Lauren Eyer sits down with the acclaimed writer of ‘The Woods’ from BOOM! Studios.
So, any of you who followed Geek Sushi during SDCC this year, know that I had the opportunity to spend time with some seriously amazing people, one of whom was James Tynion IV. Most of you probably know him from BATMAN ETERNAL, but he has more than one project going on at the moment, including THE WOODS, a great new creator-owned series with BOOM! Studios, as well as THE EIGHTH SEAL and THE HOUSE IN THE WALL from Thrillbent. James was kind enough to sit down and spend some time with me talking comics, his new exciting mini-series, pie, and the Star Wars Imperial March
Lauren – So, James, right now, you are still working on Batman Eternal, the Woods, Eighth Seal…
Tynion – Yes, yes, and yes. I am also co-writing another small series for Thrillbent called the House in the Wall aaaand I have my new mini-series Memetic coming out in the fall.
Lauren – Ahhh, yes! So….why so lazy?
Tynion – Heh. I don’t know, I don’t know…but seriously, I have all of these little one and done projects coming my way, and I’m like, “OH! I wanna do all of this cool little stuff!” For instance, they just announced that I will be doing a Mystique one-shot as part of the Death of Wolverine. And I just keep saying “Bring it on, bring it on!”, but it’s like….OH. I have to write all of these!!!
Lauren - Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately, you DO need to do that. Ha! So, let’s talk about THE WOODS. This book is definitely in my top 5 right now and I am absolutely loving it. Where did the idea for the book come from? And how have your past experiences influenced the creation of certain characters or ideas for the story?
Tynion - Well, I mean…the big thing was that I wanted to create a book that was really ALL of me. If I was only able to write one series for the rest of my life, this would basically be it. It is ALL of the things that I am interested in. It has elements of horror, it has teen dynamics and relationships, it has strange history and all of that blended together into a singular force is really how I sat down and designed it. It was like, “What are the toys that I want to play with?” and that’s been working really, really well for me. It’s a series I started putting together over two years ago and now that it’s finally out there and people are responding the way that they are – it’s been absolutely incredible.
Lauren - I love the elements of horror in this book because they really take you by surprise…especially in the beginning. I mean these are high school kids transported to a foreign planet and immediately, in the first few pages, are attacked and a girl is dead. It was kind of shocking and the story continues to surprise and frighten through odd situations and creatures.
Tynion - Yeah, and that was one of the big things – I wanted to make sure that even though it has a young adult vibe to it, when we get to moments of pure horror, I want those moments to BE horrific. I don’t want to soften the darkness. And that’s true with the emotional darkness and the physical violence….all of that. You know? We’re not going to hold back.
Lauren – What character do you think you relate to the most or do you think that you have the most in common with?
Tynion - They are ALL kind of based on me. Different aspects of my personality, I suppose. I’ve had friends make fun of me for the fact that this is my therapy. I put all of the aspects of my brain on the page and have them argue with each other. I mean, the character who I expected to relate to the least which I have now begun to relate to the most is Calder. Calder is a character that is really growing on me in a huge way and I think that people will really begin to see that in the second arc of the story when we’re really going to dig in deep to the emotional histories of a lot of these characters. Aside from him, I would say Adrian and Karen – those are the two main parts of my brain. The part that feels completely in control and knows what it’s doing (but it doesn’t) and the part of me that openly admits that it has no idea what it’s doing. Both of those are very much a part of my mind and yeah…that’s how it’s been.
Lauren - So, you’ve talked in the past about issues with dependency and depression. How has that helped you personally and professionally? And what would you say to young people now who struggle with the same issues?
Tynion - Well, it’s interesting that you bring this up, because this week I was reading through a lot of my creative non-fiction from college…which was all based on the darkest, darkest moments…and its these moments that shaped me into who I am. And I think that’s the biggest thing, especially for young people who are dealing with this…just the idea that it feels inescapable. It’s not something that you’ll learn to live with and it’s something that you might not want to live with, but it’s a part of you. It’s YOU. The way that I coped with it is I remember this moment, early in college, where I sort of sat myself down and I found all of things in myself that I really loved. And I just sort of started listing them over and over and over in my head until it was MY image of myself. These characters (in the Woods) are so much the different elements of ME – the ones that I like and the ones that I don’t like and even the ones that I like, but for all of the wrong reasons. And I think we’re all weird to some extent…but any sense that you’re alone in this is just not the case. There is always something fantastic….I’ve never met a person who wasn’t fantastic on some level. I mean, I’ve met some assholes, but I’m sure that they’ve got something…deep down…that’s fantastic.
Lauren - Well, most of them. Just kidding! No, you are absolutely right and thank you so much for sharing all of that! So talk about the difference between writing for one of the big two and writing for BOOM! Studios on a creator-owned project.
Tynion - The biggest difference is…I mean, the stuff that I’m working on with BOOM! is ALL me. 100% me. From conception on..everything is mine. It’s my world and as much as I love Gotham, it’s not my world. I wanna make my own little corner of Gotham, but that’s the best that I’ll ever be able to do. I just can’t create something from the ground up in the same way that I do for an indie publisher. And that ownership is a powerful feeling. It makes me feel a lot more honest with the work that I’m doing. It’s much more representative of the kind of person that I am and the kind I want to be.
Lauren - Well, I’m sure that the freedom feels great, too.
Tynion - Oh absolutely! It’s amazing. I mean, I love working in both sides of the industry, but its like working in both helps me to appreciate both for what they are.
Tynion - Yeah, it’s basically 3 days ’til the end of the world. The premise of the story is that someone posts a very strange image online and that leads to the end of the world in 3 days.
Lauren - So, are people dying immediately upon viewing the meme….how exactly does it work?
Tynion - Basically, when initially seen, the meme causes a feeling of euphoria which makes people feel incredible, which is why they send it to every single person they know. It’s this over and over again until….it changes. The whole concept of memetics is that that’s how ideas spread and we’re living in an age when ideas can spread instantaneously all around the world…and if something were able to wield that in a dangerous way…I just wanted to dig into how dangerous it really COULD be.
Lauren - Wow! It sounds amazing….and extremely relevant as well. OK, James….lightning round. Ready?
Tynion - Ready.
Lauren - Betty or Veronica?
Tynion - Ummmm, Betty.
Lauren - Cake or Pie?
Tynion - (no hesitation) PIE.
Lauren – Correct. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Tynion – Star Wars.
Lauren - Thrashin’ or Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo?
Tynion - Breakin’ 2
Lauren - OK, and finally – what is your theme song? Like, if a song were to play every time you walked into the room, what would that song be?
Tynion - Oh God, oh God…that’s hard. What’s a bad-ass song? All I can think of is the Star Wars Imperial March. Yes, that’s it.
Uhmmmmm…..I think that’s a pretty badass theme song!! Check out James’ series ‘THE WOODS’. Issue 4 was released this week and issue 5 will be out September 3. Memetic will be released later this fall.