Zubby Newsletter #19: SDCC, Past and Present

Next week is Comic-Con: International (aka. San Diego Comic-Con, aka. SDCC), the massive pop culture convention that always feels like a milestone and a millstone at the same time.

My first SDCC was 2002, a weird and wonderful trip where I flung myself out into the unknown to promote my fledgling webcomic and learn more about the industry. It all happened thanks to Scott McCloud’s encouragement and help from a few other online creators along with a plane ticket bought by my Dad because my brother told him if I didn’t take this unique opportunity I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

He was right. That trip changed so much.

Modern Tales 2002 (left to right: Dirk Tiede, Derek Kirk Kim, Jim Zub,
Jesse Hamm, Chuck Whelon, Joey Manley, Lea Hernandez, James Kochalka)

For the very first time, creators whose work I’d seen and enjoyed became real people I could interact with and learn from in person. It was amazing, inspiring, and a bit scary.

More than 20 years and over 200 conventions later, I’m still making stories, meeting people, and finding inspiration when I travel to these shows.

Even though I’ve been to conventions all over the world, San Diego has a mystique all its own. Comics, movies, prose, toys, and games all smash together for a week of celebration and surprises. It’s a business and a joy with lots of potential work and money swiftly swimming alongside an obsessive need to see and be seen in this business. The more you go, the more ‘normal’ it all seems, but deep down you know it’s something special and you’re still a big ol’ goobery fan just as much as you’re a working professional.

UDON Crew 2015 (Too many people to name!)

And yet, despite all the spectacle, when I look back, the photos that anchor me year after year are the ones I take with friends. So many incredible people I’ve met and grown close to because we share these convention experiences and love what we do.

At the CDLF Party 2022 (left to right: Jackson Lanzing, Jody Houser, Phil Sevy,
Cara O’Neil, Jim Zub, Collin Kelly)

Last year, Troy Little was the best damn roommate I could have asked for. Getting to hang out with him and do the whirlwind of events and parties made it feel like no time at all had passed even though convention season went into stasis for almost three years. It was a fun return to form as I tried to reabsorb all the best parts of the San Diego experience without letting the negativity creep in.

At the Eisner Awards 2022 (Jim Zub, Kevin Eastman, Troy Little)

Negativity? Absolutely.

SDCC is an emotional roller coaster and, no matter how hard you try to resist, there are inevitable moments where you get worn out or beaten down by it all. Even though I’m incredibly excited about everything on tap for this year, I’m also aware that there will be times where I feel absolutely out of place, unwanted, and ignored in and amongst the sheer chaos of it all. You want to be acknowledged and accepted by your peers. You want to celebrate each victory and forget each failure. You want to make headway with new creative projects and chart exciting plans for the year to come. San Diego is a Gauntlet in every sense of the word. It tests your resolve, it punishes your hubris, and it makes you feel very small…

…And yet…

…And yet every single time I go (18 times as of this year) I end up having these moments, these ridiculously wonderful moments I never could have planned for, moments that remind why I do this at all. Sometimes they’re big weird celebrity interactions, other times they’re intimate conversations with peers or newcomers, but either way they’re the kind of thing that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else. I cherish those moments even more than I dread the exhaustion and fear of rejection that will inevitably be part of it as well.

If you’ll be in San Diego this time and you see me, please say “Hi” and let’s take a photo, so that years later I can get wistful about how young and amazing we looked way back when.

Zub at SDCC 2023!

Over on my site is a post I’m keeping up-to-date with signing times and panels, so please check there for info on where I’ll be each day. That way I’m not sending out a one-time email with times or places that may change.

The show floor is too big to fit the whole map here in my newsletter. Go to my site for the full-size SDCC Hall A-G honker. Just remember – Artist Alley Table GG-18.

The CONAN THE BARBARIAN launch happening at the show is big in a way I don’t know if I’ve fully come to grips with. There are four show exclusive variant covers for this first issue, including an extra-special one I’ll have for sale at my Comic Sketch Art table in Artist Alley (GG-18) illustrated by the legendary Dan PanosianThere are also signings every day, interviews, and panels. It’s a bit nuts.

We announced the Conan creative team last year at SDCC and this year at the same time we launch the first issue. I can’t believe how fast these 12 months have gone.

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but I’m incredibly proud of our whole creative team and honored at the great response so far for the series. If the plans we have for the next two years (and more) go forward, it’s going to be an absolutely wild and wonderful ride.

Obviously, if you’re at the show, I encourage you to pick up a copy of our first issue (one week ahead of the in-store release) so I can make it less than mint with my signature and then you can read it and tell me if we did right by our favorite Cimmerian.

The Art of Storytelling Begins!

The first lesson for Marvel’s The Art of Storytelling online course is now out in the wild and next week I’ll be with the Proko + Marvel crew promoting it at SDCC. Stan Prokopenko covers major aspects of the course and its structure here in this new introductory video

Links and Other Stuff

• Comrade Bullski has a great tweet thread on the changing geography of the Hyborian Age.

• Watch Rob De La Torre sketch in Procreate:

• Toronto is getting a Lego-themed pop-up burger restaurant in October?

Okay, that should cover it for now. Wish me luck at the big show!


  1. do you ever plan on writing another ibuki comic? I feel like the world needs Ibuki more then ever

    • No current plans for more Street Fighter comics from me, but I’d be up for it if UDON wants to do more down the road.

      • do you usually pitch stuff to UDON or do they call you asking you to write something?

        • I worked at Udon for years doing illustration, art directing, and editorial work, so the Ibuki and Cammy mini-series grew naturally out of my other jobs at the studio as my writing career started getting traction. Nowadays they would probably approach me about possible projects.

          • Jim, I think we’d make a pretty dynamic duo as writing partners. I think we should team up and write a new Ibuki comic for UDON, bring more attention to the character.

          • Thanks for the offer, but my schedule is packed with other projects and I’m not looking for a writing partner at this time.

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