Jim Zub joins us to talk about comics, his TED Talk and more!
We are super excited for Jim Zub to be back on the show! Kenric sits down with him to talk about his work and more!
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Announcer: Nathaniel Perry
Jim Zubb – Video Interview
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: [00:00:00] All right, guys.
Kenric: Welcome back. I’m Kenrick, what you already know. And today on the show, we’re super excited because if you’re a cone and fan, like I did, he wrote some classics.
You of course done a ton of Marvel and a lot of independence and you probably already know him just by seeing a smiling face. There Jim’s up thing coming on,
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: man. Thank you for having me.
Kenric: So today I’ve been working. Like we were talking, we were pre talking. I was telling you
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: if the interview just snaps closed at some point, probably probably a technical issue. It’ll just come up the little colored bars and we apologize for this interruption. Yeah, that’s right, dude. I watched your
Kenric: Ted talk today with
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: dragons. Nice.
Kenric: I got to know, how did you prepare for that? Because
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: I’m doing it.
I did a Ted talk in [00:01:00] 2019. It was actually one of the most difficult sort of public presentations I’ve ever done. Like I, so I’m a teacher. I teach up at Seneca college here in town. Nice. So I’m used to being in front of people. Public speaking has not been a problem for me for a long, long time. I go to comic conventions.
I do panels, I, whatever YouTube videos, interviews like this, it’s not really an issue, but there was something very different about doing a Ted talk. There’s first of all, the, the grandiosity of it, you’re just like, oh, it’s a Ted talk. And then on top of that, this idea that, that you have to say something deep and meaningful and know.
And so I had around five months, I guess, to prepare that talk. And it was terrible for the first four months of preparation. Like I over prepared and I over memorized and you in the
Kenric: mirror, like totally talking to
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: yourself, or you just presented for other people and it becomes robotic. Like you just, [00:02:00] you know, and so I had it drilled down to a point where I had it memorized, but it was kind of.
And then I, you know, my wife is amazing and really good about being really honest with me. And so I had done a rehearsal of it and she was like, all the things you’re saying. Have value and are, I know I’ve heard you even tell some of these anecdotes before that you’ve just stripped all the kind of emotion out of it.
And you’ve just turned it into this cold, hard thing. Stop looking at the script. Stop memorizing. Like, just speak like yourself because in the classroom, that’s when you’re at your best. When you’re at panels, that’s when you’re at your best is just still saying something valuable, but not necessarily. You know, sanding off all the ROS, it’s like
Kenric: the bar room discussion of your
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: time, right?
Like just like, well, she wasn’t aware of everything that was going to go in there. It was like, I was running certain parts of it past and And the [00:03:00] minute that I kind of put the script away and just sort of internalized, okay. This part of the talk we’re talking about these sorts of things, because there is a PowerPoint presentation that goes with it.
So as long as I have that as an overall guide, like here’s what I need to cover. I was fine, you know, and it all kind of worked. And then, so that was. Three weeks or so it all kind of finally pulled together and that’s when I started to feel good about it. And I went to the venue the day before, and actually they have, they’re putting, you know, like the day before the they’re getting all the lighting setup and all the sound systems and all this, there’s no one there except for a few technicians and the people in charge.
And they gave people the option. If you’re around, you can come early. So I showed up early and I just got up on stage and I was like, okay. This is what it’ll feel like. These are the acoustics, this is what, what we need to do. And in the morning, you know, you’re, you’re going in and you’re getting prepped to grab a cup of coffee and all this stuff.
So even just knowing how the building was laid out and where I was going to kind of park at, like, it sounds dumb, but it just meant the [00:04:00] next day I could show up, know exactly where I was supposed to go, what I was going to do and just get into that zone. I get up there and bust it out. Yeah. And so the minute that, that, that it was interesting.
Cause I wanted to go in the morning and on the original schedule, I was set to go in the middle of the afternoon and I thought, oh, people are going to be burned out and exhausted. And the crowd, you know, as excited as they want to be, they’re just getting bombarded with information. I don’t want to go first, but I want to go sort of middle of the morning.
Right. And, and that day, while I was at the venue, they had one of their speakers drop. And they said, do you want to take the spot? It’s the middle of the morning? And I was like, yes, I do. And so, it was great cause I, I went second. So the, you know, the first person basically has to get the crowd warmed up and going and I thought, okay, great.
Then I stepped up, did mine. And the minute it was over. You walk backstage and you feel like, okay, I’m done pressure’s off. And I saw someone else come in the door and they were like [00:05:00] a nervous wreck. And they’re like, I don’t know where to go, what to do. And I’m like, let me show you. And I just kinda took them around.
Okay. Here’s what you’re going to do. And here’s how it works and loved you. You know? Cause at that point I was like, well, it’s the tough part it’s done. I’m finished. Like, all I gotta do now is just hang back and watch a couple more talks and have lunch and then leave. Right. So it was a, it was good. Sort of the ideal circumstance based on how it all went.
Yeah. So, this is a really weird thing to sort of say if you do a Ted talk and it goes over, well, you get a lot of offers to do that same speech elsewhere. And I haven’t done it again. Like I don’t want it to turn into a weird relieve rehearsed. Here’s the emotional part where I say something poignant.
Like I just, it’s not really why I did it or what I want to do, but some of those speakers, they, they kind of ended up going on tour for sorts, like doing that same speech at, at conferences and stuff. And that’s not [00:06:00] really of interest to me. Like that’s not, you know, and if they asked you to do another topic, maybe, maybe you know, like I said, I, now at least I know kind of what, what it entails.
