Zubby Newsletter #67: Beneath the Spam

Conan the Barbarian #13 art by Doug Braithwaite and Diego Rodriguez.

Over on Facebook Messenger I clicked through to ‘Message Requests’ and saw dozens of messages from readers and retailers who have enjoyed my work, artists wanting feedback, and writers looking for advice. It was awkward realizing that these people assume I’ve just ignored them all this time.

I don’t have time to mentor people one-on-one on their creative career or give extensive feedback (that’s why I put together 40+ free tutorial articles on my website), but getting a message to that effect is way better than someone sending material and feeling completely ignored. I remember what sending notes out into the void felt like and do everything I can to avoid doing it to other people.

Then, on a whim, I clicked the dreaded ‘Spam’ tab…

As expected, there were hundreds of useless ad messages and sex chat garbage, easy to spot with a half dozen or more people tagged on each one, but there were dozens of legitimate messages too, filtered there for reasons unknown.

• International fans excited about Conan.
• A convention runner asking if I wanted to be a guest at a show from over a year ago.
• Readers asking questions about Marvel continuity.
• Creators asking for signal boosts on their crowdfunding campaigns.
• Artist portfolios.
• Old friends touching base.

It’s humbling to see so many people reaching out, but also a bit overwhelming, especially finding them all at once. How is anyone supposed to keep track of all these outlets? How much time do I spend sending out little ‘sorry I missed this’ messages vs just plowing ahead on current projects/deadlines/commitments? I don’t know.

Anyways, if you’ve reached out to someone online and they didn’t get back to you – it might not be intentional. The algorithms that dictate so many of our online interactions may have just siloed it elsewhere.


For Your Consideration


If you’re part of the Harvey Awards Nomination Committee
CONAN THE BARBARIAN: BOUND IN BLACK STONE is eligible to be nominated for Book of the Year.

Our team put everything they have into this relaunch and I want to make sure people know that Harvey-eligible titles are for books released from August 1, 2023-July 31, 2024, not just 2023 books.


Killer Covers From Mars

Legendary artist Joe Jusko has posted up the first three stunning covers for the upcoming release of the Barsoom Saga, the official reprint of the John Carter of Mars series being put out by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. They have a 20% off preorder promotion running now, so if those covers grab your eye, make sure you get on board while you can save.

Also, while I was at Howard Days last weekend I met Henry Franke, editor of The Burroughs Bulletin, and his excitement for pulp stories was infectious so if you’re a Burroughs fan make sure you check that out too.


Current + Upcoming Releases

  • Conan the Barbarian #11 – released May 22nd.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Fortune Finder – TPB released June 5th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #12 – releases June 26th.
  • Life of Wolverine – One Shot – releases July 3rd.
  • Savage Sword of Conan #3 – releases July 3rd.
  • Conan the Barbarian Vol.2: Thrice Marked For Death – TPB releases July 16th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #13 – releases July 24th.

  • Upcoming Appearances

    July 25-28, 2024 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego, CA, USA
    Aug 1-4, 2024 Gen Con Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Aug 16-18, 2024 Fan Expo Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
    Aug 22-25, 2024 Fan Expo Canada Toronto, ONT, CANADA
    Oct 17-20, 2024 Gamehole Con Madison, WI, USA


    Links and Other Things

    Artificers & Alchemy gets a shout out on Forbes in A Father’s Day Gift Guide For Dungeon Master Dads. Comicon also reviewed the book and gave it a 10/10!

    • In a few days, my friend Sandra Tayler is launching a crowdfunding campaign for her new book Structuring Life to Support Creativity, a much-needed guide to project management and avoiding burnout. Definitely check this one out.

    Jordan Sorcery has a great video run through on the initial development of Warhammer 40,000. When I was a kid I thought the game looked incredible, but the price point of metal miniatures and daunting work involved in painting figures and assembling terrain kept me from playing until I was older, but it looked amazing right from the start.

    • Legendary anime studio Gainax has filed for bankruptcy after financial mismanagement and controversy. Gainax was an anime studio built from convention fan films that evolved into auteur-centric work and a pop culture juggernaut. It’s strange to think of the studio not being around anymore, but we’ll always have the the Ballad of the Otaking to remind us of their greatness.

    Jim

    Zubby Newsletter #66: Howard Days

    The Howard Museum in Cross Plains, Texas.

    I’m home from four days in Texas – three in Cross Plains for Howard Days, the annual Robert E. Howard celebration at his home, and a quick half day stop at Fan Expo Dallas.

