Seneca News

Oct. 10, 2017

Marvel Comics, the home of superheroes such as Captain America, Hulk and the X-Men, has a new series due out next week. And one of Seneca's own is behind the creation.

For the better part of last year, Jim Zubkavich could only say he was working on something big.

“Except for my wife, I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on. It was crazy," says the comic writer, artist and art instructor.

Jim, better known by his pen name Jim Zub, is Seneca’s Animation Program Co-ordinator. Last year, he co-wrote Avengers: No Surrender, a special 16-issue story that has, until very recently, been a closely guarded secret of Marvel's.

Seneca’s Animation Program Co-ordinator,  Jim Zub

No Surrender features one of Marvel’s biggest collaborations to date and new books will be released weekly—something that has never been done before with Marvel's flagship team—starting Wednesday, Jan. 10. The final issue is timed to coincide with the arrival of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie in the spring.

As a kid, Jim was an “all-around nerd” whose favourite superheroes included Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Thor. His first collection of comic books was Marvel’s G.I. Joe.

“My parents laugh about it now, but at the time, they thought it was a waste of time,” he recalls. “It’s surreal to see these movies now. It’s mainstream. It’s not nerd culture anymore, it’s pop culture.”

After studying animation at Sheridan College and film and multimedia at Humber College, Jim worked in small animation studios before making his way to UDON Entertainment, a studio in Richmond Hill that publishes Asian-influenced comic books and graphic novels. His nine years at UDON began as a colourist and ended as a project manager and art director.

“People think it’s luck, but it’s really hard work and slowly building up,” Jim says of his success.

He made his first comic book in 2001 and self-published it. In 2004, he got paid to do something related to comics. In 2006, he got paid to write a story. It wasn’t until 2012 when he started at Marvel and DC Comics.

“It’s the 10-year-overnight-success cliché. Until you produce work that’s professional quality, no one is going to pay you for it,” he says. “It’s fun, but it’s also a job. You have to do it on days when you don’t feel great and on days when you are not inspired.”

Over the past 15 years, Jim has worked for almost every major comic publisher in North America. His projects have included Dungeons & Dragons, Thunderbolts, Samurai Jack, Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman and his own original series Wayward and Glitterbomb.

“Creating comics is a collaborative process,” Jim says. “It’s visual storytelling. It’s about the interaction between text and picture, and sometimes as a writer the best thing you can do is to get out of the artist’s way.”

Jim regularly shares online postings on his website about breaking into the industry, writing a script, pitching and promoting comics.

Even after he started writing for Marvel, Jim says he has not once thought about quitting his job at Seneca.

“I love teaching. It gives me the flexibility to pick good projects because I’m not under pressure to take anything that comes my way,” he says. “It’s also a phenomenal vocation that gives me the opportunity to be with people who are inspired all the time. I feel like Peter Pan.”