Everything Coming To My Substack In 2022
James Tynion IV unveils a slate of original comic book series, and merchandise exclusively available to the followers of his Substack.
Hello Friends! Happy Monday!
In lieu of my usual Tiny Update, I am going to be giving you a Really Fucking Big Update. Today is the day I unveil everything I’ve been working on for the last six months.
Think of this as a reintroduction to The Empire of The Tiny Onion
This year is me being aggressive. I’ve spent the last decade only able to give 1/5th of my mental space and bandwidth to creator-owned comics, and six months ago, I flipped the dynamic. I’ve got one licensed book in SANDMAN UNIVERSE: NIGHTMARE COUNTRY, but aside from that, I’m working for myself. The Substack Pro grant called me a publisher, so I spent the last six months thinking like a publisher. In December, I pulled together the full Tiny Onion team for the first time in one room and laid out every single print comic book, every single Substack Post, every single variant cover, and every piece of merchandise I wanted to give my fans in 2022.
The plan is set. All of the wheels are in motion. There are no more months of strategizing in the dark. Now is when we’re going to unleash my evil plan onto the world and see whether or not it works. The Print Comic Book business is the core of my livelihood. I gamed it out, and there isn’t a month this year I have less than four comic issues with my name on them on the stands.
The opportunity in Substack has always lay in being daring, in trying a few things outside the box. That’s why my Substack is filled with all of my weirdo UFO and Cryptid stuff. That’s why, moving forward, you’re going to see me experiment with different ways to make and format comic projects. This is where I come to play, build, and try things out. This is where I get to be a bit of a mad scientist and make things that I want to make simply because I want to make them.
Welcome to the laboratory, if you’re here, you have a front-row seat. I’ve been making monsters. Let me introduce you to them.
HEY JAMES! WHEN CAN WE READ YOUR COMIC BOOKS?!!
How about right now?! How about TODAY?!
We’ve got a whole lot of cool comic books coming your way on Substack in 2022. I’m going to walk you through when you can expect each of the big comic book features we’re going to be running. But the first announcement is the one you’ll be able to get your hands on soonest.
THE CLOSET has the incredible Gavin Fullerton on art, the phenomenal Chris O’Halloran on colors, the magnificent Tom Napolitano on Letters. I’m writing the dang thing. This is my first horror comic release on Substack.
If you want to read this blind, the first issue is available RIGHT NOW for all paid subscribers to my Substack. It went out just before this post. Unpaid subscribers can read the first ten pages before they’ll hit the paywall (a neat trick I’ll be working to make more of in the future). Go read it, here!
THE CLOSET is a horror novella in three acts. In my original launch post, I called this project OPERATION NIGHTMARE. Each issue is roughly 30 pages long. We’re going to be releasing this on a roughly six week schedule, dropping it in full chapters, rather than increments. I’ll be putting out a longer piece on this tomorrow, all about the genesis of the series and my goals with it. We’ve got a plan to bring the book to print that you’ll hear about in the next couple of months, but subscribers don’t have to wait! They can get it now!
This project is only available for PAID SUBSCRIBERS! So if you want to read an entire brand new issue of a horror comic by yours truly, you should sign up TODAY!!
I’m going to be revealing more about this project in just a few weeks’ time. Back in my launch post, I referred to this as OPERATION TOPLOCK, but now I’m excited to announce its full title…
THE ODDLY PEDESTRIAN LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER CHAOS.
The idea at the heart of this series is my own, and it’s a very old idea I’ve been dying to get back to for years. I brought in Tate Brombal to expand on my world and story documents and script the series. I brought Nick Robles in to design the characters, and give us covers and promo images. I brought in Isaac Goodhart to do interior pages. I brought in Kurt Michael Russell to bring the series to life in color. And I turned to the master wordsmith, Aditya Bidikar to put letters on the beast.
