with colors by John Rauch and Jim Zub.

You’ve talked a lot about productivity in the past. Is it harder to work on a creator-owned series like Wayward than a licensed book that has firm deadlines like Samurai Jack?

It’s definitely harder at the start because you don’t have a baseline. World building is always tough. It’s creatively satisfying to have it all be “yours” but setting up that framework and making those decisions is a lot of work compared to gathering reference material and building on what’s already there.

Even still, once I get rolling on a creator-owned project there’s a tremendous amount of pride there. The freedom to make big decisions quickly and to feed new ideas as they come to me is really wonderful. I really do enjoy balancing both creator-owned and work-for-hire projects. They flex different creative muscles and make me a better storyteller.

What’s inspiring you, in or outside of comics?

Comic-wise I’m loving, in no particular order, Saga, Daredevil, Swamp Thing, Conan, Amazing Spider-Man, The Sixth Gun, Shutter, Invincible… lots more.

Outside comics I’ve been reading quite a bit of non-fiction. My cousin gave me a great book all about social systems and the way we make decisions called “Nudge” that I quite enjoyed. I’m midway through Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise about predictability and data sets and it’s also pretty fascinating stuff.

I don’t get many chances to play tabletop RPGs any more thanks to my intense work schedule, but I tried out a storytelling improv-centric game that plays out all in one session called “Fiasco” a few months ago and it was stellar. Within a few hours you and your friends build a crazy crime story from scratch and play it through to an unexpected, and almost certainly hilarious, end. Creative, fun, and really fulfilling.

WAYWARDPreOrderForm

Follow Jim on Twitter @JimZub and at his website full of awesome tutorials. Pre-order Wayward #1 at your local retailer with the form above.

Jim Zub “I Can’t Wait Until People See What’s Coming Up” [Interview]

Jim Zub’s 2014 is picking up some real speed right now. Most well-known for his series Skullkickers with Edwin Huang and Misty Coats, which is soon heading towards the penultimate arc, he’s building up a head of stream to take him straight through into 2015. Alongside his creator-owned fantasy sword-swinging monster-kicking fighty fight series, he’s also now writing various projects for DC, Marvel, Dynamite and many others.

One of the most interesting things about Zub as a creator, and what first caught my attention, is his openness about his career and creative process. The extensive comic book tutorials on his website offer some brilliant advice on a range of topics, from publicity to building a creative team, and right through to the tricky stuff nobody else talks about – like, for instance money.

Which means there’s a lot to talk to him about! Ahead of issue #25 of Skullkickers – which you’ll get to see preview pages from below – he spoke to me about building Skullkickers, assembling the team, and how he’s managed to keep interest in the series so high. [Read more…]

Dynamite Week: Red Sonja and Cub from Jim Zub and Jonathan Lau

The next announcement from Dynamite is the arrival of an oversized one-shot coming out in April from creators Jim Zub and Jonathan Lau, Red Sonja and Cub.

[Read more…]

31 Days of Halloween: Mark Rahner on ARMY OF DARKNESS/REANIMATOR One Shot

AOD-ReAnimator1Shot-Cov-Valiente

[Wrapping up this week’s Dynamite sponsored series of peer-to-peer interviews, Jim Zub interviews writer Mark Rahner on the Army of Darkness Reanimator team-up one shot!]

ZUB:  The horror genre seems cover a huge spectrum from psychological terror all through to exaggerated gory stuff. What are some of your favorite horror films and how do they influence your writing?

RAHNER: My horror film library should land me on government watch lists and would send your average soccer mom into therapy. Hammer, Romero, Fulci. From “The Haunting” to “Cannibal Holocaust,” they’re all in my brain-stew. The way they generally affect my writing is that I tend to push things that extra, disturbing step. Some influences are more direct. For instance, there are tastes of “The Descent” and “I Spit on Your Grave” in the first chapter of DEJAH THORIS AND THE GREEN MEN OF MARS, as well as a little homage to Tod Browning’s “Freaks.” ARMY OF DARKNESS/REANIMATOR includes nods to “Bubba Ho-Tep” and even “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

ZUB: Do you use a lot of camera/stage directions in your comic scripts?

