Zub at TCAF 2018!

Spring in Toronto means it’s time for TCAF, the annual Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a wonderful comic and graphic novel event happening at the Toronto Reference Library that’s FREE to attend!

I’ll be there, set up on the second floor in the Salon at TABLE 249 with copies of Wayward, Glitterbomb, Skullkickers, and Makeshift Miracle. You can purchase those to get signed or bring any of my other books on by to get signed as well.

If you’re in the city over the weekend I hope to see you there!

Comic Feedback

I’ve mentioned before that I generally don’t do one-on-one critique because I don’t have time. That’s still true, but occasionally there are exceptions. I did a presentation for Seneca’s Illustration program about comics and one of the students followed up to send me their 8-page comic story project. They wanted critique that dug into where they could improve to make it professional quality and didn’t want me to hold back, so I didn’t. Here’s the feedback I gave. Some of it is specific to their story, but it also contains overall advice I would give a lot of new comic creators, so I thought I’d post it here as well:


ART:
The panel to panel storytelling is relatively clear. The lettering doesn’t feel like it fits well in many panels (which I’ll get to later), but the general storytelling makes sense and I can tell what’s happening in sequence. For many first time comic creators, that’s a problem, so it’s a good start. I’m not personally a fan of panel gutter sizes changing drastically from page to page, but that’s an aesthetic choice.

The artwork is not professional publishing quality. The backgrounds look rushed and incomplete and the perspective is inconsistent. It’s the quickest way for me to tell that the work is not yet at a pro level.

The characters work from certain angles and look rushed in others. It’s obvious you drew some panels more detailed and scaled them down, which looks odd beside thicker lines and less detail in some of the larger panels. It’s a common problem with digital drawing/coloring when you’re not consistent with sizing and scaling. Zoom in on a professional published page from an artist whose work you respect and see how much detail they put in and when they leave elements out.

The colors are quite saturated without any rhyme or reason and there’s no consistent sense of light and shadow. The powerful hues when magic is being used has some mood, which is better than completely generic colors, but the rest of the time every character is lit as if it’s neutral-flat-middle of the day without any light direction or local color creating mood or volume.

LETTERING:
The lettering is not professional. There’s general flow and I can follow the balloons in order, which is good, but generic digital ovals are not how professional balloons actually look and instantly mark the pages as amateur. Same goes for big changes in font size because you’re trying to cram more words into a space where they don’t fit. Your pages should be roughed out with the lettering already in mind, not drawn fully and then lettering getting crammed in over top. Avoid having lettering cover characters, especially heads, as much as possible. It happens in pro pages, but is avoided wherever possible.

The uppercase/crossbar letter “I” should never be used in the middle of words for comic lettering. That and other comic lettering tips to look out for can be found here:
http://www.blambot.com/articles_tips.shtml

You have spelling mistakes in your text! Again, instantly comes across as unprofessional and sloppy.

STORY:
The story is clearly a small part of something much bigger and that leaves this feeling really unsatisfying as an 8-pager. There’s a much larger back story and a world but we barely get any of it explained to us. Also, because this story is primarily told in flashback, there’s no immediate drama. There’s no sense of danger or stakes because it’s a tale being told about past events. We don’t get a sense of character personality or any feeling of why they do what they do. Huge elements of this fictional world are glossed over so two characters can tell us someone else’s story.

For a short story like this, you almost always want smaller scope and more focus. A simple idea clearly told. The more world-building and back story you have to impart, the harder it is to deliver that effectively with such a small page count.

Also, what is the story about? I don’t mean in terms of events that take place, I mean in terms of what you want the reader to feel when they’re done reading it – A theme, a core idea. In your story a pair of characters tell us about another character who kicks ass, dies, and then comes back more powerful than before. We just met these people and have no connection to any of them. Why should we care? What is this story trying to say other than “cool magic is neat” or “this character is kind of scary now”?

Story is more than just events that take place. Characters are more than just physical traits.

Okay – You read all that critique and you probably feel like crap. Here’s what’s most important: at this early stage of your creative development, it’s really important that you started and finished a project. That is crucial! The only way you can improve is by finishing work, learning from it, and then making more. Keep going and keep growing.


