Author Archives: Jim Zub

Wayward #24 Reviews

Geeked Out Nation: 8.9/10 “…everything exciting that you could ask for from a journey into the unknown, but also painful when you now know the depths in madness that comes from a fight for magic.”

TM Stash: 9/10 “The most beautifully written and illustrated book in comics today continues with an amazing battle that takes us to Tír Na Nóg!”

Under the Comic Covers: “This issue was so shocking but also so powerful.”

Glitterbomb: The Fame Game #2 Reviews

Adventures In Poor Taste: 7.5/10 “the creative team has delivered solid work yet again, and the series continues to be worth checking out.”

Bad Manta: 8/10 “…a real good story on their hands and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. The first issue did a real good job of setting up the story and this issue does a nice job of moving the plot along.”

Daily Indie Comics: 10/10 “The second story arc better showcases horror sequels than actual successful horror franchises do by exploring the same ideas, all the while, shifting focus in a purposeful way.”

G4ME (Dutch): 8/10 “This second chapter is even stronger than the first.”

Lyles Movie Files: 9/10 “Original, tense, heavy, and strong social commentary towards the core of fame makes Image Comics’ Glitterbomb: The Fame Game a story that is not to be missed.”

Newsarama: 10/10 “…one of the most powerful (and perhaps vital) books on the stands.”

The Oregonian: “…the winning thing here is how natural and real the series feels. While the media and Hollywood are stretched to an extreme, the portrayal is believable, which is the nauseating thing about it all.”

Outright Geekery: 10/10 “The horror elements work perfectly and Jim continues to be a fantastic writer. Djibril and K. Michael have a wonderful partnership resulting in beautiful artwork.”

Reading With a Flight Ring: “Stunning in its scope and brevity there’s a haunting beauty to what we see playing out and I can’t look away for the life of me.”

Retcon Punch: “Are our we virtuous for virtue’s sake, or do we get some kind of perverse joy out of feeling like saviors? Are the monsters better or worse than the people they’re killing, or are they all just part of the same cycle?”

Snap Pow: 9/10 “…this is a smartly written piece adorned with pretty pictures that demand and earn your attention.”

Nerdy Jobs Podcast

I was interviewed by the crew at Nerds On Earth as part of their ‘Nerdy Jobs’ podcast. We talk about getting started in the comic industry, working and being professional, teaching, tutorials, creator-owned comics, and more. Give it a listen.

Off-Panel Episode #124: Avengers and So Much More!

I was a guest on the SKTCHD​ podcast with David Harper​. We cover a ton of topics in a fun conversation, including:
Dungeons & Dragons and creativity.
– Online harassment in the comic industry.
– Writing Avengers: No Surrender, the upcoming weekly Avengers story.
– Politics in comics.
– My articles about writing comics and comic economics.
– Comic sales.
– Traveling to Japan with the TCAF crew.
– The brilliance of Overwatch and playing online.

Give it a listen and share!

Arriving January- WAYWARD Vol. 5!

Arriving in January, pre-order now!
WAYWARD, VOL. 5: TETHERED SOULS TP
STORY: JIM ZUB
ART / COVER: STEVEN CUMMINGS, TAMRA BONVILLAIN
JANUARY 31 / 136 PAGES / FC / M / $16.99

Japan and Ireland are torn apart by conflict. The new power that defines the modern world rages out of control. JIM ZUB (Avengers, SKULLKICKERS) and STEVEN CUMMINGS (Deadshot, Legends of the Dark Knight) continue their supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer with foreign cultures and fascinating mythological monsters. This volume includes design artwork by artist STEVEN CUMMINGS and profiles on mythical creatures by monster scholars ZACK DAVISSON and ANN O’REGAN not found in the single issues.

Collects WAYWARD #21-25

Arriving in January, pre-order now!

UNCANNY AVENGERS: UNITY VOL. 5 – STARS AND GARTERS TPB
Written by JIM ZUB
Penciled by SEAN IZAAKSE
Cover by SEAN IZAAKSE
ON SALE FEBRUARY 2018
Wanda Maximoff has returned to the Avengers at last! But not everyone is happy about it. Will the team be split down the middle by the Scarlet Witch’s arrival? And as the Unity Squad faces this challenge to group harmony head-on, an old enemy makes his explosive return at the worst possible time! Our heroes’ lives will be turned upside down by friend and foe alike! Then, two of Earth’s mightiest friends reunite at last! When it comes to super-heroics, Wonder Man and the Beast have seen it, done it and gotten the T-shirt. So what happens when Hank and Simon share a beer or two? Would you believe the Juggernaut crashes the party?! There’ll be stars and garters, love and loss — but where does the Unity Squad go from here?
Collecting UNCANNY AVENGERS (2015) #26-30.
112 PGS./Rated T+ …$15.99 • ISBN: 978-1-302-90645-0

No Surrender Solicits: Avengers #675-678 Arrive in January!