RAHNER: I do use a lot of screenplay language in my comic scripts, because I’ve been a film critic for many years. It’s a clear, understandable format, and I like the way it makes stories flow, as a writer and a reader. Comics aren’t movies, though.

ZUB: Beyond the Reanimator, do you have any other favorite H.P. Lovecraft stories?

RAHNER: Oh, yeah. I’ve been a Lovecraft addict since I was a kid, and have written about him plenty as a journalist. “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” may be the closest he came to a white-knuckle, linear action-horror story. I’d like to run Ash through that wringer. (Ahem … editors: ARMY OF DARKNESS: INNSMOUTH?) “At The Mountains of Madness” is a work of uniquely weird brilliance – and I still hope Guillermo del Toro gets around to making a movie out of it. And “The Rats in the Walls” is always a great bedtime story for children. Which is probably why I should get a vasectomy!

ZUB: How do you strike a suitable balance between horror and comedy elements with characters like Ash and Herbert West?

RAHNER: I mostly like horror played straight, and my story is far more faithful to Lovecraft’s grim original story than Stuart Gordon’s wacky, campy films. The humor in this one mainly comes from Ash being a buffoon and West being so serious and obsessed that he can’t see anything ridiculous. They’re both clueless in their own own ways. And since I’m so juvenile, it even tickles me when Ash annoys West by calling him “Herb” all the time. West hates that. I can hear that in Bruce Campbell’s voice: “God damn it, Herb.” The humor of one buddy needling the other always appeals to me.

ZUB: Do you have any other comic projects coming out in 2014?

RAHNER: I hope to keep up my prolific and offbeat output with Dynamite – very likely including a follow-up to DEJAH THORIS AND THE GREEN MEN OF MARS and more. I’m also working on relaunching my creator-owned zombie-western comic, ROTTEN. You can find out more about that at www.rottencomics.com and Rotten Comics on Facebook.


ARMY OF DARKNESS / REANIMATOR ONE-SHOT
Written by Mark Rahner
40 pages • $4.99

JimZub
[Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past ten years he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Disney, Warner Bros., Capcom, Hasbro, Bandai-Namco and Mattel.

His current comic projects include Samurai Jack, a new comic series continuing the award-winning cartoon, Skullkickers, a sword & sorcery action-comedy, and Pathfinder, a comic series based on the best selling tabletop RPG.]

 

The Jim Zub Interviews: Andy Diggle on Uncanny #4

Uncanny04-Cov-Phillips

[Continuing our Dynamite sponsored series of peer-to-peer interviews, Jim Zub interviews writer Andy Diggle on his sharp looking series UNCANNY #4]

ZUB: For people who haven’t read Uncanny before, how would you pitch it to them?

DIGGLE: It’s a supernatural thriller about Weaver, a professional thief, gambler and con-man who has the ability to steal your skills, memories or abilities for a short period of time. He’ll use your own skills against you, to achieve whatever goal he’s set himself. But the clock’s always ticking; he only has a limited time window to use these skills before they fade away and he’s back to being a regular Joe.

ZUB: When coming up with Uncanny, what came first – the overall premise, a character, a specific scene, or something else?

DIGGLE: The concept – and the title, incidentally – started as a one-line pitch from Dynamite, this idea of someone who could steal other people’s abilities. I suspect they had in mind something a little more abstract, like stealing luck or fate or whatever, but I prefer a crunchier type of storytelling. The thing that interested me was not so much the idea of stolen abilities, as the idea that Weaver had built himself an entire persona and lifestyle that was itself stolen. He seems to have everything going for him, but you quickly come to learn that it’s all fake, an artificial veneer. People spend a lifetime of hard work developing and honing their individual talents, and yet Weaver steals them in a handshake. He never earned it. So there’s something kind of cheap and hollow about him. I thought it would be fun to create this traditionally handsome, confident, successful, alpha-male hero, and then very quickly strip all that away from him, reveal him as a sham. And then build him back up into something else entirely.

