While attending this year’s Comic-Con International I was able to sit down with the instantly engaging talent, Jim Zub.
UTF: First, I want to ask how did this come to be? How did Dark Horse and Dynamite come together for this project?
Jim Zub: Well, obviously there is a long history between these two and it’s been years and years since they formally had a crossover. Dynamite had the license for Red Sonja to do comics. Dark Horse has been doing Conan since, oh man, it must be 2003. It’s been a long time.
You have got these two epic legendary fantasy characters and they are both in the same world. They both travel through Hyboria and they have their adventures. It just seems such a natural fit to have them clash and team up. I know negotiations have happened a few times sort of in the past, off and on, but last year was finally when it all kind of came together.
With any kind of license negotiation it can be difficult. And the final result was that Dark Horse is going to be doing their crossover series and then Dynamite is going to do their own as well. Gail Simone and I are co-writing this one for Dark Horse. Dan Panosian is drawing it and it’s been a real blast.
UTF: Going off of that will the Dynamite series act as a sequel or is it going to be it’s own thing entirely?
Jim Zub: I’m not 100% sure. I can’t really speak to what Dynamite is doing. I’ve heard sort of mumblings about it and that we are making sure that we’re not definitively tying it off in a way that they couldn’t do a sequel. But that’s all I can really say on that front.
UTF: My next question is: you are working with Gail Simone, how has that experience been? She is definitely a favored writer in this industry.
Jim Zub: You know what’s great is Gail is the one who brought me on board. She felt that I would be a really good fit.And we had the same sort of sensibilities about sword and sorcery and the legacy of these characters. Obviously I’m really well known for fantasy writing between Skullkickers, Pathfinder and the recently announced Dungeons and Dragons series. Fantasy is really in my blood.
We have been friends for several years and she thought this would be a fun team up. She asked me if I was interested in getting involved and she had kind of a broad outline of potential story concepts. Then I brought a lot of deep seeded love of Conan lore and tied it in with the tapestry of what is there in the [Robert E.] Howard works.
It was a really nice mix, because Gail is a beloved writer for a reason. She does great character work. She does really wonderful drama and she really has such a strong voice. She’s pushed me to really want more out of this and make this epic and make this intense.
When she first talked to me about it she said, “You know, when they did those old crossovers in the 70’s like Superman meets Spider-Man or even Superman fights Muhammad Ali. They had this feeling of this is an event. This isn’t just some minor moment that these two happened to cross paths. This isn’t just sort of a loose knit thread. This is going to be big. It’s going to be intense and this is an important milestone in both their lives.”
That to me felt like this is going to be something really special, it’s going to be memorable as a reader and as a writer.
UTF: I can definitely speak as a fan and say that what you just touched on is definitely the cornerstone problem with crossovers today. Because, for the most part, they’re forgettable cheap cash-ins where that epic feel has been lost.
For my next question I’m assuming you have most of it written, if not all of it. Do you have a favorite part of the story that you might want to share?
Jim Zub: I can speak to a broader structural thing that I think is really cool. It does sort of tie into what you said because it’s one of my favorite aspects to working on it. One of the hardest things going into it was this idea of when do you put this story. Conan, when he is young is impetuous, trouble making, youth. Or when you have the mature Conan the Barbarian who’s this seasoned warrior that is going to become the conqueror. Then you have King Conan in his later years. You have these different aspects in terms of the timeline and all of them are valid.
Sonja has that as well. When she is younger, when she is in her mature years and then eventually when she is Queen Sonja. Early on the discussion was what is the best point in time to pick. I think the smartest thing that Gail suggested was let’s not pick. Let’s have the story that spans the ages of these characters, so they meet when they are young and something, I can’t say too much, happens that will pay dividends when they are adults and then again when they are older.
It is a grand tapestry that we have sort of unraveled. Other adventures happen in between as they do in the comic stories or in the novels but when these two come back together, those old things that came to pass are now important again. Or a new facet of it is revealed, which I thought was really cool. You thought that this was a one time meeting in the first issue and I don’t want to give away too much but there is a new facet of it that is revealed when they are older.
I think that is what makes it really powerful as we get to play with Conan when he is young and Sonja when she is young and both of them when they are older and how they react to each other as time goes by. I think gives it that much more of a feeling of an epic. That was really Gail‘s idea and I ran with it because I thought, we don’t have to choose. We get to play in all those time lines, in all those aspects of what makes these characters legends.
I want to take the time to thank Mr. Jim Zub for chatting with me. It was a great pleasure and I don’t know about our trusted readers but I left this talk absolutely excited to pick up this crossover.
So what did you think of the interview my fellow fanboys and fangirls?
Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!