Author Archives: Jim Zub - Page 3

Zub at San Diego Comic-Con 2023!

It’s time once again for the granddaddy of pop culture chaos that is San Diego Comic-Con, or should we say COMIC-CROM! This year is extra-special for me as I’m there for the CONAN THE BARBARIAN series launch with Heroic Signatures and Titan Comics.

Dan Panosian has illustrated an incredible exclusive Conan variant cover you’ll be able to buy at my table-

Artist Alley Table GG-18

Here’s where you’ll be able to find me on the exhibit floor when I’m not in other meetings in and around the show:

THURSDAY, July 20, 2023

01:00pm-02:00pm — Signing at Artist Alley TABLE GG-18
02:30pm-03:00pm — Signing at Insight Editions – BOOTH 2135
04:00pm-05:00pm — Signing at Titan Comics – BOOTH 5537
05:00pm-06:00pm — Marvel and Proko Teach “The Art of Storytelling”
A panel of industry veterans share their expertise in creating compelling stories, developing memorable characters, and mastering the art of visual storytelling. They’ll be covering several topics from Proko’s latest course on making comics with Marvel, featuring instructors from the course. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or a seasoned professional, this panel will offer valuable insights and practical advice to help you hone your craft and break into the competitive world of comics. – ROOM 11

FRIDAY, July 21, 2023

11:00am-02:00pm — Signing at Artist Alley TABLE GG-18
02:30pm-03:30pm — Comic Sketch Art-Whatnot livestream
05:00pm-05:45pm — Signing at Dark Horse Comics – BOOTH 2615
06:00pm-07:00pm — Signing at Artist Alley TABLE GG-18

SATURDAY, July 22, 2023

11:00am-02:00pm — Signing at Artist Alley TABLE GG-18
02:00pm-03:00pm — Signing at Titan Comics – BOOTH 5537

SUNDAY, July 24, 2023

09:30am-10:45am — Signing at Artist Alley TABLE GG-18
11:00am-12:00pm — Conan the Barbarian Comics Return
Get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the highly anticipated Conan comic launch from Heroic Signatures and Titan Comics, hitting stores July 26. Writer Jim Zub, editor Matt Murray, and Heroic Signatures president Fred Malmberg join Forbidden Planet TV’s Andrew Sumner to reveal the inner workings of this new launch and discuss future plans for anything/everything Conan the Barbarian!Look out for a Comic-Con exclusive of issue #1 debuting at the show. Attendees will all receive a free Conan comic, minifigures, and stickers and get a chance to win several princely prize bundles. – ROOM 29AB
12:30pm-01:30pm — Signing at Titan Comics – BOOTH 5537
02:00pm-04:30pm — Signing at Artist Alley TABLE GG-18

Zubby Newsletter #18: Beware the Vultures

Over on my site I posted a new tutorial article called Predatory Publishing and You – A Tragedy in the Making with warning signs and advice to help you avoid intellectual property vultures who circle this business looking for their next victim. Read and share.

Social Media Suffocation

Everyone’s trying to get out from underneath the crushing annoyance of Twitter, but it’s anyone’s guess whether any of these platforms will emerge as a new market leader in the “time waster that might also be important or ruin your life and reputation forever” competition.

• On Twitter I’m still jimzub.
• On Bluesky I’m jimzub.
• On Hive I’m jimzub.
• On Instagram and Threads I’m jim_zub because someone squatted on jimzub without the underscore and is using my bio but they won’t remove it even when I complain.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with the stupidity of it all and, like so many other people, all this has broken many of my habits around social media, especially when these ridiculous platforms can’t deliver the most basic functionality – Show me posts from people I follow in the order it gets posted. That’s all I want.

Media algorithms have become painfully inconsistent in terms of what they show you and when. The solution, oddly enough, seems to be trusty ol’ email. That’s why I like getting back to this newsletter format. Sign up and Zubstack goes right to your inbox. Read or delete it as you’d like, but at least you get to choose instead of systems choosing for you.

My Summer Reading Pile

(I have all these and more as e-books, but it’s always nicer having the physical version in my hands, so when I saw these available at a good price I snapped them up.)