    Howard Days was an informal gathering that began in 1986 with ten fans making a pilgrimage to Robert E. Howard’s home and is now an official two day event deeply tied into the town with several hundred attendees. There’s a small pavilion set up near the home for barbecues and hanging out, a dozen vendors selling books and other merchandise, tours of the house (which is now a museum) and local sites, discussion panels and signings at the community center, original manuscripts on display at the local library, gaming, poetry readings, a banquet, a silent auction, and more.

    Each piece of the festival was quite small but when you put it all together it made the whole thing feel expansive, especially considering that Cross Plains itself has a population of less than a thousand people. Dozens of regulars return to spend time together, year after year, alongside a host of new people like me making the trek for the first time. I thought coming down from Canada would make me the furthest visitor for the event, but I was wrong – there were people who came in from France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Norway.

    Jeff Shanks, the Howard expert who writes the essays in the back of each issue of Conan the Barbarian, told me it was a family reunion and I was part of the family, and I joked that I was more like a long lost cousin who showed up out of nowhere carrying a deed for an important tract of land. That said, the Howard Days core made me feel incredibly welcome and their excitement for the future of the fandom came through in every interaction.

    This year, Robert E. Howard’s original writing desk had been restored and replaced the stand-in they’d been using for decades at the museum. I was one of the first people to stand at the desk returned to its rightful spot and, as you might imagine, it all felt pretty surreal. Honestly, the whole week was surreal, as I chatted with literary scholars, locals, friends, and fans.

    Jeff Shanks, John C. Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, and me.

    I filmed interviews and signed hundreds of comics while walking around the small town grounds where the sword & sorcery genre came to life. Shawn Curley from Heroic Signatures was there filming material for the official Conan the Barbarian YouTube channel and, as it all gets compiled, edited, and posted, I’ll be sure to share it in future newsletter installments. The legacy and gravity of it all washed over me a few times, but then a few minutes later we’d all just be laughing and hanging out, looking for respite from the intense Texas heat or hunting for bug spray to handle the mosquitos.

    Fan Expo Dallas on Sunday was a breakneck pace, especially in contrast to the previous three days. I woke up at dawn and drove almost 3 hours from Cross Plains to Dallas, arrived at the convention center, signed for two hours, hosted a Conan panel, signed for another hour and then had to dash so I could return my rental car and head to the airport. Lots of Conan, Dungeons & Dragons, and Marvel fans there and it was really nice even though it was so short and rapid fire.

    I’m finally home and spending today unpacking, reorganizing, and decompressing. The whole week was really special but I don’t know if all of it has really sunk in yet.



    CONAN THE BARBARIAN: BOUND IN BLACK STONE won this year’s Costigan Award at Howard Days!

    “Awarded for original creative writing that carries on the spirit and tradition of Robert E. Howard, to better recognize and celebrate his influence on future generations of writers.”

    Comics are rarely nominated and an original one based on a Robert E. Howard property has never been nominated in the literary category before.

    Rob De La Torre and José Villarrubia also won the Rankin Award for Artistic Achievement, so Bound in Black Stone won in both categories we were nominated in.

    I know for people on the outside it may seem obvious that a Conan book wins a Robert E. Howard-related award, but the Foundation is not directly tied to the company that owns Conan, it’s an independent panel of scholars and archivists focused on the legacy and literary merit of Howard’s works. I’ve been writing Conan-related comic stories since 2015 and this is the first time the Foundation has given my work any kind of acknowledgement, both with the nomination and now the award.

    Bill Cavalier, one of the Foundation board members and a key organizer of the festival, handed me the award and said-
    “Congrats! We don’t normally give ’em to the funny books, but you and the boys did a fine job. Keep it up.”

    Thank you to the Foundation and our readers. It’s an honor.


    Doom Is Coming…and It’s Going To Be Great

    Shawn Curley has posted a Conan News video on the official Conan the Barbarian Youtube channel and it’s packed with exclusive sneak peeks at artwork from CONAN THE BARBARIAN #12, the next Conan prose novel, Savage Sword, a sneak peek of the Heroic Signatures office, and more. I also make a brief appearance at the 5:40 mark to help hype the end of our first year on the relaunch.


    Jim Zub – Voice Actor?

    The latest grad films from Seneca Animation are starting to get posted online and first out of the gate is Fly Away, Froggy Boy, a wild and weird noir story about an anthropomorphic fly seeking revenge against the frog mob.

    I lent my voice to the Frogfather, the main villain of the cartoon and it was a lot of fun snarling, grunting and screaming my way through the script. Give it a watch and let me know what you think of my performance and the hard work of my students.


    Back In School With Teachers In The Dungeon


    Stacy and I returned to the Teachers in the Dungeon podcast, chatting with Tom Gross and Dan Reem all about ARTIFICERS & ALCHEMY, the latest Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer’s Guide, discussing what goes into making the books, igniting the imagination of new gamers, fun details, future plans, and more!

