Zubby Newsletter #52: A Sparkling Emerald

This young warrior’s name is Conan! He’s not quite ready for Venarium,
but I’m sure he’ll get his first sword soon.

This past weekend was Emerald City Comic Con, my first convention of 2024, and it was an incredible experience. ECCC is usually a sharp show, with excited comic fans aplenty and a solid guest list of professional pals, but this year had more sparkle than usual.

At New York Comic-Con back in October I had a few old school Conan the Barbarian fans come to my table to tell me how much they were enjoying the new series. This time, with 5 more issues and the first trade paperback released and months of good word of mouth across the industry, it was a steady stream of readers, many of them collectors from the 1970’s, lining up in front of my table with praise and hearty handshakes as we talked about everyone’s favorite Cimmerian and the incredible artwork Rob De La Torre and Doug Braithwaite are unleashing each issue. In addition to longtime fans, there were plenty of new readers too, many who said they had wanted to check out Conan for years but didn’t know where to start. The new series grabbed their attention and now they were looking at back issues and collections to dig in even more.

It was an intense and heartfelt experience and it kept happening in person over and over, every day of the show, while at the same time my social media was blowing up with photos, compliments, and strong reviews for Savage Sword of Conan #1 and Conan the Barbarian #8, which both arrived in comic shops on Wednesday. I was taken aback by all of it in the best way possible.

This isn’t meant as an ego thing, I swear. I just want to mark this moment and thank everyone for their abundant enthusiasm.

Taking it even higher, on Friday morning the nomination list for the 2023 Robert E. Howard Awards went public and I found out that the new Conan comic is up for two possible awards:
THE COSTIGAN – for literary achievement
THE RANKIN – for artistic achievement

I’m thrilled that The Robert E. Howard Foundation, a dedicated group of scholars and conservators of the man’s work, has recognized our series. It’s an honor to contribute to such an important literary legacy and bring new fans into the fold.

I’ve been writing Conan stories since 2015 and this is the first time I’ve been nominated by the Foundation, so that’s a pretty special milestone. Fan engagement at the show and the REH Foundation nominations hitting at the same time was an incredible jolt of excitement. It feels like we’re tapping into the bedrock that made the original stories so engaging and helped launch the sword & sorcery genre over 90 years ago.

Off the show floor, lots of great meals and conversations with friends, some karaoke and a few pints to celebrate another year on the convention circuit.

My good friend Jody Houser was hit with an inner ear infection that brought on intense bouts of vertigo Friday evening and that necessitated a group of us skipping out on social stuff to help take care of her, but even in the swirl of all that there was a throughline of friendship and looking out for each other that reaffirmed how much I enjoy doing these events and being part of this industry.


The enshittification of technology continues.

When Google Drive launched, I was an early adopter and it was an absolute gamechanger.

The document I had on hand was always the latest, saving me from version numbering and worrying about losing work. Having every single story I’d written saved locally on my laptop simultaneously backed up on the cloud and my desktop computer at home meant I could work flexibly and fearlessly. A bit of writing done at the airport or on a flight would update all versions as soon as I connected to wifi or settled in at a hotel.

It was simple, elegant, and made sense…so, of course, it couldn’t stay that way.

Now, the files in my Google Drive folder will not open without current active internet running, which means I can’t continue working on a project on a flight or check older files as reference when I’m on the go. Why? No idea. The full-size file is sitting there in the folder saved locally taking up hard drive space and the prompt says it’s all up to date, but now I click on it and it just loads endlessly until it crashes because of…reasons, some new bloated complicated process running under the hood that acts as an unnecessary barrier between me and the file that didn’t used to be there.

It’s so frustrating.

The people building this stuff have stopped using their own products and, in turn, have forgotten what it was supposed to do in the first place. Endless spyware, subscriptions, or hidden processes for less efficient, less elegant, less productive everything.

Coffee & Heroes – Part 1

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful time talking with the owners of Coffee & Heroes in Ireland all about my career in comics. It was a great chat and covered so much ground that they’re splitting it into 3 parts.

Here’s part 1, where we cover nerdy reading with my brother, my influences, the things I did before comic writing, sword & sorcery as a genre, tabletop RPGs, superheroes and Vertigo books, serialized entertainment, the struggles of launching and maintaining Skullkickers, being typecast, and more!

Current + Upcoming Releases

Upcoming Appearances

Mar 16-18, 2024 Founders & Legends Lake Geneva, WI, USA
Mar 21-24, 2024 Gary Con Lake Geneva, WI, USA
Apr 25-28, 2024 Calgary Expo Calgary, AB, Canada

Links and Other Things

• The second Thunder Road: Vendetta board game Kickstarter is on now. I really enjoyed the base game (it’s basically Mad Max as a board game) and being able to snag a new expansions and other exclusive additions here is enticing.
• J.L. Collins let me know that the crowdfund campaign for Thistle, a new fantasy comic series, is now underway. I read an advance of the first issue and it looks like it’s channeling classic elements with a bit of a twist.
Have a great week, everyone!

  1. Congratulations on being recognized by the REH Foundation for your great work with Conan!
    It is well deserved.

    Any rough dates for your Japan tour?

    Stay safe and enjoy!

    • Thanks!
      Looks like the trip will be in May, but I’m still working out the details.

      • Cool.
        Hope you like hot and humid weather.
        If you’re going to do some traveling check out the JR rail pass. It is a great deal.
        Avoid Golden Week if you can, it’s way too crowded everywhere then.

        Stay safe and enjoy!

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