Over on In The Comix I was interviewed all about Wayward, our upcoming trade collection and exciting tidbits about our second story arc, both starting in March. Click on through and give it a listen.
Conan Red Sonja #2 arrived in comic shops this week, continuing our epic meeting of these two legendary sword & sorcery characters. Let’s see what critics thought of the second chapter…
• All-Comic: 4/5 “Gail Simone and Jim Zub have seamlessly blended these two characters together into, arguably, one of REH’s greatest Conan adventures and you can’t help but give them a round of applause for a job well done.”
• Comic Hype: 4.5/5 “Definitely one of the most exciting adaptations I have recently read with these characters, it pulls no punches and is highly recommended.”
• Doom Rocket: 8.5/10 “Writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub imbue this comic with the optimal amount of humor and thrill with dialogue that is both stylized and clever.”
• Fandom Post: “The pacing is excellent, the characters are true to themselves, and the themes they play with are interesting.”
• Fangirl Nation: “Gail Simone and Jim Zub continue to bring tremendous energy and sword-and-sorcery fun in Red Sonja Conan #2.”
• Geeks of Doom: “Artist Dan Panosian should draw every issue of Conan. And Red Sonja. And, just about every other book that I read. His art is unbelievable!”
• My Geeky, Geeky Ways: “The artwork by Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart is truly epic. Panosian adopts a rough, visceral style worthy of the setting. “
• Newsarama: 9/10 “Don’t miss out on one of the best comics of the week.”
• The Pullbox: “Gail Simone and Jim Zub have a great handle on the personalities of two of pulp fictions greatest heroes. The dialogue between Conan and Sonja shows the camaraderie of two kindred spirits.”
• The Read Pile: “Still just as fun as the first issue. It fills me with a sense of glee.”
• Rock! Shock! Pop!: “This is great solid sword and sandal type comic entertainment and even passive fans of the genre or characters should give it go.”
• Shadowhawk’s Shade: 10/10 ” The art here is unbelievably good, same as before. There’s a certain angular stylishness to the pencils, and the colours are often slightly muted, adding to the whole mood of the whole thing”
• Super Team AU: 8.2/10 “For two writers and one artist, there is a lot of synergy felt between the two mediums here. Panosian draws the scenes beautifully and rustically, each page stained with a parchment-yellow.”
• TM Stash: 10/10 “The real deal here is that we have a story worthy of these characters, and a tale that lives up to the high expectations one should have when bringing together such an all-star group of creators”
Just posted a comment on Heidi MacDonald’s new article about Image creator-owned financials in 2012 VS 2015: http://www.comicsbeat.com/comics-pay-how-much/
Once I get the financial breakdown for Wayward #5 I’ll post a comparison of Wayward #1-5 + Skullkickers #1-5. The short version: Five years has changed a LOT.
Image is in a completely different place with a much bigger market share and footprint in comic shops, book stores, and digital sales. The audience for new creator-owned series has expanded thanks to the Walking Dead, Saga, Sex Criminals and a host of other Image hits. On top of that, my own career/visibility has grown along with my retailer and press contacts, making it easier to get the word out.
Put that all together and Wayward is much, much more financially viable/stable than Skullkickers has ever been. That’s not a knock on SK. Skullkickers is the bedrock of my comic writing career and established the path I’m now on. It’s O.Z. (Original Zub).
Wayward is not making dump trucks of money but it’s financially viable right from the get-go and hopefully grows from there with TPB/digital. Steve Cummings gets to make Wayward his day job and we build on strong reviews and retailer support hoping to find Chew-like stability.
100% control, 100% ownership + the best possible pay day if a series succeeds.
Image has the creator-owned deal to beat, especially in 2015.
When some people read my original financial article they get the misinformed idea I don’t like the Image deal. Not true at all. I say it right in there:
“Writing/Creating Skullkickers and being published by Image Comics is a thrill and an honor.”
I entered the market in 2010 as a virtual unknown with a sword & sorcery-comedy in a market that was playing grim, serious, and superhero-y. Even against those odds we garnered good buzz and have slowly built a following, especially in long tail digital and TPB sales.
Skullkickers was/is an investment in myself and the incredible opportunities that have come from doing it have been overwhelmingly positive. Those charts/figures don’t translate that. They don’t tell the story of establishing writing credibility and owning something I’m proud of. Legends of the Dark Knight, Samurai Jack, Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons, Figment, and a bunch more all because that ball started at Image.
But even if those work-for-hire opportunities didn’t come along, it was (and is) still worth it because it’s my story brought to life. When someone says Skullkickers or Wayward is great I know they wouldn’t exist at all without our team’s dedication. It’s hard for me to express how proud that makes me.
I post about the financial realities and difficulties because I don’t want creators to go in starry-eyed and expecting insta-riches.
