Zubby Newsletter #42: Year In Review, 2023

For the past 13 years I’ve been putting together a ‘Year In Review‘ post on my website as a way to summarize my thoughts and feelings on the year that was. It’s a nice way to measure highs and lows, and help jog my memory as things carry forward.

No pressure of course, but if you’re curious about what I was thinking in late December each year, here’s a complete link archive:

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

Jim and Stacy at Spitalfields in London – May 2023.

Stacy and I are plugging away on creative and personal projects aplenty and it feels extra-chaotic right now because there are towers of boxes stacked all over the house. Our basement is being refinished after we had to tear everything back to the foundation + studs to fix leaks that were getting worse, year by year. We had to haul a bunch of stuff into storage and even more stuff is temporarily piled high in almost every other room. It’s taken time, money, and a lot of hassle to get that foundation reinforced and leaks plugged, but when it’s all done that base will be solid and ready for what comes next.

Honestly, that’s a pretty good summary of 2023 for me as a whole-

Reevaluating, repairing, and reinforcing things that matter and trying to clear out the debris that doesn’t.

In July, I talked about slowing down to enjoy conventions more and I’m trying to carry that attitude through to other interactions as well – Deeper conversations and a greater appreciation for time spent with the people I care about, and making sure they know that every step of the way.

Last year I mentioned that 2022 felt transitional and I hoped 2023 could “finally arrive somewhere new and exciting”…and, on a creative level it did in a surprising way.

(Yes, this is the part where I talk about Conan the Barbarian. You knew this was coming.)

I had high hopes for the Heroic Signatures-Titan Comics relaunch on Conan, of course. I wanted to use this second chance to make my mark on a character and world that’s stirred so much of my imagination over the years. All those hopes and wants are great, but actually seeing it come through so damn strong, both in terms of sales and the response from readers, has been unbelievable.

How do you catch second struck lightning in a bottle? I don’t know, but I’m holding this one as tight as I can and using its energy and inspiration like a lantern to light my way as we head into an uncertain future.

Ten years ago, I was slowly climbing out of a creative crater from the asteroid impact that was working briefly on the DC New 52. Based on that baffling experience, I felt pretty sure my time in ‘mainstream’ comics was going to be brief. Instead, I managed to carve out a career for myself with creator-owned and commercial work that played to my strengths and am more excited about making stories than at almost any other point in my life.

There are so many factors involved that are out of our control. So many other projects where I felt like we had something special, and yet the market and readership did not respond the way I thought they would.

Sometimes you work hard and no one notices.

Sometimes you make big plans to take a big teaching sabbatical in 2020 and then a global pandemic comes along and everything changes…

(In theory I’m taking that 16-month teaching sabbatical starting late April 2024, but I’ll keep that here between brackets for now because I don’t want to jinx it. 😉 )

I know at some point the wild ride will end, but at this moment I’m feeling the rush and relishing every minute of it, because it is impermanent, fleeting, and hard work does not always equal success.

Starting up this newsletter again almost 25 years after my original email updates for friends and family was a way to cut through the noise of social media and rebuild a base of who I am and what I’m doing.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your kind messages and support.

Here’s my writing output for 2023:

25 comics and 5 other books I contributed to.

I hope 2024 looks strong for you and your loved ones.

Be good to each other. In the end, that is the only legacy we have any control over.


  1. Your Conan work is awesome! Keep the adventures coming!

    Happy new year to you and yours.

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