James Tynion IV announces his latest Substack Project, a Cryptozoology art book spinning out of the pages of his hit Image Comics series, THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH

It’s time to announce the second original ongoing feature on this here newsletter. This is the one I referred to as CODENAME ZOOBOOK in the original launch post.

I’d like to welcome you all to THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS.

For those of who are not familiar, THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH is a series co-created by myself and Martin Simmonds that takes place in a world where the more people believe in something, the more true that thing becomes. The series follows Cole Turner as he goes down the rabbit hole, and is recruited by a secret department within the United States Government tasked with making sure that the wrong beliefs don’t spread and become true. Effectively, they prevent Conspiracy Theories from becoming reality. The book covers a lot of really intense conspiracies, always grounded from the perspective of who is using those conspiracies to control different people. I had the first inklings of what would become. Sounds interesting, right? Want to read the first issue? Well, here it is, free to download as a PDF!


You should pick it up, and then go pick up the first trade paperback at your local comic book shop (It only costs $10!), and THEN tell them that you’ll pick up the second trade paperback when it shows up next month, AND that you want to add the series to your pull list every month.

Back around the launch of the series, when I was on a million Hollywood calls with folks pitching the comic to them for television (We ultimately landed with the fine folks at SISTER, who made the amazing Chernobyl series for HBO), I kept bringing up the fact that yes, it was a series where we’d talk about some of the darkest and most dangerous beliefs pervading America, that in the first three issues alone we deal with people who believe in Flat Earth, the psychic trauma of the Satanic Panic, and the agony of being told you might be a Crisis Actor after losing your child in a mass shooting… But I told them that this was ALSO a series that was going to deal with UFOs, and that I was determined to write a really good Bigfoot issue as a part of the second story arc.

This summer, Martin Simmonds and I released a two-part story in THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #10-11 (It was originally a one-part story, but then I remembered that I am my own boss, and didn’t have to cut anything I didn’t want to). Those two Bigfoot centric issues were our highest selling issues since #1. And honestly, I think they’re two of my favorite issues in the entire run to date. I’ve always had a deep fascination with Cryptozoology - The hunt for the “hidden animals” of the world, figures like Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, The Loch Ness monster, The Jersey Devil, The Mothman… When I was in middle school I filled out a homework assignment that said I wanted to be a cryptozoologist when I grew up, and I was very frustrated that my teachers did not accept this as a viable answer. But the love and fascination stayed with me, and working on these two issues rekindled that love…

The two-parter introduced THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: FIELD OFFICE, which focuses on hunting down and killing Cryptids before belief in them can spread too wide around the country. In the parlance of the Department of Truth, these thought forms are called “WILD FICTIONS,” and we set a kind of taxonomy for three main types of Wild Fictions roaming the country. I’ll let the Director of the Field Office explain it all herself…

Check out that awesome Martin Simmonds art with bad-ass lettering from Aditya Bidikar! I love looking at pages from this series… BUT ANYWAYS, now you GET THE GIST.

Around the time I wrote the issues, I happened to be driving through Annapolis, and I got to chatting with my friend Steve Anderson who runs one of my favorite comic shop chains in the entire country - THIRD EYE COMICS. And I asked him… If I put together a kind of Bestiary set in the world of the The Department of Truth, something with bad-ass illustrations by my favorite comic and horror artists, featuring the most iconic cryptids… Did he think I might be able to sell that as a kind of series tie-in hardcover/reference book for other weirdos who like horror art and reading about monsters? Like something that would be fun to read even for cryptid enthusiasts who knew nothing about The Department of Truth. Steve said that yeah, he thought that could sell. So, the seed was planted in my mind.

And when Substack came together, I knew I’d be able to get Blue Book off the ground quick thanks to the incredible Michael Avon Oeming, but I ALSO knew I wouldn’t be able to pull together my second full comic book project until later in the year. But thanks to working on casting the covers for all of my series, and working on RAZORBLADES: THE HORROR MAGAZINE, I had a rolodex filled with a bunch of AMAZING horror and comic artists and I wanted to reach out to a whole BUNCH of them and have them draw some of my favorite cryptids, urban legends, ghosts, and aliens out in the world.

THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS will feature Case Files from The Department of Truth Field Office about the history of each of the “Wild Fictions” we explore, and some notes regarding times the Field Office have interacted with those monsters. And each case file is going to feature a bad-ass, original, never before seen illustration by one of Martin and my favorite artists, drawing your favorite cryptids. The case files are being impeccably researched by The Department of Truth’s Ace Editor, Steve Foxe. Ultimately, we’ll collect all of these case files and illustrations into a fancy schmancy hardcover that will shelve beautifully next to the inevitable DOT Deluxe Hardcovers we bring into the world.

The first Case File for THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS will drop on Friday, October 1st. That one will be free for anyone to read… But after that, all case files will only be available for paid subscribers to THE EMPIRE OF THE TINY ONION. This feature will run twice-monthly, alternating with chapters of BLUE BOOK. If you don’t want to miss out on some of the bad-ass art, and some deep dive files on your favorite cryptids… You should SUBSCRIBE NOW!

The names we’ve already managed to nail down for these illustrations are already blowing my mind, and I am a man who is blessed by working with a bunch of incredible comic book and horror artists.

While these will all be framed within the logic of The Department of Truth, our goal is to tell the real stories of how these stories started to spread in the world. So I think it serves as the perfect counterbalance for the latest BLUE BOOK entries. Every Friday, Paid Subscribers are either going to get Cryptids or UFOs in your inbox. Fridays are when you can expect a dose of TRUE WEIRD.

There’s a more physical component to all of this, too, that I’m trying to see how best to bring to life. But that’s all I’m going to say on that front for now.

Edited by GREG LOCKARD, with designs by DYLAN TODD

Speaking of Cryptids…

I’m going to jump the gun and let you know one of my favorites that isn’t going to be in the first batch of Case Files… BECAUSE we’re going to be covering him in the pages of THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH itself. The Department of Truth #15 is coming out this December, and it is going to bring you a story I’ve been dying to get to for the last six months… We’re going to Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966 and 1967 to bring you the story of THE MOTHMAN.

This issue is going to feature stunning artwork by guest artist David Romero, who is one of my favorite horror illustrators working in the field today. This is going to be an outside the box issue, telling an outside the box story. It is also going to be very important to the larger mythology of The Department of Truth.

This also feels like a good time to say THANK YOU to everyone. The Department of Truth team got the news at the start of the week that THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #7-12 have ALL sold out at the distributor level and are going back to print! Feels like a pretty damn good celebration of the one year anniversary of the launch of the series!

PS: Always love to drop a new Dylan Todd logo design. Isn’t he knocking all of these out of the park?

James Tynion IV
Brooklyn, NY