So, this is probably a mistake.
I mean, in terms of productivity, it is clearly a massive massive mistake. A procrastination vehicle of the first degree. I am working on what feels conservatively like a thousand comic books right now, and the last thing I need is to drop an essay on my plate every week.
But 2020 is a big year for me, and if I play my cards right, I’ll be carrying that energy right into 2021. I want to talk about it in a way that I can track a bit more, and I can control a bit more. If you’re a reader, I want to give you what you need to convince you to buy my books. If you’re a retailer, I want to give you what you need to SELL my books.
I’ve been thinking for a long time that Twitter isn’t really sufficient for how I want to interact with my readers. There’s a clear value in Twitter. I tried quitting for a few months two years ago, but when it came time to launch a new comic, I needed Twitter to actually communicate that the comic was coming. The trouble, even pushing past the obvious toxicity that bounces around twitter every day, is that twitter is a lot of noise.
Its role as a professional broadcasting platform gets tangled with its separate and contradictory roles as a vehicle to keep track of your friends, a delivery system for memes, and a news aggregator. Whenever there is something important to say, it can fall into the wrong ecosystem to sometimes disastrous results. And if you tweet at the wrong moment, the tweet is just going to race downstream and out of sight.
So, what if instead of all that, I just told you all what I have coming out week to week. Let you know when final order cut-offs happen, and took a moment to say something about each book, talking a bit about my amazing collaboraters… And maybe a bit about what else I’m thinking about.
The comic book writer newsletter will always feel like a rip off of Warren Ellis. I am nowhere near as eloquent or interesting as Warren, and I am not as funny as Chip, Kieron, or Jamie… But I’m a weird, earnest guy, and I care a lot about these comics I’m writing, and I can hopefully make this interesting and entertaining enough to keep reading.
So, I lured you in here with some Batman, so let’s talk some Batman.
I’m currently making my way back from a few days in the DC Offices in Burbank, and I have to say that I’m really really excited about what we’re building in 2020. The current plan is to tell three big stories, each with extreme ramifications not only for the main Bat-Title, but for all the Gotham books.
I’ve said this in a few interviews, but i’ll repeat here that my plan is to focus on Batman’s rogues in a really big way this year. If the Bat-Family was the central supporting cast of my Detective Comics run, the big classic Gotham villains are my central supporting cast in my Batman run. The first arc will bring in Penguin and Riddler in a big, big way… And you can see from the covers that Joker is in the mix, and you may get a bit more understanding about how we’re doing that before the end of the year… But I’ll wait for DC PR to put more information into the world before I get more into that.
Below is an excerpt from the first big idea document I wrote when I found out I officially had the gig. This lays out the core feel of the book. This is a document I’ll keep posting excerpts of over the next couple months as we head into the first issue.
If there is a mission statement for how I want to approach the character in 2020, this is it:
Batman is an action horror superhero comic book.
Heading into 2020, THAT is our absolute True North. Every page of every issue should feel like an action horror superhero comic. The monsters should be deadly and frightening, and Batman should feel frightening in and of himself. The villains of Gotham fear him, and he is going to take that fear and wield it like a weapon to get his city back under control. Batman doesn’t just show up in broad daylight to scare his villains, he uses tricks and shadows, and voice modulation to make it seem like he can be anywhere and everywhere at once.
The scary thing with Batman, even to villains who have fought him over and over again across decades is that they KNOW that under his suit he is just a man. But still he seems to be impossible. You fire a dozen armor piercing rounds into his torso, and you still know by the time you race down the stairs to your getaway car, he’s going to be there, ahead of you. And he is going to HURT you. They fear him because they can’t, for the life of them, understand how he does it, which gives him this supernatural air. To the bad guys, Batman is like Michael Myers. He keeps getting up when it shouldn’t be possible to get up anymore. How can you win against him? You’d have to be crazy to try.
