Zubby Newsletter #1: Everything Old Is New Again

Before social media or personal websites were a regular thing, I had a “Zubby Newsletter” I’d send to 20-30 of my friends/colleagues (those few who actually had email addresses back then) as a way to stay in touch when I moved to Calgary. The first one I sent was on March 27, 1999.

In February 2004 I migrated that newsletter over to Livejournal.

In May 2012, I moved all the newsletter and LJ posts to my personal website at www.jimzub.com

Starting up a newsletter again 24 years later feels both familiar and strange.

Zubstack will be promotional (but not spammy, I promise) and also a spot for me to talk about process – writing and drawing – links to articles and tutorials that have grabbed my attention and games, books, or other media on my mind…

…Which, funny enough, is almost exactly what the original newsletter did 24 years ago. The only difference now is that it’s open to anyone instead of just a handful of people I knew in ’99.

It’s all cycles. Wheels within wheels. 😉

Let’s get to it-


I assume if you’re on board this newsletter thing, you know what you’re getting into. It seems weird to do an introduction when people are actively choosing to sign up but, just to be on the safe side –

I’m Jim Zub (a pen name shortened from “Zubkavich”), a Canadian writer and artist probably best known for comics and TTRPG material I’ve been producing in various capacities since 2001.

Maybe you found my first webcomic during nascent internet days.

Maybe we met at a comic, anime, or gaming convention in the early 2000’s.

Maybe I popped up on your radar when I launched Skullkickers (2010) or Wayward (2014) during the Image Comics 2nd/3rd creator-owned wave.

Maybe you read one of my Making Comics/Economics of Comics tutorial posts around that same time.

Maybe you’ve enjoyed other comics or creative work I’ve done since then.

Whatever brought you on board, I’m thrilled you’re here.

Movie DNA

A couple weeks ago I was a guest on a podcast called Cinema Splash Page where host Michael Brodie and I went through key films from my youth that had a major influence on my storytelling sensibilities. Most of the interviews I do are about comics or RPGs, so this was a nice change of pace.

When I went back through those films, it was a bit surprising how deeply they drilled into my brain and still inform my work. If I had to summarize three key aspects-

  • Heading into the Unknown: Venturing forth to somewhere new, mysterious, and unexpected.
  • Swashbucklers, Underdogs, and Lucky Bastards: The protagonists I gravitate to tend to be caught off guard and in over their head. They’re doing the best they can, and will need to use everything in their arsenal to keep up with situations they find themselves in.
  • Adventure and Wonderment: Things move quickly and the stakes are worthy, but there’s always time for a touch of comedy or a moment of awe to break up the action.

Being able to see those broader patterns and understand my taste in fiction is valuable. It helps me make clearer creative choices that really click for me.

Murder, For Fun and Profit

Last week, Murderworld: Game Over was released at your favorite local comic shop. It was the final chapter of a 5-part story co-written by Ray Fawkes and I all about Arcade, the classic X-Men/Spider-Man villain. Since Arcade always loses to the super heroes he faces, we wanted to show how he actually keeps his whole Murderworld enterprise afloat, while making him a much more effective and sinister presence all around.

Ray and I originally pitched Murderworld to then Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada back in 2004, so this pitch was old enough to vote by the time it finally got the green light thanks to current Editor-In-Chief C.B. CebulskiX-Men editor Jordan White, and our own amazing editor Sarah Brunstad.

It’s now my go-to example on why you shouldn’t publicly blab about old storylines or other ones that got away. You never know when you may be able to take another shot or repurpose ideas down the road. I go more in-depth on how Murderworld finally came about in this video:

At each step of development, Sarah Brunstad championed Murderworld, encouraging us to tell the darkly twisted tale in our outline and made sure we didn’t have to sand down any sharp points. Every script I thought we were going to get push back, but she saw it through.

Our art teams – line artists Jethro Morales, Farid Karami, Carlos Nieto, Luca Pizzari, Lorenzo Tammetta, colorist Matt Mila and letterer Cory Petit – delivered the goods every issue.

Ray and I have known each other since college. We’ve watched each other navigate the highs and lows of the comic business. We’ve cheerleaded and commiserated on each success or setback. Finally getting the chance to work side-by-side with him on a project has been such a blast.

At the end of our Murderworld story, we sowed the seeds for a possible sequel and obviously we’d love to see that come to fruition but, whatever happens next, just having this story finally told after all this time feels like a huge win.

The trade paperback collection arrives in June and we hope people check it out if they missed the five interconnected single issues as they were released (Murderworld: Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Moon Knight, and Game Over).

Links and Other Things

• This digital drawing tutorial about how to get clean ink lines in Photoshop posted by BaM Animation was a nice one to pass along to my students:

Questing Beast cracks the code on original Dungeons & Dragons worldbuilding and timekeeping. I grew up playing in the first edition era and yet the specifics of how it used to work in the rules as written (aka. RAW) still really surprised me here:

• Also, my buddy Karl Kerschl’s new Kickstarter campaign is looking sweeeet. Go get it: Death Transit Tanager

Okay, that’s enough for this time.
Thanks for your support and *ahem* zubscription.

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