But it was one of the more intimidating things I’ve, I’ve worked on, you know, as anything. Yeah. I think the difference is, is that as a writer, I’m used to creating fictional stories and coming up with characters and here it’s like, let me tell you about my life. That’s a very different kind of, even when I’m so on my website, I have a lot of interesting, I thought I have a lot of tutorials and how to write comics and how I broke in, but those are all functional in the sense of like, Here’s something you can learn about breaking in, or here’s something you can learn about pitching your stories, or here’s a mistake I made don’t make that mistake, right.
Rather than it being. Here’s this like holistic whole of ideas and concepts. And what I think is important in my life, like that’s yeah, it was a, a really fascinating experience, you know, and, and [00:07:00] strange and good. Obviously it was a positive and I’m glad I did it, but man, the stress leading up to it was unlike almost anything else I’ve done, you know, like how were you
Kenric: approached for that?
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Just, they came to me. So what’ll happen is you know, they’re regional, right? So the TEDx is all being organized by different independent people. And so they’ll sort of throw a net out regionally in terms of people that are interested in. Yeah. And because I think I had done. It must’ve been, because I, if I recall, I had done a bunch of Canadian press around when I was running champions, we created a new indigenous superhero for the marbles teen team of, of young heroes.
And so I ended up doing like multiple radio shows in Canada. I did the national news multiple times and I did newspaper stuff. So for like three weeks, It was pretty intense. And my face showed up all over Canadian news. And I think the guy organizing it saw one of those and was like, oh, this guy’s [00:08:00] neat.
And I think he assumed I was going to talk about superheroes and stuff, but he, he came to me and said, you know, would you like to do a Ted talk? And I said, I’m interested. And I said, what do you want me to talk about? And he was like, no, no, that’s not how it works. You propose it to us. And so. I think he assumed I was going to talk about Marvel stuff.
And then I ended up coming back to him and saying, I want to talk about, you know, Dungeons and dragons and role-playing games. And he was like, cool, like that, that works for us, you know, like whatever you’re passionate about. So you think you’ve got something cool to say? And so that just, you know, set the pace at that point.
Kenric: Do you think the Dungeons and dragons build the blocks for your fiction?
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Absolutely. Yeah. I say, I say this everywhere. Like I would not be a writer today without Dungeons and dragons without tabletop role-playing games, because it was on multiple levels. Right? Like first off it was the feedback loop of entertaining, a group of people and having them [00:09:00] respond in real time.
And so telling those stories and creating those characters and making them laugh and smile and be entertained was like, And incredible, like I’d never had that kind of direct feedback. Right. And this wasn’t just regular, you know, people my age, this was my older brother and cousins. And when you’re younger, you know, you want to impress them.
Right. And I could do that with a, with a sly idea or a funny voice or a cool, you know, joke in the moment. And so that was really, really addictive to me and got me thinking about, you know, character and story and all those kinds of things. But your ability to improvise your ability to taking ingredients of what’s going on around you and the game and come up with something innovative or interesting or entertaining.
That’s what I’m doing all the time. Now. Like my job now is to create these stories and, and not just impose my voice on the characters, but find out who those characters are and find their voice and bring it out
Kenric: right. For [00:10:00] teaching as well. Right. Because that big time. And a lot of entertainment that goes into,
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: you know, some of those, when I went to college, you know, I had some amazing instructors.
I had some terrible instructors and the terrible instructors were not unskilled. They just were really bad at communicating the idea. Yeah, right. Or engaging, you know, the classroom or reading the classroom when they were losing the, you know, attention. Right. Not realizing that no one gave a damn because they, the, you know, they were just grinding it into the ground or whatever.
They weren’t able to switch gears. They weren’t able to, you know, mentor or they had one solution to every problem. And if you didn’t meet that criteria of that solution, they had nothing they could offer you. And, and, you know, teaching is about mentoring and it’s about communication, right? And it’s about engagement.
And, and so my best lectures are the ones where I can give it a personal anecdotal element. Because if I just tell you core kind of [00:11:00] theory, it may or may not stick. But if I show you examples or I give you a little bit of an emotional story, not emotional sometimes, but not always, but like a story to go with it that helps it stick.
It gives a gravity in your mind, you know? And so like roughing up the P.
Kenric: Roughing up the wall before you paint.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, it’s just something, right. So, you know, I will, when we talk about story structure and one of my classes. Rather than starting into here’s how most stories are structured. I tell them an anecdote.
I tell them about how I propose to my wife. And it’s a funny story. It’s like, it is like a bad romantic comedy and it really happened. And I’m telling them this story and it engages them and they’re like shocked for me and embarrassed and oh my God, what you know, they know it works out in the end and yet it’s still entertaining.
And at the end of it, I’m like, okay, you know, you’re probably wondering why I just told you. 15 minute Diddy. Yeah. Now we’re going to break down that story and just because it’s a real thing that happened doesn’t mean I’m not telling it to you in a [00:12:00] specific way that activates story structure. And then we start writing it on the board and breaking it down and, and reminding them why certain things happen in certain orders and how we were setting up drama and where we were paying it off.
And just because it’s a real event, doesn’t mean that it’s not being effectively. Do you know what I mean? And you can do it really badly. Right. You know, I’ll talk to people and they’ll tell me a story and it drives me nuts because they’re really bad at it. And I can tell there’s like an actually pretty good story in the middle of it, but they just not, they’re just not practiced at this stuff.
So they’ll get midway through the story and then the baby, oh yeah. I have to tell you something or it won’t make sense. And then they’ll rewind back and then they’ll throw in more information or they’ll tell you the big punchline. And you’re like, I don’t get it. Oh, right. No, it’s because the guy and you’re like, oh my God, you know, like, right.
Work like that way, when
Kenric: someone says, have
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: you seen pitches that way? Of course. Like, you know, and, and people, you know, mistaking people would come up to me at can engines or whatever, unless they, oh, you know, I’m working on my [00:13:00] own stories or whatever. And I’m like, cool, that’s great. And they’re like, can I tell you about it?