AVENGERS #675
MARK WAID, AL EWING & JIM ZUB (W) • PEPE LARRAZ (A)
OCT170809 WRAPAROUND COVER BY MARK BROOKS
OCT170810 TRADING CARD VARIANT COVER BY JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER
OCT170811 CONNECTING VARIANT COVER (1 OF 4) BY JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
OCT170812 VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
OCT170813 SKETCH VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
OCT170814 AVENGERS VARIANT COVER BY MIKE MCKONE
OCT170815 YOUNG VARIANT COVER BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
OCT170807 PARTY VARIANT VARIANT BY DANIEL ACUÑA
OCT170808 SKETCH PARTY VARIANT BY DANIEL ACUÑA
NO SURRENDER Part 1
AVENGERS goes WEEKLY for the stunning sixteen-part saga that will write the end of an era! The Earth has been STOLEN! The sky burns while mysterious cosmic objects crash down from above, wreaking havoc across the world! The Avengers are the last line of defense between Earth and the mysterious forces threatening to tear it apart. It’s time to ASSEMBLE! The teams you know and love from AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS, U.S.AVENGERS and OCCUPY AVENGERS come together to face a threat beyond any they’ve faced before in a weekly epic adventure that will define the future of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

AVENGERS #676
MARK WAID, AL EWING & JIM ZUB (W) • PEPE LARRAZ (A)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER (2 OF 4) BY JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
Avengers Variant Cover by ALAN DAVIS
NO SURRENDER Part 2
NOW ON SALE WEEKLY!
The Black Order. The Lethal Legion. Two teams of powerful villains bent on destroying each other have arrived on Earth, and they don’t care who gets caught in the crossfire. But who’s pulling their strings? And what is the secret of the lost Avenger?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

AVENGERS #677
MARK WAID, AL EWING & JIM ZUB (W) • PEPE LARRAZ (A)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER (3 OF 4) BY JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
Avengers Variant Cover by ESAD RIBIC
NO SURRENDER Part 3
NOW ON SALE WEEKLY!
Quicksilver flamed out of the Avengers, leaving devastation in his wake. But now that it’s all hands on deck, is this his chance at redemption? Or will his hunger to prove himself be his downfall?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

AVENGERS #678
MARK WAID, AL EWING & JIM ZUB (W) • PEPE LARRAZ (A)
Cover by MARK BROOKS
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER (4 OF 4) BY JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
Avengers Variant Cover by Mike Del Mundo
NO SURRENDER Part 4
NOW ON SALE WEEKLY!
The Avengers are caught in a game of cosmic proportions, but they don’t know the rules – and one of them is about to pay the ultimate price! THE FIRST AVENGER FALLS!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Uncanny Avengers #28 Reviews

Bleeding Cool: 8.5/10 “This is my favorite Avenger book right now, and it gets a strong recommendation. Give this one a try.”

Comic Book University: Grade A. “One of the best comic books that I’ve read in a while…I really felt like this was written by someone who not only knows, but cares about these characters and I really haven’t seen that in a while.”

Comic Crusaders: 8/10 “You get a good mix of character development and their histories, but doled out in manageable amounts and a little action to boot.”

IGN: 8.5/10 “This is a terrific-looking comic book that captures a lot of the old Avengers spirit.”

Monkeys Fighting Robots: 8/10 “For being one of the quieter starts of the new era, there wasn’t a single moment of boredom.”

Uncanny Sessions: 9.3/10 “It continues to be awesome. We covered a lot of ground in this issue…Everyone needs to go read this”

Creator-Owned Economics: The Long, Long Game

It’s been more than two and a half years since I wrote anything about Skullkickers sales numbers. I didn’t avoid talking about it on purpose, I just felt that with the series wrapped up and Wayward still underway it should be the focal point for my financial analysis. Poring over the numbers takes time and so Wayward was the natural choice for that attention. Last week’s article about trade sales seemed to cover everything I needed to say about the current market.

Boy, was I wrong. I received my Skullkickers accrual statement late last week and the data in there kind of blew my mind. I had to put together a new financial article here to go over it.

Some back story for those of you catching up: Skullkickers was my action-comedy sword & sorcery comic released by Image Comics from 2010 to 2015. Co-created with Chris Stevens and illustrated by Edwin Huang and Misty Coats with lettering by Marshall Dillon, it was my “break-out” book, but mostly on a critical level. Fantasy can be a tough sell. Humor even more so. Put those two elements together with creators who weren’t known (at the time) and it was a challenge to make our mark. We had a wonderful and loyal core readership and good word of mouth, but never lit sales charts on fire.