This isn’t a superhero comic, but it’s the closest thing to a superhero comic I’m working on, with vibrant, colorful teenage characters with bad-ass designs, and a world of horror at our fingertips, ready to explore. Tate and I have spent months building the world and its characters, and I’m so damn excited for you to see what we’ve built together. The above promo image is by the always incredible Nick Robles. We’ll reveal the title design, first cover, and the design of our lead character, Christopher Chaos on February 9th. The Prologue is going to be dropping on February 16th, and then we’ll dive into the series in earnest in March. Chapters will release monthly while THE CLOSET draws to a close, and then will pick up to a twice monthly pace.
We’re going to make this series FREE. That’s right! It’s going to be available for ALL SUBSCRIBERS, Unpaid and Paid! That means that you don’t need to pay us a dime to read every page of the thing! For Paid Subscribers, we’ll have extra behind-the-scenes content about how this project was built over the last year, with hints at the size of the world we’re building.
I couldn’t be more excited to bring some Chaos into your lives. Just you wait. But whether you’re paying or not, the best way to stay up to date with what we’re building here is to hit the button below!
Michael and I will be ending the first “Season” of our UFO non-fiction series BLUE BOOK at the end of March, and in its place, I’m thrilled to announce an exciting new feature.
TRUE WEIRD takes the core conceit of BLUE BOOK, the idea of adapting “true” stories of encounters with the strange and impossible, and broadening the lens beyond just telling stories of UFO encounters. When I first announced BLUE BOOK, I spoke a lot about what I called the “True Weird” genre - The kind of stories that are the stranger cousin of True Crime. Stories based on the accounts of people who bore witness to something strange or impossible. UFO stories are my favorite kind of True Weird Tale, but there are so many more, and over the last six months I’ve had the itch to get more of them on paper.
TRUE WEIRD is a new anthology feature here on my Substack, which will drop standalone black-and-white stories of paranormal phenomena, medical oddities, cryptid encounters, and strange stories that defy all classification. Think of this as the mad lovechild of RAZORBLADES: THE HORROR MAGAZINE and BLUE BOOK.
I’m writing the first chapter, with a real comic legend on art. I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be kicking this new series off with the one and only KLAUS JANSON.
You’ll have to wait to find out what we picked for our subject matter, but trust me, it’ll be worth the wait! That story will kick off an entire SLATE of incredible writers and artists who are already hard at work putting a bunch of really fucking cool, really fucking weird comic book stories down on paper for your reading pleasure. I also want to give a shout-out to my Blue Book compatriot, Michael Avon Oeming for whipping up a quick promo image featuring the Goblins of the famous Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter! Felt like a good bridge between the world of UFOs and the wilder weirder world around it.
These stories will be available for all PAID SUBSCRIBERS. So if you’re interested, you should subscribe today!
Then, in July… It’s time to look for strange lights in the skies again.
For those of you joining us here on Substack for the first time, BLUE BOOK was the first comic feature I debuted here on the site. In it, we adapt the stories of purported UFO and Alien encounters, without sensationalizing the stories. We want to adapt them with all their strangest elements and contradictions left intact. BLUE BOOK is co-created by Michael Avon Oeming, and features letters by the amazing Aditya Bidikar. At the moment, we’re about eighty pages into our first “Season” of the book, which focused on the abduction of Betty and Barney Hill. That story will run through Chapter 10, which is scheduled to drop at the end of March.
After we wrap the story of the Hills, BLUE BOOK will go on a brief hiatus while Mike and I get back ahead of schedule.
But if you’re interested in reading more about UFOs and all things in the TRUE WEIRD vein, you should hit that subscribe button today!
And Let’s Not Forget…
And running alongside ALL of this stuff is THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS! For this feature, we’ve been reaching out to the greatest Illustrators and Horror Artists in and around comics to do their takes on classic cryptids. So far, we’ve gotten Alexis Ziritt drawing Chupacabras, Andrea Sorrentino drawing Black-Eyed Children, Vincenzo Riccardi drawing The Flatwoods Monster, Tiffany Turrill drawing Bloody Mary, Bill Sienkiewicz drawing a twisted Santa Claus, and we started the year off strong with James Stokoe drawing Sewer Alligators and V Gagnon on Champ!
