29: Halloween in July

It’s been a wild few weeks. 

Wild in ways I’ll be getting into with you all very, very shortly. Like, the next few weeks shortly. It’s a very strange thing to have a big exciting secret that you’re dying to shout out to everybody. And I have a few big exciting secrets right now. I signed the contract for one of those big exciting secrets last week, and had a bunch of phone calls about another one of those big exciting secrets earlier THIS week…

Tied into those big secrets are a lot of big thoughts about what the future of this industry could look like. It feels like a few things are coming together all at once in a way that could lead to very exciting opportunities to make cool, weird shit in new and interesting ways.

One big secret I’ve been keeping since pretty early this year is that Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy are developing SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN for Netflix. Hollywood is a very strange animal, one I’m figuring out slowly but surely. I’ve got a lot of things moving over there in various shapes and sizes. Some I’m more involved with than others, but I’ve been having a bunch of very very exciting conversations (which I get the sense is the majority of what happens in Hollywood – You have exciting conversations, and maybe just maybe at the end of all of those conversations you have a TV show or Movie!). I can’t say much more on this front other than cross your fingers… I have a pilot script in hand that is deeply respectful of the source material and bad-ass in its own right, and I desperately want to see it on screen. 

You can find out a little bit more (but not MUCH more) here: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/doctor-sleep-filmmakers-trevor-macy-mike-flanagan-adapting-boom-studios-something-is-killing-the-children-comic-netflix-exclusive-1234979681/

But that’s not the announcement I’m here to talk to you about today. I want to talk to you all about some cool new comic books you’ll be able to get your hands on this October.

And then we’ll reconvene in a few weeks to talk about some of my OTHER secrets.

THE HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER

This October sees the launch of the first spin-off title in the SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN universe (which doesn’t have a good _____verse title, does it? I tried calling it the Slaughterverse for a few weeks, but that feels a little too aggressive, doesn’t it? – I’ll work on it.) 

It’s called THE HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER. 

I’m joined on the writing side by the incredible TATE BROMBAL (Barbalien: Red Planet), and Werther and Miquel are joined on the art side by the phenomenal CHRIS SHEHAN (The Autumnal). We’ve got a whole bunch of covers for the book. To spotlight a few we’ve got the A-Cover by Chris Shehan, the B-Cover by Werther Dell’Edera, the requisite Jenny Frison special, an incredible NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE homage by Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and an amazing piece by Mike Del Mundo.

I’m really excited about this… Going back to the first introduction of the House of Slaughter in the pages of SIKTC, I knew there was a lot of story to tell around the house itself. Originally I was wondering if we’d do little one-shots in the flagship title to flesh that story out… But SIKTC is Erica Slaughter’s book and that’s where we’re going to tell Erica Slaughter’s story. As this first arc of HOS kicks off, Werther and I will be hunkering down to plot out Erica Slaughter’s next adventure in her adult life, picking up from the end of SIKTC #15. That story will kick off in early 2022, but we wanted to take this opportunity to keep expanding the world. Think of HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER as the BPRD support title to SIKTC’s Hellboy. SIKTC will always be me and Werther telling Erica’s stories. HOS will bring in other rad creators working closely with both Werther and myself to bring the rest of this strange and fascinating world to life. 

And the character I heard the most questions about while we were working on the first big story-arcs was AARON SLAUGHTER, and when we started talking about building House of Slaughter, I knew that he was the ideal central character for the story we wanted to tell. I actually got a very friendly but stern message a few months ago from a Dad who reads SIKTC with his teenage Daughter that she was heartbroken when we killed off Erica’s effete handler and brother-figure from the House of Slaughter in the first SIKTC story cycle, and I was very very excited that I got to tell him that we had lots more plans for Aaron Slaughter in the future. In the present of SIKTC, Aaron Slaughter may be dead, but he died with secrets that he never got to tell Erica, and those secrets may come to haunt Erica in the present day later on. 