    You can listen to this episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.


    Current + Upcoming Releases

  • Conan: Battle of the Black Stone #0 – released May 4th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #11 – released May 22nd.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Fortune Finder – TPB released June 5th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #12 – releases June 26th.
  • Life of Wolverine – One Shot – releases July 3rd.
  • Savage Sword of Conan #3 – releases July 3rd.
  • Conan the Barbarian Vol.2: Thrice Marked For Death – TPB releases July 16th.

  • Upcoming Appearances

    July 25-28, 2024 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego, CA, USA
    Aug 1-4, 2024 Gen Con Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Aug 16-18, 2024 Fan Expo Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
    Aug 22-25, 2024 Fan Expo Canada Toronto, ONT, CANADA
    Oct 17-20, 2024 Gamehole Con Madison, WI, USA


    Links and Other Things

    • Conan scholar Jeff Shanks is chatting up a storm lately, and his latest interview with Stygian Dogs is fantastic, covering many different aspects of Robert E. Howard literary and fandom circles.

    • Literary Hub has an excerpt from Ursula K. Le Guin‘s book The Language of the Night that may strike a chord with writers and would-be writers I know.

    Chris Broad stops at every station on Tokyo’s famous Yamanote subway line in one day and shows off interesting or obscure things at each one. Seeing familiar spots from my recent Tokyo trip and learning about new places to check out was enjoyable.

    Asa Wheatley is crowdfunding the next volume of Sagas of the Shield Maiden. I’ve enjoyed the previous anthology volumes and am looking forward to this one.

    Have a wonderful week!
    Jim

    Zubby Newsletter #65: No Coasting

    While we were in Japan, Stacy and I went to a cafe where they had the menu available via QR code on coasters at each table and I thought the same kind of thing could work well at conventions, be durable and also be easy to pack in with luggage. This morning I picked up these spiffy laser cut wood coasters from a shop near our place and they turned out great!

    I’m looking forward to using them at my upcoming signings.


    Signing at Fan Expo Dallas


    Speaking of signings, since I’m flying in and out of Dallas for Robert E. Howard Days on June 7-8, I figured I might as well stop by Fan Expo Dallas at the same time.

    If you’re heading to the show, I’ll be there only on Sunday, June 9th from 11am-3pm at the Comic Sketch Art area in Artist Alley (Tables P-00 to P-11). We’ll have a limited number of books and variants for sale and I’ll of course be signing any comics or other books people bring by.


    A Critical Eye


    On my website I just put up a new tutorial post. It’s an unvarnished rundown on problems with a pitch, and hopefully some helpful reminders for new creators trying to organize their ideas and get attention from a producer/publisher.

    Give it a read and, if you find it helpful, share far and wide.


    August Arrivals in the Hyborian Age

    Comic Book Movie has the exclusive first look at solicitation info and covers for CONAN THE BARBARIAN #14 and SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #4, both arriving in August.

    CONAN THE BARBARIAN #14 continues Frozen Faith, the fourth story arc in our relaunch. With this arc we’re celebrating the 90th anniversary of the classic Robert E. Howard story The Frost-Giant’s Daughter by looking at it and surrounding events in a different light and I’m excited for readers to see it all come together.

    Doug Braithwaite is drawing the best damn pages of his career on this one. About a week ago, Doug sent us a beautiful finished two-page spread and then, a few days later, he sent a completely new version redrawn from scratch that was even better. Just stunning dedication and and amazing artwork coming from the whole team.

    SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #4 is a special Battle of the Black Stone tie-in issue with six different short stories that set up key plotlines for-

  • CONAN – story by me, art by Fernando Dagnino
  • BRISSA – story by me, art by Dean Kotz
  • CONRAD & KIROWAN – story by Jeff Shanks, art by Eryk Donovan
  • DARK AGNES – story by Fred Kennedy, art by Andy Belanger
  • EL BORAK – story by Ron Marz, art by Mike Perkins
  • SOLOMON KANE – story and art by Patch Zircher
  • It’s been a blast coordinating with this crew in and around the upcoming event mini-series. Can’t wait for you to see this one.


    Eisner Nominations for Conan


    Thrilled to see that letterer Richard Starkings and colorist Dean White received Eisner Award nominations this year for their amazing contributions to Conan the Barbarian.

    Congrats, gents! You both helped make the new series a stunner that has won over old fans and new readers alike.

    If you’re an industry professional or comic retailer, make sure you vote and help our Hyborians bring home the gold!