ZUB: How much research goes into the exotic locations or underworld elements in your story?

DIGGLE: ‘ll research until inspiration hits, then then I drop it. I don’t research the real world so I can mimic it; I use research to find new ideas, locales, situations. But once something sparks, I’m off to the races. As the old journalist’s adage goes, “Never let reality get in the way of a good story.”

ZUB: How closely have your final scripts been to the initial pitch? Do stories like Uncanny tend to evolve or do they closely stick to your initial outline?

DIGGLE: There’s always a degree of evolution, but generally I like to plot out a whole arc before I start scripting the first issue. I don’t like flying blind. George RR Martin said there are two kinds of writers – gardeners and architects. Gardeners plant a seed, and then tend and nurture whatever happens to grow from it. Architects, on the other hand, plan everything out in detail before they lay the first brick. I’m definitely more of an architect.

ZUB: Do you have any writing habits? A particular place or a time of day that’s most productive?

DIGGLE: My days are very routine. I take my kids to school every morning, which is just around the corner from the small office I rent in town, so I’m at my desk by 9am every morning. So I just work regular office hours, plus Sundays. If I didn’t have that routine to get me out of the house, I’d probably just sit around playing video games all day. Many writers say they’re more productive in the mornings, but honestly it takes me a while to get warmed up. My mornings are usually taken up with answering emails and screwing around on Twitter, and then when the guilt of not actually writing becomes overwhelming, the dam breaks and I finally start scripting. Left to my own devices, I’d probably sleep all day and write all night – but that doesn’t tend to coincide too conveniently with school timetables…

UNCANNY #4

Covers: Sean Phillips
Writer: Andy Diggle
Art: Aaron Campbell
ON SALE DATE: September 25

JimZub
[Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past ten years he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Disney, Warner Bros., Capcom, Hasbro, Bandai-Namco and Mattel.
His current comic projects include Samurai Jack, a new comic series continuing the award-winning cartoon, Skullkickers, a sword & sorcery action-comedy, and Pathfinder, a comic series based on the best selling tabletop RPG.]

31 Days of Halloween: Jim Zub Interviews Brandon Jerwa on Vampirella

Vampi35-cov-Neves

[Continuing our Dynamite sponsored series of peer-to-peer interviews, Jim Zub interviews writer Brandon Kerwa about Vampirella #35]

ZUB: When did you first come across Vampirella? Do you remember the first story you read or any particular aspects of the character that stood out?

JERWA: It was almost certainly around 1979 or ’80, so I would have been around 7 or 8 years old. I was really into comics, and I was starting to get into classic horror, thanks to a show called CREATURE FEATURE. There were shows like it all across the country; I grew up in Kansas, so my local version was from Kansas City.

I distinctly remember seeing Vampi, in black-and-white, at an early age. I couldn’t even tell you what the story was. Maybe I was the exception, but I feel confident in saying that I was enjoying the weirdness of the story, rather than just being drawn in by the sexy leading lady. I was sort of obsessed with monsters and the supernatural at an early age, and I’ll never forget moving into a house on 8th Street in Junction City, Kansas, and discovering that someone had written BEWARE OF VAMPIRES in drippy red ink, with small letters, on an interior wall of our garage.

This was definitely the same house where I started watching monster movies, and where I would discover Vampirella.

ZUB: Who are your favorite secondary characters in Vampirella?

Shortly after I learned I’d be taking over the series from Eric Trautmann, I found myself at a big comic dinner in Portland, and Kurt Busiek was there. Kurt and I are friends, and he’s just one of my favorite people to talk to in the world. He had done his fair share of Vampirella work, so I told him the news, and asked if he had any advice.