And you know, it’s that weird duality of. I mean sure. But like, are you like, do you want to do this? Like run the gauntlet? Like I’m not here to be critical, but you know, you are on the spot. Like here we go. And a lot of times people will mistake. Dumb mistake, plot for pitch, right? And a pitch and applaud is a T two different things.
Like if I tell you blow by blow the events of something that happened that may or may not be entertaining, but that’s not necessarily information that you need in order to pitch something. What you need is broader thematic ideas, and you need sort of an overview of, this is why this is going to work and how it’s going to entertain.
And if anything, you leave a bunch of stuff out because a we don’t have time for it. And B. The editor, the publisher, the whatever movie people you’re pitching it to, they need to sort of mentally fill in the blank and go, oh yeah, I see the potential in that. Tell me more, rather than you exhaustively sort of, [00:14:00] you know, barraging them with, with all the crap that they don’t have time or interest in until you’ve engaged them.
Right. You know? And so it’s just, and it’s not even that these are bad stories. Badly organized, badly communicated, you know, all this kind of stuff and it’s stuff you, you learn, hopefully, you know, not the hard way of, of getting rejected heart
Kenric: makes it stick because man,
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: like they got to fail
Kenric: to learn. And I think that’s what people are so scared to do now.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: yeah, and, and some people, and it’s not even a lack of hard work, right. It’s like working smart, you know, people will. I don’t critique stories very much because I don’t have time. Cause I’m really busy. But every so often, you know, one of my students would say to me, Hey, can I show you this story or something like that?
And they’ve put a lot of effort into it. So it’s not about effort. I think people mistake this thing. Like, well, if you work hard, you’re like, yes, that is important. But you can be working really hard in the wrong direction or you can be working really hard on the stuff. That’s not going to actually get you where you want to go.[00:15:00]
And there’s hard work space. Right. But that’s the, the, the, the end result is not going to be commensurate to the time span. Right. You know, sending someone a, whatever, a 50 page document is not effective. Like if you say, you know, send me the pitch, you send me a 50 page document. I’m like, great. I can tell you worked hard.
I’m not reading. 50 pages. Like I just have no send me the two page version and they’re like, oh, what? Like, yeah, it doesn’t matter. How cool, how amazing, how detailed do you think your thing is? You have to be able to summarize. You have to be able to, you know, get it down to this really fine razor-sharp point.
And. Intrigued me enough that I want to see the 50 page document, but I’m, can’t wait to see the 50 page document because I can, I can see all the potential in the core concept, you know? Yeah, yeah.
Kenric: Yeah. When you talk with Marvel or dark horse or image, any of the things, is there a difference in the way you approach it, based on who the company.[00:16:00]
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s editor base, honestly. So it’s rather than it being the publisher, it’s more about the editor, right? Like we’ll be completely different. Exactly. And, and, and, you know, I have a relationship with Tom. I’ve been working with him since 2016. And so I would talk to Tom very differently than I would a new editor I’ve never worked with before, because I’m on
Kenric: top and I could not crack.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: You know what I mean? Then he’s seen everything. I, then I brought up
Kenric: blazers and we
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Town’s great. So Tom and I both love star blazers space battleship, Yamato, man, like, like old school, old school, Japanese animation, my brother and I grew up watching G4S and watching Yamato. Right. And so missed the bus
Kenric: star. Blazers was on. Seven channel 11 in Seattle, Washington. And I lived in Bremerton.
Anyways. I’d wake up at 6 55. [00:17:00] I’d run downstairs, I’d click on the TV at a pull the thing out and I trained and I literally had to
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: change it
Kenric: down and then mess with the antenna to make sure I got it. And then it’d come in and I’d have
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: the big logo and the. Yeah, one of my most, one of my best memories. So I’ve been to Japan a lot.
And I was out for, with a bunch of the Capcom executive crew. Cause when I was at the UConn studio, we were doing a lot of work with Capcom. We’d go out for karaoke one night and in, and amongst all the songs they bring up the Yamato. Theme song, which is the exact same cadence as the Amman, as star blazers.
So they’re singing the Japanese one and I’m screaming the English one similar and everyone’s just looking at us like, we’re insane. You’re having the best time and we’re bonding over it. And they’re like, oh, they didn’t know. They use the same music in English. And I was like, yeah, you know, It was amazing.
So in the, in the [00:18:00] English one, when they say, oh, our star blazers and it’s, it’s, y’all bought a tool like that in the Japanese one. Right. It’s so good, man. Anyways, we you know, we have a lot of fun time and I’ve commiserated over star blazers stuff multiple times. And one of the trips I came back, I bought him a model.
One of the, the Argo, you know, brought it by the amount of. And, and he put it in his office and stuff, so it’s cool. You know, it’s nice. We’ve got a good bond going. He’s been really, you know, to bat for me multiple, multiple times at Marvel and all kinds of cool projects. But getting back to your original point, I’ve got a relationship where I can just sort of say to him, Hey, I think this is cool.
What, you know, tell me what you think. And he gives me a real unvarnished answer, like yes or no, or here’s why, or I need more information. And at first that abruptness, I think really threw me where I was like, oh, T doesn’t like me at all. And it’s like, no, he’s just not going to waste your time. Like, he’s just going to tell you this doesn’t work for me.
You know what I mean? And, and, and I’m like, [00:19:00] okay, Like, and, and Tom actually gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten from an editor and treated me like a real professional and an adult. And I know that sounds corny, but like some, some editors can be like, It’s almost like they’re acting like your babysitter and some of them are like hardasses and I just want to be treated like, like a pro.
Right. You know, and Tom just said I can be convinced of things. I’m like, what do you mean by that? And he goes, well, you know, I don’t, I’ve been here at Marvel currently longer than any other editor. I know my way around these characters and these properties very well. Yeah. But you’re being brought here.