    Current + Upcoming Releases

  • Savage Sword of Conan #2 – released May 1st.
  • Conan: Battle of the Black Stone #0 – released May 4th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #11 – released May 22nd.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Fortune Finder – TPB released May 29th.
  • Conan the Barbarian Vol.2: Thrice Marked For Death – TPB releases June 11th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #12 – releases June 26th.
  • Life of Wolverine – One Shot – releases July 3rd.
  • Savage Sword of Conan #3 – releases July 3rd.

  • Upcoming Appearances

    June 7-8, 2024 Howard Days Cross Plains, TX, USA
    June 9, 2024 Fan Expo Dallas Dallas, TX, USA
    July 25-28, 2024 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego, CA, USA
    Aug 1-4, 2024 Gen Con Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Aug 16-18, 2024 Fan Expo Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
    Aug 22-25, 2024 Fan Expo Canada Toronto, ONT, CANADA
    Oct 17-20, 2024 Gamehole Con Madison, WI, USA


    Links and Other Things

    Matthew Li has an interesting rundown on the origin of “Yoshoku”, Japan’s western-inspired cuisine and how it ties into the country’s history and values. Really neat stuff, especially for someone who is a big fan of Japanese cooking.

    Tony Diterlizzi, one of my favorite fantasy artists, has been doing a dive into his past work on the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual release in 1993 and it’s a fascinating look at his work history and process at that time – PART 1 and PART 2 are up so far.

    Ernie Smith has put together an alternate home page for AI-free Google searching called &UDM=14. Here’s hoping it keeps working and that the tidal wave of generated garbage data gets swept aside in the future.

    I hope your June is starting strong – Happy Pride Month to all my friends and fans!
    Jim

    Pitch Package Critique

    Almost 12 years ago, I posted up a critique I gave someone on a pitch package I was sent because I felt that the feedback covered a lot of common mistakes I see and could help other people as well.

    Recently, one of my former students reached out to get feedback on an animated series pitch concept they’d been working on and, in a similar vein, asked for unvarnished critique. I don’t normally have time for one-on-one feedback, but they’re a former student and, as soon as I looked over the presentation they’d put together, I could see a lot of fundamental issues and they needed a wake up call.

    So…here’s what I sent them, with story and character specifics removed, so people who read my blog here can benefit from it too:


    First impressions are extremely important. The first slide of this presentation needs a logo that reinforces your story. That logo needs to stand out along with a piece of art that immediately engages the viewer. A bland font and a rough character head sketch is not the first impression you want to make.

    • When coming up with a title, you need to do research and make sure it isn’t already being used elsewhere. [Specifics about how their title is too close to something that already exists], and a studio will not want a story that is only one letter different from that.

    Your core idea is quite generic and has been done many times before. A great story twist or an extremely engaging art style could help elevate it beyond that generic foundation and grab some attention, but you don’t have either of those things in your pitch package right now.

    The stakes in your summary are much too vague. The “fate of humanity” sounds dramatic, but also feels impossible to measure. In many ways, smaller and clearer stakes can work better than vast “the world is in danger” stuff, especially at the start of a story.

    • Do not try to pitch multiple seasons right from the start, especially as someone with no prior experience running a show. Make an incredibly compelling first season concept that works on its own and generate interesting story threads that can be pursued for a possible second season.

    • Your description of technology doesn’t make sense and isn’t consistent. You need to be much clearer in terms of the tech level involved and how this setting is similar or different from our modern world.

    • What is the name of this place? Is it an existing city we know or a completely fictional world? “A massive city” is not good enough and doesn’t feel interesting. It’s too vague.

    • Something that can “change the course of history and the fate of humanity” might be a secret for your audience, but it’s not something you can hide from the people you want to approve and bankroll your show. If you have a really cool story twist, you need to tell us right in the pitch, otherwise it’s just hollow promises. A producer will see right through it and call you on your BS or reject the pitch outright.

    • Again, the stakes feel much too vague. What are the main character’s goals, short term or long term? Is the main character doing this for their family or just for their own ego? Is there an immediate need for this fame or money that makes any of this interesting or compelling right now?

    • Why do you have concept designs for secondary characters before designs for the main character? These slides need to be presented in a logical order.

    The sizing and silhouettes on most of the characters are too similar, especially when we see them all together in the line up. Their standing poses do not convey any sense of personality. Most of the clothing is quite generic and does not visually stand out.

    • The character expressions look okay, but the body posing is extremely bland. Characters just standing around tells the people you’re pitching to that characters in the show are just going to be standing around a lot.

    Your section write ups need to be shorter and more focused. Imagine an executive sees these slides projected on screen during a live pitch session. Are they going to spend time reading a bunch of tiny text? Not a chance.