That’s a quick critique. I wouldn’t say that it’s kind, but it’s not meant to be insulting either. Thankfully, the student took it in the spirit I intended it and I hope their next comic story is stronger for it.

Avengers: No Surrender Wrap-Up Interview on CBR

Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Tom Brevoort, and I spoke to Dave Richards at Comic Book Resources one more time to wrap things up on their coverage of Avengers: No Surrender. We reminisce about how the series came together, discuss our new projects, and tease about future possibilities. Check it out!

Avengers #690 Reviews

Here it is at last, the end of No Surrender! Avengers #690 arrived in stores last week as the Avengers: Infinity War movie premiered around the world. What did reviewers think of our epilogue issue? Read on and find out…

All-Comic: 8/10 “No Surrender was a great success and a joy to read. Top shelf art and great writing make this another classic Avengers story.”

Caped-Joel: “No Surrender was a really good time and I feel we’re going to be talking about this for some time to come.”

Comic Book Resources: “No Surrender manages to be simultaneously a story about each of these individual characters, and one about the entire Marvel Universe. One that made coming back week after week thrilling and borderline addictive.”

Comic Book University: Grade: A “This was great…I don’t think this could’ve worked with many comic books, but it worked here.”

Comic Book.com: 8/10 “After the climax, last issue, the final chapter of No Surrender ties up loose ends and sets its characters on new paths into the future.”

Comic Book Corner 2.0: 8/10 “This was the best Avengers story written in a very long time…Very cinematic.”

Comicosity: 10/10 “There’s a lot of what makes the Avengers such a fan favorite franchise: characters from across the Marvel Universe; the anxiety of rebuilding; the promise of hope; and the vow to meet any threat head-on.”

Comicstorian: “I loved every panel of this series. This epilogue to allow us to say goodbye to our new friends was a wonderful send off.”

Comicsverse: 8.5/10 “No Surrender was a quality comic book each week. That isn’t an easy feat. This will go down as one of Marvel’s greatest Avengers tales.”

Diskingdom: “This is a good finish to the series, its been a blast reading this story each week and wish Marvel did this more often.”

Do You Even Comic Book?: 10/10 “Considering the intensity and pace of the run–sixteen weekly issues–I freely admit that catching my breath feels great.”

Fortress Of Solitude: 9/10 “One of my favorite Avengers stories in a long time. The story celebrated the past and looked forward to the future.”

Geeked Out Nation: 9/10 “I don’t know how you can top this. There will always be a better Avengers story to come, but honestly this one had everything you could have wanted from a superhero story.”

Multiversity: 8/10 “Avengers #690 is a charmingly intimate, yet large-scale sendoff for the bulk of the cast up making the weekly No Surrender storyline.”

Professor Thorgi: “I love this series!…This is hand’s down my favorite Avengers story line since the Kurt Busiek days.”

Rogues Portal: “Light on superhero action but heavy on sentiment, the weekly No Surrender saga comes to a satisfying end (with promising new beginnings) in Avengers #690.”

Sci-Fi Pulse: Grade: B+ “Characters go their separate ways until called again and villainy takes a breather before causing more havoc.”

Talking Comic Books: “Avengers #690 is a wonderful wrap up to the sixteen-part No Surrender storyline. With its delightful character moments and A-list creators it was a satisfying epilogue to a line wide revamp of the Avengers franchise and perfectly sets up the next evolution of the title.”

CBR: “No Surrender Shows How Comic Books do a Blockbuster Avengers Story”

Over on Comic Book Resources there’s a new article (with spoilers) summing up our Avengers: No Surrender story line and how our creative team delivered big budget entertainment in a weekly comic format.

“No Surrender manages to be simultaneously a story about each of these individual characters, and one about the entire Earth of the Marvel Universe. One that made coming back week after week thrilling and borderline addictive.”

Unveiling Snowguard, Canada’s Newest Hero

CBC Books has the exclusive reveal of SNOWGUARD, the new Marvel teen superhero joining the Champions! Amka first appeared in Champions #19 (April) and joins the team in issue 21 (June).

Click on through and find out more about this Inuk-Canadian hero!

Avengers: No Surrender is Complete!

