TINY UPDATE 9/27: Thank You From The House of Slaughter

“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 keep writing and deleting my opener to this post. This is where I’m supposed to react to the news that broke last week about the FOC numbers for HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER #1, and I feel like I’m supposed give some kind of epic supervillain speech while lightning crashes behind me. I’ve got a pretty good evil laugh, too. It’s one of the benefits of learning how to project as a theater kid with a deep voice. But honestly, I’m more the type who has a panic attack when he hears good news. So let me tell you, this news knocked me on my ass.

But for those of you who missed it… HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER #1 broke 460K in sales at its Final-Order Cutoff last week. They sold so many copies, that they had to delay the book by a week because the printer needed more time. I know, right? Isn’t that freaking crazy?? It’s now going to be released the last Wednesday of October, just in time for Halloween.

I’m very excited for you all to read this book. It puts the character Aaron Slaughter up front and center with a duel narrative that fills in the gaps of where Aaron was directly before the first arc of Something is Killing the Children, and picks up a few years after the most recent flashback arc. The book pits Aaron against a man he used to love, whose actions now threatens the House of Slaughter. This story will introduce us to the other American House in the Order of St. George… Le Maison de Boucher in New Orleans… Known to the other houses as “The Butcher Shop.” It’s been a thrill expanding the mythology of the series for this book.

Joining the SIKTC team for the first arc of HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER are the incredible TATE BROMBAL and CHRIS SHEHAN. Tate managed to go and get nominated for an Eisner for his first ever comic miniseries, BARBALIEN: RED PLANET (co-written with Jeff Lemire, with art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire), and Chris Shehan is the phenomenal artist behind one of my favorite horror comics of the last year - THE AUTUMNAL (written by Daniel Kraus, with colors by Jason Wordie), which had a cover so scary that Amazon stopped letting Vault promote the book on their website (so you should go order from your Local Comic Shop right now - and if you are a retailer, this is definitely a book you should have on your Halloween endcaps this year).

If SIKTC is our flagship series - our Hellboy, if you well, then you should think of HOS as our BPRD title. This is what we’ll use to flesh out the entire world around Erica Slaughter and the people who raised her. We have big, big plans. Thank you all for giving us this auspicious launch. I’m in awe of all of my readers, and I’m just going to keep making more comics if you keep reading them like this!

ANYWAYS…

We dropped the second chapter of BLUE BOOK on Friday… Things are starting to get pretty serious for our pals Betty and Barney Hill. Just look at this beautiful art by Michael Avon Oeming!

If you want to keep reading BLUE BOOK, you should upgrade to becoming a paid subscriber to this newsletter! Just wait until we get to the hypnosis sessions… Trust me when I say that you don’t want to miss ANY of this!

And just in case Monster Hunter comics and UFO stories don’t get you excited, we’ve got a brand new feature here on THE EMPIRE OF THE TINY ONION dropping this Friday. This will be the first entry in our new THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH: WILD FICTIONS series. If you’ve ever been curious about Cryptids, we’ve got a murderer’s row of top flight comic book and illustration talent drawing all of your favorites, and we’ll be releasing the case files of each of them.

There’s a whole lot going on right now. I keep wondering how I have the time to stay on top of my deadlines with the onslaught of shit I need to get done, but then I remember that I’m not on Social Media anymore, and holy shit does that help. I still spend the same amount of time every day fucking around and panicking that I’m not doing what I need do, but I’m not ALSO losing hours to the newsfeed. I’m writing more, I’m reading more books, I’m getting more housework done. It’s nice.

Now I just need to figure out how to sleep like a regular Human. But not until I finish writing this newsletter…

RAZORBLADES: THE HORROR MAGAZINE #5 is going to head to the printers this week! Razorblades is the self-published horror anthology magazine I’ve been working on with Steve Foxe over the last year. We’ve got an amazing line-up for this grand finale, and I managed to get my Nice House compatriot, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, to do the cover, which I genuinely think is one of the most messed-up horror images I’ve seen all year!

This is the final issue of the current volume of the series, before we go on a bit of a hiatus. If you’ve carried issues of RAZORBLADES in the past, expect an email from me and Steve in the next 24 hours to check in about your orders. If you’re a retailer interested in carrying this issue, you should email TinyOnionStudios@gmail.com with RAZORBLADES RETAILER in the header. We’re going to try and lock all retailer orders by the end of the week.

