By: Hess Sahlollbey
Over the past few years, the number of DC and Marvel comic creators working in Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area has steadily increased. One of those creators is Seneca College Program Coordinator, Jim Zubkavich a.k.a. Jim Zub.
One of Zub’s most recent and prolific projects includes a two-year run on Samurai Jack. Published by IDW, the series picked up nine years after the cancellation of the original cartoon. In the past Zub has also worked on Spiderman and Batman series.
Currently, he is the writer on Uncanny Avengers at Marvel which features a team composed of Avengers and X-Men.
Outside of the mainstream, Zub writes his own original series, Wayward and Glitterbomb.Having worked on major Hollywood franchises, he sat down at a Fan Expo Toronto panel to talk about his career and about the art of creating comics.
“The good news is you no longer have to be centered where publishers are based. When I was growing up, New York was the hub for superhero stuff, [so] you either had to be in New York City or know those people,” said Zub.
Zub previously worked in animation, background art and storyboarding. The collaborative nature of it prepared Zub for his transition to comics.
“I started making my own web comic in the evenings. As much as you can read books or “how-to’s” on writing stories or making art, you’ll learn so much more by doing, by failing and by figuring out your own process. Making that web comic, I learned a ton about pacing, storytelling, art, lettering and Photoshop,” explained Zub.
By participating in every part of the comic creation process, Zub has learned to quickly make connections with other members of the industry.
“An important part of the creative process… is reaching out and meeting other people in the same situation as yourself… building stories and learning from each other. Every so often one person will pop up the ladder and then that person will pull everyone else up.”
Zub was an overnight success, but it took 10 years for him to break through. He was self-publishing online web-comics in 2001 and only started at DC and Marvel in 2012.
“You don’t have to be the greatest out there, but you have to be somewhere in the middle where someone could recognize you as being substantially better than the people they currently have. Then they’ll be willing to take a risk on you. They’ll be willing to invest the time in you and the best way you can show somebody that is with real examples of work.”
Zub advises that the next generation of aspiring DC and Marvel writers and artists aim to surpass what the two companies are currently publishing. Marvel and DC want stories that enhance their prestige and quality, and this has led to a larger range of stories coming out of both companies.
Zub argues that as a storytelling medium, comics are unstoppable and that new independent ideas are the most valuable commodity going forward. With the ongoing growth of the comic book industry, Zub said that now is the time for writers of all genders, races and walks of life to contribute their unique perspectives.
Creator-owned books, where the writer and artist own the creative property and choose where to steer the ship are the future of comics.
Those personal stories from fresh, diverse voices will take readers to new and extraordinary places and draw in fans that will continue to grow the industry.