Back in December 2016, Avengers Editor Tom Brevoort asked the writers of Avengers, U.S.Avengers and Uncanny Avengers if they wanted to pool their efforts to build a big weekly story to close out this era of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, clear the decks for Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s Avengers run, and ride the media wave happening for a li’l movie called Avengers: Infinity War.

Over the next six weeks we bounced ideas back and forth until we had a few story threads going, then got together in person at the Marvel offices in early February 2017 for a story summit day to hash it all out. In March we started delivering a script every two weeks, zipping along at that pace for the next eight months until the writing was all done. By New York Comic Con, Avengers: No Surrender had been announced and the writing team was finishing the script for the Epilogue issue…the same one that arrived in comic shops today to wrap up our big story.

To say it’s been a “roller coaster ride” is like saying Mjolnir is a “hammer.” The whole thing has been a wonderful, wild, and ridiculous experience from start to finish. Tom put together a creative team that did what Avengers do – tackle a battle bigger than any one person could handle.

As the tent post of the “Marvel Legacy” initiative, we took that theme and ran with it. The idea of “Legacy” permeates every part of our 16-part 16-week story: a shared history and how we’re remembered. It showed in the history of the Avengers and the addition of a “new” founding member, to the surprising origin of the title of “Grandmaster” and the secret “ace” in his twisted games, to the Hulk’s many deaths and returns brought to new light, or a character like Lightning who never felt like he’d made the most of his time as part of the team. Each element gave us a chance to explore the concept of legacy and create a framework for world-shaking “special effects” and epic battles.

26 heroes, 15 villains, and one Jade Giant, all swirling around in a crazy cosmic game with the fate of the world at stake. At every stage, our team elevated the material.

Mark Waid has done it all and still manages to make it look easy. His unflappable confidence when guiding these characters was the rock-solid base we needed to build from. He’s one of the most gracious and kind creators I’ve ever worked with.

Al Ewing is an idea machine with a ton of heart. Some of the warmest and wildest moments of No Surrender came from his fevered mind and I’m now a high-ranking member of the Al Ewing fan club.

Pepe Larraz, Paco Medina (with Juan Vlasco on inks), Kim Jacinto, and Sean Izaakse turned in the best pages of their careers (so far) with Mike Perkins, Joe Bennett, and Stefano Caselli heroically stepping in to help when Kim was busy with the arrival of his newborn son.

David Curiel, Jesus Aburtov, Morry Hollowell, Ruy Jose, and Federico Blee enhanced every page with stunning colors that brought mood, volume, and texture.

Mark Brooks delivered a stunning set of sixteen cover illustrations that gave the story a high-quality cohesive presence on the stands.

Cory Petit went above and beyond the call of duty with extensive lettering revisions under the gun from three writers and two editors.

Alanna Smith tirelessly ran the gauntlet of continuity and reference, while pulling together the back matter page material we called The Assembly to help make every issue extra-special.

Tom Brevoort started us on the path and made sure we kept the big goals in sight. There’s a reason why he’s the longest running editor currently at Marvel. He knows these characters and their world. His guidance and support at each step made No Surrender what it is.

And now we’re done.

Getting the chance to play with the big toys on the big team has been incredible. I cannot thank our crew enough for their hard work and don’t know how to fully express the gratitude I have for readers, retailers, and reviewers who have made this such a heartwarming and joyful project.

Wherever I go from here, this was one I’ll always remember.

Zub at Calgary Expo 2018!

Another year, another wonderful Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo and I’ll be there! It’s the 13th anniversary of the show and I haven’t missed one yet. If you’re headed to the show, I hope to see you there!

If you want to get your copies of Avengers: No Surrender, Thunderbolts, Wayward, Dungeons & Dragons, Samurai Jack, Glitterbomb, or any of my other work signed, here’s where you can find me:

BIG FOUR BUILDING – ARTIST ALLEY TABLE P-05

I’ll also have a limited number of the Wayward Cover Collection doujinshi Steven and I had printed up for Comiket in Tokyo. I don’t think they’ll last long.

