TINY UPDATE 8/30: Enter The Fear State

“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. Happy Monday.

This week I’m going to be writing to you from sunny Los Angeles. I get to hug a sibling I haven’t seen in a while, hug some friends I haven’t seen in even longer, I’ll sign some comic books, and then I get to see an old friend get married. And, as is the way in Los Angeles, I also have a bunch of very exciting meetings that I can’t tell you very much about.

The only thing that feels more surreal than my present is the future that’s starting to take shape around me. There are a lot of very, very interesting doors opening themselves up to me and I am trying to be judicious and level-headed about which of them I want to walk through. But it’s hard.

The biggest thing that I want right now is creative autonomy. The freedom to just make the things I want to make, with the people I want to make them, the way I want to make them. Which is going to keep both my feet planted in the comics world for the immediate future, even though I am absolutely going to be dabbling in other media. But I’ve been waiting to get to this moment for so long that I really want to make the most of it.

I remember a few years ago, tweeting about an all-to familiar feeling of having a new comic idea that I was really excited about, but hitting the realization that it’d be two or more years before I’d even be contractually allowed to start thinking about that project. But that’s not really the case anymore. Time is still a pain in the ass, and bandwidth does, in fact, have limits, BUT I keep having all of these ideas I love so much and now I have the freedom to reach out to artists and figure out how to make them real, in a way that suits both of our schedules. I want to experiment and challenge myself, and evolve everything that Tiny Onion is into what it has the potential to be. I have ambitious dreams for myself over the next few years, and I am eager to see what all I can get away with.

I’ve spent part of the last week priming my brain to write the first script for a series that will launch in print sometime late next year (I’ll be writing it in the next few weeks). I’ve managed to get all of my core substack projects launching in 2021 really up and running, so I can start turning my gaze to the 2022 projects. I’ve been keeping things moving on each of my currently running print-first comics series. On top of that, I’ve been knocking out some of my last Batman lettering scripts, and laying out the specific pieces I need to for the end of my run on Joker. And writing too many newsletters, obviously.

It’s overwhelming, but exhilarating. And I am very excited about these conversations I’m having this week. Excited enough that I have to keep deleting sentences that speak about those conversations too directly.

But we have a lot to cover today, so I’ll stop rambling and start getting into the good shit. On Friday last week we gave you a sneak peek at the pages of BLUE BOOK and Part 1 of a conversation between myself and Michael Oeming. Part 2 will drop on Friday of this week with more art previews. Then our big series launch is Friday, September 10th! 

The BLUE BOOK series posts will only be available to subscribers, so you should sign up to be a paid subscriber today!

This week, paid subscribers will get a glimpse at excerpts from a couple of pitch documents I wrote in the fall of 2019 in the next entry of THINKING BAT THOUGHTS. I’m excited to dig into this part of the story, where you can see the original ideas that I drifted away from, and the ones that the office didn’t respond to, and all of that stuff. I’m also going to share a 5G pitch that I wrote without being asked to pitch, that I would ultimately repurpose into the raw ideas for a new character in the Batman mythos.

But that’s the punchline to the joke I haven’t told you, yet.

This week is the official launch of FEAR STATE across the Gotham City DC Titles, starting with the BATMAN: FEAR STATE ALPHA one-shot by me and Riccardo Federici. This is what everything has been building to in Gotham City since the start of the year. It is the culmination of everything I’ve been doing with Jorge Jimenez since Batman #106. FEAR STATE is the escalation of THE COWARDLY LOT storyline into an event that will drag in all of Gotham City.

2021 started with a glimpse of the dystopian near future of Gotham City as a part of the FUTURE STATE event… This event is the crucial moment that could send Gotham inexorably in the direction of that future, or the moment that future is averted once and for all. Ever since the events of A-Day in INFINITE FRONTIER #0, tensions have been rising in Gotham City. The powder kegs are tightly packed, and now Scarecrow is going to light the match that’s going to send it all sky-high.

For the duration of the event, I’m going to bringing back the “BATMANNERY” section of each Tiny Update to talk a bit about the latest entries in the Fear State epic, and talk a bit about how the different parts of the story came to life, in collaboration with the incredible teams on all of the different Gotham titles.