    • You have some sentences in present tense and others in past tense. Also, there should not be any spelling or grammatical errors. Your writing needs to be completely professional to help convince the executives you pitch to that this idea is worth investing in.

    Ideally, the writing should also give us a sense of personality and draw us into this fictional world. Your writing is not clear enough and doesn’t convey any feeling about the world or the characters.

    • You are pitching an entire season of a show but only have a synopsis of the first episode? That will not cut it. You describe the start of the episode in too much moment-to-moment detail and then rush through the second half instead of describing it all in a compelling and consistent way.

    What is the inciting incident that makes the beginning feel important and amazing? What kind of compelling surprise or cliffhanger can you create that pushes the audience to need to see episode 2 and beyond? There is nothing that happens in this first episode that your main character can’t just back out of and go back to their regular life. There is nothing special about this day or moment to grab our attention.

    • Your biography is too long and doesn’t come across as confident or focused. You can’t just tell a company you have a lot of ideas, you have to prove that those ideas are better than anything they could come up with on their own. Do you have a website with a portfolio of other work? Do you have experience on other projects or films?

    None of the concept art is finished so, in turn, the concept doesn’t feel properly fleshed out. Why should a company spend thousands, possibly millions of dollars, when you can’t even give them a clear vision of what this story might look like?

    I know the above points are harsh, but I need you to understand that this isn’t just about getting a passing grade on an assignment anymore. If you want to compete in a professional environment, especially if you are looking to lead a production, expectations are way, way higher.

    In its current form, none of this pitch package is ready. If you want to make a stronger impression, you need to reevaluate and overhaul every aspect of it.


    Transitioning from student work to professional output can be extremely tough, especially when you’re trying to jump into a leadership role by pitching a brand new project.

    The only way to get better is to build things, finish them, learn from the experience, and then keep building, over and over.

    If you found this post helpful, feel free to let me know here (or on Twitter), share the post with your friends, check out other tutorial posts I’ve written (including a whole series of articles on pitching), or sign up for my email newsletter.

    Conan the Barbarian #11 Reviews

    Comic Book University: “Absolutely fantastic…You have got to read this comic book…If you’re only getting one comic per month, this one is an easy contender.”

    Comic Culture: “It’s a very primal book…One of the best, most consistent books out there right now.”

    Comical Opinions: 9.5/10 “…a grim, gritty, epic entry in the series. Jim Zub packs in a plethora of twists and turns to tie the past and present together in a surprising way, and Robert De La Torre’s art is gorgeous.”

    Grimdark Magazine: “Rob De La Torre’s artwork is a visual feast, as always. His John Buscema-inspired character artwork and dynamically staged combat scenes receive a great deal of justified praise, but his backgrounds are also worthy of attention. His oppressive monolithic architecture and craggy, menace-filled subterranean passages create a real sense of place for the events of the story.”

    Hobbies of a Man: “Overall, this issue was great. I really had a fun time with it and I think it’s amazing…The fact that I can’t buy most of these double page spreads by Rob De La Torre as posters is a crime.”

    League of Comic Geeks: 10/10 “Gotta be my favourite book on the shelves! I love everything about this run!!! Story, art & colour all on the same page! Just so flipping fun!”

    Mandy’s a Geek: 9/10 “This is how Conan should be…This is one of the most consistently good comics on the stands. There’s never been a dip in quality, in fact the quality has gone up all the time and it’s a joy to read.”

    Pop Culture Philosophers: “The story is really cool. Conan is back in time, he’s met Kull, they go to Atlantis, there’s a big twist at the end here…This book is beautiful, I frickin’ love it!”

    Sci-Fi Pulse: 9.6/10 “Roberto De la Torre and Diego Rodriguez continue to do great work with the artwork for this book…a great issue with a shock twist that will keep fans on the edge of their seats ready for the next one.”

    Sleepy Reader 666: “Jim Zub is doing a great job just making each issue fun and filling it with all the kinds of stuff that makes sword & sorcery fun.”

    Stygian Dogs: “The success of this book is all in the team and the team remains so in the pocket. If this is what Heroic Signatures continues to offer us in its curation of Robert E. Howard’s characters in comic book form, I remain all in.”

    Thinking Critical: “Book of the week…The finale of this comic book and the huge reveal on the last page had my jaw on the floor, it was absolutely phenomenal. Roberto De La Torre was made to illustrate this comic book character in this series.”

    Todd Luck: “The artwork by Robert De La Torre continues to be very, very solid, very good stuff…This has been a very solid series so far.”

    Zubby Newsletter #64: Drunk Mecha Pilot


    Stacy and I arrived home from our 3 week Japan trip on Thursday just before midnight and, after two rough flights with no sleep across 16 hours, we crashed hard.