Robert E. Howard wrote over 300 stories during his 14-year writing career and there’s a lot of non-Conan material you might not be aware of – horror, noir, historical dramas, westerns, and a whole lot more.

I’m currently making my way through Kull: Exile of Atlantis and it’s interesting seeing similarities and differences between the King of Valusia and everyone’s favorite Cimmerian.

Reading for research is quite different from reading for fun but, thankfully, I’m enjoying the majority of it and it’s solid inspiration for future comic stories even if I’m not going to be adapting any of them directly any time soon.


The rest of my summer convention schedule has tightened up:

July 20-23, 2023 San Diego Comic Con
August 3-6, 2023 Gen Con Indy
August 24-27, 2023 Fan Expo Canada
Aug 31-Sept 4, 2023 Dragon Con
Sept 15-17, 2023 Edmonton Expo

More info on my SDCC schedule (booth #, panels, signings) next week.

As always, from the start of July through to the big show is just a blur of tasks that need to get checked off my To-Do List.

Links and Other Things

• This burger marinade is simple but really good. Had it last week and it’s flavorful.

• Want to check out a time capsule of pop culture from the late 80’s-early 90’s? There’s an archive of Prisoners of Gravity episodes.

• Ian McCaig’s classic expression-drawing tips are always good to add to your reference pool.


Predatory Publishing and You – A Tragedy in the Making

A brand new comic book publisher announces their arrival with a glitzy series of big projects and big promises. Within a few years, they implode and the rights to titles they published become hopelessly trapped in a legal labyrinth that may never get figured out.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve been in and around the North American comic industry, it should. That same excitement-to-apocalypse scenario has played out at least a dozen times over the past forty years. I’ve watched this cycle time and time again with independent comic publishers who try to build their foundation on ‘creator-owned’ titles that lock away rights in perpetuity and page rate promises that crumble when boisterous external funding runs out.

To help people avoid this awful ‘tradition’ of predatory publishing, here are 12 important warning signs to look out for:

• Publisher pops up out of nowhere with bold claims and unknown/vague sources of funding.

• Publisher tries to launch a ‘universe’ of titles (especially superheroes) all at once and you’ve never even heard of them before.

• Publisher claims to be ‘more than just comics’ and makes big media promises without a track record of work adapted into any other mediums at all.

• Publisher snaps up a bunch of existing independent books all at once to ‘strengthen their brand.’

• Publisher promises too-good-to-be-true page rates (because they don’t intend to actually follow through on paying them).

• Publisher says they will let creators keep ‘the copyright’ to their work, while they handle the trademark and media rights.

• Publisher’s marketing and promotion has almost nothing to do with creators or their work.

• Publisher’s social media presence is smaller than most indie creators.

• Publisher seems to appear out of nowhere at conventions with a large booth and is flush with branding/sponsorship-style marketing before they’ve put out a single book.

• Publisher uses movie/TV/other media personalities to front their titles without crediting or promoting the artists and writers making the actual comics.

• Publisher will not negotiate on any points in their contract. They claim every creator operates under the ‘same deal.’

• You never actually see any of a publisher’s books in a comic shop, bookstore or even at their convention booth but, according to their marketing, they have a bunch of titles ready to be turned into movie/TV properties.

Don’t get me wrong, there are predatory indie film, music, prose and game companies as well (and most of the same warning signs covered above also apply), but the lower start up costs and movie/TV pitch-friendly packaging of comics seems to lend itself to these kinds of companies launching with all kinds of fanfare and then flaming out.

Most of these predatory publishers seem to operate on a simple 3-step model:

1) Acquire or generate large amounts of intellectual property as quickly as possible.
2) Pray that they can make a media deal and/or be acquired by a bigger corporate fish.
3) The people in charge profit. Everyone else gets screwed over.

When you’re starting out, I know that any and all credits feel like the path to legitimacy and being considered a true ‘pro’, but please don’t rush into any publishing deal for your original creations without carefully checking the paperwork.

