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TINY UPDATE 1/3: First Thoughts Of A New Year
“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
Happy New Year, Friends!
Getting this one out a few hours after I intended. I started my day getting blood drawn, and my body absolutely did not want to relinquish the blood to the labtech (despite drinking two full liters of water after waking up this morning, somehow I ended up dehydrated by the time I was sitting down and getting the blood drawn). I got to my office groggy and then legitimately fell asleep at my computer for the better part of two hours. But I’m up! I’m up! The first week back from the holidays is always a little sleepy, but I feel the watchful eyes of my editors blinking awake from their hibernation, and I know I need to keep hustling.
It admittedly wasn’t much of a holiday, thanks to Mr. Omicron. I burned through the days I could afford to take off when I was in the full throes of Covid in Mid-December, and last week ended up being pretty much a full scale work week for me, as I tried to get back to where I wanted to be before Christmas. I mostly succeeded. In a perfect world, I would have finished two scripts that I just have partially finished, but I got much closer to hitting the mark than I was worried about before the break began. Didn’t get to see all the movies I wanted to see. Didn’t get to read everything I wanted to read. Didn’t get to do much relaxing, or get the benefit of turning my brain off. But I did manage to start something that I am hoping will become a real habit moving forward.
I’ve started carrying a play in my pocket while I commute to and from my office, and I’ve been reading the plays on the subway and at meals, rather than dicking around on my phone. I want to thank the commenter who recommended that I start my foray into plays with Martin McDonagh’s THE PILLOWMAN. It was funny and horrific and heartfelt, and I am having to restrain myself from just burning through the whole McDonagh canon back to back (I’ve already picked up four more of his plays, so I’m not restraining myself particularly well). More than anything it just reawakened my love of the genre, and did exactly what I wanted it to. It got me thinking hard about dialogue, just as I’m about to dive into writing some unannounced projects.
My New Years Resolution is to read one play a week, every week, all year. Right now I’m approaching this freeform. I like it as a resolution because it’s aspirational, and I’m probably going to miss a few weeks, but unlike making “lose x amount of weight” it’s pretty low stakes and I’m not going to feel terrible if I slip up here and there. It’s a fun project. I think I’m going to interchange new plays with plays that I’ve read or seen before, so that I kind of revisit my roots in the medium, but I’m only going to stick with that as long as it makes sense to. Right now, I’m reading Tracy Letts’ AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. I think I’ll be keeping you all in the loop down in the “Quick Things” section in my monthly Tiny Updates.
There are a lot of things I want to do in 2022 that I am not going to curse by turning into resolutions. Sam and I are starting the first steps to buy a place here in Brooklyn. I’m going to finally call and set those doctor appointments I’ve been saying I should make every week for the better part of a year. I’m working hard to delegate more and more of the running the business of Tiny Onion Studios, so that my primary day to day focus can be writing. I am going to try to take two months COMPLETELY off from writing this year, and work to get ahead of the often punishing grind of monthly comics. I’m going to do some writing in another medium. I’m now two months into daily Bullet Journaling, and I want to keep that up. I want to spend even less time online, because the more I separate myself from the cesspit of social media the more I realize
Creatively? My goals for 2022 to keep centering “play” as my primary creative drive. I am in a very rarified position where I’ve got sales power at my side, and I’ve already gotten my Eisner Award, and I’ve done a substantial run on a big iconic character. There isn’t a gig out there sitting and waiting for me to grab that I’m waiting for the phone to ring about. I’m doing precisely one licensed comic book project in the next year, and I don’t intend to add to that list (In fact, I’ve already turned more down). I’m no longer trying to prove anything, or achieve something specific. I’m trying to exercise my mind, and exorcise a lot of thoughts onto the page and make them into stories that you all would like to read. My primary goal is to make every comic book really fucking good, and have a lot of fun creating it. I want to spend more time indulging myself, and trying things that I don’t know whether they’re going to work or not. I want to follow every rabbit hole my curiosity takes me.
Business-wise… I’m a bit more ambitious than all that. At the end of this month, I’ll be unveiling a lot of what I’ve been spending the last six months building here on Substack, and off of it. I’ll be showing the full scope of more of my partnerships, and unveiling everything that I’ve got cooking in 2022 when it comes to merchandise and variant covers. This has been what I’ve been working my butt off on for the last few months, and it’s so close to me being able to show you all that I can TASTE it.
Last year, I wrote up a huge “here’s everything I loved to read and watch” at the end of the year and I don’t know that I have enough interesting takes to repeat the process. 2020 had a lot more sitting around reading time than 2021 did. The RECKLESS and FRIDAY series by Brubaker/Phillips and Brubaker/Martin are probably the comics I most enjoyed reading in the last year. MONSTERS by Barry Windsor Smith was probably the most inspiring work, almost entirely by asking the question “What’s a story that I’d spend thirty years of my life tinkering on?” I’m still powering through the juggernaut of THE POWER BROKER by Robert A. Caro on audiobook (Just about 20 hours to go), which is definitely the bit of non-fiction that made the most impact on me this year..