To write on these things, to bring your own qualities and ideas to the table, but you have to convince me this is the right direction to go. So if, if a pitch is not successful, figure out why, and then, you know, convince me, like, convince me of this is the right way to go, because it’s not about him letting me have a title.
[00:20:00] It’s about me coming in with the best concept or the coolest, you know, way approach or whatever. And. There’s been times where I’ve pitched an idea at Tom and he’s like, I can tell you’re really passionate about this, but I’m not convinced this is the right direction. And I’m like that wasn’t actually, no, that was go back, you know, get your supporting argument, come back to the court case and slam the book down.
For him to do this, right? Like, so, you know, there’s been multiple times, I’ve, I’ve in champions. We did a three-part weird world story because I’m sword and sorcery guy I’m known for, for Dungeons and dragons, you know, now Conan, but at the time just D and D stuff. And, and I was like, I want the champions to go on this fantasy adventure.
And he’s like, I know why you want to do. Because you love fantasy stuff. Why do you think I want to read it? Like why you wanted to do it is not a good enough reason. And I was like, okay, here’s what it exemplifies about these characters. And here’s, what’s really cool. And the kids are into D and D now. So I think it actually speaks to these kids as [00:21:00] teenagers and all this kind of stuff.
And then the assistant editor was, was like, Jim’s right. Kids are crazy about D and D again, it’s a thing. And he’s like, oh, I didn’t even know that. And I’m like, yeah, All right. I’m convinced. And it’s like, great. Now that was what it took. Right. Was, you know, us being able to prove to them that this was a viable path beyond just me being a blueberry DD fan boy, you know, like this is going to be fun and Kula, we’ve got a direction.
The ultimate example that was in champions, number 24, I didn’t issue about gun violence in America. And that was a lot to ask, you know, that’s a lightning rod, obviously. And I was like, look, we’re the only, at the time we were the only. Book at Marvel, that was a team of teenagers. I said, this is a current thing.
You know, Stan would either, he did a drug issue of Spiderman. There have been issues about everything from aids to drug use, to, you know, diseases and cancer and all this stuff in the Marvel [00:22:00] universe over the years. And I said, this is a viable topic and Tom’s, and this is the right book to do it in. This will be very hard to, to go.
Cause it’s got to go all the way up the ladder. Like, this’ll go all the way to Disney to get approved. But if you feel that strongly about it, I’m open to hearing the pitch. So I went and over a weekend, I sat down and really kind of soul searched on it and put together a pitch. And then he sent me notes and he’s like, here are the barriers.
Here are the problems we’re going to have. I cannot guarantee this pitch goes any further. But if I feel strongly enough that I can defend it, then I’ll take it to the next level, you know, up to CB Soboleski and beyond. And we got it refined to a point where I was super proud of it and he was super proud of it and we got it through the upper echelons and that, but, but w like that issue, we were drawing the issue and Tom like sent me multiple times emails where he was like, just so you know, like this.
If you could still get the Chi Bosch, everyone will get paid, but it [00:23:00] just might never get released. Right. You have to, you have to be okay with that. And I was like, I am, and then it got solicited and you know, there’s a part of you. You’re like, well, it’s got to happen now. No, no, they could still yank it.
Like corporate could get cold feet at any point. Right. It wasn’t until I saw photos of it on the, on the shelves at comic bookstores, I was like, well, they can’t stop it now. Like it’s, you know, it’s there. Right. It’s literally, it’s literally on the stand. So. It’s funny
Kenric: because Marvel has. I mean DC too, but Marvel has always taken a chance with, with social
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: commentary.
Yeah, they’ve done. I think more of it, you know, in the grand scheme of things and they ended up releasing a new collection of stories called world outside your window. And that is the newest story that’s in there. That’s got the Spiderman drug issue. It’s got the Hulk aids issue. It’s got a bunch of those stories in there.
And then mine was the last one in there. Cause it was the newest. Yeah, I’m really proud of that. Like, I’m really glad that we were able to do it. And Tom’s the [00:24:00] kind of editor who he’s not worried, like he’s going to lose his job for fighting for an important thing, you know? And so he was the right guy. It was the right time to do it, but it was, you know, he knows the Bush,
Kenric: the buttons to
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: push.
And then I tried to explain this to some of my friends and some of the people I know who are getting their start at the big two. And I’m like, you know, you build up creative. With these editors and with the publisher and every so often you cash it in, you know what I mean? Like, and some people I think they spend before they’ve got enough and they find out very quickly there, they’re not going to be able to cash out what they want.
Right. They ask they, they, they put too big and asking too soon and it’s like, you do not, you know, if you’re done at Kate’s, you’re building up credit pretty fast. You can ask for a lot. Right. You know, I can’t ask for the stuff that Donnie would, obviously I can’t ask for the stuff that Dan Slott would, you know, but, but if I gauge properly and I figure out where I’m at, then I’m like, yeah, [00:25:00] that’s not unreasonable to inquire about or to talk about or let’s see what’s possible.
And. You know, and the nice thing is when you’ve got an editor like Tom, who again, he’ll just give you the unvarnished truth. So I’ve asked about characters in books and things, and he’ll just be like, that is not worth pursuing right now. Like that is not going to happen. And it’s like, okay, like, cool.
That’s I’d rather hear that. Yeah, then nothing. The worst thing is, is when you, when you sling something past someone and you get no response and months later, you’ll see that editor at a convention and your life, and they immediately apologize to you because they know they blanked you on it. And you’re like, all you have to do is just send me a post.
You know, no. Right. The worst thing is if, is when you just like run away, like come on. When
Kenric: they run away, do you think it’s some, it’s just, they just don’t. I
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: just think they’re tired and they don’t want to deal with it because a lot of freelancers don’t deal with rejection. Well, or they’ll just keep squeezing, you know, because they got an answer.