Get a lawyer to review the legal paperwork you’re about to sign. Whatever you pay for that service will be worth it because they can outline exactly what the legal ramifications are and how that paperwork might be wielded against you in a worst case scenario down the road.

Back in 2014 when I pitched Wayward, we got a lot of interest. In turn, I received potential contracts to review from many of the creator-owned publishers in business at that time. When my lawyer and I sat down and reviewed all the paperwork, many of them had deeply unfavorable terms or ‘snake trap’-style clauses built in – ways a publisher could hide profits in and around other expenses, give themselves a disproportionate amount of earnings from our work, negotiate and sign media contracts on our behalf without any communication or approval required, or seize creative control and ownership in perpetuity with very little recourse to fight it.

One of the contracts was so bad, so ridiculously bad, that my lawyer said something to me I’ll never forget-

“If you signed this terrible contract I would have to stop representing you on the spot, because clearly you have no respect for yourself or your hard work and everything I thought I knew about you would be in question.”

(There’s a reason why Wayward, Skullkickers, and Glitterbomb were published by Image Comics. No company is perfect, but the creator-owned contract at Image Central is one of the most creator-friendly anywhere with ownership rights retained and few other strings attached.)

If you do jump into a publishing deal with a new and possible fly-by-night publisher, make sure you do it with eyes open – take the paycheck, cash it quickly, and mentally file that project under “Work for hire with slim chance of benefits” because in many cases that is the truth of the contract you signed.

Even then, before you sign anything, I also recommend you reach out to other creators currently working with that same publisher, even if you don’t know them beforehand, and make sure they’re being treated well and getting paid on time. There’s no guarantee there won’t be future problems, but some due diligence is better than none.

I don’t know of a single creator who wouldn’t respond to a polite message asking about a company they work with:
If things are good – they’re happy to tell you.
If things are bad – they’re eager to warn other people away.

One final point-

Legitimacy comes from the quality of work you create, not a particular company’s logo on your project.

There are more ways to get your work out into the world and independently fund creative projects than ever before. I wish crowdfunding and Patreon had been around when I began my career in the late 90’s/early 00’s.

A bunch of us started right here on the web, creating original work and learning the craft of comics, bit by bit. It may have taken us longer to build up legitimacy that way, but we kept ownership of our creations and quite a few of us have been able to carve out a readership and long term success in a business not known for its stability.

If you found this post helpful, feel free to let me know here (or on Twitter), share the post with your friends and consider buying some of my comics or donating to my Patreon to show your support for me writing this tutorial post instead of doing paying work. 😛

Zubby Newsletter #17: Canadiana

HAPPY CANADA DAY to my fellow Canadians (or anyone looking to celebrate our country and ideals)!

Most Canadians aren’t rah-rah nationalistic and, with all the clichés around us being unassuming and apologetic, it would be easy to just let the holiday roll by without saying anything about what it means to me to be Canadian, but, in short-

Growing up Canadian taught me to collaborate, communicate, and care for others. This country has given me the incredible opportunity to find my place and thrive doing the things I love while taking care of those closest to me.

My grandparents came here seeking a better life for themselves and their children and, with determination and good fortune, they built it, bit by bit. The stability and kindness at the heart of what it means to be Canadian made their better future and mine possible.

Wherever I go and whatever I do, Canada is a crucial part of who I am and my storytelling voice (even if I camouflage telltale “Canadian-isms” enough to vanish amongst Americans when I’m south of the border).

Over the years my writing has focused on a lot of fictional places, but Canada does occasionally pop up in my work, most notably-

CHAMPIONS – The Champions are the young heroes of Marvel and I introduced a new Canadian teen hero named Snowguard to the team back in 2018. It made quite the ripple in Canadian news at the time and her first appearance sold through multiple printings.

If you want a done-in-one Snowguard story that encompasses what the character is all about, check out Champions Annual #1 co-written with Nyla Innuksuk and illustrated by Marcus To, reprinted in the Weird War One trade paperback.

ALPHA FLIGHT: TRUE NORTH – Alpha Flight is Marvel’s Canadian super team, first introduced back in 1979 as antagonists to the X-Men before getting their own series as heroes in 1983. Like a lot of Canadian comic readers, my brother and I collected Alpha Flight and enjoyed seeing places we recognized, even when they were spun out or exaggerated in fictional ways.