In film, my best theatergoing experience was watching Michael Sarnoski’s PIG. Let me start by saying that I am biased. Michael and I went to kindergarten and grade school together, and were close friends as kids. There is video footage in the world of both of us, age 6 or so, trying and failing to hit a softball off a tee. We’ve hung out a bit in our adult lives and remain friends, but you never really know what it’s going to be like to engage in a piece of art by someone who used to be a big part of your life. The scene at Eurydice is the single best scene in a movie I’ve seen this year, and the one that lingers with me more than the rest as a person who works in a creative field. There is a speech that Nicolas Cage delivers to the chef there that I think a lot of creators in a lot of fields need to hear and let sink in. But since I care particularly about comics, I especially think comic creators need to hear it.
Aside from PIG, I really appreciated THE FRENCH DISPATCH, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH and LICORICE PIZZA. I like movies that know and appreciate that they are movies. That play with being movies. That aren’t overly concerned with trying to pretend that they’re in any way real. I find the artifice enhances the whole experience, and lets you focus on what the films are saying, what they are trying to make you feel, and why they’re doing that. I feel like too many movies I watch these days don’t really have anything interesting to say, nor do they feel like fun or interesting creative experiments. I don’t know that THE FRENCH DISPATCH said anything new, but it was a really enjoyable creative experiment to watch unfold on the screen.
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Got word from some folks that they missed out on one of the Holiday prints we were offering last month due to sickness or the chaos around loved ones getting hit by this winter wave, and as somebody who ALSO missed out on a bunch of things in December, I thought I’d give you all one more week to snag whatever holiday print you missed. You can click the links below to take you to the respective pages over at Cadence Comic Art and they’ll hook you up.
These will stay available for one more week (until 1/10), and then we’re closing the door on these sales for good! This also works as an excuse for me to take another week to take down my Christmas Tree. So, everybody wins!
Paid subscribers are going to get my long overdue THINKING BAT THOUGHTS finale a bit later today (Just need to put some finishing touches on it). This last bit is going to go over my last year on the title, and then have some thoughts for future Batman and Batman Family writers based on what I think I’ve learned over the last few years. They’ll also get the next chapter of BLUE BOOK this Friday. We’re going to be on a more reduced schedule in January of two posts a week, leading up to the unveiling of a more robust schedule with a bunch of exciting announcements at the end of the month. If you don’t want to miss out on all the goodies, I suggest that you subscribe now!
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN Vol. 4
W: James Tynion IV/ A: Werther Dell'Edera/ C: Miquel Muerto/ L: AndWorld Design/ Cover A: Werther Dell'Edera/ E: Ramiro Portnoy & Eric Harburn
The origin of Erica Slaughter, monster hunter, is revealed in this volume of the Eisner Award-nominated horror series.
Erica went to hell and back in Archer’s Peak, but that may be nothing compared to the events that forged her at the House of Slaughter. What events brought Erica to the House of Slaughter? And what did she have to do to join the Order of St. George? Erica Slaughter’s origins are finally revealed in this volume of the Eisner Award-nominated series from GLAAD Award-winning author James Tynion IV (The Woods, Batman) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Razorblades).
Collects Something is Killing the Children #16-20.
I finally saw SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME over the weekend. It was nice seeing the boys together.
This is more for my own sake, but I will not consider myself to have finished my plate of 2021 movies until I watch RED ROCKET, TITANE, THE LAST DUEL, THE POWER OF THE DOG, and WEST SIDE STORY. I also really want to sit down and power through the Beatles documentary series. If there’s anything in the international sphere (I really want to see PETIT MAMAN, but I think I’m going to have to wait a bit)
I got an Anova Sous Vide cooker and a new cast iron skillet for Christmas. I then immediately went nuts and got a bunch of related kitchen gadgets and a few cookbooks. For New Years Eve I made what were probably the best steaks I’ve made in my life for Sam and myself. I also managed to totally fuck up and order a gigantic 16 Liter Tub for use with the Sous Vide. If any of you following this newsletter are food gadget nerds, and you’ve gone down the Sous Vide path, please load up my comments with aspirations, inspirations, tips, tricks and recipes. Especially if they make use of this fucking 16L tub.
All Razorblades Premium Subscriptions should have shipped in the last two weeks! Sorry for the delay on that front! There’s a backlog of emails at my TinyOnionStudios@gmail.com account that I will be setting my team on over the next week. Give us a little patience and grace as I slowly come to life in the new year.
I also know that we need to reach out to the folks who signed up to join the Onion Club in December, to get their shipping information. You haven’t missed out on anything! I’ll make sure all December subscribers/upgraders get the holiday cards even if you’re getting them a bit late.
James Tynion IV