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Interview with Pathfinder Comic writer Jim Zubkavich

Hello Jim!  Thank you for contacting us (and Erik Mona for the referral).  We’re honored to have you join us for an exclusive interview about the new Paizo Pathfinder Comic!


Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in comics.

My background is in art and animation. After working at a couple traditional (hand drawn) animation studios I could see the writing on the wall as freelance work became harder and harder to track down. That summer, killing time before I went back to school to learn computer animation, my friend Omar Dogan (artist on Street Fighter and Robotech comics) recommended me for a summer job working at the UDON studio on some freelance illustration projects. I never did end up going back to school for 3D animation and now, 9 years later, I can confidently say it’s been the longest and best “summer” job of my life as I continue to work in comics, illustration and design.


What are your all-time favorite comics?

Growing up I was a big Marvel fan, focused heavily on Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and the X-Men. I’d eventually transition into more mature fare with Sandman and the Invisibles, then over to manga including Blade of the Immortal and Appleseed.


What comics or graphic novels have you read (and enjoyed) recently?

I’m really enjoying Atomic Robo, Chew, Locke & Key and The Sixth Gun.


Please tell us about your relationship with Paizo. How did you get involved in the Pathfinder Comic project?

I’ve known Erik Mona, and I worked together back when he was editor-in-chief on both Dragon and Dungeon magazine. I was a Project Manager at UDON, helping schedule artists to create artwork they needed month-to-month. As Paizo was forced to move away from Dungeons & Dragons and they decided to strike out on their own with Pathfinder, I kept close track of their progress and was really impressed with how they transitioned their loyal fan base to the new title, keeping the aspects that people loved while evolving the game system and world forward.

Erik and I have stayed in touch and, when the Pathfinder comic became a reality, he asked if I’d like to throw my hat in the ring and pitch on writing the series. I put together a proposal that I thought would engage both fans of the game along with new readers and, thankfully, Dynamite and Paizo signed on.


Are you an RPGamer yourself?

I’ve been a diehard tabletop/board gamer since I was 8 years old playing D&D with my older brother and cousins. From elementary school all the way through college I gamed like crazy, going through phases of TSR, Palladium, Steve Jackson, White Wolf, Chaosium and FASA games. If you name an RPG, I’ve probably played it and one point or another. I don’t get a chance to play as much now, but I still love the games and keep up on them as best I can.



What can you tell us about the upcoming comic? The overarching plot or theme? The characters?

Paizo asked me to use four core iconic characters and then I chose two more to give us a solid group of six to work with in this first story arc. The group may grow and change over time, but these six are my focus right now.

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.

The goblin clans of Varisia, Pathfinder fan favorite antagonists, are being controlled by a strange evil force that’s motivating and organizing them. The adventurers are drawn in thinking they’re dealing with a regular goblin raiding band, but quickly realize something much larger is at stake. The mystic forces being called upon by the cult at the heart of this dark plan are creating something much more dangerous, a horrifying creature that will threaten the whole region if it’s not stopped.


Do you like bananas?

Sure. Good on their own or topping a bowl of cereal.

Sorry, we always ask that question in interviews… ever since Bill Reny ran into Wil Wheaton at PAX and not knowing who he was asked him “Do you like bananas?”  Which threw Wil for a loop.  It actually originated from a NERD TREK reader who wanted us to ask the core staff of Bethesda if there were going to be bananas in Skyrim prior to the release.  Yes, we asked Matt Carofano, and NO there were to be no bananas in Skyrim.


Will NERD TREK see you at GEN CON 2012 and PAX Prime 2012 this year?

I’ll be at both Gen Con Indy and PAX Prime, yes.

At Gen Con I’ll be sharing booth space with Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance) and Howard Tayler (Shclock Mercenary), selling copies of Skullkickers, my sarcastic sword & sorcery action series.

At PAX I’ll be at the UDON booth signing Street Fighter comics and sketching video game character commissions.

Folks can keep up with my newest projects on my blog at or follow my ramblings on twitter at @jimzub


Here’s a link for those of you who need more info on the PATHFINDER comic.

More images!!!

