Jim Zub is a true comics Renaissance man with experience with licensed comics, manga, and creator-owned titles. He has successfully wrangled his own Image Comics titles, Skullkickers and Wayward, into places on many readers’ shelves and landed a seemingly made-for-him job as the writer of the official Dungeons & Dragons comic, published by IDW.
In his years managing his many projects, he has become an expert on the best practices for keeping projects on schedule, on track, and on point. The essays he posts on his website about the business of making comics have circulated widely on social media. On October 29, he will share that expertise in Comics Experience’s Master Seminar: Building Your Comics Project with Jim Zub.
We asked him a few questions to give prospective students a taste of the insight he’ll share.
What areas of comics creating do you think aspiring artists need the most education about?
The difference between drawing stuff that looks cool and drawing panels/scenes that tell a story well and are cool at the same time. I see a lot of people who can draw appealing characters or pin-up-style work, but when it comes to storytelling they’re way behind the curve.
Even before that, as simple as it sounds, a lot of aspiring artists rush through the basics of drawing: perspective, volume, anatomy, solid form, gesture, clarity. Getting those really nailed down and making them an instinctive part of your working process makes a huge difference when it comes to quality, consistency, and improving the work.
Have you noticed that successful comics creators have certain traits in common?
Stick-to-itiveness and flexibility. Staying on target and finishing projects is crucial. Being able to roll with changes as projects evolve will help you keep your sanity when things don’t go the way you planned.
What are some of the mistakes you made when you were starting out in comics?
Early on I was heavily focused on being given a chance to prove myself by someone else (an editor, publisher, gatekeeper) instead of understanding I had the ability to build my own body of work.
One of the other things that was revelatory for me was understanding that having dreams/goals early on were a source of creative fuel, not a perfect map to be followed. My career hasn’t gone at all the way I planned it would, but having that plan kept me steadily moving forward and opened me up to all kinds of opportunities that have served me well and been creatively satisfying. It’s important, just not the way I expected.
As a sneak peek into your seminar, what is an important bit of advice you can offer to aspiring comics creators?
Communication is everything. The more accessible and available you are to the rest of the creative team, the better the end result will be. Respect and professionalism comes from quality and clarity. Be the kind of collaborator you would dream of working with.
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!
Posted by Jennifer de Guzman