In addition to being at my table, I’m also on a panel on Saturday:

Saturday, April 28
Writing for Mainstream Comics Publishers
5:30 pm to 6:15 pm in the Upper Big Four Stage
You want to learn about writing comics directly from the best in the business? Do we ever have the panel for you! Join some of the industry’s top writers from Marvel and DC as they discuss their craft in this can’t miss panel featuring Jim Zub (Avengers), Jody Houser (Star Wars: Thrawn), Donny Cates (Venom), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing), Sam Humphries (Nightwing), Frank Tieri (Harley Quinn).

Avengers #689 Reviews

Avengers #689, the action-packed climax of our story, arrived in stores last week. What did the critics think? Read on and find out…

Adventures In Poor Taste: 8/10 “The writing team has continually made a point to highlight various characters throughout the story and give them their own identities and uses in a battle situation.”

Caped-Joel: 8.5/10 “It’s an issue that puts the focus on all the great things the Avengers can do when they’re fighting as a team.”

Comic Town: “The highlight for me was the art…Pepe Larraz. My brand new favorite. Give him an event book any time, every time.”

Comic Book University: Grade: A+ “This is absolutely one of my favorite Avengers stories ever…This is the stuff that makes me happy to be a comic book reader.”

Comicosity: 10/10 “No Surrender has been a widescreen epic since the first panel. The creative team figured out a way to highlight some lesser-known Avengers, but managed to keep the tale epic in scope and severe in consequence.”

Comicsverse: 8.7/10 “Living Lightning delivers a message that hits home: ‘We fight for those who can’t fight alongside us. To give them just a little hope.'”

Diskingdom: 8/10 “This is one heck of an issue as it’s full of action and brings a natural finish to a story I’ve been following for months. I found it interesting how the final battles with both elders were handled so differently.”

Do You Even Comic Book: 10/10 “Avengers #689 is too layered to breeze through and toss on the shelf. You’ll be back, because this one will pull you back with its tightly woven story and some of the very best visuals I’ve ever seen.”

Fortress of Solitude: 9/10 “A great reminder of why the Avengers are who they are and what they stand for.”

Geeked Out Nation: “Avengers #689 was an exciting exploration of what it means to be an Avenger. Some creative teams will miss that mark, but not this one…Ask for the full package of an event, and what you have is this.”

Legion Of Myth: 9/10 “That was a great end to this arc…I really, really enjoyed the issue.”

Rogues Portal: “With a satisfying climax to the No Surrender saga, Avengers #689 is the penultimate issue of an impressively epic superhero story that’s worth your time.”

Sci-Fi Pulse: Grade: A+ ” Perfect payoff. This is how to end an epic! The heroes are brave and smart, the villains tremendous. The story gives you all you could want and more and the art is to die for.”

Arriving in June- Avengers: No Surrender- The Complete Hardcover!

Pre-order now from your favorite local comic shop!

AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER HARDCOVER
Written by MARK WAID, AL EWING & JIM ZUB
Penciled by PEPE LARRAZ, KIM JACINTO, PACO MEDINA & JOE BENNETT
Cover by MARK BROOKS

When the Earth is stolen, it triggers the end of an era for its Mightiest Heroes! The sky burns while mysterious cosmic objects crash down from above, wreaking havoc across the world! The Avengers are the last line of defense against the forces threatening to tear their planet apart — including Thanos’ Black Order and the new Lethal Legion! So it’s time to assemble like never before!

The teams you know and love from AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS, U.S.AVENGERS and OCCUPY AVENGERS come together to face a mysterious threat beyond any they’ve ever known in a truly epic adventure! Heroes will fall! Icons will return! And prepare to meet the newest original Avenger: Voyager! Who is she, where has she been — and why don’t you remember her?

Collecting AVENGERS #675-690.

352 PGS./Rated T+ …$50.00
ISBN: 978-1-302-91145-4
Trim size: oversized


Avengers: No Surrender
(collects Avengers #675-690)

The Earth has been stolen! The sky burns while mysterious cosmic objects crash down from above, wreaking havoc across the world – and the Avengers are the last line of defense between Earth and the mysterious forces threatening to tear it apart. It’s time to assemble almost everyone who has ever been an Avenger! Tension is high and peril is imminent, but there’s no option to surrender for the relentless Avengers!
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