Even Bruce Wayne is a figure of the shadows. He is a billionaire industrialist, but he is strange and a little reclusive. The last vestiges of his more conservative style would have gone out the window with the death of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred laid out clothes for Bruce. With him, he would have dressed a bit more like his father. More sweater vests like the old money he is. Without Alfred, Bruce is pure practicality. He wears BLACK. So does Selina… They go to a different type of Gotham City gala. The Old Money Gotham is corrupt and broken. Instead, Bruce goes to the young money of the city to help finance its reconstruction.
With Selina on his arm, the “Playboy” Bruce is dead. Every waking minute is dedicated to the rebuild of Gotham City, both as Bruce Wayne and as Batman. He is in control of every room he enters, and people are a little frightened of him. He is one of the richest people in the world, and he has experienced so much loss. But it’s clear he’s trying to make the city better. People admire him, because most people in his shoes would have LEFT Gotham a long time ago.
He has just faced tremendous failure in the last year of story. He lost his City, and lost his way… But now that he’s back, he has an almost manic intensity. He is going to FIX things. He’s going to make it so nobody like Bane can ever do this to the city again.
So, yeah… Hope that sounds interesting to you! We’ve got some spooky scary stuff coming your way, and soon we’ll be announcing our third core artist alongside the incredible Tony S. Daniel and Guillem March. And hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you all a buttload of ARTWORK for the dang thing.
I have never been as excited and nervous about a book as I am about this one.
OUTSIDE OF GOTHAM
So, back in September I launched my first creator-owned title in two years with SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN. I have been amazed how powerful the response has been. The first issue went into a fifth printing (actually, it might be six at this point? Plane internet isn’t treating me well enough to check). The second issue is onto its third printing.
My amazing co-creator Werther Dell’Edera just posted this painted Third Printing cover for #2, which is maybe my favorite image of Erica Slaughter to date.
Issue Three of the book came out this week with a variant cover by one of my all-time favorite artists, Marcos Martin. When my editor, Eric Harburn, told me we were getting Marcos on the book I lost my mind and still to this date have not recovered it.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #3
Art: Werther Dell’Edera
Color: Miquel Muerto
Letters: Andworld Design
For those of you who just follow my DC stuff… Something is Killing the Children is the story of a monster hunter named Erica Slaughter. It is a dark and violent book, and one of my favorite things I’ve written. It’s also just the beginning of an onslaught of creator owned projects over the next few years. I’ve talked a lot about how I spent a few years working only for DC Comics, and while I think that was good for my career and my life, it meant that there was a whole group of muscles I haven’t been using for a while… Now with these projects in the works, I feel like I’ve got an incredible rotating slate of amazing books, and I am so ludicrously excited about all of them.
While I’m ripping off Warren Ellis… It seems like the industry standard for referring to projects by a fancy codename before they are officially announced, and there are three major projects I’ll be launching outside of Batman in 2020, all three creator-owned, and each with a very distinct feel. PROJECT DALLAS, PROJECT LAKEHOUSE, and PROJECT WINGBOY are all pretty much locked in for 2020 and you should be hearing more about at least two of them in the next few months. I’ll be teasing a lot about them as we get closer.
PROJECT BANDANA, PROJECT LONGTOOTH, PROJECT CHAOS, and PROJECT GUNHAND are 2021/2022 projects, most of them creator owned (with a key exception), some of them are more conversations than anything else at this point. But they are fun conversations. Conversations I am very excited to have.
Outside my work in Gotham, my top focus will be developing these titles and making the sorts of books that made me want to create comics in the first place. I see Something is Killing the Children, Batman and all these books as the start of the next phase of my comic book career.
So, now I just have to make sure they’re all very cool.
I think my plan is going to be to drop these on Mondays, so I can nod to FOCs and the books of the week, but do not hold me to that. I also expect that most of these will not be quite this long, but I’ve got a lot of stuff to procrastinate writing, so maybe they’ll all be big word vomits like this one.
My inbox is getting clogged with these little confirmations, pinging me when each of you subscribe to the newsletter. The way they are labeled makes it look like a few hundred of you are all trying to sell me “FREE EMAILS.”
BUT IT IS I WHO IS SELLING THE FREE EMAILS!
Okay. That’s it for today.
James Tynion IV
In the sky over America