TINY UPDATE 11/22: And We're Back!

“Tiny Update” is a weekly free newsletter that keeps you up to date on the latest news, comic book projects and merchandise offerings from James Tynion IV and Tiny Onion Studios.

Hello Friends!

I’ve missed you all terribly. Thanks to the amazing Greg Lockard for keeping the trains running while I’ve been traveling. I’ve had an incredible time in the UK. Thought Bubble is as wonderful a show as I’d heard for years. It was great to see and spend time with so many of my collaborators who I haven’t been able to see in over two years! I am returning home with a lot of exciting ideas buzzing in my head, and very cool things are happening inside Tiny Onion Studios HQ as we prepare for an incredible year here on the Substack, on comic shops, in convention centers, and beyond!

We’ve got Thanksgiving coming in fast, so I know it’s going to be a short week for a lot of folks. I’ve got quite a workload in front of me the next few days, so certainly won’t feel like a short week to me. But I’m approaching it all eagerly. The nice thing about getting a little break from writing is that I’m always much much more excited about getting a chance to dig back in. I need you all to send good vibes my way to get my fingers clacking away at the keys.

Breaks are always a good time to take a step back and get a sense for what you’ve been striving for in your own work, even if you haven’t really taken a close look at why you’ve been striving. I’ve been thinking a LOT about dialogue the last few weeks.

It’s a weird thing in comics… Dialogue is the small bit of the iceberg that floats above the water, where readers can see it, as opposed to all of the parts of comic script writing that are really just kind of private interactions between the writer, artist, and letterer. It’s the most direct evidence of the writer in the final product. There’s a real craft to it, creating a natural patter that gives you all of the information you need to process a moment while giving you a strong sense of character. It’s also a bit of the craft that I don’t feel like a lot of rising creators in the comics field are focusing on, for whatever reason… I think probably because it’s not a comics exclusive craft. Once they master the basic craft of comic writing, I think a lot of creators start playing with formalism and structural tricks, because they feel the most comic booky toys to play with. But that’s all story architecture, and it moves away from the part of writing that is putting deliberately chosen words in a particular order to elicit a certain response.

I like my dialogue, but I think it’s a little messy and unwieldy. It means my dialogue works best with kind of messy unwieldy characters (who I love writing). But I would like to broaden my horizons here, and focus a bit more on what’s being accomplished in the language itself. Aim for a bit more precision. I think, what honestly I need to do is read more playwrights. And screenplays, for that matter (though I think that a lot of movies have started sounding more and more the same - it’s the rare movie where I really notice how much I’m enjoying the words being spoken). There’s a lot of perfunctory sameness in all media right now, and it feels like a worthy endeavor to turn away from that where we can. There aren’t as many people playing with dialogue as I’d like there to be. I have a lot to learn in this space, and I am eager to learn it. If anybody who follows this knows any contemporary playwrights writing some killer dialogue I should investigate, please point me in their directions. Otherwise, I’m just going to work through some of the classics.

I like having projects.

I have a LOT to write before the end of the year. Not an impossible amount to write, but absolutely a whole fucking lot to write. I am virtually done with my work in Superheroes… Just a few more Joker scripts and then I can put the genre to bed. I’m sure I’ll miss it sooner than I think, but I’ve been grating on the restrictions of the superhero genre for a long time now and am eager to see where my mind goes when it’s not bound there. The big thing I am MOST excited about is seeing what happens when I let myself really discover what creative muscles I’ve exercising that are going to want to stay in use. Am I going to want to tap into another arena of fanboy lore? Am I going to miss writing action sequences with colorful characters? I think it’ll be telling to see how my brain wanders when I’m fully out of the grind. And then if I ever return to the world of capes and tights, I’ll do so with a better understanding of what I want to get out of it creatively.

Anyways… Let’s dig into the meat of it, this week. I hope you all have wonderful plans for Thanksgiving. We’ve got a great DOT: Wild Fiction on the docket for you this Friday, and then we’ll be hitting the ground running in December. I’ve got a few holiday treats for you all that I’m very excited for you to see me roll out.

THE EMPIRE OF THE TINY ONION is supported by readers like you! Subscribe today to get early access to new merchandise, exclusive covers, digital-first comic book series, and in-depth behind-the-scenes commentary on your favorite comic books by James Tynion IV.