There are two key story threads in the first arc of HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER. The “Present Day” story takes place directly before the events of the first 15 issue story cycle of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN, and details Aaron Slaughter’s last case before he sent Erica to Archer’s Peak. And then there’s a storyline in the past that details a key period in Aaron Slaughter’s teenage years at the House of Slaughter, picking up shortly after the events in SIKTC #16-20. This storyline is going to be the first to introduce another “House” in the Order of St. George, and a member of that house. 

Folks have been asking for a bit what the deal is about the FCBD Issue, “INTO THE HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER,” and now I can confirm what we’re doing there a bit… It takes all of the conversations we saw Erica having on the phone with Aaron Slaughter in the first SIKTC arc, and shows the other side of those conversation, with new material that hints toward the story we’re going to be telling in the first HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER arc. It also might have a cameo appearance of the character we’ll be introducing in earnest in House of Slaughter #1.

Anyways… It’s really fucking good. Tate and Chris are fucking awesome. If you haven’t read BARBALIEN or THE AUTUMNAL, you’re missing out on two of the best comics of the last year, both of them real talent showcases. So go do your homework and then tell your LCS to add House of Slaughter to your pull list!

DC VS VAMPIRES

So, way back at the start of me doing this newsletter almost two years ago (What?! Really??!! Two Years?????) I hinted at a project that I referred to as PROJECT TEETH. 

At that time, I thought my run on Batman was going to end at Issue #100, and what would have been the 5G initiative was going to kick off after that, and after a few conversations I realized that I didn’t want to participate in what was cooking for the mainline DCU on the other end of 100. The entire publishing initiative was being cooked in house, with the goal of having writers execute a vision they didn’t get to contribute much toward. I tried to see how flexible it was going to be, and quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be all that flexible. I wasn’t interested in writing other folks ideas, but I had signed a DC Exclusive Contract that was going to keep running almost a year after I was done with Batman #100. Nice House on the Lake was already approved, so I knew I’d be able to work on that, but I still had one slot in my exclusive contract to fill.

 So, what was I going to do?

Around that time, Ben Abernathy had become the Batman Group Editor, and I was really enjoying working with him. Ben had just returned to the editorial side of the business with the juggernaut of DCeased, and as a bit of a horror guy, I said “Man, I would love to just do a DC Horror apocalypse story that lives in its own little bubble that won’t be touched by the main line” and Ben said “Well, pitch me one.” So, I did! The pitch was titled, simply, DC Vampires… I wanted to come at a horror apocalypse from the other angle from DCeased… By the end of the first issue of DCeased, an intense Zombie Apocalypse was already ripping through the world and the people in it… But I liked the idea that we might be a slow burn apocalypse… A conspiracy growing in the shadows of the DC Universe, that escalates slowly and terrifyingly issue by issue until the world is unrecognizable.

The story starts with Andrew Bennett, wrapped in blankets, trying to get into the Hall of Justice at high noon with a terrifying message that there is a new Vampire leader on Earth and what he’s plotting will mean the end of human domination of the planet.  And it ends, twelve issues later with… Well… You’ll have to wait and see. I wrote a light breakdown of the twelve issue run, and had it ready in my back pocket for when I finished Batman #100 and left the book…

But then Batman doubled in sales in six months, 5G didn’t exist anymore, and all of my creator owned books were doing so well that I wasn’t going to seriously consider dropping any of them. I didn’t have the bandwidth to do DC VS VAMPIRES by myself! 

I could have just dropped the idea entirely, but both Ben and I liked it too much. Ben asked me if I’d consider co-writing the thing, and I said “yeah,” and then he asked me who I’d want for that kind of thing… And there’s a key character in the story that I kept imagining with the voice of a Matt Rosenberg character, so I said that “I doubt that we could get Matt to sign up to co-write a thing with me, but I would love someone with that feel and that sense of humor to counterbalance the horror.” And Matt’s a close friend, so I was like “But I can text him and see if he might be interested.” And he was! And then after figuring out a key Birds of Prey related beat later in the story, and rereading Matt’s incredible run on HAWKEYE FREEFALL, I remember I messaged Ben saying, “Do you know would be incredible on the art for this series? Otto Schmidt.”

