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DF Interview: Jim Zub brings fun, action to Baldur’s Gate
By Byron Brewer
Generations have passed since the original Heroes of Baldur’s Gate saved the city and the Realms. Now a new threat rises and an unlikely group of misfits are thrust into adventure with Minsc, the legendary Ranger do-gooder with a heart of gold, brain of lead, and hamster of pronounced wisdom.
A new Dungeons & Dragons comic series from IDW launching alongside Wizards of the Coast’s D&D next edition game system, writer Jim Zub and artist Max Dunbar take loyalists and new readers on an adventure like no other.
To get the 411, Dynamic Forces met with Zub in the shadow of the titular Gate and asked the scribe the following.
Dynamic Forces: Jim, you must be the busiest man in comics with all the material you are writing for a variety of publishers. How did you come to be on IDW’s new D&D book?
Jim Zub: It’s definitely a busy time right now as I juggle six projects for four publishers, but I’m having fun with it.
Back in March I spoke to Ted Adams, head of IDW, about tackling other projects for them and Dungeons & Dragons came up in conversation. This year is a huge one for D&D – it’s the 40th anniversary of the game and they’ve launched the 5th edition of the game rules. It’s the perfect time to launch a new comic series to tie in with the celebration and bring new people into role-playing and fantasy adventure. I’m really pumped to be a part of it.
DF: If I am not mistaken, you once said that D&D helped shape you as a storyteller? Reveal!
Jim Zub: It’s true. I started playing D&D when I was eight years old. My older brother and cousins got the classic Basic Red Box introductory set and it didn’t take long before I was obsessed with creating characters and telling their stories in game. Playing D&D (and DMing my own games when I got older) sparked a love of storytelling and fantasy in my heart, one that’s really never gone out. Even though I’m writing comics now, many of those same RPG skills come into play – generating story ideas, creating characters, imagining strange scenarios, and entertaining an audience.
DF: Tell us the storyline of the Baldur’s Gate comic, how it relates to the hugely popular video game, and how does this apply to other D&D properties?
Jim Zub: Legends of Baldur’s Gate is about a wild mage named Delina who is searching for her missing twin brother. He’s become wrapped up in a conspiracy that will endanger the whole city if Delina and her new allies can’t stop it in time.
It has some characters and uses the setting from the classic video game, but is also built to stand on its own so new readers can dive right in without any prior knowledge of D&D or Baldur’s Gate.
DF: When you are dealing with cross-media like this, questions become convoluted and I do not want to turn non-D&D folks off to the miniseries because I am sure there is enjoyment there for all. I want to phrase this right: Is there any references/reflections of the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons in the comic?
Jim Zub: It references D&D and everything our characters do could happen in a D&D game, but first and foremost it’s a fun fantasy story, not a D&D technical manual or anything like that.
Our story takes place after the “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” community adventure released last year and is happening in the midst of the “Tyranny of Dragons” events that coincide with the launch of D&D fifth edition, but you don’t need prior knowledge to dig in to this comic story. We purposefully put it together so there are nods to the game and if you know that material you’ll catch them, but new readers can also dive right in.
DF: I think this story is set for five issues, but would you be interested in taking it further if sales allow? Is writing D&D something that you would like to do?
Jim Zub: We’re hoping this is just the first arc of many comic adventures for our heroes in Baldur’s Gate, absolutely. My schedule is pretty nutso right now but obviously sword & sorcery stories are near and dear to my heart so I’m hoping we’re able to keep it rolling.
DF: Why is Max Dunbar the right artist for this mini?
Jim Zub: Max’s art is a wonderful fit for D&D. His characters are expressive and appealing and he really takes the time to make sure the setting is well presented. When he started sending in sketches of the city’s architecture and key locations we were all blown away at the detail and care he put into them.
The story we’re telling is fun and action-packed and Max really understands the tone I’m going for. His artwork is exciting and buoyant, and reminds me of Greg Capullo mixed with a bit of old Arthur Adams.
DF: That is a cool combo! Jim, in your mind as writer, what sets Legends of Baldur’s Gate apart from other D&D stories?
Jim Zub: Legends of Baldur’s Gate channels the feeling of a runaway D&D session with friends. There’s a rollicking joyful quality to it that exemplifies what the game means to me, and I hope that energetic and entertaining quality comes through to our readers.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Jim Zub for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions. Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW is in stores now!
You can also get your copy of Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1 right here!
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