Getting the chance to write an Alpha Flight story in 2019 as part of Marvel’s 80th anniversary was an absolute blast. Max Dunbar’s always stellar art elevated a neat little mystery around Snowbird’s origin I wanted to explore and it turned out great.

More SDCC Exclusives

Colleen Doran illustrated an incredible Conan variant cover that will be on sale at the Titan booth at San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve been a fan of Colleen’s work for ages and it’s an honor having her contribute this piece as part of the new series launch.

Also, here’s my Diablo IV Barbarian. His name is “Conanza”-

When I showed this screencap online the always amazing Lar DeSouza took that name in a whole different direction

Links and Other Things

• The late Jesse Hamm’s breakdown of Alex Toth’s approach to inking is always worth reading and learning from.

• David Finch’s tutorial on using line weights is direct and helpful.

• Here’s a traditional east coast Canadian recipe for you- COD AU GRATIN (or, as the Newfies say it, “Cawd Grawt’n”). I’ve cooked this up several times for Stacy to remind her of home and it’s flavorful comfort food, especially in the colder months. Enjoy!

That should cover things for this week.


Zubby Newsletter #16: Cutoff, Colors, and Crazy Cardstock Creations

FOC – The Barbaric Cutoff is Here – Join Us!

Final Order Cutoff is the last chance for comic retailers to adjust their order numbers on books heading to print.

So, with that in mind, please allow me to beat the drum here one last time about CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1arriving in stores on Wednesday, July 26th.

This week is your last chance to pre-order a copy from your favorite comic shop and be guaranteed a copy will be waiting for you.

Our art team (Rob De La Torre, José Villarrubia, Dean White, Richard Starkings and the many incredible artists lending their skill to variant covers) has put together the Hyborian adventure of my dreams, delivering something really special on each and every page. This is one of the highest profile launches of my writing career and it would mean a lot to me if you pre-ordered a copy of #1, added the series to your pull box subscriptions, and/or let other people know that Heroic Signatures and Titan Comics are bringing the goods.

Thank you, as always, for your support!

Dramatic VS Literal Color

Looking at some recent comics and I notice a lot of cookie cutter color palettes: blue sky, green grass, brown bark, etc. The rendering is okay, but the dramatic impact is lacking.

Even when panels all take place in the same scene under the same lighting conditions, colorists should try to vary things up and improve the storytelling by using dramatic color.

Check this old school example from Uncanny X-Men #275

Pencils by Jim Lee. Inks by Scott Williams. Colors by Glynis Oliver and Joe Rosas. Lettering by Tom Orzechowski.

Notice how the yellow and blue KRUNCH panel stands out even though the palette choice isn’t ‘real’? If that panel was colored like others on the page (with a green T-Rex) it would be way less potent.

Here’s another page from the same issue:

That top panel’s cool color palette pushes it away from us visually and makes it less important than what’s below, creating a ‘fade out’ feel between scenes and locations. If the characters and environment were all rendered using local/true colors it could end up quite busy and readers wouldn’t know where to focus.

Digital tools are convenient, but some colorists seem to think that lots of rendering and realistic lighting = higher quality and that’s not always the case when it comes to successful communication and entertainment, panel by panel and page by page.

On the other hand, here’s an impressive coloring example from All-New X-Men #3:

Pencils by Stuart Immonen. Inks by Wade Grawbadger. Colors by Marte Garcia. Letters by Cory Petit.

Marte’s rendering is more ‘modern’, but he also has an eye for dramatic color choices that effectively move the reader through big moments on the page. It’s wonderful work and I’d like to see even more of that from modern comics over bad lighting effects, repetitive palettes, and an over reliance on texture brushes or photo textures.

Murder Is More Convenient Than Ever

The collected MURDERWORLD trade paperback arrived in stores last week!