He pointed me in the direction of the Space Medics: Starpatch, Quark, and Mother Blitz. They were only in a few of the old magazine adventures, but they were favorites of Kurt’s. Once I tracked down the issues and read them, they quickly became favorites of mine, and helped open my mind up to the spacy, more cosmic aspects of Vampirella’s world. This would become very key to the proceedings as I started to forge my overall story for the book.

As the clock winds down on my run, however, I have found that my favorite supporting character is Lilith, Vampirella’s mother. She has bounced from hero to villain and back again, but I think she’s an absolutely amazing character, and I’m happy with what I’ve done with her.

Dear Dynamite, I’d like to write a Lilith series, please!

ZUB: What’s your favorite thing you’ve added to Vampirella in your run on the comic series?

JERWA: I think it’s that cosmic aspect I mentioned earlier. Playing heavily on the notion of Chaos versus Order, predestination, the delicate fabric of time and reality – those are all concepts that have been a part of the character’s history; I just brought them to the forefront. I love having this strong female “horror” character who has a legion of allies that range from armored hardcore Warriors of God, to completely bizarre aliens tooling around in giant flying saucers.

That’s the beauty of Vampirella, as a character: She can be so many different things, and they’re all legitimate parts of her overall makeup. Eric Trautmann had a sophisticated monster-hunting spy motif, under the shadow of a sinister Vatican oversight group; I was able to dovetail out of that, and make a (hopefully) pretty natural hard-right into a prophetic, cosmic-defender riff.

ZUB:   Are you a horror movie fan? If so, any recent favorites that come to mind?

JERWA: I am definitely a horror fan, but my tastes tend to run backwards, to 70s and 80s films. That’s not to say that there aren’t any good modern horror films – I like Zombieland, Mama, Shaun of the Dead, and The Ring, to name a few – but I’ll take Halloween, The Lost Boys, or some moody Hammer horror over any of that.

ZUB: I find that some writers use a lot of ‘structure’ while others approach their stories very ‘organically’. How much story/page planning do you do before you start scripting?

I’ll outline the overall story arc, and even go so far as to concoct a rough page breakdown, but I always try to leave myself some room to let the story show me what it needs while I’m writing it. You have to know the beginning and ending…but I think there’s something to be said for leaving space to play around in the middle.

VAMPIRELLA #35
Fabiano Neves Cover
Lucio Parrillo Cover
Writer: Brandon Jerwa
Artist: Heubert Khan Michael

JimZub[Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past ten years he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Disney, Warner Bros., Capcom, Hasbro, Bandai-Namco and Mattel.
His current comic projects include Samurai Jack, a new comic series continuing the award-winning cartoon, Skullkickers, a sword & sorcery action-comedy, and Pathfinder, a comic series based on the best selling tabletop RPG.]

INTERVIEW: Jim Zub’s Samurai Jack comic will have “big action, big adventure”

by Matt O”Keefe

IDW recently announced that in October it will be publishing a Samurai Jack as a comic book series that picks up the story where the animated series left off. I spoke with writer Jim Zub about what to expect from the book. We also discussed the headline-grabbing fourth arc of Skullkickers. 

 

We can start with the obvious question: how’d you get the gig?

It was interesting, I’d actually been talking to IDW about another project late last year which didn’t end up working out just because of scheduling stuff. I got back in touch when my schedule opened up and asked them to let me know if anything was coming down the pipe, and I totally lucked out. The editor I’d been talking to, Carlos Guzman, told me IDW got the license for Samurai Jack and that they were searching for a writer. He said he was looking for pitches and things evolved naturally from there. I’m a big fan of the series so Carlos and I shot some ideas back and forth and sent my pitch to Cartoon Network and mine was the one they picked. So it just sort synced up really well in terms of my schedule and my love for the property and everything else. I feel very fortunate that it worked out the way that it did.

So you had a lot of freedom with your pitch? They didn’t come to you with a story?

