Networking Is Not What You Think It Is

“Networking” is one of those broad social terms that get tossed out in conversation, and everyone who’s been around a while nods their head knowingly when the word comes up, but it’s something I think is quite misunderstood by a lot of people trying to get their start in comics or any other creative business.

Networking is not entering a social setting, finding the most “powerful” person there and trying to dazzle them so you can become “friends”.

It’s not sending lists of questions to professionals so they can “help” you break in.

It’s not tagging people on Facebook so they see your artwork or writing.

It’s not about dominating a conversation or hogging the spotlight.

It’s not nepotism or elitism, contrary to what some may think.

At its root, “networking” is about expanding your social circle in your related field. It’s casual conversation, shared enthusiasm, good manners, kindness, and common sense, whether those interactions are online or in person. Through the bonds of friendship and trust that build over time you’ll broaden your perspective on the creative and business sides of the industry and, eventually, find out about opportunities before people who are not as involved in those areas.

Like any kind of socializing, networking can be difficult to navigate at times. Everyone is doing their own thing and has their own wants and needs, both in the immediate and the future. There’s no perfect path for networking, but I can give you some quick tips gained from years on the convention circuit and working with publishing, video game, movie, and other entertainment companies.

• Friendly, casual: Networking isn’t contract negotiation and it’s not a job interview. Over the long, long haul it may lead to that kind of stuff later on, but don’t over formalize something that’s not all business.

• Be yourself at your best: Don’t try to put on airs or be something you’re not, but also try to be the best version of “you” that you can.

• Don’t come on too strong: I know it can feel like the current social interaction you’re having is the only time you’ll ever get the chance to sell yourself or make the big pitch, but fight that nervous urge and try to relax.

• Everyone is worth meeting: A lot of people want to meet celebrities, editors, art directors, and other decision-makers, but some of the most enjoyable and valuable networking I’ve done is with people who weren’t instantly recognizable as a “big deal”. Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know and you may be surprised at who they are and what they do.

• Listen and Ask: Engage the people you meet instead of just talking about yourself. Listen to where they steer the conversation and go with the flow. It’s not all about you.

• There is no perfect conversation: Don’t rehearse what you’re going to say and don’t expect to check off a list of “key points”. Try to enjoy the interaction for what it is instead of trying to make it something it’s not.

In my experience, the best kind of networking is the stuff that feels almost effortless – enjoyable conversations about shared interests, enthusiasm for the work of others, catch-all chatter about people and places. It’s a relaxed baseline of socializing that lets people know you’re decent and worth getting to know more about. I know that doesn’t sound like it’s going to get you a job but, believe me, it’s an important first step into a larger community where those kinds of first impressions mean a lot.

People tell me that they don’t know “how” to network, but they’re usually over thinking things. Do you like meeting people who like the same kinds of things you like? Do you like talking about those shared interests? Are you in for the long haul? In my experience that’s 90% of what networking actually is.

Everyone wants to work with reliable people. Getting to know you, or hearing from other trusted people that you’re one of the “good ones”, can open up doors. It’s frustrating when that “in or out” mentality pushes away good people or doesn’t embrace a proper range of diversity, but that’s not exclusive to comics by any means. It’s something a lot of creative businesses are grappling with as views broaden and the market for stories becomes even more global.

People in these businesses talk. They weigh opinions. They gossip. I can’t tell you the number of times a name will come up in conversation and I hear the exact same feedback coming out over and over from completely different people. Word gets around, both positive or negative. Good networking (and, you know, being a decent upstanding person in general) is a valuable way of making the right kind of impression and building a solid reputation. It doesn’t get you a job all on its own, but coupled with a quality body of work and a bit of luck it does help bridge the divide from aspiring amateur to paid professional.

Let me give you a personal example – Back in 2002 John Barber and I were both amateur webcomic artists putting our work online. John’s comic was a superhero deconstruction tale called Vicious Souvenirs and mine was a surreal coming of age comic called Makeshift Miracle. The two of us met socially through the late Joey Manley as part of a webcomic collective called Modern Tales. While promoting my webcomic at that time I met all kinds of different creators and attended conventions across North America, slowly building up my skills and body of work.

Now, in 2014, John’s a Senior Editor at IDW and we’re talking about a new project I’ll be writing that’s set to launch in the Fall. In the 12 years inbetween these two select points John and I have seen each other dozens of times. We’ve chatted, laughed, and built up mutual respect for each other. There’s a professional but casual friendship that’s grown over time and it gives John confidence that I’m a capable creator who will deliver the goods. I didn’t meet him back in 2002 expecting one day he’d hire me to write a comic, things progressed naturally out of shared social contact as part of this community. John is just one of literally hundreds of people I’ve met in the business over the past 12 years. When I look back through my career I can see weird and wonderful connections between the people I met over a decade ago and the work I’m doing in the here and now. That’s how it works.