They’re like, well, what if we did it like [00:26:00] this? No, no, no. Like just take the no and move on. You know what I mean?
Kenric: There might be another editor
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: out there. Well, this is the thing. And you’ll notice this. Whenever an editor changes offices, a flurry of messages will go out. Cause they’re like, now’s my chance.
You know, all the old pitches, everyone blows the dust off and they’re like, remember that old thing. They said, no, we’re doing it now. You know? And I’ve been guilty of it. Like I’ve definitely, you know, someone changes offices. I still think that thing is cool. I’m going for it. Yeah. So you can’t, you know, it’s fine.
Kenric: a thing that I’m working on now, but I think I’m going to do. Yeah. Yeah, it goes that way. And then,
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: you know, like image is a different kind of a beast, right? So image is not about if you’re an image central, then it’s Eric Stevenson is the publisher and he’s going to green-light the book and Eric is amazing in the sense that you’ll just get an answer.
And if you’ve done an image book before, that’s pretty much all you need is yep. Okay. We’ll do it. And then you’re like, [00:27:00] Bye right. Go. Let’s get the solicit going and do the thing. Right? Cause, cause it’s going to be an image book is going to be the way you want it to be generally, as long as you’re not losing the money.
Like if I say, Hey, I’m coming in, I’m doing a hundred issues series. They’re like, yeah, no. Tendency, I would go, you know, but, but, but you know, if you get the green light over there, it’s more about like, all right, let’s get to work. Like do the thing, show me that this is going to function rather than it being a matter of are I give me a deadline?
You know what I mean? Because the images is so creator, front focus. It’s it’s about you setting up the schedule. It’s about you making it a priority right now, working with image more than I do. I mean, image, not more, it’s just, just just different, like having limited. Is valuable creatively sometimes.
So for example, when I was doing samurai Jack over at IDW, I loved working on that book. Andy Soriano, the artist I worked with on it, he was one of the designers of the original cartoon. He could [00:28:00] draw anything in that style and make it look amazing and fun and crazy. And we would just come up with cool ideas and kind of write the hell out of it.
But, but having someone like Andy on there where he knows the characters in the world, and he would say, this fits this doesn’t. It helps you, you know, when I’m doing the Coney and series and Conan properties sends us these nice notes where they’re like, usually approving what I’m doing, but sometimes just asking questions, like, just want to make sure where’s this going.
And it’s like, oh, remember in the outline, we’re going to do this and this. Oh, okay. Great. Or sometimes like, ah, I think we need to stress that part of the character more, we need more, the high boring age is more like this, rather than that. And they’re like, oh, it is good to get those reminders. It is important to get those.
You know that feedback and on a creator own book, you have to create those limits. Like you have to say, this fits the series, this doesn’t, this is working. This is not, and sometimes you’re not always a [00:29:00] good judge of that. Sometimes you can get off in the weeds and just be like, You know, doing your own thing your own way.
And you’re like, I could really use another pair of eyeballs on this cause I’m sort of, we’re just doing it, you know, and, you know, image doesn’t necessarily have that kind of system in place because that’s not how they’re built. I mean, they don’t have limits, you know, if you’re going to, I’ll give an example.
So we, you know, I, my first create our own book and image was skull kickers in 30. Yeah, thank you. 34 issues. I got one note back from image about current. And it was because on the front cover, we were going to have a character giving the middle finger and they said, right now the book is 12 plus in our rating schedule, if he’s giving the finger it’s it’s 18 plus.
And I was like, really? And they said, yup. In some states and in some countries, that’s a big [00:30:00] deal. We can change the rating on the book, but is it worth doing it for this cover? And I was like, no. And then they said you should change the cover. So they never said you can’t do it. They just said, here’s the results of what you’re doing.
Kenric: That’s great mentorship though. Right there. That’s right. Yeah.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Consequences. You might have to. Exactly. Exactly. Whereas Marvel would say gay, guess what? We don’t do the middle finger. Cause that’s not how we roll. It’s totally valid because the superheroes don’t do that. Right. And so, you know, Of course Marvel editorial can tell me, Hey, surprise, captain America wouldn’t do that or whatever.
And I totally, of course you got it. I’ll change it. Or I have to convince you he would or whatever. Whereas on the image book, it was, you can do whatever you want. Just here are the, the implications of, of that
Kenric: telling you, you can do this. And it makes sense because Marvel is completely.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Sure. I mean, it’s a corporate system.
Everything’s different intellectual [00:31:00] property and all that other stuff. Right. So with Marvel,
Kenric: because I think you might appreciate it. My favorite Spider-Man story ever is last. Oh, I think incredible, amazing thing that drives me nuts is I feel like writers don’t take that into account today because it’s 30 years later, but I like Peter Parker and needs to be claustrophobic.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Right. If it’s in the timeline after.
Kenric: Yeah of the age that he’s already divorced and all that kind of stuff.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: But you know, one of the difficult things with characters who have huge, long running continuity’s is you’re constantly having to cherry pick what matters right now and what pieces, you know, as much as like. Spider-Man fights doc doc what’s Betterman’s five dock, 50, 60 times. Right? So we can’t, we can’t have them blow by blow go.
Well, you know, the last 20 times we fought, it’s been like this. [00:32:00] What you need to do is sort of have this overview and you kind of gloss over the fact that yes, the characters all had bell box. And that old storyline and it was in the sixties, seventies, whatever, but what’s really important as doc married at may or just trying to marry at may.
And we’re going to harken back to that story because we’ve got a new twist on a doc thing within them. So, you know, we all just wink and nod and go. Sure. There’s been 10 presidents in between all that and a hundred years of continuity, but yeah. What’s really important is back in the day, doc, Ock tried to Maryanne may and we’re going to reference that, you know what I mean?