We’re planning to run this twice a month all year. We’ve got a lot of amazing artists and amazing cryptids coming your way. When all is said and done, we’re going to collect all of this in a big ol’ Department of Truth Artbook/Guidebook to Cryptids. But that’s not coming until 2023 at the earliest!
So, if you want a bunch of cryptids by the best artists in the business in your inbox every couple of weeks, you should subscribe today!
Let Me Sum It All Up For You…
TINY UPDATE will continue to run every Monday. It’s your weekly update from yours truly about what comics I’ve got in stores, and what I’m thinking about on any given week.
THE CLOSET and THE ODDLY PEDESTRIAN LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER CHAOS will run on Wednesdays. BLUE BOOK, TRUE WEIRD, and THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS will run on Fridays. When BLUE BOOK comes back from Hiatus in July, TRUE WEIRD will continue to be slotted in the nooks and crannies of the year, in “Fifth Weeks” and to give breathing room to the other series as needed.
That just leaves one of the original projects I discussed in the launch post on the back-burner. Progress is still being made on OPERATION DIAL-UP, but you won’t hear much on that front until closer to Q4 this year.
Okay, that’s all well and good, but why ELSE should I sign up for this newsletter?
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been having a lot of fun making weird stuff and sending it all to you.
It started with RAZORBLADES: THE HORROR MAGAZINE. I ended up shipping the 500 copy first run of self-published first issue out of my apartment. It was agony, but the kind of agony that taught me a lot. After that, I worked with partners to do the grueling work of distribution, and I stuck to my enamel pins. The first pin design I worked up was THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH logo pin, tying into the release of the first issue of the series in September 2020. Over the last year and a half, I’ve sold about 3000 of those pins, hand shipping them out of my apartment or office here in Brooklyn to fans all over the world.
In time, I scaled up the operation. I convinced Boom! Studios to let me make a line of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN pins that started selling like hotcakes the second we got them in hand. I could feel there was a growing audience for artifacts of my books. I started thinking a bit ambitiously…
But the problem was that I knew I couldn’t store or ship anything much larger than an enamel pin in a bubble mailer I could fit in the outgoing mail slot in my apartment building. T-shirts were out of the question. Hell, anybody who ordered with me over the last two years knows that they might have to wait two weeks before an item shipped, depending on my work schedule. And retailers looking for wholesale sometimes needed to wait a month or more for me to go pull something out of my Storage Locker halfway across Brooklyn and get the supplies to ship it out the door.
Scaling up was a pipe dream. To even consider it, I was going to need to partner with a distributor with warehouse space and a team of dedicated workers who could make sure that every item ships in a timely fashion, and respond to each customer, even if I’m buried in deadlines.
Enter THIRD EYE COMICS.
I’m thrilled to announce that I am partnering with one of the most forward-looking retailers in the comic book business. As of today, I’ll be running the Tiny Onion Store through Third Eye, and shuttering my current webstore. By working with the incredible human beings at Third Eye, and their beautiful warehouses, I can scale up my operations in a BIG way.
We’ve got some exciting new items in the store for you available today… Enamel Pins and T-Shirts based on DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS, and BLUE BOOK. We've also got some pins that made the jump from my old Shopify website. I wanted to make sure that we had some cool stuff to start us all out. But this is really just the starting point.
I’ve been watching (and participating) in the geek collectible world built by companies like Mondo, and Skelton Crew in the comics business over the last decade and seeing what I can learn. What I’ve realized is that the best offerings out there tend to be short-runs of high-quality products, and a schedule of timed releases. I also noticed that when I dropped a new Variant Cover or issue of Razorblades: The Horror Magazine at an. You need a bit of a reveal, and some pomp and circumstance. You need to give people a reason to show-up, excited.
Introducing the latest feature on this Newsletter. I’m calling it THE ONION DROP.
Here’s how it’s going to work…
On the first Wednesday of every month, at Noon ET, I’m going to send out a post called THE ONION DROP to all paid subscribers to this newsletter. That post will give you the links and passwords to unlock exclusive new content on sale through the Tiny Onion Store at Third Eye. All purchases made in that initial five-day window will be verified against our subscriber list to make sure they’re made by paid subscribers to this newsletter.