    I woke up on Friday morning feeling surprisingly good and, as I unpacked and started reorganizing, I thought maybe this time I might ride out the jet lag well and be able to enjoy the long weekend before diving back into work, but no such luck. By dinner time I was hit with waves of deep exhaustion, the kind that just shuts you down for hours at a time, and bouts of hunger or an upset stomach and that’s kind of been the last two and a half days – bursts of feeling okay smashed up against long bouts where I feel like a tiny drunk mecha pilot maneuvering my own shambling corpse.

    It’ll pass, it always does, but it’s part of getting back into international travel that I’d memory holed a bit.

    Now that I’m home, I need to dive right back into writing and prep for Howard Days in a couple weeks. No rest for the wicked.


    Japan-age


    Quite a few people reached out to ask where Stacy and I went during our trip. It’s a bit hard to encompass it all, but here’s the overview (and some photos):

    • We stayed in Tokyo for the first few days, which covered my Free Comic Book Day signing and shopping in Ikebukuro, Akihabara, and Nakano.

    • We went to Nagoya to explore a city we’d never been to before and experience the new Ghibli Park.

    • Our next stop was Osaka to enjoy the food and night life, more shopping and exploring. Key spots included Dōtonbori, Kuromon Market, Denden Town, and Shin Sekai, along with the new Universal Japan theme park to check out Super Mario World.

    • We took a day trip to Nara to spend time with the deer in Nara Park and show our friends Todaiji Temple.

    • Back to Tokyo for the final leg of our trip – TeamLab Planets and TeamLab Borderless, the Design Festa indie art convention, along with exploring Ginza, Asakusa, Odaiba, Yūyake Dandan, and Shinjuku.

    • The places we went were amazing, and just diving back into Japan after six years away was a joy, but it was also wonderful traveling with a couple of our friends from Alberta, touching base with old friends we have in Japan, meeting new people (including an evening where I chatted with a Robert E. Howard scholar living in Yokohama and another night where I ran AD&D in a pub for a group of old school gamers), and unexpectedly running into a couple former students while we were on the road.

    Celebrating my birthday and kicking off my teaching sabbatical with this whirlwind trip was incredibly special…and worth the jet lag. 😉


    Legendary Hero, Legendary Sword


    As part of the long term Heroic Signatures publishing plan for Conan, we’ve talked at length about how best to honor the canon source material of Robert E. Howard while also incorporating elements that are recognizable and appealing to the wider pop culture audience Conan has built in the 90+ years since he was created.

    Conan is an icon, he’s the Superman of Sword & Sorcery, and just like Superman, there are aspects of the character and his world that came later but have become intrinsically linked to how he’s now recognized. Superman didn’t fly in the original stories, there was no Kryptonite, and he didn’t work for the Daily Planet, but almost everyone would agree that these elements are now important parts of the canon.

    With that in mind, in this week’s Conan the Barbarian #11 we surprised readers by bringing the iconic ATLANTEAN SWORD into Conan’s ongoing continuity for the first time. The sword and its distinctive look by Production Designer Ron Cobb is already inextricably linked to Conan and we believe it’s time to make it a formal part of his story.


    If you haven’t had a chance to check out this issue, the penultimate piece before we wrap up our epic first year on the relaunch, do not miss it. Rob De La Torre and Diego Rodriguez are delivering incredible art on every page and we’re paying off plot material set up at the start.


    Current + Upcoming Releases

  • Conan the Barbarian #10 – released April 24th.
  • Savage Sword of Conan #2 – released May 1st.
  • Conan: Battle of the Black Stone #0 – released May 4th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #11 – released May 22nd.
  • Conan the Barbarian Vol.2: Thrice Marked For Death – TPB releases June 11th.
  • Conan the Barbarian #12 – releases June 26th.
  • Life of Wolverine – One Shot – releases July 3rd.
  • Savage Sword of Conan #3 – releases July 3rd.

  • Upcoming Appearances

    Jun 7-8, 2024 Howard Days Cross Plains, TX, USA
    July 25-28, 2024 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego, CA, USA
    Aug 1-4, 2024 Gen Con Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Aug 16-18, 2024 Fan Expo Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
    Aug 22-25, 2024 Fan Expo Canada Toronto, ONT, CANADA
    Oct 17-20, 2024 Gamehole Con Madison, WI, USA


    Links and Other Things

    • A slew of friends and fans sent me Alain Seguin‘s fan animated trailer for Conan: Tower of the Elephant. Seeing our favorite Cimmerian in a classic animated style here is a treat.