Skullkickers wasn’t really profitable during its run, but it did get my name out to a much wider audience and opened the door for some of my early work-for-hire comic writing projects: 19 issues of Pathfinder at Dynamite, a Shadowman fill-in issue for Valiant, and a 2-part Legends of the Dark Knight story for DC. It was a way to show people what our team was capable of and build a body of consistent work.

When sales flagged, I ran contests, put together a ridiculous reboot parody promotion, and even started serializing the comic online for FREE to expand our readership. Each of those PR stunts helped us inch along and, in the end, we eked out 34 issues (six story arcs) and finished the story the way I intended. Skullkickers is now handsomely collected in 6 trade paperbacks or 3 deluxe hardcovers.

Every six months, I’d receive an accrual statement from Image that outlined how deep the financial hole was. They could see we were slowly digging ourselves out with digital and collection sales, but the numbers didn’t seem to be in our favor. When the series wrapped up mid-2015, I’d resigned myself to the fact that Skullkickers as a whole would probably never do better than break-even, even if it did propel me forward in terms of my writing career.

Cut to 2017. Check this out:

(Update: Image’s Accountant dropped me a line to let me know I that the way digital was shown on the latest accrual was being misinterpreted so I’ve made corrections. We are selling solidly on digital, but it’s a more reasonable percentage of our overall sales, not the gonzo spike in sales I thought it was. I’ve corrected the text and chart to reflect that change.)

Image has been smart about including Skullkickers in a lot of their digital sales, as well as putting the first 18 issues (3 story arcs) on comiXology Unlimited, a flat fee all-you-can-read service on the leading digital comics platform. Tens of thousands of new readers have discovered the series through Unlimited, and that led to more digital collection sales. The whole series is still available for FREE on our webcomic site, and yet we keep selling Skullkickers on digital platforms, month after month.

What does this mean? Well, here’s the accumulated debt versus sales chart, the one I feared would never balance out:

Thanks to slow but steady collection and digital sales, we are truly ‘in the black’. As of mid-2017, I can no longer say that Skullkickers is my lovable-yet-financially-forlorn creator-owned comic. It has finally climbed out of the pit and is holding the bloody detached head of its captor while letting out a triumphant roar.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be smoking hundred dollar bills or paying off my house with these profits. It’s quite slim right now, but it’s also open-ended; We still have print collections in stock (and our only expenditures on those right now are storage since they’re already printed and shipped to Diamond Distribution) and the digital platform never closes or runs out of copies. In six months we should make a bit more, and then a bit more, and then a bit more, hopefully ever onward into the future until every single person who reads the work I do over at Marvel realizes that the action-packed mirth they enjoy in Thunderbolts and Avengers was there right from the beginning with Skullkickers.

Image Comics (especially Publisher Eric Stephenson) deserves a ridiculous amount of credit for letting me make Skullkickers my own way, start to finish. 25 years ago, the company started with a desire to put creators first and they still do that every single day. I feel incredibly fortunate to have launched the series there and can’t think of another publisher that would have taken this on and let the long tail run its course this way.

Is Skullkickers a success? It really depends on how you measure it. This will sound dorkishly earnest, but for me it’s always been a success. We built a story I’m incredibly proud of, my love letter to Conan, D&D, and the fantasy genre as a whole, and got it out to a wider audience. It was a life-changing milestone in my creative development that led to a dozen other comic projects and where I am today. The dollars and cents are a crucial metric, of course, but not the sole reason for heading into a creative project.

Some words of warning: Please don’t use these charts as some kind of battle plan for your own comic-making dreams. Creative careers vary wildly and I’ve spoken to dozens of creators who have thrown inordinate amounts of good money after bad paying for art, coloring, lettering, printing, convention tables, and stomach pills for financial ulcers brought on by creator-owned comics. I was able to dig deep with Skullkickers because I had (and still have) a stable day job and solid freelance work paying the bills. I never put myself in a position where my day-to-day financial commitments were in doubt and if the series had never made a dime I still would have been okay.

The sales history of Skullkickers is very different from Wayward and Glitterbomb, my other two Image creator-owned series. Each series has its own unique sales history and, while this stuff is really interesting to analyze, it isn’t any kind of formula you could reproduce (and, with a 7-year bloody trek to financial sanity for SK, you probably wouldn’t want to anyway).

If you found this post interesting, feel free to let me know here (or on Twitter), share the post with your friends and consider buying some of my comics, donating to my Patreon, or buying comics from me in person if you see me at a convention.

Geek Top 5 Interview: Top 5 Obscure Avengers

I was a guest again on Geek Top 5, this time talking about the “Top 5 Obscure Avengers.”

Our interview and countdown starts at the 33 min 12 sec mark of the podcast. Give it a listen!