No, they weren’t even entirely sure which direction they wanted to go with the series. They knew they wanted to pick up where the TV show left off but it was pretty open ended in terms of “Give us some ideas. Give us an idea of where you feel like this could go or what sort of elements you could introduce into the world of Samurai Jack.” I rewatched my favorite episodes and said, “Okay, what really makes this thing tick? Why do people love this property so much? Why do I love this property so much?” So I wanted to channel that without rehashing the animated series but at the same time not lose what people like about it.

SamuraiJack01-cvrA-copyThere are so many things that make adapting Samurai Jack interesting. How similar will the art of the comic be to the animated series?

Actually it’s going to be a perfect sync because Andy Suriano, one of the character designers on the TV show, is the artist on the comic. So it’s going to be right on target in terms of matching people’s expectations [for a Samurai Jack story]. Just the sketches and things I’ve seen so far… they look awesome.

The action in Samurai Jack is so fluid. Will you adapt that to the comic?

Yeah. One of the reasons Carlos approached me to pitch it was because I really like writing action and really like doing innovative stuff with action. I want to make sure the comic has that kinetic feel to it so I’m writing some really big, cool action scenes right into the series and make sure it feels like the animation. We’re doing things that are comic-centric but you still get that same sense of big action, big adventure, and big exploration. The show’s got such a great atmosphere to it; I don’t want to lose those elements and at the same time I want to introduce things that are uniquely comic-based.

Both Samurai Jack and Skullkickers are violent without being gory. Did you think about that when you started writing Jack?

Yeah. I mean, Skullkickers is something I want a 12 or 13 year old kid to be able to read it and be semi-grossed out by, but nothing beyond the pale. I think Samurai Jack does a great job building a similar vibe with its action. Some of the episodes are surprisingly violent but not in the traditional way.  It’s very much intensity rather than just going for the cheap gore. I think that’s a really cool thing about the show. Similarly in Skullkickers I try to write innovative action instead of just straight out gore. We’ve done some ridiculous cartoony gore bits but that’s not the end-all be-all.

The score played a pretty big role in the TV show. Did you think about how to substitute that in the comic?

Well obviously it’s not like the comic will come with a soundtrack, but I think that sound or lack of sound is something we can play with. Where you emphasize sound effects does a lot; in Skullkickers we use a lot of them. I’ve finished two scripts for Samurai Jack so far and both of them play with panel pacing and use sound effects in different ways. I’m also working with Andy on the way the panels are laid out, not to create sound but to make interesting visual compositions and build up an atmosphere that was created by sound in in the TV show.

I think that with any adaptation you have to play to the strengths of the medium. We’re definitely making a fun, action-packed comic and want to play up those strengths. But we also want to take things from the animation and find ways to build up a similar feel even if we don’t have the exact same toolset. We can use the tools in comics as a medium to present things in ways people haven’t quite seen before.

Who’s lettering the book?

I don’t know who the letterer is, actually. I haven’t seen any lettering proofs at this early stage, but that’s a good question. I’m curious who it will be; I know I’m going to be pretty picky on that kind of stuff because I feel that lettering is such a crucial part of the comics-making process. Lettering can make or break people’s experiences in terms of how they read [the comic] and where their eyes rest on the page, so it’s definitely going to be a big part of the whole process.

Hoping for Marshall Dillon [the letterer of Skullkickers], personally.

Yeah, Marshall and I are a great team. He really understands my sensibilities so obviously I’d be thrilled if they asked him to letter it because he’s used to dealing with my idiosyncrasies.

SamuraiJack01-cvrRI-copyHow long is the first arc?

It’s five issues. That was something we talked about a lot. In the TV show there were a lot of one-off stories, every so often they would have a two-parter, and we talked about if we wanted to go a similar route. I definitely think that later on in the series we’ll have more one-issue/two-issue sorts of stories if we get a chance but we wanted to open with something bigger. We wanted to start with a storyline that would really grab people and keep them on board for a little longer so they could hunker down and really understand the elements we’re bringing to Samurai Jack.

