After the announcement about Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ new book “Wayward” Jim put out the word that he’s be willing to answer some questions. So we asked him some! He is currently penning books for Marvel, IDW, Dynamite, and a not one but two creator owned books!
WR: So Jim it’s been four years since your last creator owned title, Skullkickers, launched and since then you’ve had quite a run. Pathfinder has a mini-series (Pathfinder City Secrets – Dynamite) on the way, Skullkickers #27 hits stands May 28th, Marvel’s Figment mini-series comes out in June, Samurai Jack #9 (from IDW) in June as well and now you’ve announced Wayward, which you call a new series, so I’m assuming it’s an ongoing, which hits in August. I guess my first question shouldn’t be “How’s it going?”, seems more appropriate to ask “When do you sleep?”. Seriously, your current body of work is enough to call yourself a full time writer (and a half!), how do you fit that in with your duties at Seneca College?
JZ: You’ve got five out of the seven comics I’m writing right now, which is good considering that the other two haven’t been announced yet. 🙂
Yeah, it’s a crazy-busy time right now, but not in a bad way. Lots of great projects all moving forward at once and I’m enjoying the roller coaster ride, barring a few sharp curves now and then.
Samurai Jack was originally supposed to be only 5 issues, but we’ve been extended twice and I’m hopeful we’ll keep the series going into 2015. It wasn’t originally on my schedule this long so I had to do some squeezing to fit it in, but I’m thrilled that fans and retailers have responded to it so well.
At the start of a project I spend a lot of time researching and story building, but once that outline is locked down for a story arc and I hit the scripting phase it tends to go relatively quickly. I can get into a good groove where I can script an issue in 8-10 hours spread over 2 or 3 days. I’m in a spot right now where it’s all scripting, just staging and adding dialogue to scenes that have been rolling around in my head for quite a while.
Balancing all these comic projects with teaching and convention travel can be really hectic at times, but it all gets done somehow. It’s an intense schedule, but I do enjoy it.
WR: Let’s talk a little about Wayward, in the press release you said you and Steve wanted to create an “engaging and bombastic supernatural series about myth, magic, and finding friends who will stand by you against all odds”, you also mention that this will appeal to fans of BTVS. Is this a solo book or are we going to get a Scooby-gang vibe?
JZ: Rori is the character we mention in the announcement PR but there are more teenagers in the mix; four in total for this first story arc. Since Rori is moving to Japan she’s our touchstone character bringing readers into the world, but she’s not the only one we’ll be focused on.
WR: This book is set in Japan and promises monsters. Will we be seeing huge city crushing behemoths or are these more of the vampire, werewolf, ghost type monster?
JZ: Our first story arc focuses on Japanese mythological ghosts, spirits, and monsters on a relatively human scale. No Godzilla-style kaiju this time out, but who knows where things will lead down the road.
WR: What do you most want to get across to our readers about this new project? What are you most excited about?
JZ: I’m really pumped about the mixture of action and emotion that’s running through this story. Above and beyond the crazy monsters and weird supernatural elements there’s a core about finding your place and deciding what kind of person you want to be as you move into adulthood. Steve’s amazing art and the catchy Buffy-vibe might bring people in initially but I’m banking on the fact that compelling characters and emotional intensity will keep people on board as we move forward with the story.
WR: Was it Steve’s manga experience that drew you two to doing this project together? Was this something you collaborated on from the start?
JZ: Steve and I are co-creators on Wayward and it was built from the ground up to work with both our strengths. Back in 2010 Steve did a really cool black & white illustration for UDON’s 10th Anniversary artbook (called ‘Vent’) and it really grabbed my eye. I asked him what it was about and he mentioned that he’d been wanting to create a supernatural story set in Tokyo but that he hadn’t had time to develop it. That was really the springboard for us bouncing ideas back in forth, figuring out what the core of this story could be and creating something we were both really energized to work on.
That original illustration that kicked the whole thing off is actually our issue #1 cover, beautifully colored up by Ross A. Campbell.
WR: You’ve worked with many great artists over the years, do you find it easy to establish a rapport? How much give and take do prefer from script to page?
JZ: Since my background is in art and animation I can be a real stickler about art. I feel really fortunate that I’ve been able to work with so many incredible artists on such a wide variety of projects.
Every project is different and each artist has their own working method so I try to be flexible in terms of how I interact with them. Some artists I’ve worked with want explicit directions and details while others are more freeform in how they interpret the scripts I give them. What’s always true is that the working relationship evolves as you get used to the team and more trust builds up. The scripts I write for Edwin are much looser now than they were back in 2010 when we were launching Skullkickers.
WR: For those that may not know you also have a personal website, jimzub.com, where you take the time to write about your experiences the comic book business, and you do so very thoughtfully I might add. What kind of feedback does your site get from other creators? From fans?
JZ: The tutorial posts I’ve written about working in the business and promoting my creator-owned comics have gone over really, really well. I’ve been meeting more and more fans over the past two years who come up to me at conventions to thank me for writing the posts, which is a real thrill. A lot of people, both in person and online, have told me that the articles helped them get started with their own stories, which is the best feeling. Many others have said that my articles were their first exposure to my work and that they started reading my comics afterwards.
Some of the stuff I cover in those posts can be a bit of a harsh reality check, but I think it’s really important that would-be creators understand what the business is like. I want people to build their own stories, but I also want them to go in with their eyes open rather than making assumptions about how it all works. If I can give people a bit of advice and help them avoid some of the mistakes I made starting out, I’m happy to do so. That’s my teacher-side coming through.
WR: Lastly, are you attending any conventions this season? Can we bring you tons of things to sign?
JZ: I still have several shows on my schedule this summer and I’m always happy to meet readers, sure. Right now I’m confirmed for Phoenix Comicon in June, San Diego Comicon in July, Gen Con and Fan Expo Canada in August, and New York Comicon in October. Lots of different places to meet me in person.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jim and the amazing books he works on follow him on twitter (@jimzub), go to his site (jimzub.com), or just hang around What’cha Reading we’ll keep bringing you news and reviews about any projects that cross our desks!