Writing Excuses 7.44: Writing for Comics with Jim Zub

Jim Zub joins us in front of a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk to us about writing for comics. He’s the writer and creator of Skullkickers, writes the newly-launched Pathfinder comic book for Paizo, and has been writing, illustrating, and managing projects at Udon for the better part of a decade now. Jim is an expert’s expert when it comes to this.

He starts by talking about the overall process, and how his original script fits in there. Jim and Howard then talk about brevity. Jim also points us at his five-part series on writing for comics (so yes, you have homework.) We talk about the writer-artist collaborative process, and how those collaborations change shape over time.

Jim also schools us on comics pacing, and how page-turns drive the comic forward differently than they do in prose. Finally, he talks about how to get into the business he’s in.


Introduce a place without using dialog. Describe five panels for an artist to draw, so that the reader has been introduced to the location.

Swords and Deviltry: The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, by Fritz Lieber, narrated by Jonathan Davis and Neil Gaiman

9 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 7.44: Writing for Comics with Jim Zub”

  1. That was very interesting, I do a lot of comics myself (nothing professional… yet), but since I do 100% of both the art and the writing it feels very foreign to me to do just one or the other.

  2. Interesting, though I bet the vast majority of the listeners write prose. That would explain the dearth of comments on non-prose related episodes.

    The other possibility is that Dan is why most people listen, and when he’s away nobody cares.

  3. Nice episode, and I also enjoyed Jim’s series of articles on his writing process. I love comics — reading, writing, and drawing — but there aren’t nearly as many resources out there that address the medium’s unique needs and challenges. Most of the time I can adapt principles from prose or screenwriting, but it’s nice to have specific advice straight from an experienced professional.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I really appreciate it.

    Thank you also to Howard, Brandon and Mary for having me on the podcast.

    If you have any other questions about comic writing, pitching comic stories or breaking in, feel free to contact me through my website or tweet me via @jimzub and I’ll answer as best I can.

  5. I looked at some of your blog posts, Jim, and have to say I liked what I saw. I recommend others go check them out. He’s got good advice on contracts, collaborations, and other stuff that isn’t just for comic artists but for any creative person trying to make a profession out of it. Thank you for being on the show.

  6. And the punchline of the story is…

    (turn the page!)

    Well, here’s a transcript, for those who prefer their podcasts in textual format. I’m not sure who’s going to do the animated version, but I’ll bet they’ll put pants on Howard :-)


    Incidentally, Dynamite Comics has a free Halloween short story right over here (I found it while checking names)


    Some of you may enjoy it, I think.

  7. I have a question for Howard, if he happens to see this. A lot of the stuff Jim talked about was the interaction between him as writer and the artists and the way it affected the creation of his scripts. Since you do your own art, do you need to do the elaborate descriptive stuff in your scripts as he described? How does your own process differ?

  8. really, really great show this week – eloquent guest, who managed to give a lot of information in a short time.

    I love comics and would like to write one at some point. I will definitely be bookmarking Jim’s blog.

    Thanks W.E.

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