Other RAZORBLADES: THE HORROR MAGAZINE fans, please stay tuned. We’re going to repeat what we did with Issue #4 and wait to put the issue on sale online until we have word that it’s on route to our distributor. We’re doing that so we avoid a big gap between the sale date, and the shipping date. We’ll be announcing the issue drop, and the full line-up, in a few weeks’ time! Stay tuned!

This week in FEAR STATE brings us DETECTIVE COMICS #1043 and HARLEY QUINN #7.

I’ve been in awe of what Mariko Tamaki has been doing in Detective from day one. One of the big things that I wanted to do this year in Batman is take advantage of the Fort Graye setting and actually live in it a bit. But the needs of the story won out, and I wasn’t able to lean in there. I quickly realized that I didn’t need to… Mariko has been writing incredible stories about what it means for Bruce Wayne to actually live inside Gotham City, to have neighbors and the responsibilities of having neighbors. There’s something powerful about seeing this young Bruce moving through an urban life that doesn’t feel like it’s more rooted in what it was like to be a Millionaire in the 1930s. She has been working with a truly stunning line-up of artists headlined by Dan Mora and Viktor Bogdonavic (and a Huntress story by her and David Lapham! Are you KIDDING me?! How cool is that??). Mariko has big plans in Gotham, starting with this Fear State crossover and culminating in the weekly SHADOWS OF THE BAT series launching at the end of the year.

Stephanie Phillips is one of the rising stars of the comic book industry, and with Riley Rossmo, she’s putting out one of my all-time favorite runs of Harley Quinn. The book manages to be funny and outrageous while spinning directly out of the core continuity of the line… She and Riley created the character find of 2021, the one that could give all of my and Jorge’s creations the run for their money in KEVIN, the repentant former Joker Gang member. I also have to shout out the incredible Harley Quinn annual that just dropped a few weeks back, with art by the phenomenal David Lafuente. The Harley Quinn and Catwoman crossover issues form a kind of unofficial Gotham City Sirens reunion in Gotham City, and all of it sets the stage for some killer stories next year.

I love the current Bat-Line so fucking much, and these incredible creators, and all the life they inject into their series are the reason why. Do yourself a favor and pick them up.

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #20

W: James Tynion IV/ A: Werther Dell'Edera/ C: Miquel Muerto/ L: AndWorld Design/ COV A: Werther Dell'Edera/ COV B: Evyn Fong/ 1:25 Variant: Valero Schiti/ Assistant E: Ramiro Portnoy, Jonathan Manning & Eric Harburn

This is the epic finale of the first flashback arc of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN. When the series returns in early 2022, you’ll see the return of the adult Erica Slaughter, about a year after where we left her in Issue 15. For those of you who have enjoyed the glimpse of the inner working of the House of Slaughter, there’s a little comic book you may have heard of dropping at the end of next month. I really can’t say enough how much it means to me that so many of you have connected to this series. That the fanbase just keeps growing and growing. Werther and I have been hard at work crafting the next few years. There are so many stories we’re dying to show you all of them.

W: James Tynion IV/A + Cover A: Martin Simmonds/L: Aditya Bidikar/Cover B: Álvaro Martinez Bueno /Cover C: Maria Llovet/E: Steve Foxe/P: Image Comics

Another big finale… Issue #13 ends the Hawk Harrison saga, AKA Arc 2 of The Department of Truth. This issue brings the Satanic Panic right to the center and puts all the pieces in motion for the next big part of the story. Hawk knows a secret that will change the course of Cole Turner’s life, and the course of this series. The second volume of DOT will drop in stores next month in time for Halloween, and then we’re going to do four interstitial issues with guest artists before we bring Martin Simmonds back for the big arc next summer.

I’m going to be appearing at NEW YORK COMIC CON next weekend! I’ll be at the show at least a little bit every day next week. I’ll be posting my signing schedule, and where you can find me at the show as a part of next week’s Tiny Update. I’m also nailing down the details for my first in-person New York signing for later in the month. So yeah! Watch this space. More to come.

