It seems like just yesterday I was getting my introduction to the world of Pathfinder. For those who missed it my review of the beginner box set can be found here. Pathfinder is an excellent system with just loads of history and back story. Recently Paizo announced a comic series based on the iconic heroes from their system. Paizo Publishing along with Dynamite Entertainment will be releasing the first comic at Gen Con.
I had the chance to speak with Jim Zub the head writer for the upcoming comic series and pick his brain a little bit. Pathfinder has become a hit in my house, my daughter loves comics so I had to find out more. Read my 10 questions with Jim after the jump.
Dan: Can you tell us how you got involved with the Pathfinder comic?
Jim: Erik Mona is the Publisher at Paizo, the creators of Pathfinder, and we’ve known each other for years. I previously worked with him as part of the UDON studio, helping create artwork for both Dragon and Dungeon Magazine when Paizo was licensing them from Wizards of the Coast. Since then Paizo has gone on to success with their own fantasy RPG called Pathfinder and my focus has shifted to writing comics, both freelance and creator-owned.
After Dynamite licensed Pathfinder for comics Erik contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in pitching on the series. I put in my proposal and both Dynamite and Paizo were impressed enough to offer me the gig. I’ve been working away on it since then and am really excited about our series launch in August.
Dan: Can you tell us what previous work you have done in this genre?
Jim: I’ve been a lifelong fantasy fan and am probably best known for a creator-owned sword & sorcery comic called Skullkickers being published at Image. Skullkickers is more of a send-up of the genre, but it’s firmly rooted in the pulp tradition and plays out somewhere between a love letter and poke in the eye to fantasy as a whole. Pathfinder is channeling fantasy as well, but it’s more of a character ensemble fueled by high adventure instead of sarcasm.
Dan: How will the comic run? Will it follow the same heroes for its entire run or will it follow different heroes through each arc?
Jim: The plan is to stick with a core group of ‘iconic’ characters, though the cast may grow or shrink as it continues along. Paizo has mentioned to me that they’d like me to introduce other characters down the road, but the majority of the group will stay constant.
Dan: What tie in, if any does the comic have with existing or upcoming material for the game? I read that the first comic will have a pull out tactical map with these pack-ins be in each comic?
Jim: The comic is built to be completely new reader friendly so people can get on board and enjoy a great fantasy story without needing to have played the game or read any of the fiction that’s been published. That said, Pathfinder fans will find extra game material in the back of each issue – character profiles, small combat scenarios and battle maps. Fans get to enrich their games and new readers can enjoy the issue and then discover that it’s part of a game system they can try out, if they want.
Dan: I’m sure you don’t want to give out too many details but can you tell us about the characters in the comic? Who is your favorite to write for? Is it challenging doing deep character development writing for this medium?
Jim: There are six core cast members in the group and each one has their own personality and motivations. It’s been a really enjoyable challenge to make sure each character has strong moments throughout the story.
Valeros is a mercenary fighter who has disobeyed orders so many times he’s not quite sure how to be loyal to anything or anyone. His courage and temper make him a formidable and dangerous warrior.
Seoni is a mysterious sorcerer whose tattooed body and mystical dreams make those who first meet her wary of her power. Strangers may call her a barbarian based on appearance, but her keen strategic mind gives her a distinctive edge in battle.
Merisiel is an elven rogue whose glib banter and flashing smile lead people to assume that she’s unintelligent and shallow. Her fears and long-lived life drive her in ways few will ever understand.
Ezren is a middle-aged man who came to wizardry quite late in life. The march of time mixed with his desire for knowledge keeps him pushing himself to new limits.
Harsk is a quiet and contemplative dwarven ranger with deeply-sown seeds of vengeance and anger buried under the surface.
Kyra is a battle-hardened cleric of Sarenrae who will stop at nothing to destroy evil, constantly testing her faith and will against those around her.
Dan: I’m new to Pathfinder one of the things that struck me with the beginner box set was how well laid out the books were. The art work was fantastic. I believe I said it was a case study in how to do an RPG set. Will the comic share the style found in the Paizo products or is it going for its own look?
Jim: There’s definitely a similar approach to branding – the look and feel of the comic fits right in with other Pathfinder products. Andrew Huerta’s art strikes a really good balance between the look of the RPGs and dynamic comic art that I think will appeal to both audiences.
Dan: What are you doing to try and draw in non comic fans? For example I don’t typically read comics but my iPad gets a workout with books. What would you say to me as a reader and gamer that would get my interest up for this series?
Jim: With Game of Thrones, The Legend of Korra and the upcoming Hobbit movies bringing fantasy back into mainstream focus, there’s lots of other great material for readers to enjoy. Pathfinder uses a classic approach to sword & sorcery as its base but pushes it forward into new areas. It’s an engaging adventure story filled with characters you’re going to love.
Dan: On the flip side my 9 year old daughter reads comics and plays Pathfinder will she be able to read this series or does it have a more mature tone?
Jim: The comic moves into a teen rating with some of the content, particularly in the combat scenes. Weapons strike hard and there will be romance down the road, but it’s not gratuitous beyond its fantasy roots. We’re not heading into HBO Game of Thrones territory.
Dan: Are you a gamer? If so what types of games do you enjoy? What are some of your favorites?
Jim: I’m a lifelong tabletop/board gamer, yeah. I started playing RPGs with my older brother and cousins back in the early 80’s with the classic red box D&D set and eventually moved into all kinds of great games over the years, including Palladium, White Wolf, FASA… you name it and I’ve probably played it at one time or another. Getting the chance to make my mark on a best-selling RPG property like Pathfinder is a real thrill for me.
Dan: Finally we always like to know a little more about authors and designers can you tell us your favorite
Jim: My music tastes are pretty eclectic, from college rock like They Might Be Giants through to classic pop-rock and 90’s stuff like Bjork or the Cardigans. My friends are karaoke-fiends, so I pick up all kinds of good and bad music that gets wedged in my brain.
I read a lot of independent/creator-owned comics right now and some of my favorites include Atomic Robo, Chew and Locke & Key.
With an intense work and convention schedule I haven’t had much time to go to the movies but so far The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods both impressed me.
When I’m not working my butt off I chill out with video games, board games and trying restaurants and pubs I haven’t been to before here in Toronto.
Dan: I’d like to thank Jim for taking some time fill us in on the comic. If you want to find out more about the comic, Jim or his other series Skullkickers use the below links.