Networking is easier than you think – Be social, be decent, and be involved. Don’t try to over think the destination, just focus on the journey itself and enjoy meeting people along the way. You’ll make lifelong friends, broaden your horizons and then, when you least expect it, professional opportunities may come your way.

If you find my tutorial blog posts helpful, feel free to let me know here (or on Twitter), share them with your friends and consider buying some of my comics to show your support.

Making Comics Interview Now Up!


I was interviewed by Adam and Mark from Making all about breaking in and working in the comics business. It’s a pretty robust discussion of industry, conventions, technique, and all around productivity.

Click on through and give it a listen!

Samurai Jack #7 Reviews


Samurai Jack #7, the 2nd part of our gender-bending odyssey, arrived in stores this week. Let’s see what the critics had to say…

IGN: 8.5/10 “…a nicely entertaining and more humor-oriented Samurai Jack epic.”
Eat Your Comics!: 4/5 “Seriously, if you have not come on board IDW’s new “Samurai Jack” comic book series – fan or no – you’re really missing out on an excellent comic.”
Rock! Shock! Pop!: “If you were a fan of the Cartoon Network series and not reading this yet, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice.”
Sci-Fi Pulse: “The solution to our twosome’s troubles is nothing short of brilliant.”
Comic Vine: 4/5 “If I’m enjoying this series this much, I can only imagine how much die-hard fans of the show are digging it.”
The Outhousers: “This was a fun short arc by Zub and Williams outside of the main story of Samurai Jack trying to get back to his own time.”
Comic Book Therapy: “Zub and company have told a fresh Samurai Jack story that did something different and executed it well.”

Samurai Jack #7 Preview!


Comic Vine has an exclusive 7 page preview of Samurai Jack #7, “Samurai Jacqueline and the Scotswoman”, the second half of our gender-bending tale.

First Look At Figment Interior Artwork


Disney fan site Inside The Magic has the first look at Felipe Andrade’s beautiful page art for Disney Kingdoms: Figment with 6 pages of ink wash artwork posted up. Click on through and check it out.

Adventure, exploration, and imagination- Figment is going to be a really fun series.
Pre-order now from your local comic shop!

Reviews Aplenty

Three comics arrived over the past two weeks, Skullkickers #25, Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller, and Red Sonja and Cub, so it’s been a lot to keep track of. Let’s do a review quote blowout here:

Nerds on the Rocks: 7/7 “An action/adventure/comedy with a dungeons and dragons/video game vibe that is executed perfectly? I’m sold.”
Newsarama: 8/10 “Skullkickers delivers some laugh-out-loud moments that left this reader more than satisfied”
Comic Bastards: “It is a niche title and like I said a guilty pleasure that I like to read.”
The Outhousers: “Jim Zub and co. can wait as long as they need to between issues; especially going into the penultimate arc, I have no problem dragging this series out as long as possible!”
Whatcha Reading: 4/5 “I can’t wait to see how Zub is going to reconcile all this cross-dimensional doppelganger mumbo-jumbo.”
Geeks of DOOM: “This is just a fantastic comic and this issue is a great jumping on point if you’ve been thinking about picking it up for a while.”
Comic Attack: “…any longtime reader will be happy to know that the hilarity and madness you’ve come to expect continues here!”

IGN: 8.8/10 “…an action-packed exploration on the psychological costs of making the tough choices.”
The Good Kind of Geek: 7.8/10 “Overall, it’s an interesting issue that develops Amanda Waller’s character even more.”
Comic Book Resources: 3.5/5 “…a strong command of Waller’s personality shown through deliberate narrative choices and tight plotting.”
Shadowhawk’s Shade: 7.5/10 “The core of who she is can never be taken away from her and that’s partly what this one-shot is about.”
Too Dangerous: “Zub does a great job of showing us how resourceful Waller is. Her leadership skills and knack for strategy are admirable.”
Cinelinx: “It does a great job of injecting a dose of humanity into the character I think she’s denied in many of the incarnations we’ve seen in the past. “

TMStash: “This is a touching tale and well worth the rating of 9/10.”
Geeks In Capes: “Kudos to Jim Zub for crafting a compelling story of Red Sonja that covers many aspects of her character. Jonathan Lau does a wonderful job on art with great action sequences.”
Whatcha Reading?: 5/5 “The art is gorgeous. The colors are vibrant, the fight scenes are dynamic, and I love the way Lau draws Red Sonja.”
Comic Bastards: 4/5 “…entertaining and true to the main character and that’s all you can ask for from a good one-shot.”
Unleash the Fanboy: 8/10 “The overall journey is the star of the piece as the scribe takes on the ideas of a promised union, betrayal and a sense of honor.”
Adventures in Poor Taste: 7/10 “Not a bad one-shot by any means with plenty of taut action to keep the action fans happy.”
Fanboy Nation: “Lau creates some of the most violent battle scenes I have yet seen in a Red Sonja book”
Shadowhawk’s Shade: 9/10 “Jim Zub front-loads a lot of character development and he shows a softer side of Sonja, which contrasts excellently with her bloodlust and her fighting skills when she gets into the thick of things.”
My Geeky Geeky Ways: “I came into this book expecting comedic sword-and-sorcery akin to what you’d see in Skullkickers. What I got was Red Sonja ala Kurosawa. And this is not a bad thing.”