I first pitched Fear State as a bit of a Cyberpunk Horror event, starring The Scarecrow, but it’s evolved into a lot more than that over the last few months… And it’s evolved with the help of the best writers and artists in comics. If you’ve fallen behind, this is the moment to catch up on Catwoman, Nightwing, Harley Quinn and Detective Comics, so you can get the full impact of the Fear State event.

In terms of my participation… Outside of the Alpha and Omega issues, and the main Batman issues, I particularly want to call out the three Secret Files issues running over the next three months. I legitimately think they are some of the best comics that I’ve worked on a DC over the last few years (I can’t take the credit for Peacekeeper-01, we brought in the incredible Ed Brisson to help me with that one, and he took my original outline and knocked it out of the park). And I can’t say enough good things about the artists I'm working with on these stories… Dani, Josh Hixson, and Christian Ward are some of my favorite working comic artists, and they are doing such phenomenal work on these Secret Files issues that your jaws will drop when you see the finished product.

On that note, I also want to say that Jorge Jimenez sent me one of the coolest fucking splash pages I’ve ever had in any of my comics this weekend. The big finale of Fear State is going to be something to behold, I promise you that.

A final note of Batmannery today… I just wanted to formally pass the Bat-on to my good friend Joshua Williamson as he shepherds Bats into a big new story this December with the help of artist Jorge Molina. I know what Josh has cooking for you all and it’s going to be fucking incredible. Josh has big plans for the DC Universe over the next year, as you may have been able to tell between his stellar work on Robin and Infinite Frontier… You’re about to get a bigger taste of all that in his new series, Deathstroke, Inc… And then Batman is going to take it all and send it through the roof.

This era of Gotham City is only getting started, and while I will be forever grateful to have helped kick it all off, I really couldn’t be more excited to be joining you all in the bleachers as a fan, cheering all these books on. One of the biggest bummers about working on the characters you’re the biggest fan of is never getting surprised about what’s happening to them month in and month out…

I can’t wait to be reading stories from my favorite superhero universe as a real fanboy again.



W: James Tynion IV/A: Riccardo Federici/C: Chris Sotomayer/L: Clayton Cowles
Cover A: Ben Oliver/Variant Cover: Dylan Teague/1:25 Variant: Jorge Jimenez/Team Variant: Francesco Mattina/AE: Dave Wielgosz/E: Ben Abernathy/P: DC Comics

The end is the beginning is the end, Billy Corgan! The final arc of my Batman run is the massive story we are telling in FEAR STATE and it begins here in FEAR STATE ALPHA! I just wrote a whole bunch more in the section above this one! So stop reading and go buy it!

Just want to remind everyone that I am going to be signing in LOS ANGELES this Friday and in PORTLAND, OR next Wednesday, in two different locations of the incredible, incredible store THINGS FROM ANOTHER WORLD. 

I’m very excited to see you all there!!

  • Just wanted to repeat the exciting news that Sophie Campbell is now on Substack! You should go subscribe! Sophie is awesome!

  • I saw Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN this weekend and was deeply impressed with it. I am admittedly very burned out on ‘Cinematic Universes,’ and the ties this movie has to the original Candyman had me VERY wary (When I love a movie, the last thing I want is another movie that does nothing but remind me how much I loved the original movie)… But DaCosta managed to build something that stands on its own, and builds on the mythology of the original in novel ways that tapped more in to my comic book brain. I love when somebody comes at a piece of interesting continuity from a new angle that opens the mythology up in exciting new ways. Seeing it done poorly so many times in recent years had me forget that, to the point that seeing it done right was a rush.

  • Can one of the fancy hardcover book publishers, like Folio Society or Beehive Books, publish a complete collection of Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood that looks good on a shelf? Please?

Okay, that’s it from me this week. If you haven’t, please consider subscribing to the paid version of this newsletter.

Here’s another shout out to the TinyOnionStudios.com webstore! There you can find merch from DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH, SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN, and RAZORBLADES. Thank you to the customer who brought it to my attention that the DOT pins had been showing as sold out for the last couple of weeks, despite me getting a hefty new shipment of all of them. Those pins are available now, along with a bunch more cool stuff!

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James Tynion IV
Los Angeles, CA