Or like, you know, and so it’s like this, I think the weirdest example of that was when Bendis and Stewart eminent and they did a new X-Men and they brought the old original X-Men from the. Into the present. And you’re like, they’re all dressed and acting like they’re from the sixties, but this is supposed to be taking place now.
And [00:33:00] current Cyclops is in his thirties or early forties. And you’re like, this makes no sense, but we all just accept it because we know the original comics came out in the sixties. So he should look like he’s in the sixties and everything should look like the sixties. And now is now. That was now that was no.
And, and, and another weird one was when Dan Slott last year did iron man 2020. And it’s like, I don’t know if you read this. There was a character iron man, 2020 in the eighties. And it was like 20, you know, 35 years from now. There’s a futuristic Ironman. Who’s coming to the present the eighties and he’s terrifying.
It’s like, well, we’re there now. We’re in 2020. So Dan is referencing that eighties story, but it’s also now because it’s 2020 now. It’s a [00:34:00] pretty deft move in a, in a cute kind of continuity and it kind of works. And I thought it was fun. And, and me, and it’s like, we all have to just simple Tansy except that in the eighties, Peter Parker and Tony stark fought Ironman of 2020.
And now in 2020, that character is not a distant relation of Tony Starks. He’s a current relation of Tony Stark’s because. It’s now. Right. And you’re like, cool. Like the mental math is wild, right? Like you just, okay. It works. Like, it just has to, you know, so Jim,
Kenric: you have a, a series that just came out. Well, it didn’t just come out, but
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: yeah, in trade paperback, it just came out for yeah.
Kenric: star. Give us. An elevator pitch. Sure. I’ll give you
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: a quick try. You’re on the spot. I better do a good job at it. I’m getting all cocky where I was like, then they don’t do a good job [00:35:00] and all this stuff. And you’re like, well, see what you got there, pal. So, stone star. It’s a space fantasy series.
And the core of it is about around the space station called stone star, which is a mixture of almost like a gladiatorial arena meets a traveling circus on a galactic scale. So it is this space station that is a gladiatorial arena that entertains people. And instead of it being in one place and people come to it, it’s a space station.
So it travels to other people’s. Yeah. And it entertains people wherever it lands, but with it, it brings all sorts of intrigue, right? Like it’s not just the surface level on the spectacle of the entertainment, but it’s all the machinations and the, and the controversies and the mysteries underneath, like, so you’ve got this thing where it’s a space fantasy.
It’s a coming of age story because our main character is this young kid named Dale who is an orphan on the station and trying to decide if he wants to get into the gladiatorial arena. And then you also have that kind of sports Monga kind [00:36:00] of approach where there’s this competitive element of these characters fighting and trying to earn their way in this structured system.
And it’s all those things coming together. And then you add in the intrigue of the planet that they’re on. And all the things that are happening. So in the first storyline, for example, there’s the, the actual planet is on. Cusp of civil war. So if a war breaks out, these guys have got to pull up, you know, roots and get the hell out.
So there’s all sorts of these different, cool, fun elements we get to play with. And, and I kind of built this sandbox for max Dunbar. He’s my co-creator and artist on the series. Yeah. Max is a phenomenal design. And he’s a real world builder. He’s the kind of guy who loves to draw places. He loves to draw characters.
He loves to come up with things. And so I gave him this sandbox where I could go look, there’s aliens and there’s creatures and there’s robots and whatever other cool, crazy crap you can think of. [00:37:00] And if you come up with it, all, put a name to it and we’ll put it in the arena or we’ll, we’ll make it. You know, in the, in the little town or we’ll make it an alien race, if you think it’s visually cool.
And I think it’s visually cool it’s in there. And so that, that was just our kind of, unhinging his creativity to go wild on the series. And then I had certain characters and the way their plot would run out, but then once he designed them, it really, you know, now that. Solidified, like I could imagine them interacting or what is the personality and what is the voice?
Whereas previous to that, it was just like kind of plot widgets, like, okay. The orphan kid and their best friend. Well, what do they look like? Oh, and then, you know, the, the member of the Royal family on this planet that they’re on, who’s running away and then you’ve got the old mentor figure. Like, what does that look like if he had drawn, if max had drawn the mentor figure, like.
Some sort of monastic, you know, old [00:38:00] and wise kind of, of master. Then I would have given him a very different personality, but he drew this character who looked like grizzled, alien, Clint Eastwood. And I was like, all right, he’s a, he’s a cantankerous. Bastard. Who’s seen too much and, you know, forgotten more than you’ll ever know.
And he’ll tell you that. Right? And so the minute we had those visuals, it just gave me the ability to put some emotional heft to it and, and figure out the voices of the character with max, you know, Yeah, it was a ton of fun to work on. Comixology was great. So it’s part of the comic psychology originals program.
And so we released it digitally in 2019 in 2020. We actually did a second story arc. That’s available digitally now. And then now in 2021, we’ve got the print version of the first time. From dark horse, they did a beautiful job on the book. It looks amazing. You know, max, his stuff looks so good and our colorist Aspen grunda here and he’s a colorist I knew from Udon and he is the, [00:39:00] one of the best in the industry.
He’s like this untapped talent. I actually brought him in at Marvel. He colored the. Empire Avengers, miniseries. I did last year. And the artist on that, Carlos Magno is phenomenal, but that guy is like a detail machine and most colorists, he just kind of bulldozes them. Like he’s got so much dense line work that most colors.
So like, I don’t know what to color. Like there’s too much. On the page and Aspen’s the best he can just like break it all down. And they were a beautiful, amazing team together. I just love seeing what they’re doing that same team, Carlos and S been there now doing that upcoming Kang mini series that’s coming out and it’s just going to be a stunner.
I’ve seen artwork for it. It’s just next level. Those guys are great. So as Ben’s amazing, he gets along amazing with max max, just sort of, you know, took it to the limit and the book looks so good. Stone start. It looks just so good. We’re super proud of it. And yeah, pumped [00:40:00] to have it in stores and have people reading it did Comicology approach.