Surviving Creativity Mini-Interview


Cory Casoni, co-host of the incredibly helpful podcast Surviving Creativity, asked me 5 questions when we met up at Emerald City Comicon.

Give it a listen. My segment starts at 48:23 in the audio.

Figment Interview on Newsarama


Chris Arrant from Newsarama interviewed the creative team all about Disney Kingdoms: Figment, arriving in June. Click on through to find out new details on the mini-series and my take on Dreamfinder and his fantastic dragon pal.

Lunchtime Chatter

I need to get this down before I forget the details…

Eating lunch over at the mall and the young student sitting next to me has a thousand yard stare as she picks at her food, swirling her french fries in ketchup but not even really eating them.

I glance over briefly at the motion and there’s that awkward moment as we both see each other and pause as one of us has to decide if it’s been too long an interaction to leave it without saying something.

I start to look back at my newspaper but she stammers out the start of the conversation.

“Hey… uh, can I ask you something? I mean, if you’re not busy.”

“Okay, I guess. Ask away.”

“You know guys, right? I mean, you’re a guy, so is it okay if I ask you about a guy… about what he’s doing?”

“Tell me what’s going on and I’ll try, sure.”

She thinks about it for a sec.

“There’s this guy. We’re not going out or anything but he calls me up every couple weeks for… I guess like a hook-up or whatever. It’s fun sometimes and other times it’s weird.”

“I bet that would be.”

“So I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore and I told him in December, so he stopped calling.”


“I know, right! I like him though. He’s nice to me when we’re together and stuff but then just nothing. Nothing.”

“That sounds manipulative, not nice.”

“But here’s the thing. So I saw him on the weekend with other friends of ours and I just said ‘Hi’ and walked on and it would’ve been okay, but then he runs up after me and says ‘Is it okay if I call you? We need to talk about stuff. I want to see you more.’”


“It’s brutal. It’s brutal ‘cause I like him and think maybe he’s done some thinking or whatever. So part of me was excited that he was going to call and we could work things out.”

“He didn’t call?”

“He didn’t! And I’m stupid and I texted him and he texted right back and said he’d call and he still didn’t! What’s that?!”

“I think you’ve got your answer right there. If he can’t even communicate then you can’t work with that…”

She eats a few fries and takes a big bite of her hamburger.

“I don’t even eat this stuff normally. I don’t eat burgers. I don’t know… I’m just being impulsive and dumb.”

She glances over and sees my wedding ring.

“Holy shit, you’re married! That’s so cool.”

“Heh. It is actually.”

“How long?”

“Almost four years. It’s great. She’s wonderful and supportive. Nothing’s perfect but we make it all work.”

“Cool… I’m Nadia, by the way.”


She just shakes her head and sighs as she takes another bite of her burger. I decide to keep the conversation rolling.

“How old are you?”

“Already 21… almost 22 though. You?”

“How old do you think I am?”

She’s looking at me and I can tell she’s embarrassed as she tries to figure it out.

“Oh god, I don’t know… 35?”

“Good guess. 37.”

“Ha! What’s your wife’s name?”


“Jim and Stacy…”

“I met Stacy in college but we didn’t get together until later on. We both had to grow up and figure out who we were going to be before we were right for each other.”


“Yeah. I don’t know this guy and I don’t know you, but I do know that communication is the least you should expect in a good relationship. It’s the ground floor. If that’s not happening then it’s not a relationship and you’re not going to be happy.”

“Yeah… you’re right. I kind of know that, but it’s good to hear it I guess. It’s hard to figure out people, y’know?”

“Yeah, I do.”

I turn to face her more directly now because I want to make sure this point sticks.

“I know it feels like time is vanishing but you’re young. You’re good. Don’t settle for that.”

“Okay, I won’t.”


She takes a long drag on her soft drink.

“It’s hard to figure out people, right?”

“It is, but you’re here at the University meeting tons of people every day so you’ll find better people to spend your time with… I mean, what’s your major?”

She pauses for a second and, even as she’s saying it, she starts to turn red with embarrassment.

“…Oh, you know… Psychology.”

We both laugh so hard that tears roll down our faces.

Skullkickers #25 In Stores Tomorrow – Preview!


We’re finally back! Skullkickers #25 arrives in comic shops tomorrow and Comic Book Realm has a preview of the issue to whet your appetite for fantasy fun.