    • When I started this newsletter just over a year ago Karl Kerschl had a crowdfunding campaign going for Death Transit Tanager, and now he’s back with a campaign for part 2. Karl’s a friend, I love his artwork, the first one rocked. Done and done.

    • On the flight home one of the films I watched was a documentary called Soviet Bus Stops, and I’m glad I did. It’s about a Canadian photographer who has been taking pictures of obscure bus stops across the former Soviet Union, immortalizing their unexpected architecture and showing how artistic and ambitious they were at a time when the country’s culture and construction were being homogenized in service to the state. It’s a fascinating bit of oddball history that echoes larger themes about art and rebellion, well told and whimsical.

    I hope your weekend has been a good one with zero jet lag. 😉
    Jim

    Zub Comics Arriving in July


    CONAN THE BARBARIAN #13
    story JIM ZUB
    art DOUG BRAITHWAITE
    colors DIEGO RODRIGUEZ
    cover A – DAN PANOSIAN
    cover B – AMANDA CONNER
    cover C – DOUG BRAITHWAITE
    cover D – GIL AGUDIN
    cover E – GREAG BROADMORE
    cover F – GIADA MARCHISIO

    A brand new Conan arc begins! After leaving Cimmeria filled with wanderlust, a young Conan heads north in search of glory. What he finds in that cold climate will change his outlook forever, setting him on the path that will make him a legend. The triumphant new era of Conan continues in this tale of brutal heroic adventure!

    LIFE OF WOLVERINE #1
    story JIM ZUB
    art RAMÓN F. BACHS
    cover RON LIM

    LOGAN’S LIFE STORY – IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER FOR THE FIRST TIME!
    WOLVERINE has been mindwiped, manipulated and given false memories so many times, what is the truth of his long life? Now, as a journey into his own past becomes paramount to the survival of mutantkind, delve into the TRUE story of LOGAN’s life, from his earliest days in the late 1800s, to the many wars he’s fought alongside comrades like CAPTAIN AMERICA and SABRETOOTH, to the WEAPON X procedures that changed his life forever, his days on the X-MEN and more! All IN CONTINUITY, this includes some adventures and links to the past never before revealed, giving the most complete picture of WOLVERINE’s history EVER ASSEMBLED! In print for the first time!

    40 PGS./ONE-SHOT/Parental Advisory …$4.99

    Conan: Battle of the Black Stone Prelude Reviews

    The CONAN: BATTLE OF THE BLACK STONE prelude issue arrived on Free Comic Book Day (and is now available for FREE online right HERE), kicking off an event mini-series that will run this Fall. What did critics think of this teaser issue?

    Bottalk: 9/10 “If you’re a fan of Jack London’s The Star Rover you’ll love this comic and it’s free! Go get it! Download it! It is spectacular.”

    Comics For Sinners: “Titan Comics obviously wants to produce a consistently good comic book featuring great talents, and they make sure that this attitude carries over even to a freebie.”

    Eternal Crusader: “It will be exciting to see how this Howardverse develops and how much it will be the focus of future Conan publications…The artwork is bold, flashy, and colorful.”

    Gary B the Casual Comic Guy: “Just a fantastic start, certainly intriguing, and seeing all these characters being drawn in makes me anticipate the coming story.”

    Grimdark Magazine: “The Jonas Scharf artwork in this issue appeals…Foreshadowing an exciting event, this issue is engaging for existing fans while simultaneously providing a gentle introduction to newcomers to Conan the Barbarian.”

    Hobbies of a Man: “I really enjoyed how everything looked. I thought it was all cool…overall, very cool stuff, and I thought the WTF at the end there was really, really great.”

    Is This Just Fantasy?: “It’s interesting how they’re going to unite them all in this same story. I’m looking forward to it and it should be interesting. I’m here for it.”

    League of Comic Geeks: “Thoroughly enjoyed this, serves its purpose of both an introduction and kick off spot for new and existing readers alike. Exactly what a FCBD issue should be.”

    Stygian Dogs: “Jonas Scharf’s art looks great. It’s something distinct from what Rob De La Torre and Doug Braithwaite have been giving us and Jao Canola’s seem bolder that we’ve seen in the ongoing monthly series.”

    Tennessee Fats: “This was a wonderful tie together and a wonderful drop in the bucket to tell me what’s coming in the Howardverse.”

    Todd Luck: “I think this is a really good comic to pick up if you are a Conan fan.”

    Zubby Newsletter #63: Forty Eight

    Today’s my birthday. 48.

    Things are good!