The dialogue in the show is pretty minimal. Jack in particular doesn’t talk a whole lot. Is that going to hold true in the comic?

Other characters in the show tend to do the talking and the same will hold true here. Even though I love doing banter and dialogue, Jack’s personality is very set so I’m trying to be as respectful as possible to that. He’s stoic and he’s quiet and he’s thoughtful. When he speaks it’s with real purpose. I think that’s one of the hallmarks of the character. He doesn’t say a lot but when he does speak it’s significant.

You said the creator of Jack is drawing the covers.

Yeah. Genndy Tartakovsky [Dexter’s Laboratory, Star Wars: Clone Wars] is illustrating the subscription-only variant covers for this first story arc. As a fan of all his creations, particularly Samurai Jack, I’m absolutely thrilled to have him involved.

Between Jack, Pathfinder for Dynamite, and Shadowman for Valiant, you’re really getting your feet wet with licensed work. How’s the experience so far?

It’s going pretty good. I like mixing things up; I really want to keep challenging myself in different ways. I’m planning some new creator-owned projects and I want to write more commercial properties. The important thing is that the challenge is there and that I’m growing as a storyteller, so when a project comes along where I feel I can contribute something strong  I want to dig into it.

Skullkickers just finished its adjective arc. How was it received?

It was good. I was a little nervous at first that people were going to flip out [over the renumbering] but the majority of readers thought it was really fun. Some readers are still asking when the next reboot #1 issue is coming out and I have to disappoint them, but I really get a kick out of people telling me they want Justice League of Skullkickers or something outrageous like that. I’m glad people responded well to it and that it got people talking about the series again. That was the whole point. That’s why companies do reboots in the first place: to draw attention to what they’re doing and bring in new readers with a jumping on point. We abused the heck out of it but in a sarcastic way that jives with what our readers expect from Skullkickers.

I loved the Dwarf side story in the first chapter of the new arc. Reminded me a lot of what Mark Waid is doing with Thrillbent (small modifications to a basic panel template).  Have you thought about jumping into that format?

It’s funny. My background is in animation so you’d think I absolutely would, but the weird thing is I really like playing with the printed page.  I’d almost rather have multiple panels on the page that feel like animation as your eye runs across them than actually do the panel-by-panel, click/click animation you see from Thrillbent and other publishers. I just love the printed form and don’t know if Mark is going to be able to print those books; you’ve got so many panels that are repeating so it would look weird on the page. So I don’t know. I think it could be cool but I’m not 100% sold that I want to do it with my own stuff. But I think it’s really great that other people are experimenting in that direction.

skullkickers_24_00“Before Skullkickers” is next, right?

Yeah, we’re doing another Tavern Tales issue. At the end of every arc we do these jokey short story issues. This one is about the characters before they’ve met each other. We’ve got one story about the dwarf and one story about the elven assassin lady and one about Baldy back when he was a cowboy. People find the prequel format compelling, so we thought we’d poke that in the eye.

Have you announced a release date for the next arc?

We haven’t. I always make sure we have enough work done and that we’ve built a real buffer. I think the professional thing to do with retailers and readers is to give a release date that’s 100% real and not just wishful thinking. We’ve done twenty-three issues and I think we’ve shipped two of them late? And even then by only a week or two at the most. I think one of the things that’s helped [the series] is we do what we say we’re going to do and deliver when we say we’re going to deliver.

Are you still planning on ending the series with Issue 36?

I am. It’s been the plan since around Issue 3 or 4 and now that it’s in sight it’s both scary and exciting.

Sometimes some of our readers get worried when they read about our commercial work but the reality is that it’s not taking anything away from the creator-owned. If anything it’s helping it, putting more money in the war chest so we can keep doing Skullkickers.