If you missed the five connected one-shot issues Ray Fawkes (Constantine, Batman: Eternal) and I put together with artists Jethro Morales, Farid Karami, Luca Pizzari, Victor Nava, and Lorenzo Tammetta, now you can snag it in one spiffy volume and read our twisted Arcade-centered story from start to finish.

“Pop-Up” Doesn’t Quite Describe It

An advance copy of the Dungeons & Dragons: Ultimate Pop-Up Book arrived at our place this week and it’s a monster in all the right ways!

Stacy and I came up with the narrative and she wrote all the text. Award-winning paper engineer Matthew Reinhart built each scene and all the moving elements and Claudio Pozas tirelessly illustrated each piece.

The name “Pop-Up” doesn’t really encompass these paper creations. The locations unfurl from the page base, rising up to form incredible buildings and features!

Even more amazing, the page spreads can be folded out beside each other so that all five D&D interactive locations can be laid out simultaneously. When Stacy and I unleashed the full behemoth it took up our entire dining room table!

Talking Conan…in Portuguese!

Marco Collares and Duda Ferreira from the Conan the Barbarian Forum, a vibrant Portuguese language Conan community, chatted with me about the upcoming CONAN comic relaunch, working with the incredible Rob De La Torre and editor Matt Murray, and much more!

There’s a lot of great information about the new series in this interview so, to make it easier for English language fans to follow along, I put together a series of time-stamped links to my answers you can check out right HERE.

Classic Character + Classic Artist

The Comics On The Green comic shop has posted an exclusive CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 variant cover illustrated by legendary artist MARK SCHULTZ (Xenozoic Tales, Conan the Cimmerian)!

Mark’s illustrations of Conan over the years have been incredibly iconic and powerful. I’m blown away that he created a new piece for our series launch (and even included the comic shop owner’s dog in there too 😀 ).

This variant is limited to 500 copies and you can pre-order it HERE.

More Limited Edition Covers

• Forbidden Planet (in the UK) has a limited edition Conan the Barbarian #1 cover (limited to 500 copies) with Rob De La Torre’s splash art from our Free Comic Book Day issue. In the U.S. it’s being offered by Jetpack comics.

• Since Conan debuts at San Diego Comic Con this year, there’s a limited edition cover with Conan in the San Diego Gaslamp District (limited to 2000 copies) with cover art by Christopher Jones.

Links and Other Things

• The incredible background art of the classic Looney Tunes animated shorts, especially designer Maurice Noble. As some who worked in background layout for animation, it’s nice to see this part of the artform spotlighted and appreciated:

• Famous comic artists drawing iconic characters. You can learn a lot just by watching how professionals confidently lay down their lines.:

That should cover things this time.

Talking Conan…in Portuguese!

Here’s an interview with the Conan the Barbarian Forum, a vibrant Portuguese language Conan community. Host Marco Collares and translator Duda Ferreira chat with me about the upcoming relaunch, working with the incredible Rob De La Torre, editor Matt Murray and more.

If you don’t speak Portuguese, here are time-stamped links to my answers in English to their key questions:

What is the format of the new Conan the Barbarian comic series?

Do you have more creative freedom working on Conan at Titan compared to writing the series at Marvel? and some follow up thoughts.

Where does your version of Conan fall in and around the Frank Frazetta illustrations or John Buscema-drawn comics?

Will you be adapting famous Conan stories like Tower of the Elephant or Red Nails?

How violent or explicit will the new Conan the Barbarian comic be?

How is it working with artist Rob De La Torre? What’s the working process like? and some follow up thoughts.

Rob is clearly inspired by the Conan art of John Buscema. Do you worry that the style is too close to Big John’s work? and some follow up thoughts.

How far ahead are you in terms of writing and production?

What can you tell us about the first story arc?

• And, to wrap up, my thoughts on the passion of the Conan fandom.

Here’s the full video from the start:

Zubby Newsletter #15: Comics Kintsugi

One of the Greats Has Left the Building

John Romita Sr. passed away yesterday.

He was an absolute legend, with iconic imagery that defined generations. A giant even amongst his peers.

When I close my eyes and imagine Spider-Man, it’s almost always a piece drawn by ‘Jazzy’ John. Thank you for so many great memories, sir.