Be informed, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Make something you’re proud of and learn from each new project, successful or not.
Okay, went a bit buck there., Thanks for listening.
Also, pre-order Wayward Vol. 1 so I can keep on keeping on.
I was interviewed by Vince and Roger of the Comic Book Informer podcast for their 200th episode. We talk all about current comics I’m working on, including wrapping up Samurai Jack with issue #20. Here’s a quick run down of major topics covered with timestamps for easy navigation:
0:05:40 Interview start – Wayward
0:18:03 Rori’s cutting and depression
0:24:29 Zack’s essays in Wayward
0:36:15 Influences and Japanese culture
0:46:25 Samurai Jack
1:09:17 Andy Suriano working on Jack
1:11:51 Ending Skullkickers
1:17:00 Other projects – Munchkin, Ultimate Spider-Man, Amanda Waller
1:26:50 The #fourcomics hashtag
Munchkin #1 arrived in comic shops last week. I’m writing 6 page back-up stories in each issue and it’s been a ton of fun digging in to the wacky lore of John Kovalic’s hit card game. Let’s see what critics thought of the first issue…
• Big Comic Page: 4/5 “…the story perfectly captures the back-stabbing, ‘treasure-at-all-costs’ ethos of the Munchkin card game.”
• Bleeding Cool: “It’s the perfect combination of twisted humor and fantastically designed characters. Don’t miss out on picking up your copy today!”
• The Beat: “Jim Zub writes a great six page story dealing with one of the game’s most prominent themes, betrayal.”
• Cosmic Comics: “Munchkin #1 is a worthy introduction to the tabletop series for anyone who’s ever been curious about the game”
• Fellowship of the Geeks: “This book does a really nice job of showing some of the humorous possibilities in the game. Both the writing and the art are top-notch.”
• Geek Dad: “This is a full-on what-would-it-be-like story in the Munchkin world, with its associated lack of logic and any desire to care about things beyond precious loot.”
• Geeked Out Nation: “Munchkin #1 is the fantasy fiction comic equivalent of a half hour sketch comedy show.”
• Major Spoilers: 4/5 “… the book was a joy to read, the art was fantastic.. A good first outing from BOOM! Studios and Steve Jackson Games, and I look forward seeing what happens in issue #2.”
• Omnicomic: “Munchkin #1 is a humorous book that capitalizes on what makes Munchkin so enjoyable to begin with”
• The Read Pile: “Pick of the Week. This book is hilarious! If you’re a Munchkin fan you have to get this.”
• Therefore I Geek: 5/5 “I’ve got a new card for the game and I’ve had some really great laughs, which is all I could have asked for.”
• TM Stash: 9/10 “The stories are fanciful and carry out the spirit of game play, in a game where the players are quick to turn on each other. A truly fun and entertaining book!”
Okay, so here’s the news and it’s better if I just get this out of the way up front:
SAMURAI JACK the comic series will be ending with issue #20, arriving in May.
Yeah, I’m sad too.
It’s hard for me to explain how wonderful it’s been to create a new official “season” of Samurai Jack, working with the unbelievably skilled art team of artist Andy Suriano, colorist Josh Burcham, and letterer Shawn Lee, along with a host of other amazing guest artists including Brittney Williams, Ethen Beavers, Andy Kuhn, Sergio Quijada, and Christine Larsen.
Working on Jack has been a project that felt just as creative and expansive as any creator-owned work I’ve done. Almost every single idea we pitched was enthusiastically approved by IDW and Cartoon Network. We told the stories we wanted to tell the way we wanted to tell them and, from everything I’ve seen and the people I’ve met, the fans thoroughly enjoyed them too. That’s a rare and wonderful thing and I won’t take it for granted.
We launched pretty strong, strong enough that our five issue mini-series was almost immediately bumped up to “ongoing” status, but we’ve hit a point in the natural single issue sales attrition cycle where IDW isn’t guaranteed to see profitability on #21-25 so they decided to end it at #20 and make sure we weren’t cut off midway through a story line. I absolutely respect that and appreciate the heads up so we could make our last issue extra special.
Speaking of which, I have to admit I got wistful when I read the recent Comics Alliance article heaping high praise on the work we’ve done with Jack. Chris Sims had no way of knowing it, but I was putting the finishing touches on the final script the day that article went up. It gave me an extra burst of energy to carry me over the finish line.
If “The Quest of the Broken Blade” story we did in issues #11-15 was our epic battle of mind, body, and soul, then Samurai Jack #20 is as final a spiritual statement as I can put on the Jack legacy.
In the third season of Samurai Jack there’s an episode called “Jack and Travelling Creatures” where, after trials and tribulations aplenty, we catch a glimpse of a possible future for our wandering hero; we see Jack as an older Warrior-King, a veteran of an untold number of conflicts. We’re embracing that awesome vision of Jack in a very heartfelt done-in-one story called “Mako the Scribe”.