And somehow we managed to bring this whole dream team together! And now you get to read us turn a bunch of your favorite DC Heroes into soulless Vampires and murder each other and take over the world! The story is out of continuity, so we can really kill people, and also so we can have Alfred Pennyworth in the story to serve tea as needed. It’s going to be fucked up and scary and fun, and Otto is drawing all of it BEAUTIFULLY. This was announced a few days ago, but they missed out on announcing some of the fun covers we’ve got cooking for this… We’ve got an amazing cover from Jorge Molina that’s going to be a Glow-in-the-Dark variant… And DC is doing their whole Team Variant thing with an amazing piece from Ejikure!

Anyways, more to come on all of this… This is really fun and gross and weird, and there’s a beat in the first issue with a blender that I wish I could take all the credit for. We’re going to have a real fun time destroying the DC universe and turning all your favorites into blood-sucking killers.

BATMAN: SECRET FILES

The last announcement of the week is that I’ve got another BATMAN: SECRET FILES issue cooking in October, this one featuring the origin of PEACEKEEPER-01.

We’ve hinted at a bit of this in the main title, but I have this whole mythology that lives in my head about the GCPD that I’ve always wanted to make canon because it just makes absolute sense that it would be this way. Basically, when Jim Gordon was made Police Commissioner, he would have purged the entire department of a whole bunch of the most obviously corrupt officers. And the families of those officers would have developed a deep-seated grudge against how Gordon ran the GCPD, and his relationship with Batman.

Sean Mahoney came from a family of corrupt cops. The sort of folk who moonlit as armed security for the Falcone Crime Family in the pre-Batman days, and who were all on the take, but they were embedded enough in the power structure of Gotham that they were untouchable until Gordon took the top job. That would have happened right around when Sean Mahoney was looking to sign up. He was raised believing that he would be one of the finest officers in the history of Gotham, but Gordon wouldn’t let a member of such a corrupt family join up… So Sean ended up as a prison guard at Arkham Asylum, and the resentment started to grow, until it all boiled over at A-Day, and then Simon Saint had the clever idea of putting him in one of the most advanced suits of Police Armor the world has ever seen! What could go wrong?!

This Secret Files one shot tells a bit of that story, and I got the amazing Ed Brisson to help me write it. Ed is one of the best crime writers in comics right now to put it all down on paper. (Seriously, if you haven’t read MURDERBOOK, you are cheating yourself out of some very good crime comics). This is the first time we’re getting to work together since we were on team BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL, and I’m very very excited for you all to see what we’ve cooked up for you. We’ve also got the phenomenal Joshua Hixson on art here… I’ve loved Josh’s work for years and years, and we might have a TOP SECRET thing in the works for you on the back-burner. Also want to give a special shout out to Rafael Sarmento for the amazing cover above!

I’ve got one more Secret Files one-shot to go in and around Fear State, and I’m very excited to announce who I’m collaborating with on that…

But all of that will come next month.

SHORT BITES

  • THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE #1 is going back to a Third Printing! There’s a 1:25 cover with the third printing that finally gives you all the character guide you’ve been clamoring for! 

  • THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH is nominated for “Book of the Year” at this years’ Harvey Awards!

  • Right now, my plan is going to be to shut down my main James Tynion IV twitter account at the end of August. I’m going to stop monitoring it personally at the START of August, and use it to push everyone toward the new @ReadTinyOnion account and this newsletter. After that time, I’ll have somebody managing my social and this is really going to be the only place to hear from me, directly. So if you’re already here, you’re in good shape! But follow that account!

HOUSEKEEPING

I think we’ve got about 80% of all Razorblades: The Horror Magazine #4 orders out the door, and the rest are going to follow shortly thereafter. We’ll have news about Issue #5 in August, and then we can start talking about what comes next for the whole Razorblades operation.

We sold out of almost HALF of our stock of SIKTC enamel pins between retailer and customer orders in our first week.

There are still more in the first printing available on TinyOnionStudios.com, and if you’re a retailer who wants the bulk rate to order them for your shop, the offer is still open! Just email TinyOnionStudios@gmail.com.

Anyways… Some big news coming in the next few weeks. The Empire of the Tiny Onion marches ever onward.

James Tynion IV
Brooklyn, NY
7.16.21

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