Comics Almost Broke Me

Quite a few people in and out of the industry have asked if I’ve read posts from the #ComicsBrokeMe hashtag that’s been trending on Twitter.


Unfortunately, barring a few extreme cases, a lot of this is not surprising to people who work in comics. I have a few stories of my own, just about everyone in the business does, and have managed to come out the other side with a career, so I have some advice but also need to stress that it’s deeply tempered with Survivor Bias

A lottery winner telling people to buy lottery tickets is tainted by their good fortune. It’s easy to tell people not to give up on dreams when yours is happening.

A creative career isn’t as random as the lottery, but luck plays a part, so take everything I say with that in mind.

• Treat others the way you want to be treated. Heck, be better than that if you can.

Kindness, patience, and clarity won’t always be reflected back your way, but it does matter and will benefit you far more over the long haul compared to diva behavior, anger, or greed.

Being kind, patient and clear does not mean you should take bad gigs for substandard pay. Part of that clarity has to include understanding what your time and effort is worth.

• When you’re starting out and unproven, the effort VS pay equation will be badly out of whack, especially when you’re competing directly with so many other hopeful freelancers willing to work for less than what they should.

With that in mind, having a day job and starting slow is not something to be ashamed of. Your chances of success increase the longer you keep creating and having stable income is a big, big part of how you can keep at it.

Putting all your chips (effort, health, financial well-being) down on a career filled with so much uncertainty is a bad idea. I know it’s frustrating because you want things to happen as quickly as possible, but the risks outweigh the rewards.

Trust me – Slow but steady is far better.

I’ve watched quite a few creators rocket past me (and, of course, felt a flash of jealousy in the moment) only to see them quickly crash because they risked too much, burned themselves out, or treated others like shit and it caught up with them.

Your future in a creative field will almost certainly be built over time with occasional bursts forward. It does not come down to one roll of the dice, one opportunity, or one failure. If you treat it that way, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

• There have been quite a few times where I felt my comic writing career might come to an end.

Opportunities drying up. Editors not responding to messages.

You can’t control those things. All you can control is your response to it and build safety nets to carry on despite it.

There are times when you need to push yourself and deliver under duress, but you can’t sprint all the time. You are the only one who can properly gauge your limits and communicate them accordingly.

• Having stable income outside of comic freelance work means I’ve been juggling two careers for a long time. That can be tough at times and absolutely leads to some late nights working, but it also means I am never cornered into terrible gigs or contracts that would screw me over.

I am very, very fortunate in that way and I know that, but I also made distinct choices in terms of work and savings to maximize my options and bolster my ability to keep creating over the long haul. Contrary to the romanticized version you may have internalized, being a starving artist sucks. Desperation leads to terrible decisions, stupid working hours, and long term career damage far more often than it turns into success.

• Underlying all of this are also extremes in terms of skill and quality levels.

A lot of people who aren’t professional quality cannot see the gap they still need to clear to be viable.

A lot of very skilled people undervalue their abilities.

• Being a skilled writer or artist doesn’t mean you’re a strong negotiator, good communicator, capable self-promoter, intelligent with your finances, or well organized. In fact, the more focus you have on creative refinement, the more those other areas tend to suffer

If a person or company offers terms you don’t like, figure out your threshold and when the pay/opportunity isn’t worth the effort.

If a person or company offers an opportunity too good to be true, it probably is and that means they can also take it away in an instant. Plan accordingly.

• Companies aren’t loyal. People can be.

Pay attention to good people you work with. Cultivate great working relationships. Celebrate successes. Commiserate over setbacks.

Be patient. Be kind. Be careful.

Build up your work, bit by bit. Slow and steady.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Comics almost broke me a few times over the years, but I’m not done yet.

The Shadow-Spider Returns!

Back in 2018, Sean Izaakse and I convinced the Powers That Be at Marvel to let us take the Champions to Weirdworld and, in the process, redesign each team member with a sword & sorcery-themed variant.

Champions #25 kicked off the storyline and it was a ton of fun.

