TINY UPDATE 3/28: Erica Slaughter RETURNS!
“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
I feel like I’ve finally gotten my brain folded back into the right configuration.
If I’m being honest with myself, that probably has more to do with sunlight and warmer weather than anything else, but in any case, I’ve been feeling clearer-headed and more focused. More grounded. This Saturday, I got a haircut and beard trim (helping me shed the feral caveman look I’ve been rocking for a few months now). I also took a walk down to DUMBO and spent a while just staring out at the water and thinking. There’s something genuinely magic about the view of the city from between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
With a more grounded brain, I’ve been thinking a lot more about the future. The last few months have been a gauntlet, and there are more gauntlets to come this year, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my life to look like. This thinking started a few weeks back from a place of “Jesus Christ, I need to not feel so stressed out all the time,” but as the stress has abated, I’ve been thinking through the finicky details. There are a lot of roads being laid out in front of me. For a while, I tried to make progress down all of the roads simultaneously, pushing myself to my limit. Regrettably, I found it.
So that’s Goal One. Not losing sight of myself. Not hitting that limit again. Originally, my bright idea here was to power through an impossible schedule for like six months straight with no breaks. That didn’t work. I’m mostly sticking to the re-break of my schedule I built after that, but I think I need to prioritize getting further ahead on projects before launching them. One of my craziest goals for this year is to be done with half of the boots on the ground writing I need to do next year before this year is done. Originally, I was going to try and accomplish that by going high burn with my output. Now I’m going to try and accomplish that by better laying out what comics I’ll be putting out in 2023. It’ll still be plenty, don’t worry. I have too many projects cooking to really turn my output down to a trickle.
Goal Two is not losing sight of what’s in my hands. It’s easy for me to get so tunnel-visioned that I don’t see the full shape of the Tiny Onion Studios business as it exists right now. I keep thinking of it like an independent production studio whose primary output for the moment is comic books that (mostly) I write. My partnership with publishers like Boom, DC, Image, and others allows me to put the comics I’m producing into the world. My partnership with Substack allows my direct communication with my core readership and the comics industry and gives me a “test kitchen” to experiment with new kinds of stories. My partnership with Third Eye Comics allows me to sell cool merch and covers directly to my audience. My partnership with Scott’s Collectables gives me a foothold in the physical collectibles space and at comic book conventions. In addition, I am a producer and consultant (and occasionally a writer) on the various film and tv projects that I have in development across Hollywood. Managing that whole web of responsibilities can take up 25-75% of any given week, depending on what’s most on fire that week. When I’m bogged down, I can lose sight of the interconnected web and the opportunities it offers.
Goal Three is not losing sight of the horizon. Right now, I see three ways that I can grow Tiny Onion into what I believe it could be. The most ambitious of those plans requires a big win in the Hollywood space. I’m making serious headway there, but nothing I can count on yet. The next most ambitious of those plans would be made much easier by a big win in the Hollywood space, but I could swing it without. The least ambitious of these plans I could accomplish right now but could lose the shot at one of the more ambitious plans if I do it. Thankfully, I don’t need to make the decision just yet. It’s more about putting all the pieces in the right places so that if it DOES become time to make that decision I don’t need to come up with a plan on the spot. I can activate a plan I already have in place. That’s a lot of what I’ve been doing with the Substack Money over the last year. I’m building the foundation for what I want the next few decades of my creative and business life to look like.
Goal Four is not losing sight of the mission. I do things the way that I do them because I don’t think the dominant business models in the comics industry do enough to accomplish the one thing that ensures comic creators make the money they deserve for selling comics. Too often the companies focus on ancillary deals that end up making the company money but don’t do anything for the creator. I don’t think every comic can or should be a blockbuster selling in the six figures, but every time companies make a choice that makes a book sell less, creators should get something in return. Even when they are given a chance to make a decision, creators usually aren’t even given the tools to even make these decisions in an educated way. Any kind of future expansion of Tiny Onion needs to be weighed against whether we’re doing it better than what’s already out there. If not, I’m much better off just making my own books than subjecting any other creators to a bad deal that already exists. And I mean, this also ties back to Goal One. Maybe the moment comes for me to step up and evolve this Tiny Onion into a really fucking BIG Onion, and I just think the idea of that much work sounds miserable and I decide to just stick to my own stuff. Time will tell.
Anyways… Lots of thoughts running through the brain this week. It helps to get them onto paper to look at them all a bit more closely, and think about them some more.
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This week, the Tiny Onion mothership returns to comic book stores with the start of the next Erica Slaughter “Novel”, bringing us to the fictional town of Tribulation, New Mexico, introducing us to a whole new cast of supporting characters, and a new and extremely dangerous breed of Monster. Erica no longer has the support of the Order of St. George. Can she handle this threat herself? That’s what you’ll start to find out this week. We’ve ALSO got the mid-season finale of DC vs VAMPIRES with a major twist that will reshape the series, and set the stage for new stories set in this world.
This is going to be a relatively quiet week here on Substack. This Friday, we’ll drop the next Department of Truth: Wild Fiction. But next week is going to be the real show-stopper with the next Onion Drop.
