Geek Out Podcast: Glitterbomb and More

This is my third appearance on the Geek Out Podcast. This time we talk about Glitterbomb, Japanese culture, tabletop RPGs, Conan and more. Give it a listen!

Wayward #23 Reviews

Wayward #23 arrives in stores and the response has been great!

Geeked Out Nation: 8.6/10 “The quality of artwork felt movie-like and that is what captivated me the minute we stepped into this situation with Ohara.”

Nothing But Comics: “If you have fallen off of Wayward I suggest jumping back on. It has been consistently great”

Outright Geekery: 9.5/10 “another stunning issue that delivers on great characters and leaves you wanting more.”

Snap Pow: 8.5/10 “the creative team has maintained a high level of quality through out their run and the latest issue is no different, as it more than earns a recommendation from me.”

Comic Culture Video Interview

I was interviewed by Terence Dollard from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke as part of his Comic Culture YouTube program. We talk about working in comics, both on independent creator-owned titles and for publishers like Marvel. You can watch the video below:

Arriving in December- Glitterbomb: The Fame Game #4

GLITTERBOMB: THE FAME GAME #4 (of 4)
STORY: JIM ZUB
ART: DJIBRIL MORISSETTE-PHAN & K. MICHAEL RUSSELL
COVER A: DJIBRIL MORISSETTE-PHAN
COVER B: MIGUEL MERCADO

DECEMBER 27 / 32 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99

Fame beckons and the cost must be paid. Kaydon Klay’s life will never be the same.

Arriving in December: Uncanny Avengers #30

UNCANNY AVENGERS #30
JIM ZUB (W) • SEAN IZAAKSE (A)
COVER BY TERRY DODSON
STARS AND GARTERS Part 3
Love, loss, and the road ahead. Where does the Unity Squad go from here?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Interview on the Silhouette

McMaster University newspaper The Silhouette put together a profile and interview with me. We talked about my career high points and breaking into comics. Check it out.

Uncanny Avengers #27 Reviews

Two weeks after our previous issue, Uncanny Avengers #27 arrived in stores last week. It looks like reviewers are enjoying our classic superhero-style series so far:

Bleeding Cool: 9/10 “It’s a classic Avengers book with the sensibilities that made old Avengers stories so memorable. “

Comic Book University: 8/10 “This is such an amazing book.”

Graphic Policy: “a fun, action packed issue that brings me back to the days of the Avengers just doing what they do best.”

IGN: 8.3/10 “Now, this is more like it. Jim Zub’s latest issue of Uncanny Avengers finally seems to capture the team’s dynamic”

The Uncanny Sessions: 9/10 “The art and writing is fantastic and sets up a lot of great stuff for the future.”

Wayward the Board Game Report 1: Prototyping

Wayward the Board Game was announced back in May and game testing continues on track as we look to a Spring-Summer 2018 release. The game is designed by Jon Gilmour, co-designer of Dead of Winter and Wasteland Express Delivery Service, and will be published by IDW Games. It’s a co-operative board game with players taking the role of our teen protagonists fighting Yokai in Tokyo. We’re currently play testing the rules and I want to talk about this phase of development as it’s something a lot of people, even board game fans, may not have had much experience with.

Prototyping is crucial in game development. This involves putting together a rough playable version of the game so rules can be tested, options can be explored, and parts can be ditched without spending time/money on graphic design or artwork that may not be used in the final release. At this stage, the game is entirely made up of cardboard counters, print outs and placeholders. In our case, since the game is based on an established comic property, Jon dropped in art from the series to make it look more enticing, but it’s still all temped.

Printouts, cube counters, card sleeves, and tupperware: Welcome to the testing phase.

As testing continues, we look at how the game runs with the following questions in mind:

Do the core rules work?
Does it make sense?
Does it fit with the setting?
It is easy to explain?
Is it challenging to master?
IS IT FUN?

If the game works well with all these placeholders, then we’ll be ready to beautify it up with great graphic design and new art: The polish.

Let’s talk about how Wayward the game plays so far. To win the default scenario (there will be several to choose from with varying difficulties in the final game release), players must slay Yokai and keep them at bay, building up character abilities and energy points to shut down five power locations called the Goshiki Fudo. As the game progresses, the Weave (mystic strings of power and fate most people cannot see) will destabilize, unleashing more power to the players but also unlocking more powerful creatures. “Solving” one area means letting other spots get worse. Winning requires strategy, synergy, well-timed sacrifice plays, and some luck. The game is lost if the Weave unravels completely.

Here’s a game in session. Again, everything is temped right now.

Although the play strategy is quite different from Pandemic (a stellar co-op board game already on the market), there’s a similar build up of tension as the game opens: Multiple locations are under siege. In the first few turns creatures arrive faster than they can be dealt with and it can feel quite bleak. This is by design. Our wayward teens are under pressure and need to work together to start pushing back against the threats building around them.