Every Onion Drop will have a theme, usually based on my biggest comic book release that month. Drops will consist of the following:
Short-Run Enamel Pins, Merch and Apparel - Moving forward, all t-shirt and enamel pin designs will only be used for a single printing. When a design runs out, you’ll have to wait a few months until the next Drop featuring that series, and the next set of pins and t-shirts become available.
NOTE: There will be some exceptions to this. Logo pins like The Order of St. George Pin, and the Department of Truth Logo Pin, I plan to keep in print as long as people are interested in buying them. But the art-driven pin and shirt designs will be small batch. If we released an Erica Slaughter T-Shirt that sold out quick, the next Erica Slaughter T-Shirt we release will feature new artwork.
Variant Covers - Right now, I’m planning on commissioning roughly 15 Tiny Onion Exclusive variant covers over the course of 2022. Some months might have multiple issues dropping, some months might not have any. These covers are distributed between the three big direct market publishers I work with. I’m lining up some great talent for these covers.
Signed Comic Books - I’m going to sign a VERY LIMITED number of bookplates for a batch of collected editions each month related to each of the series being highlighted. These signed comics will only be available while supplies last.
Stickers - Everybody loves Stickers! These won’t be made for sale… But every purchase made in the Tiny Onion Store in a given month will include a limited edition high quality sticker based on the chosen sticker of the month.
The Monday following the initial drop, we will remove all passwords, and link to all of the new items still available in that week’s Tiny Update. And then the countdown will start for the next ONION DROP.
Subscribers at the premiere membership tier to my newsletter, THE ONION CLUB, are going to get early access to the merch we’re releasing in each ONION DROP on the Monday before each drop. Today, you can see the password protected posts on the main page, though in the future they’ll be hidden before their debut.
The first ONION DROP is coming THIS WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND, at NOON ET. There won’t be a Variant Cover dropping in this Onion Club, but there will be signed books, apparel, and pins! The first cover will drop next month for SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #21.
If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on this month’s exclusive offerings, you should hit the button below and subscribe!
Retailers, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you!
I’m going to be holding aside a portion of each Variant Cover I offer through the store, as well as a portion of all merchandise to make them available to you at discounted prices. If you’re interested in making a wholesale purchase of any new items, please contact email@example.com with your store’s information to get the details on how to make an order.
Though Third Eye Comics are helping me with distribution, and I’m operating out of their web store, all Tiny Onion (and Onion Club) covers will only feature the Tiny Onion or Onion Club logos on the backs. So, please don’t be shy if a nice-looking variant cover catches your eye and you want it in sale in your store!
Okay, I know that’s a lot. And I know I’m not the only Comics Substacker hawking my wares at you today. So let me wrap it up.
Tomorrow, I’m going to drop an in detail post about THE CLOSET, and get into the background of how and why I made this story, and why it’s been living in my head so long. I’m so glad this comic is finally out in the world. Gavin, Chris, and Tom did such a good job on it. Wednesday, We’ll be doing our first ever ONION DROP for paid subscribers at Noon Eastern Time. If you want to get it while it’s hot, you should set your calendars now. And on Friday, we’ll be releasing our regularly scheduled chapter of BLUE BOOK.
I want to thank my fearless editor, Greg Lockard for keeping all of these trains running on time. I want to thank Dylan Todd for his amazing design work on all of these books and this newsletter. I want to thank Sam Kusek for joining the Tiny Onion team as our Operations Manager, helping me get merch and variant covers where they need to go. I want to thank Tyler Jennes for handling a lot of grunt work. I want to thank Steve Anderson, Nicole Bosley, and all the fine people at Third Eye Comics for helping me streamline this process and make this all possible.
And I also want to thank all of YOU! This is all a bit nuts, and I can’t believe any of it is real. Let’s all have a rad 2022 together.
James Tynion IV
Too. Awesome. 🤯
This is what I’m talking about, baby!!! So many wonderful things to look forward to.