Last week, Insomniac Games announced a Collector’s Edition of their upcoming Spider-Man 2 PS5 game and, lo and behold, our Miles Shadow-Spider outfit is one of the feature costumes. It looks so great!

If you want to read our Champions-fantasy tale with Shadow-Spider and friends, it was reprinted in the Champions: Weird War One trade paperback.

Links and Other Things

• Nathan Price did a deep dive review of Conan the Barbarian #0, analyzing the story structure, art, and broader themes. It’s nice and a bit humbling when someone really delves into your hard work like this.

• CBR has an exclusive look at our Conan the Barbarian #3 covers.

• Tom Brevoort’s latest newsletter here on Substack includes a ‘Welcome to Comics’ letter given to new freelance writers coming from other writing fields. Most of the advice in there is relatively obvious to experienced creators but if you’re just starting out it covers a lot of the basics quite well.

• Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood has his own YouTube channel.

That should cover it for this time.

Zubby Newsletter #14: Clean Air Day?

Good news, everyone. Today is Clean Air Day in Canada. Meanwhile, wildfire smoke from the Great White North chokes the northeast-

Third Time’s The Charm

Tomorrow I’m flying to New Brunswick for East Coast Comic Expo, June 9th and 10th. This appearance has been a looong time coming.

Back in the olden days of 2018, I was announced as a guest for ECCE, but a Marvel summit (the one where our team planned out Avengers: No Road Home) fell on that same weekend so I had to back out.

In 2019, I was announced as a guest again, but D&D Live: The Descent fell on that same weekend and I had to be there for crazy Dungeons & Dragons stuff.

2020 to 2022…well, you know…

Which brings us to now – 2023! Finally, after five years, I’m heading to Moncton and am really looking forward to seeing friends and fans on the east coast.

Good Listening!

Over on the Graymalkin Lane podcast, we talk about the strange history of Sapphire Styx and how she became a pivotal player in my plans for Betsy Braddock back in the MYSTERY IN MADRIPOOR mini-series from 2018.

Give it a listen here:

I’m also guest on the latest episode of the mighty CROMCAST, chatting up a storm about the CONAN THE BARBARIAN comic relaunch, Canadian whiskey, the Hyborian Age, sword & sorcery, TTRPGs, and more!

Give it a listen here:

CONAN #1: Final Order Cut-Off Cover

Speaking of Conan-

The legendary Jae Lee illustrated a special CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 cover just released as we soar toward our July 3rd Final Order Cutoff, the last day readers and retailers can pre-order the first issue

Mind-blowing stuff, as expected. I’m honored to have so many cool covers on this book.

Elden Things

My pals over at UDON just released pics of the incredible translated Elden Ring artbooks they’re releasing in September (volume 1 and 2), including a limited edition foil slipcase edition. Daaaamn pretty. I am sorely tempted to add them to my collection.

Links and Other Things

The Iron Sheik passed away today at age 81. His words of wisdom stay with me always-

Okay, that’ll cover it this time. Have a good week.


Zubby Newsletter #13: Technology is Wonderful…Until It’s Not

On Sunday afternoon, I stared at my laptop in genuine shock as it showed me I lost over five hours of writing work.

I was so stressed I gave myself a headache.

I re-opened my script file and it was from the day before.

Back-ups on my user profile roaming data were the day before.

Google Drive on the cloud was also the day before.

I checked and rechecked Word’s autosave folders and nothing was current. Absolutely maddening.

I imagined trying to explain to my editor and the art team that “my computer ate my homework” and how full of shit they’d think I was.

I tried to stay calm and methodically check every spot, but none of it was up to date. It was all from the day before and I was spinning in circles.

Finally, at my wit’s end I vent to Stacy. I’m so damn angry and don’t know how this happened.

Cool as can be, she says “Check OneDrive.”

“I don’t use OneDrive.”

“Check anyways.”

Wouldn’t you know it? Word switched the damn file over to OneDrive and didn’t save anything to my local machine.

I got the current file back, re-saved it to Google Drive and then emailed a copy to myself as a failsafe so I could stop my brain from whirling.