I also wanted to reiterate something I said a few weeks back. If you want to get your hands on the SIKTC 21 Nick Robles Gold Foil Onion Club variant, you need to sign up for the Onion Club before the end of the day on Sunday, April 3rd. Starting at Midnight, ET, you will not get a copy of the book (But you will get the remaining 5 Onion Club covers we release in 2022, and the first we release in 2023). We will be unveiling the next Onion Club Variant, for Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1 in the Onion Club email we’ll send out at Noon ET, on Monday, April 4th. If you are an Onion Club member and don’t receive an Onion Club email at noon and want access to the Onion Club presale, email TinyOnionOrders@thirdeyecomics.com and they will be able to get you the link and the password to the new offerings.
The Onion Drop will open up to all paid subscribers at Noon ET on Wednesday, April 6th. We do have a new cover dropping this month, so be close to your computer! We sold out of our run of covers in under 45 minutes in the last Onion Drop! We’ve also got some cool new Tiny Onion merch coming your way on ShopTinyOnion.com. But in any case, the best way to stay on top of everything we’re doing here at Tiny Onion HQ is by hitting that subscribe button.
SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #21
W: James Tynion IV/ A: Werther Dell'Edera/ C: Miquel Muerto/ L: AndWorld Design/ Cover A: Werther Dell'Edera/ E: Ramiro Portnoy & Eric Harburn
Discover a brand new story arc in the Eisner Award-nominated horror series from GLAAD Award-winning author James Tynion IV, artist Werther Dell’Edera, colorist Miquel Muerto, and letterer AndWorld Design, as Erica leaves Archer’s Peak and her past behind to hunt down a new monster, even as she herself is being hunted…
DC VS. VAMPIRES #6
Writers: James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg / Art and Cover: Otto Schmidt / Cover B: Francesco Mattina
Batman gets the upper hand on the vampires who have infiltrated the Justice League...but the Vampire King finally reveals himself, and it will be the most jaw-dropping moment of 2022! The shocking, bestselling series reaches its blood-drenched halfway point!
PLANET COMIC CON - Kansas City, MO - April 22-24
MEGACON - Orlando, FL - May 19-22
More details about my schedule at these conventions to come as we get closer to the date in question, along with the perks offered to members of the Onion Club at shows. Just want to keep these on folks’ radar. I’ll have more to add to this slate, soon!
I followed up my watch-through of THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL last week with THE NIGHT MANAGER this past week. I’m glad I watched them in the order I did, because THE NIGHT MANAGER might be an even better series. Its cast is honestly perfect. Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie are absolutely fucking phenomenal. I’m stopping myself from going too deeply down a LeCarre hole, but I think it’s about time I finally got off my butt and watched those BBC Alec Guinness George Smiley miniseries. I’m going to save those for a month or so from now when I’ll really need them.
After THE NIGHT MANAGER, and still hungry for a bit of morally compromised spy fiction, I turned to the Amazon Original Series, PATRIOT. My mortal enemy Matt Rosenberg has been trying to get me to watch this for years, and it really is a marvel of a series. I wish I had recordings of the writers room, just to see them all construct a plot where every character fails at pretty much every step of the series. It shouldn’t work, but it’s brilliant, and funny, and weird, and dark. It makes you care about people you don’t want to care about, and root against the people you should love. The Bachelor party episode in season two was life-affirming in ways I did not expect.
Sam and I saw EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE this weekend. I really, really enjoyed it. Most of all, I enjoyed getting to enjoy a straightforward, human, funny science-fiction movie without seeing it wrapped up in familiar IP. I was telling Sam afterward that it felt a bit like after years of ordering the same take-out pizza from the same restaurant, to diminishing and diminishing returns, to the point that after I eat the pizza I don’t even remember why I wanted it in the first place… Ordering pizza from a delivery spot I haven’t tried before that just delivered a slice of really satisfying pizza. Now, it’s still just pizza. It doesn’t have all the other nutrients you need. But it’s good to remember that the part of your brain that grew up loving pizza hasn’t completely curled up and died on you.
I don’t know why it is, but I’ve been on a real TV kick this week. It’s been helping me keep productive and keep my mind focused on the other stuff I needed to get done. I was curious, so I decided to sample the three start-up docudramas that are running concurrently. THE DROPOUT on Hulu is the winner of the bunch to me. WECRASHED on Apple Plus and SUPER PUMPED on Showtime are both pretty well made, too, with standout performances in each of them. It’s interesting when you see this kind of convergence. Three big-budget shows that all boil down to showing the rise and fall of charismatic tech founders who burned everyone around them as they tried to climb to the top of the roost. I think we’re going to spend a lot of the 2020s culturally trying to parse out how badly we fucked up the 2010s. These shows kind of feel like a concentrated attack on the idea of tech-founder-as-god-king we had running rampant in Silicon Valley for a few decades. It feels a bit weird that in each of these shows, we’re being asked to root for the venture capitalists, who are getting duped by charming destructive plays. It’s almost like the shows are saying the big sin of the 2010s in tech was letting charismatic leaders get out of hand, and now they should let the investors make the big decisions and keep the shackles on the CEOS. Which feels like a weird moral. But that said, there’s still a few more weeks of episodes on each front, so I guess we’ll see what their final theses end up being.
Getting my house in order in advance of a week out in Los Angeles. Can’t talk about what I’m going to be working on there, but do me a favor and cross your fingers for me. It’s going to be a big week.
Like I said before, next week we’ve got another Onion Drop coming, with a new variant cover, and some cool new merch. I’ll be back on Friday with a Wild Fiction. Enjoy the rest of March!
James Tynion IV