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Pathfinder Beginner Box

Last week I spoke with Erik Mona over at Paizo Publishing about getting a crack at the new Pathfinder Beginner Box set.  After watching the Youtube video of Erik slamming down that heavy box of goodies and pulling out stuff like rabbits from a hat, I could not resist.  I am a hard core RPG Dungeon Master hailing from the old school days of Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and the Forgotten Realms.  Why would I be interested in a beginner box set?  My son is 9 years old and try as he might, he has yet to master the complexities of D&D 3.5 or the Pathfinder Role-Playing game.

We bought him the Pathfinder Core Rules book for his birthday.  He was so excited to start playing with his friends.  When they finally sat down they were so confused by the rules that they needed my help with every little detail.

I would love to help them, but one of the best experiences in my life was opening those brand new RPG books as a child, and not understanding a thing.  The mystery that all those charts and skills (in those days proficiencies) held behind closed doors would slowly come to light as the years went on and we advanced in our games.

I wanted my son to have a similar experience, but since the Pathfinder Core Rules book is such a large book it is fairly daunting for a 9 year old.  After watching him in frustration I finally gave in and helped him figure out how to roll up a druid.

In the old days as children we would dig aimlessly through the 1st edition PHB & DMG, right around age 9 as I recall.  Soon after, TSR came out with the D&D Red Box which was aimed toward a younger audience and was a great relief to us kids.  When I found out that Paizo was releasing a new beginner box set I knew it was time to get to work on a new product review.  I would experience this review through the eyes of my son.

Last night the box set arrived.  When my son found out he could hardly stand the anticipation!  We tore open the cardboard shipping box to get at the glossy colorful contents inside.

This box had everything!  One by one all of the goodies started popping out (perhaps this was a box of holding!!).

Pathfinder Beginner Box (contents):

  • A 64-page Hero’s Handbook, detailing character creation, spells, equipment, and general rules for playing the game
  • A 96-page Game Master’s Guide packed with adventures, monsters, magical treasures, and advice on how to narrate the game and control the challenges faced by the heroes
  • A complete set of 7 high-impact polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting tons of heroes, monsters, and even a fearsome black dragon
  • Four pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Four blank character sheets to record the statistics and deeds of your custom-made hero
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker

We cleared everything off the dining room table and started setting things up.  We spread out all the goodies as if we were in the middle of a session.  I was very impressed with the detail that Paizo has put into their product.  Everything was in full color glossy and there were TONS of illustrations throughout the books.  This is eye candy for kids and is great for the imagination.  I give two thumbs up to whoever in the creative department said “These books will be for kids, we need LOADS of illos!”  

Next off, the miniature cardboard tokens are ingenious.  I love being able to pop them in and out of the stands as needed.  I currently have over 10 plastic boxes of miniatures.  If I take them all to a gaming session I have to load my hiking pack up well over my head just to fit them all.  If I had these cardboard tokens it would make my life a lot easier.  These tokens bring to mind the Dragonlance Tales of the Lance box set from TSR… they had little cardboard cut outs that you could use instead of miniatures.  GREAT for kids!

The cardboard glossy flip map is fun as well, but since it’s so stiff it tends to bow up when you’re playing and the cardboard minis with their plastic stands aren’t heavy enough to hold it down.  I’m sure it won’t be long before my son asks to use my Chessex Battlemat and pens for his gaming sessions!

The pre-generated character sheets are exactly what I need to finally convince my wife she needs to play role-playing games.  In the past she would spend an entire week rolling up and creating a character.  By the time she was done writing down every single spell and ability she no longer wanted to risk having the character killed in combat.  Bonk!  The sound of me hitting myself in the forehead… Ugh…  NOW, I can simply hand her a pre-generated character sheet and say “Look honey, sit down… our son is now the game master and my fighter will tank.  Don’t you worry about your precious wizard.  No harm will come to him.”

Finally, Paizo has simplified the rules and placed them in two books. The Game Master’s Guide contains a complete adventure which goes hand in hand with the battlemat. The book also gives you the basics on how to run a game. The Hero’s Handbook is the equivalent of the Player’s Handbook and contains simple instructions for players on the different races and classes as well as spells and abilities.

After my son and I went through everything he was super excited to play, but would have to wait until morning to invite his friends over…

Today my son woke up bright and early as his friends were arriving.  They would finally have a chance to play the new Pathfinder Beginner Box!  My interview with him and his friends through the eyes of 9-10 year olds is forthcoming.  Check back to NERD TREK and sign up for our email list to get the dirt straight from the mouths of the next generation of gamers!