I don’t have any definitive information on whether there will be more Samurai Jack animation down the road but, if there isn’t, I wanted to make sure this story gave at least some sense of closure to the many, many fans of the series. I would never say that I speak for Genndy or the rest of the Jack animation team. This is just my own small addendum to the top notch art and storytelling they put together. (Oh yeah and Genndy, feel free to animate any of our comic stories if you want. I’m 100% A-Okay with that )
That said, I don’t want us to just slip away quietly into the night with this one. If you haven’t read Samurai Jack the comic and experienced our “fifth season”, I’d be thrilled if you considered ordering the trades or buying the digital issues to give it a shot.
If you have read the comics and enjoyed what we put together, I’d deeply appreciate if you let IDW and Cartoon Network know what you thought of it and if you pre-order issue #20 to let retailers know that we’re going out strong.
Thank you to Carlos Guzman, our editor at IDW, for tirelessly sheparding these new stories through art and production. Your enthusiasm for our work has been a real booster.
Thank you again to Andy Suriano for being such a passionate and creative collaborator. You rock, buddy, and I’m so proud to have worked with you on this.
Thank you to IDW Publishing and Cartoon Network for your confidence in bringing me aboard to write the series. It’s been a blast.
Thank you to Genndy Tartakovsky, Phil Lamarr, and the whole Jack team for trailblazing such a wonderful series in the first place.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to tell these stories. Thank you for your support.
SAMURAI JACK #20
Jim Zub (w)
Andy Suriano (a & c)
A scribe named Mako has heard many strange stories of the great hero known only as “Jack.” Mako’s journey to record the truth of the samurai reveals a fascinating look at his legacy and possible future: Jack the King. Jack the General. Jack the Legend.
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
Comic Book Resources just posted up a new interview with me all about Wayward. We talk about Japanese culture, anime influences, Buffy, and creator-owned sales. Click on through to give it a read.
I’ve talked about a variety of different subjects related to creator-owned comics- writing craft, networking, promotion, and economics, but one of the areas I haven’t focused on (until now) is a big one: selling at conventions.
I’ve been attending conventions as a professional since 2002 and in the past 13 years I’ve exhibited at over a hundred conventions of all stripes- big pop culture shows, indy comic markets, educational festivals, library conferences, and classic comic cons. Each one has its own feel and its own set of challenges. There’s no possible way for me to give advice that can cover every convention eventuality, but I wanted to put together some key points for things I’ve learned through trial and error that now saves me a lot of stress and is helping get my work out to a larger audience.
First off, let’s talk about expectations and being prepared.
If you’re heading to a convention with the intent of selling or promoting your work and getting your foot in the door but you’ve never done this before, you need to make sure you’re realistic about your goals. You will not make piles of money. You will not sell hundreds of books. You will not be plucked out of a crowd by your favorite publisher and be given a contract that promises fame and fortune. Get that crazy crap out of your head. Conventions are great, but don’t spend money you can’t afford with delusions of grandeur.
If everything goes well you’ll have some fun, make some new friends, and could make a bit of money. As I’ve covered in my post on networking, some of the people you meet may end up being valuable contacts down the road, but it’s hard to tell where these things will lead.
Start local. If your city or a city within driving distance has a convention, that’s a safe bet. If you’re lucky enough to live in a well known convention city (I’m sure we could name a dozen, but off the top of my head let’s say New York, San Diego, Chicago, Seattle, or Toronto) then that’s no problem but with the proliferation of convention culture it’s easier than ever to find somewhere to set up.
Plan as far in advance as you can, especially if this is your first time travelling to a particular city. You’re better off pushing a convention appearance to next year than you are rushing into a show without a plan or proper materials. I can pull together a convention trip last minute now if I have to, but I’d much rather not.
Here’s how my table looked at Fan Expo Canada in 2014:
(My new banner is a set of four that roll up quite small and, thanks to the grommets on each one, I can swap in new ones depending on which projects I’m promoting at each show. I also have a free-standing banner for shows where they don’t have pipe-and-drape set up.)
It’s the largest solo set up I’ve had at a show so far and, thankfully, it ran pretty smoothly because I planned ahead.
Here are some basic questions you should be able to answer while you’re getting ready:
What is the focal point of your table and how are you going to display that in a way that’s clear and easy to interact with? This is where attending other conventions or checking out photos of cons online can be a lot of help.
When you’re just starting out you probably don’t have much product, so this is pretty easy but, even still, early on I would measure a plot on my dining room table equal to the Artist Alley space I was about to get, tape it off and then pre-set up that space to see how it looked from both sides of the table. From there I could make adjustments and double check that everything fit properly. Once you do that a few times you’ll get a good handle on how much space is needed for product and signage.