  • There’s some great writing about the current comic book ecosystem that I think are mandatory reads right now. I’ve been singing the praises of David Harper’s SKTCHD for a while now, but his piece THE ILLUSION OF CHANGE from last week taps into a lot of my own feelings about the current moment in the industry. It also serves as a indirect response to Brian Hibb’s latest TILTING AT WINDMILLS that ran on The Comics Beat, which ran a day earlier. My feelings about the industry land pretty squarely in the Harper camp, but I am grateful that we have sharp analysis talking about this profoundly strange moment in the industry from a few different vantage points. It’s all worth thinking about.

    With all of this tumult, you can see why more and more comic creators are trying to build systems for themselves that bypass the structure of the direct market comic business. The machine we’ve built in the direct market is one that requires constant cashflow and constant product, and no break in the system to survive. It’s relentless. Lots of stores operate without a margin for error, and a lot of creators need to work on multiple projects at once to pay their rent. The largest publishers are all small cogs of major corporations, and the mid-tier publishers are fueled by venture capital, and subject to an expectation of infinite growth, which seems to only come from exploiting intellectual property.

    Everyone working inside of comics saw, up close, what happened when the spigot turned off last year.

    I’m 33 years old, and I still want to be making comics when I’m twice that age (though hopefully not as many comic books). The goal of the last year for me has been to understand every piece of the brutal machine that is our comic book industry, so that if push comes to shove, I could just keep publishing my own comic books. And at the very least, I’ve felt that learning more about how this industry works makes it easier for me to make informed decisions at every level of my business. I’m working to carve out my own place and with that, maybe I’ll find the most elusive things in the direct market comic book business - Security and Stability.

    What I hope is that the creators whose work this industry is built on the backs of get to have more of a substantial voice in how the industry evolves. Lots of the biggest decisions, with the biggest impacts are being made with creators kept far, far away from the decision makers. Direct Market Publishers have spent decades separating creators from the decision-making apparatus, while they shift their business models away from the one thing that creator livelihood depends on - Selling the most comic books to the most people. At the end of the day, I think the balance of the conversation here is inverted from what it needs to be.

    I don’t know that change is possible from within at this point, I think it’ll come from the outside. From creators asserting how they want to create comic books, and making the comic books they want to make on their own terms. Maybe that’s naive, or just a kind of confirmation bias, but that’s what I believe. And that belief is shaping everything that I’ve been doing.

  • Go Team Ditko

  • I’ve been listening to John Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s MINDHUNTER on audiobook over the last week, while I prep for my new serial killer project. I have to say, the TV show appears to have captured the Douglas character perfectly in that he seems wildly full of himself, but still very engaging. The book is enjoying and enlightening, and it’s striking to see where they pulled the different pieces of the TV from. I also revisited THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the middle of my “reading” process, which continues to be one of my favorite films of all time. I will say though, filling myself in about all of these serial killer cases have really shown me all the pieces mined by the seminal works of serial killer fiction. I’m hoping it’s also showing me the less mined areas.

  • I spent the weekend catching up on about six months of ONCE & FUTURE and THE ETERNALS, and I really think Kieron Gillen might be doing some of the best writing in comics right now. I’ve always admired Kieron’s work, and his characters above all, but there’s a real weight and majesty in everything he’s doing right now that I admire tremendously because I know I could never pull it off. I love the fantasy genre, but I’m not a fantasy writer at my core… Kieron is, and I don’t know that there’s anybody writing better fantasy comics in the business right now. I am saving the last six months of DIE to read later this week alongside Issue 20. But if you want to have a good weekend binge reading, get all three of these very different comic books and plug them directly into your brains (How do YOU read comics?). Anyways: Dan Mora’s Lancelot design in Once & Future is so fucking cool it almost made me want to write more superhero comics.

THE ONION CLUB and DAY ONE SUBSCRIBERS - The email forms will go out this week. I’m sorry about the delay. It’s been a busy few months and I wanted to get this right. Thank you for your infinite patience. Trust me when I say that part of the reason you’ve had to wait so long is that I’ve been working to make being a part of THE ONION CLUB worth your while.

Here’s your latest reminder to go check out the Tiny Onion Store, and to go follow @ReadTinyOnion over on Twitter. Now… I have to run off and get my hair cut so I stop looking like a cave person before the Zooms start this week (and what mighty Zooms they are).

Love to you all.

James Tynion IV
Brooklyn, NY
9.27.21