Dark dark horse for you, or did their dark horse, dark horse sign sort of like an all around deal for those comics, algae originals. So they’re doing these staggered releases of a bunch of the most popular Comixology originals. Now we’re in one of a, yeah. A whole series of books that they’re putting out.
Kenric: yeah, yeah, yeah. We just had true Zucker and Phil CV on
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: for the house. Oh, nice. It’s good. It feels great. He’s awesome. Yeah, it’s so good. But yeah, the. Yeah, Comixology originals was great. Like chip Mosher, the guy who runs the originals program. I had met him at a couple of conventions back in the day, but the first time we really talked about was hilariously on a trip to Japan and I was in Japan and he was there acquiring a bunch of Monga at a comic festival.
I was there promoting a wayward, a bunch of stuff which is an image series that I did that set in Japan. And we went out. That’s funny. I didn’t know that was, do I have
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Yeah, my [00:41:00] collection, I got like the first eight. Oh, man, I’m super proud of that book. You gotta read it. We did 30 issues. I
Kenric: know. I read, I read up to eight and then I moved and then, you know what I mean?
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Yeah. That one I’m super proud of. I was really proud of almost all my books, but yeah. Yeah. Thanks man. So chip and I had a great conversation while bunch of us were out for dinner and he was basically like, Hey, I’m doing this program of, of originals and, you know, create our own stuff at Comixology. I know you do your creator owned at, at image.
Would you consider doing your stuff anywhere else? And I basically said, no. I said, no image. You know, it takes good care of me. And I like what I’m doing over there. And I know the contract that I know the system and everything works properly and he goes, well, how could I convince you? And I said, what would have to be like the image deal, but better.
And he’s like, okay. And so. A couple of times he contacted me and he was like, we’ve got, we’ve got a deal that I think, you know, competes. And he sent it over and I was like, this is pretty cool. You know? All [00:42:00] right. Like I’m willing to give it a chance. I said, I don’t know what project I would bring. And then right around that same time, max and I started talking about, Hey, we should do a crater on book together.
And it sort of was like, you know, maybe this is the outlet. And so I kind of brought like my wishlist over to, to chip Mosher. And I said, here’s what I think. This book can be. And he was like, all right, we’re on, we’re signed and sealed and delivered. And I just said, oh, like there’s no back and forth. He was like, no, man, you, you know, you’ve done it more than enough books.
You know what you’re doing? If you say like, max, his art is amazing. I trust you going to make the book. So go make the book. And we were like, all right, I guess we’re doing it. That’s that is one of the nice things about finally having enough established kind of credits that I no longer have to. This sounds weird.
Cause I feel weird. Like, if I’m working with an artist and we’re talking about a project and I say, Hey, you know, when I was starting off in the industry, it was about, you know, we have to try and get this [00:43:00] publish and I don’t know where or how and now I kind of go, okay, I don’t know exactly where this is going to end up probably an image, but.
It’ll end up somewhere. If I can, I can place it somewhere. If we put in the work, it will happen. Do you know what I mean? Which is nice. Yeah. That’s awesome. That is it is, it is one of the weirdest feelings. There’s a lot of people trying to get there. Oh, I know. And I try never to take it for granted. Like I never wanted to feel like, oh, it’s easy.
Cause it’s not. And don’t
Kenric: take it for granted, but take it for granted
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: in the sense that like, if I’m working with an artist, so. There’s an artist that I’m working with now. And I create our own concept and we were talking about it and he’s been starting to do some artwork and it looks really good. And I was like, you know, where, where do you want to see this book?
And he goes, what do you mean? I said like, where, who, which publisher do you want me to approach? He’s like, well, which one can we approach? And I was like, I don’t want to be a Dick, but like, I’ve literally done work for every major publisher in north America. [00:44:00] Like. Who do you want to, where do you want to see it?
I have people looking can to, yeah. Like, you know, and, and, and so let’s go for your, your number one choice first, and then we can scale from there. Right? If you want to do it in image, let’s talk to image. If you want to do it at IDW, dark horse, you know, when it was vertigo, like whatever, those are all possibilities.
And that doesn’t mean they will all say yes, it just means. You know, w we have opportunities to, to approach,
Kenric: right. Well then I think as you must know, you have a good offer. You must have a good understanding of what different publishers will want
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: and how to approach them. Because dark horse as much is as much as you might think, oh, you know, pitches, aren’t one size fits.
All right. You have to look at what is a publisher doing in terms of their. Publishing lines. And what kind of books are they attempting to do? It’s easy if they’re approaching you. So when, when chip Moser says, Hey, come do a book, a comic solid. I say, I want to do this book. Yes, let’s go. [00:45:00] Right. But you know, it’s harder if you’re trying to push it up hill and go like, Hey, I know you weren’t expecting me, but I’m contacting you.
Here’s why I think this is a good fit. You know what I mean? Like here’s what I think is good about it. And then they have to look and go, okay, budget schedule. Does this all work for us,
Kenric: you know? Yeah. Well, cause I look at things and I see like what dark horse prints out or, you know, completely different than what Oni press is gonna
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: do.
Sure, exactly. And so when you look at something you have to go, is this a good, only book? Is this a boom book? Is this a, you know, whatever, right. And sometimes that’s dependent on schedule, but. Concepts, all that stuff. Sometimes it’s about timing. Like, you know, again, I would have taken create our own book with max, probably over to image, but chip kind of, you know, was coming on my radar and let’s do a thing.
Right. But it’s also a matter of looking and saying, you know, each artist, what is your. What is your schedule? You know, what, what is your [00:46:00] availability? And you’re trying to sort of put all the pieces in a row. You know, I, it’s not like everything I pitch is necessarily going to go golden. I’ve had a ton of concepts where I’ve worked with.