You teach, you’re an animation coordinator, you write a bunch of comics… how do you balance it all?

Working with reliable people, good scheduling, really careful timing, and knowing my own productivity. I have a very, very patient wife and wonderful friends. Every so often I have to do some binge writing and sequester myself away at which point productivity goes way up and I go on marathon writing sessions.

Would you have drawn Skullkickers yourself if you had the time?

It would have been cool, but I like writing things that I can’t draw well so it’s fun bringing someone else into the mix. It’s hard to say; I really like working with Edwin [Huang, the illustrator of Skullkickers] and with all kinds of different artists. I feel like that’s now a part of the comic book process for me so it’s hard to say. Before Edwin came aboard I was working with Chris Stevens and he was supposed to be the artist of Skullkickers. When he left the script got mothballed. I guess that kind of answers the question because it wasn’t being drawn until Edwin came on board. I think I would have enjoyed doing it, but the time just wasn’t there.

 

Samurai Jack will be released in October. Follow IDW for updates about the series. You can find Jim on his website and on Twitter @jimzub. The fourth Skullkickers trade is now on sale at comic book stores, bookstores, and digitally on ComiXology.

 

Jim Zub and Miguel Sepulveda Take Over Shadowman for Halloween

The Valiant solicitations for October have been published, and amongst them comes a one-off issue of Shadowman which has a few tricks up its sleeve. Shadowman #11 will be a Halloween special issue, written and drawn by the one-off team of Jim Zub and Miguel Sepulveda.

[Read more…]

Image Announce Dark Skullkickers Dark #1

Frequent collaborators on mysteriously short-lived Image projects, Jim Zub and Edwin Huang have been announced as the creative team for a new issue #1 from Image in June, Dark Skullkickers Dark #1. And that’s not a typo – the extra Dark is there for a reason.

And that reason is because the comic is dark.

darkskullkickers

This is, of course, the most recent ‘relaunching’ from the Skullkickers team, who have spent the last few months designating each new issue of Skullkickers as a different #1 relaunch. Each time they relaunch, they add a different adjective in front, like ‘Mighty’ or ‘Savage’, poking fun (but also emphasising) the bizarre importance that the comics market puts on relaunches and short-term storytelling.

Next month will probably see Trinity of Sin: Skullkickers announced. In a fun press release (and you know there’s nothing I find more entertaining than a press release, guys!), Zub quotes Image’s PR and Marketing Director Jennifer De Guzman thus:

It’s a pale reflection of the industry’s need to spin rebooted series through endless hype, turning the crazed hamster wheel of entertainment promotion until it’s fallen apart. Good-bye, integrity.

This whole thing – which has generated consistently higher sales for the series – is a pointed criticism aimed at all the comic book websites which value a quick spike in internet traffic over covering important or worthwhile news stories. Here’s the variant cover for the issue!

darkkick

Where was I? Ah yes, comic sites which are obsessed with printing press releases and quoting verbatim rather than writing something new or useful for readers. Here’s a quote from Zub about the subject:

Fun comic books are a thing of days past. In order to grab a modern audience I’ve dipped into the darkness of my own heart and spilled my blood upon the pages of this sequential masterpiece. Oh yeah, there’s beer in it too.

(The first issue of Dark Skullkickers Dark will be out in June.)

Advance Review: Uncanny Skullkickers #1 tests out The Adjective of Power

Uncanny is such a strange word to use to describe a comic, much less a range of different comics which tend to feature characters who aren’t unexpectedly familiar – they’re the X-Men and Avengers, they’ve been around for decades. Which is why it’s nice to see that the Skullkickers creative team of Jim Zub and Edwin Huang have elected to reclaim the word and place it in a grammatically correct setting, to create Uncanny Skullkickers #1.

Uncanny has become an adjective of power over the last year or so, and the name change certainly worked to get my attention to a book which had never been on my radar before. This is actually issue #19 of the Skullkickers series from Image, with this being a one-issue sales gimmick which will switch over next month to become ‘Savage Skullkickers #1′ in March. But now I’ve got on the Jim Zub train (trains don’t have radar, that is a poor metaphor), it’s time to see just where it’s heading!