    Stacy and I are still in Japan, at least for a few more days. The friends we were traveling with headed home Thursday so it’s just the two of us now. Getting back here at last has been wonderful, but I can definitely feel a difference deep in my bones. Exploring all day wipes us out faster than it used to. There have been several days where we’ve run around in the morning and early afternoon, literally had a midday nap back at our hotel, and then rallied for more social stuff in the evening. We’re not in our twenties anymore.

    That said, tons of walking and great food has also been good for us, even if my feet are sore and muscles ache. As always, there’s so much to see and do.

    For my birthday we braved the line at Mutekiya, a famous no reservation restaurant and one of my favorite food spots in Tokyo. Incredible ramen and then cocktails at a nearby pub with the love of my life. A fine start to 48.

    I posted up a gallery of photos from The Ghibli Park in Nagoya on Facebook and Twitter and will have other galleries for the Super Mario World theme park, Design Festa 59 and other locations once I have time to filter through the hundreds of photos we’ve taken.


    Alien Gods and the Hyborian Age

    Jeff Shanks, the Robert E. Howard scholar who writes the amazing essays in the back of each issue of the monthly Conan comic, talks up a storm about the literary and spiritual references that helped build the Hyborian Age, plus lots of interesting background on pulp writing in the 1920s and ’30s.

    The official Conan the Barbarian YouTube channel is doing a great job creating original material for fans to dig into.


    Current + Upcoming Releases

    Upcoming Appearances

    Jun 7-8, 2024 Howard Days Cross Plains, TX, USA
    July 25-28, 2024 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego, CA, USA
    Aug 1-4, 2024 Gen Con Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Aug 16-18, 2024 Fan Expo Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
    Aug 22-25, 2024 Fan Expo Canada Toronto, ONT, CANADA
    Oct 17-20, 2024 Gamehole Con Madison, WI, USA


    Links and Other Things


    • Five years ago on my birthday, I played Minsc the Mighty alongside an all-star cast at Dungeons & Dragons Live: The Descent. It was a milestone in so many wondrous ways, near and dear to my heart. If you haven’t watched the old liveplay video, it’s still on the official D&D YouTube channel.

    • I mentioned playtesting and enjoying Keith Baker‘s GLIM game a couple months ago and it’s now on Kickstarter, so check it out.

    • My buddy Ian Moss has designed a new board game called EVERBLOOM also worth checking out.

    Veritasium‘s video all about game theory and the Prisoner’s Dilemma is well worth watching.

    I hope the rest of your weekend is a blast!
    Jim

    Zubby Newsletter #62: Near and Deer

    Greetings from Nara Park. The deer here are as friendly as ever.

    Tokyo, Nagoya, Nara and Osaka. Our vacation in Japan continues. It’s been a great time to engage much-missed experiences and discover new ones. Our friends are on a 2-day temple retreat over the weekend while Stacy and I enjoy exploration and amazing meals in one of Japan’s most vibrant cities.

    This whole trip has been a gift, but it’s time to give all of YOU a gift as well…


    Battle of the Black Stone Prelude – FREE


    Last weekend was Free Comic Book Day and Titan released our CONAN: BATTLE OF THE BLACK STONE prelude issue to shops but, if you missed it, I’m happy to point you toward the FREE PDF DOWNLOAD now available from Titan’s website and Amazon Kindle!

    Jonas Scharf‘s line art is sublime, Jao Canola‘s colors are intense, Richard Starkings‘ letters sing, Jeff Shanks‘ essay is enlightening…and the story is pretty good too. 😉

    Please share that download link far and wide, my friends. I want to get it in the hands of as many people as possible as we ramp up for more Conan adventures through 2024 and beyond.


    Nerd Chatter


    During the Calgary Expo I chatted with Chris Doucher from GeekNerdNet and the interview is now available on his site. We cover Conan aplenty and conventions.


    Current + Upcoming Releases

    Upcoming Appearances

    Jun 7-8, 2024 Howard Days Cross Plains, TX, USA
    July 25-28, 2024 San Diego Comic-Con San Diego, CA, USA
    Aug 1-4, 2024 Gen Con Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Aug 16-18, 2024 Fan Expo Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
    Aug 22-25, 2024 Fan Expo Canada Toronto, ONT, CANADA
    Oct 17-20, 2024 Gamehole Con Madison, WI, USA


    Links and Other Things

    Gale Force Nine is crowdfunding The Adventures of Conan with dice-rolling action and asymmetrical gameplay. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but the previews look solid and I’m eager to give it a try. There’s still 4 days left if you want to get in on the ground floor on this one.

    Conan the Barbarian letterer and all-around amazing creator Richard Starkings is crowdfunding Elephantmen: Yvette, a new 48-page special issue and the campaign has some fun extras worth checking out. Richard talks more about Conan connections here in this Facebook post.

    I hope your weekend is going well!
    Jim