Crisis averted. Sanity returned. Deadline met. *whew*

Blood Will Flow

The Diamond Previews catalogue ran an interview with me about the CONAN THE BARBARIAN relaunch coming in July. I know I’m beating the drum like crazy here in my newsletter, but only because I’m so pumped for this launch.

Anyways, this summarizes our mission on the series and how easy it is to jump in-

Productivity, Quantity, and Quantity

In late 2013 I put together a blogpost discussing productivity that included a dorky bar chart showcasing how many comic pages I wrote each year from 2009-2013. A few weeks ago I decided to look at how my career and priorities have changed and what I’ve learned in the nine years since then.

Planning for the future is good, but looking back at the past with extra clarity is nice too.

Rule Breakers and Reprobates

Stacy and I don’t get a chance to watch much TV, but Ted Lasso has been a staple for us since it launched in 2020. As I mentioned in the past, that “screwed up characters doing their best with their heart on their sleeves” approach was a big inspiration for the Thunderbolts relaunch I wrote last year. It’s been a joy watching the characters and their dramatic turns play out on the screen.

Season 3 has been bumpy in terms of character development, pacing, and payoffs, but episode 11, Mom City, was a real high point for both this season and the series as a whole.

Coach Beard has been a character I haven’t been crazy about during the show’s run. Brendan Hunt is a compelling and capable actor, but Beard has always felt like the “weird wingman”, inscrutable and unflappable, both conservative and hedonistic without much rhyme or reason.

I didn’t understand why he had a laced-down work attitude that seemed rooted in logic but also ride-or-die backed up every strange decision Ted made. I didn’t understand his unbreakable loyalty for Ted mixed with the addictive and confrontational approach he had with other characters in the cast.

And then, in one amazing scene that seems to break all the rules by having a character flat-out tell us their past mistakes and current motivation, Beard became fully formed with way more depth than I imagined. It was so damn good that it rippled backward and made a bunch of key scenes from previous episodes far better, enriching the show on every level. I don’t know if the writers planned Beard’s back story like this from the start, and honestly it doesn’t matter, because it was just a knockout.

I have problems with some of the meandering plotlines and exaggerated characterization this season and worry whether or not the team can stick the landing in the final episode but, whatever happens, this piece was wonderful and left a real emotional mark on both of us.

Eisner Voting

The timeline for Eisner Award voting is quite tight and far more people in the comic industry are eligible to vote than many of them realize.

Voter registration ends on Friday, JUNE 2nd. The vote deadline is Friday, JUNE 9th.

Eligible voters include:

  • Comic/graphic novel/webcomic creators (writers, artists, pencilers, inkers, letterers, or colorists)
  • Comic/graphic novel publishers or editors
  • Comic historians or educators
  • Graphic novel librarians
  • Owners or managers of comic retail specialty stores

Click here to head to the registration form.

If you’re qualified to vote in the Eisners and put a vote in for Moon Knight: Black, White, and Blood #3  for “Best Single Issue/One Shot”, I’d really appreciate it.

Last year, Rick and Morty VS Dungeons & Dragons Deluxe Edition was nominated for “Best Graphic Album-Reprint” and it was a lot of fun being at the ceremony, but the lion’s share of that was due to Sarah Rockwell’s wonderful design work on the book, so having my name front and center on the nomination felt a bit awkward. This year’s nomination is more focused on the comic itself – the story and art – so I’m even more excited.

Links and Other Things

  • Over his lunch break, Richard Friend raves about Rob De La Torre’s artwork, including some thoughtful analysis of why Rob’s work looks so damn good. It’s far more than just the classic artists who influence him.
  • Comrade Bullski has a great Tweet thread that covers the tumultuous publishing history of Conan the Barbarian in prose.
  • Matthew Colville has a sharp rundown on how a Dungeon Master can enjoy prepping for a D&D session.
  • That should cover it for this week.


    Talking Sapphire Styx with Graymalkin Lane

    Over on the Graymalkin Lane podcast, we talk about the strange history of Sapphire Styx and how she became a pivotal player in my plans for Betsy Braddock back in the MYSTERY IN MADRIPOOR mini-series from 2018.