[Read more…]

Jim Zub and Robert Venditti pulled off BoP and Constantine before they even started

conatsantine #1.jpg

DC has just started a new feature with CBR called B&B wherein EIC Bob Harras and executive editor Bobbie Chase answer questions and head off controversies. As old hands of more campaigns than you can count, both are uniquely qualified to deal with this month’s more…unusual moves, such as several books getting new teams before the first issue of the old team even came out. That CONSTANTINE cover above does NOT represent what happened to Zub and Venditti.

Just read it yourself:

Talking about dark, one of the books that immediately comes to mind is “Constantine,” which stars a character who has traditionally been on the darker side of Vertigo and the DCU. Both “Constantine” and “Birds Of Prey” are going to be getting new creative teams in April, before either team’s first issue even made it to publication. Who is going to be replacing Robert Venditti and Jim Zub on those books, and why switch them out before they got to write their first issues?

Harras: Robert came to us with a fantastic pitch for “Constantine;” we really loved what Robert’s doing — he’s working on “Demon Knights” now, and he’s also working on another project for us that I really can’t go into which is a big deal for us. But at the end of the day, Robert and Dan [DiDio] and I spoke, and “Constantine” was, for him, one book too many. It was the one thing that we had to go, “If we want you to focus on this one project, maybe we should make a change on ‘Constantine.'” Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes very professionally, very nicely stepped up to the challenge [of launching “Constantine”].

Chase: Very quickly, too. Those guys already had ideas because of what they were doing in “Justice League Dark.”

Harras: It was one of those things where we had to step back and say, “You know, Robert, we should concentrate you on these other projects right now.” And like we said, with Jeff and Ray stepping in on “Constantine,” weaving it closer to “Justice League Dark,” I think it was actually the best solution to — not a problem, but a challenge. We all sat down and said, how do we make this work?

Christy Marx is replacing writer Jim Zubkavich on “Birds of Prey”

Christy Marx is taking over as writer on “Birds Of Prey.” Does Jim Zub also have other projects at DC, like Venditti? Why the switch there?

Harras: Jim had a great pitch for “Birds Of Prey,” but as things came together in discussion and the creative churn, we all saw what Christy was doing on “Amethyst,” and we were looking at “Birds Of Prey” and internally and editorially we were thinking of taking it in a different direction. The decision was made that we were going to go in a different direction than what Jim had originally envisioned. We definitely, definitely want to continue working with Jim, but at this moment, we wanted to go in a particular direction. Bobbie started working with Jim months ago —

Chase: He’s a great writer. He’s a great idea guy, and I look forward to working with him again.


It’s a tough business.

Also revealed: Jim Starlin will be writing STORMWATCH.

Jim Zub and Edwin Huang Launch ‘Savage Skullkickers’ in March

Following on from the success of Uncanny Skullkickers #1 next February, Image have announced the launch of a brand new #1 issue in March – Savage Skullkickers, from the creative team of Jim Zub and Edwin Huang.

[Read more…]

Kicking Skulls and Making A Name For Himself: Jim Zub on Story, Sales & A Career In Comics

By Matt O’Keefe

Jim Zubkavich has been creating comics since he began self-publishing Makeshift Miracle in 2001, but he really broke onto the scene in 2010 with Skullkickers, an ongoing series from Image Comics which Zub describes as a buddy cop film slammed into Conan the Barbarian. In addition to his jobs as Project Manager at Udon Entertainment and Program Coordinator for Senecca College’s animation program, he’s currently balancing his time working on Skullkickers, Pathfinder for Dynamite Entertainment, the next volume of Makeshift Miracle, and a trio of webcomics for Bandai-Namco. I asked him about his writing process and his experiences working on the different titles.

[Read more…]