Character actions are fueled by energy points and those points can only be gained in one of three ways: adding new creatures to the board, using creatures on the board to attack our heroes, or drawing energy directly from the Weave (which moves the game closer to its end). Energy is then spent to attack creatures (individually or in groups at each location), shop for items, heal, use special abilities (unique to each character), or shutdown a location. Shutting down locations moves the group closer to victory, but it also means there are fewer locations for Yokai to spawn, so they build up faster in each remaining spot.

Combat in Wayward is quite different from the typical D&D-style “roll a die, hit a creature” mechanic. Players bid energy points in a “betting pool” and creatures are represented by the dice. The creature dice are rolled and compared to the amount bid and, if the amount is equal to or less than the combat pool, the creature is killed. Heroes gain re-rolls or other bonuses to reduce the monster roll total as the game progresses. Using less energy for an attack could pay off, allowing you to perform more actions per turn, but a bad die roll means you’re ineffective or injured. Some players will want to play safe and use more energy to ensure victory, but then they’re doing less per turn and the creature build up might outpace them. It’s a risk-reward mechanic that throttles quite well as play progresses and is different from most other games I’ve played.

Yes, our prototype dice are regular dice with paper squares glued on the sides.

Characters don’t die in Wayward, but when their stamina is depleted they become far less effective: Movement costs extra energy and, most importantly, they can’t stop damage being done directly to the Weave. The more damage the Weave takes, the more difficult the game becomes and the closer to losing our heroes get. Tougher characters will tend to “meat-shield” the Weave, blocking damage while other characters build up larger pools of energy to use their special abilities or shut down locations.

Ayane quickly moves between locations and attacks frequently. She has less re-rolls baked into her abilities but gains attack bonuses so she can bet lower energy amounts with more confidence.

Emi is the toughest character (with her limbs of stone or steel). She absorbs extra damage taken and traps creatures in sinkholes, temporarily taking them off the board.

Shirai absorbs energy from slain Yokai and uses his spirit power to heal himself. At higher levels, he can also heal other characters at his location.

Nikaido is the weakest physically but he can shift energy between characters and move creatures to different locations, which can be crucial.

Rori gains extra energy by tapping directly into the Weave and can hurt multiple creatures at locations with spells of destruction.

Rori’s prototype character sheet. The final will have all new art and design that makes gameplay choices clear.

Part of our goal at this stage is to see how the characters work, individually and together, to make sure game balance is maintained and that there are fun combinations of powers being used in concert with each other. The character abilities need to be interesting and appropriate while also fitting the play mechanics Jon has built.

Testing out Wayward has been an amazing experience so far. I try to look at it as both an avid board game player and also the license holder of the property being adapted. First and foremost, I want Jon and the IDW Games crew to make a great game. The best advertisement I could ask for is a top-notch co-op game that stands on its own enticing people to start reading Wayward the comic. Jon’s been wonderful about incorporating key aspects of the series and I’ve been helping him attach story concepts and themes to those game mechanics so it all fits together well.

I’m hoping to write more reports about the game as we continue development. Thank you for all the enthusiasm and interest so far. I can’t wait to see the final release head out to stores next year.

Glitterbomb Interview on AIPT

Djibril and I spoke to Adventures In Poor Taste about Glitterbomb: The Fame Game, Hollywood, pop culture, horror, and more. Give it a read.

Uncanny Avengers #26 Reviews

Uncanny Avengers #26, our first post-Secret Empire issue arrived in stores and reviewers are excited about where we’re taking the series.

Bleeding Cool: 8.5/10 “Uncanny Avengers comes out on the other side of this transition with flying colors. #26 is a solid read with great character conflict and skilled artwork”

IGN: “Sean Izaakse keeps up the tradition of good artists on this title. Some of his double-page spreads are impressive, and he’s got a great handle on the characters.”

Columbus Comics Corner: 9/10 “Uncanny Avengers is definitely a hidden gem amongst the plethora of Marvel titles.”

Comic Attack: “There’s an insane amount of detail that fills the panels and when the action kicks in no momentum is lost.”

Major Spoilers: 8/10 “a good’n, featuring excellent, clean art with tons of detail and nuance, combined with a script that helps to illuminate the members of this team, giving us all reasons for how and why they’ve chosen to stay together”

Rogues Portal: “With fun characters, a good story, and quality artwork, Uncanny Avengers #26 is a great jumping-on point for true believers of the Avengers brand.”

Too Dangerous For A Girl: “Sean Izaakse is an artist I don’t know at all, but I’m an instant fan of his sharp, clean storytelling. “

Comic Box (French): “Uncanny Avengers #26 looks like the start of a vibrant classic story line.”