If you’re going to be sketching at the table, is there enough room to do that? Self explanatory.
Do you have an inventory list and are you keeping track of your expenses? Even if you’re just doing this for fun, it’s helpful to know how much you’ve spent versus how much you make when you’re setting up at a show. It doesn’t have to be high tech. A simple check list for product and envelope to stuff receipts in is good enough to start.
Do you have supplies you might need over the course of the day? Here’s a quick list of basics that are always helpful to have in your convention travel pack:
• A money float so you can easily make change
• Your business cards
• Your portfolio (physical or digitally on a tablet)
• Book or other display stands
• Charge cords for your tech (If you’re a real keener, bring a power bar/multi-outlet too.)
• Pens, pencils, sharpies (thick and regular) and any other art supplies
• Post-it notes, extra paper
• Invisible tape and packing tape
• Clips, rubber bands, and safety pins
• An exacto-knife and pair of utility scissors
• A few feet of dark fabric to cover the table/product when you’re not there
• Granola bars and a couple bottles of water
• A small bottle of Aspirin and/or Tylenol
• Hand sanitizer and breath mints
At the end of each day/end of the show you should look over that list and restock anything that ran out.
Speaking of which, is your set up portable? Getting your supplies and product manageable and moveable is important, especially if you’re setting up by yourself. Get everything you need gathered in one place and make sure you (or you and people helping you) can actually carry it all. Imagine you have to do that while using an escalator or a packed elevator.
On the other hand, if it’s going to take multiple trips to get all your stuff into the show, do you know where load-in is happening and where you’ll need to park? Save yourself frustration and find out ahead of time.
Do you know where things are at the show? Find your table on the map. Write it down so you don’t forget. Locate washrooms and key booths you might want to visit ahead of time so you’re not scrambling trying to figure that out when the show is under way and probably crazy.
Do you know the area around the convention center/hotel? If not, do some research on restaurants, parking, the closest copy shop, and closest post office or Fed Ex. The better informed you are about the area, the easier things will be over the weekend. It’s also nice to be able to recommend places to go after hours.
Going to conventions has proved to be a big boost for my career. Many of the comic projects I’ve done can be traced back to the wonderful people I met at shows and the conversations we had there. A great convention reminds you about the energy and excitement that comes from this industry and, ideally, puts a few bucks in your pocket at the same time.
In future articles I’ll talk about pricing, selling, and travelling to other countries for shows.
Both IDW series I’m working on had new issues arrive last week. Let’s see what critics thought of Legends of Baldur’s Gate #4 and Samurai Jack #16…
• Bleeding Cool: “Jim Zub’s script continues to be incredibly well written, and intense. There’s really never a dull moment.”
• Comics Online: 4.5/5 “There’s a reason that fantasy comics are dominating my pull-list, and his name is Jim Zub.”
• Fanboy Comics: “Dunbar is keeping it tight with the visuals as usual. He’s got such a keen sense of drawing combat; there are no wasted panels or energy, every strike makes complete sense, and the subtlety of maneuvers is stellar to witness.”
• Fanboy Nation: “Dungeons and Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate continues to be a tremendously fun sword and sorcery book recommended to all fans of the genre.”
• Geeks With Wives: 8.5/10 “The creative team isn’t just telling us a story and leaving it at that, they’re beautifully and completely describing and coloring the details of Baldur’s Gate for us to explore with our eyes.”
• Merric’s Musings: “The story kicks into high gear with this instalment, getting ready for the Big Finale in issue #5.”
• Nerdy But Flirty: “There’s an awesome fight sequence in the last section of the book, and I love how Max Dunbar can make static images have a feeling of motion/action.”
• Reading With a Flight Ring: “There’s no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what comics are about and it should be read by all.”
• Shadowhawk’s Shade: 9.5/10 “Legends of Baldur’s Gate is, first and foremost, a story about a band of misfits and screw-ups who come together under some really extraordinary circumstances.”
• Comic Bastards: “I didn’t think that Samurai Jack could get better than the last story arc, but I think the Master of Time could give Aku a run for his money.”
• IGN: 8.6/10 “New artist Sergio Quijada fits right in with the book’s general aesthetic, bringing a real sense of energy to Jack’s quest and plenty of visual gags for good measure. “
• Rock! Shock! Pop!: “All in all, another great chapter – bring on the next installment!”
• Shadowhawk’s Shade: 10/10 “The dialogue is, as ever, sharp and to the point with Jim wasting not a moment on any inconsequentials along the way.”
Over on ComicPow, writer Eric Mesa writes up an editorial/review all about Wayward and compares it to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (like we did in our initial marketing for the series). Click on through and give it a read.
“…this is one comic I’m going to be making sure I make time to read. And for someone without a lot of free time, I can’t think of better praise.”