W: James Tynion IV & Tate Brombal / A: Werther Dell‘Edera & Chris Shehan / C: Miquel Muerto / L: AndWorld Design / Cover A: Chris Shehan / Cover B: Werther Dell’Edera / E: Eric Harburn, Ramiro Portnoy, Jonathan Manning

Erica Slaughter isn't the only member of the House of Slaughter to have made sacrifices in order to become the monster hunter she is today.

As a teenager, her handler and rival Aaron finds himself with a new roommate, the mysterious "transfer student" Jace Boucher.

To initiate his training, Jace must prove his loyalty to the House of Slaughter through a binding ritual... a ritual that few survive.


Writers: James Tynion IV & Matthew Rosenberg / Art and Cover A: Otto Schmidt / Cover B: Francesco Mattina / AE: David Wielgosz / E: Ben Abernathy

The war for the very survival of the human race has begun! A mysterious new vampire lord has already put a plan in motion to conquer the Earth, and the first step is—destroy the Justice League! But the World’s Greatest Detective might be Earth’s last hope, and it’s time for the Bat-Family to hunt!

Just want to say this now for certain… I have no more public appearances this calendar year! But now that I’ve gotten a taste for travel again, I’ve been working up one hell of a game plan for 2022, with appearances all around the world. I’ll be speaking more about this as we enter the new year, but boy, oh boy am I excited to GO places again. And spend more time with the incredible artists I work with.

  • Somebody made a custom Erica Slaughter Funko Pop and gave it to me at Thought Bubble! Look at how fucking good it is! I’m not going to lie and say that this doesn’t give me ideas... I also saw my first Punchline Funko pop in the wild, and desperately need to get my hands on one of those.

  • I made the most of my Jet Lag early in the trip by finally watching all of Alex Garland’s DEVS. I absolutely fucking adored it, and it’s absolutely going to kick off a whole rewatch of the Alex Garland canon. It’s a perfect complement to his EX MACHINA (don’t put the two titles next to each other unless you want the themes of the whole system painted out to you). There’s this muted washed-out quality to his science fiction that perfectly captures the kind of exhausted burned-out quality endemic in our way-too-complicated world. It all makes me want to rewatch a bunch of Adam Curtis documentaries, sit in a nice chair and do some deep thinking about the world. I wish I could get a set of teleplays for DEVS to match my A24 EX MACHINA screenplay because I am the kind of nerd that likes cool shit on my shelves.

  • I started listening to the audiobook of THE POWER BROKER by Robert A. Caro, about the life of Robert Moses. It is very, very good… although I have to admit I am intimidated by its 64 hour runtime. I’m about nine hours in so far, and it is absolutely captivating. I think I’ve finally just fully hit the age where I just want to read a lot of history books. One of these days I’m going to write something unwieldy about the early 20th Century and the rise of modern cities, and this book is just pouring gasoline on that fire in the back corner of my brain.

  • I finally set up a Bullet Journal the Monday after Thought Bubble. This is the third time I’ve bought one, and the first time I’ve actually set it up. So far, after doing the legwork to set it up correctly, it feels very intuitive to me, and helps me balance all of my fleeting thoughts over the course of a work day. One of my big goals for the next few months is to work more efficiently when I’m working, to help dedicate more time to NOT working. I’m not doing all the bells and whistles I’ve seen in other bullet journals, but so far just filling out everything I think I know about next year is helping me organize my thoughts in a big way. One thing that I’m already noticing one week in is that a lot of my former tweets were just me kind of leaving a note for myself about a thing I liked, or an intention I have for the future.

Miraculously, I made decent headway on my deadlines while I was traveling, but I am definitely going to need to pick up the pace through the holidays if I want to enter the New Year the way I want to. The easiest way to tell that I am a workaholic is how much I’m looking forward to those beautiful few weeks when the publishers and Hollywood are all closed, and nothing can be ADDED to my plate, only subtracted.

So I better dig back in and work to get a few more things off my plate before I go meet up with my Mom for Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy the holiday! We’ll be back on Friday with a Wild Fiction, and then we’ll see you next Monday for the next Tiny Update!

James Tynion IV
Brooklyn, NY