And we’ve built a thing or we’ve done samples. Heck sometimes we’ve even been greenlit on let’s do it. And then it still falls apart. Like I think I’ve got pretty good taste in artists. And I know that because I’ll find an artist right before they’re going to blow up and then I’m like, okay, we’re going to do a, create our own thing.
And then they already get snagged by Marvel or DC. And I’m like, go, you know, and they shouldn’t take those opportunities because that is a great. But it was like, ah, we were right on the, we could have done, you know, and I kind of take it as a feather in my cap, like, well, I could definitely tell they were, they were there, you know, clearly like, and, and so someone asked me, they said, why was wayward your second image book?
And I’m like, what do you mean? And they go, you did skull kickers and wavered so different. And I said, that’s the one I got off the ground. And [00:47:00] they’re like, what do you mean? I’m like, Do you know that? Do you ever see those old black and white footage of like the airplanes, the experimental airplanes where they’re just crashing on the, on the strip?
They’re trying to launch in the wings blaze off. I’m like, that’s the one that got off the ground, like wayward. Was it the second book I pitched over at image? Like it wasn’t the second crater on book I tried to build. God knows how many I did in between Skokie goes away word, but like skull kickers launched in 2010.
Waivered came out in 2014. I wasn’t sitting on my ass for four years. I was pitching stuff. I was trying to get artists. I was trying to put together packages to make this stuff happen. Wayward is the one that got off the runway, you know? So why is it my second book? Because it leaves. You know, like, and so I’d love to say I have some grandiose, well, I wanted to show my maturity as an, as a writer.
And therefore I chose way where does my second property? Because it will exemplify these qualities of me as a [00:48:00] creator. It’s like, no, man, that’s the one that lived like it. These other things are yes. On that one. Yeah. The other ones are dead in a ditch at the side of the road and maybe I’ll be able to resuscitate them at some future juncture, but.
When, when we got the green light to do wayward, it actually got done. That’s why it’s my second image. You know, glitter bomb came really fast because I met Jabril Morissette, the artist on glare bomb, and I knew he was a phenomenal talent and I didn’t want him to get poached out from under me. So I was like, Rapid fire like this.
Guy’s amazing. We got to do a book right now, now, now, and within like four weeks, we pulled together a pitch and I had it at image and I got it approved. And the minute I ended approved, I pumped out the first script because I wanted this kid to draw because I knew the minute people saw his artwork, he was going to get.
Poached otherwise right away, you know? So dude, well,
Kenric: Jim, [00:49:00] we’ve been on for almost an hour already
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: time flies. It done
Kenric: one. I want to wish you really good luck on stone star. I think, you know, a million of them, if you’ve been listening all the way through, I very much appreciate it. Go out to your LCS. If they don’t have stone star, ask them to order it for you and get it in because it promises to be a lot of fun.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Thanks, man. Yeah. It’s a really, really fun series. It’s like colorful action adventure. And what happens in those five issues? It is relentless and it’s pacing. I’m really proud of it. Oh, I can think
Kenric: of when you, when, when you described it, I was like, oh, Those old timey circus acts that have their own train
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: exactly.
Tracks from exactly pound, a small town, but now it’s, it’s galaxy to galaxy and planted the planet. And I could see people
Kenric: saying, we’re traveling through space. Haven’t we gotten past the gladiator games
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: yet. Right, right. And so it’s this fascinating [00:50:00] thing. Trying to take these recognizable concepts and then give them a, you know, a fun visual spin.
And max is so good at what he does. His story tones, immaculate. Aspen’s one of the best colors in the industry. We’re all having a blast. One of the things I also really like about the book is in the back, I think. 14 or 15 pages of development sketches. So you get to see max design process, designing the station, designing the locations, designing the characters to really fill out this world.
And so there’s a, there’s a thoughtfulness to it that it’s the kind of content that I love to see as a creator. I love seeing that development stuff. And so being able to put that in the. Like just full bore was was, was ideal. You know, honestly, that’s why
Kenric: I subscribed to Ben temple. Smith’s Patrion.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Nice because he didn’t get to see all the content,
Kenric: all the stuff that he’s doing to build the story out. And it’s just awesome. Could you see it from the ground? And it’s like,
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: that’s really. Nice. Yeah. Yeah. Peak [00:51:00] I’m on the curtains. Great stuff. I’ve got a Patrion where it’s like an archive of writing.
So I have over 250 scripts and dozens of pitches. And so you can go and compare the printed version to the script version and just say, oh, the dialogue changed or, oh, the pacing change. Or I don’t look at how this stuff, you know, Patron.com for 10 gyms up. Yeah. It’s linked on my website and all that stuff.
So for the price of a fancy coffee, you can go through this archive of stuff and you can compare the printed version to the, to the story I pitched. In some cases, you’ll see the similarities are in some cases like lockstep, oh, that’s exactly what he pitched. And other times you’ll be like, oh, what happened to that secondary character?
Like they’re just gone. And then what they did in this story has been picked up by someone else. So you get. Appreciate the development of these stories, you know? Yeah. Yeah. That’s
Kenric: fine. Well, there you guys go, go out, check out stone star and then check out Jim’s [00:52:00] subs. Patron. I didn’t even know you had a Patrion.
Jim Zubb – COMBINED: Yeah, man. Yeah. You know, I’ve got a bunch of the free tutorials on my main website. Yeah. So that’s like how to pitch and how to write and all that stuff. But the, the archives, like the deep dive. So if people want to really, really dig into the nitty gritty of it. Yeah. It’s a lot of fun. Cool. Checking out.
Thank you so much, brother. I really pleasure. Alright. Get you back on soon. Thanks man. Take care of yourself. You too. We’ll talk soon later. Bye.