James Tynion IV is a busy man. He’s been fully immersed in the world of “Batman” at DC, has just launched the cosmic weirdness that is “The Woods” at BOOM! Studios and doesn’t seem content with all of that. So he’s moving back to Thrillbent comics to tell a horror story unlike we’ve ever seen before in comics. By attempting to push the boundaries of the medium Tynion to tell a new type of horror story that reinvents or creates new tropes for a new age. Recently James took some time to sit down with Bloody-Disgusting to talk his new horror series, the motivations for creating it, pure horror, and the everything else in between after the jump. Bloody-Disgusting: We don’t know too much about “The House in the Wall” other than the short blurb that has been released so I’d love to know what kind of horror stories inspired it?
James Tynion IV: This was really me and my friend Noah wanting to do a ghost story. He’s my co-writer on the project. One thing I love and I hate about horror is the tendency to lean into tropes. We see the same things over, over, and over again. Lately the highly successful horror films are the return of the possession genre, by a devil or a ghost. These ghost stories are filled with tropes. We’ve seen the things in these films in a dozen other movies. So I wanted to see if I could come at it from a different angle. Early on I had this image of a young woman in the middle of an urban center finding the door to an impossible house in the wall of her Brooklyn apartment. Finding a fantastical place in there that feels realer to her than real life. This is the story that will play into the fears of being that age, and trying to build a life for yourself despite not really feeling connected to anything in it. BD: Identity seems to be a core theme in a lot of your work. With this it seems like the house will be the one reprieve from her broken relationships, will her bond with this horrifying place be a positive thing? Or at least start that way?
JT IV: It’s not that they’re bad, it’s that there’s a disconnect. It’s the idea of having good friends who care a lot about you, but she’s been fired from her job three times in a row. She’s got a college degree but she’s not really doing anything with it, and she’s not sure what she could do if she’s wants. That leads to this disconnect from her friends and her boyfriend. This strange house is all that’s left for her to connect to.
BD: Is it fair to say it’s a story about the intoxicating and addictive presence of this house in her life?
JT IV: Absolutely. The collapse into that obsession and her friends not knowing how to help her is part of the story. It’s a position I think a lot of us have been in.
BD: If you could classify the type of fear you’re trying to tap into, what would you call it?
JT IV: Hmm, that’s a really good question. I’m going back to Steven King’s stages of horror, from his non-fiction book about the genre. His idea of the purest form of horror is dread. It’s the idea of the horror, rather than the moment of actual horror itself, the anticipation of where things are going in the story. Her friends fear what’s happening to her, her fear of losing touch with reality, and then the things that are in the house that are not really what you’d expect. There are many levels of fear I want to play with here.
BD: How does the digital delivery method of Thrillbent change your approach to writing the comic? Are you playing with the paneling like you did in “The Eighth Seal?”
JT IV: The whole reason I wanted to take this series to Thrillbent. The discussion with Noah and I began on what I was able to do in the Thrillbent format but also the kinds of horror moments I wasn’t capable of doing in a story like “The Eighth Seal.” The creeping dread that comes with being in a haunted space that I didn’t get to touch on before. Thrillbent is a phenomenal platform for horror. My intention is to keep doing horror in this method as long as I can.
BD: What’s your favorite part of doing this series?
JT IV: I really enjoy collaborative writing. I’m working on Batman Eternal with a whole host of writers lead by Scott Synder. This is me getting to work with my best friend. He’s a writing major who’s been caught up in the world of comics as long as I have. We’re getting to collaborate on our mutual taste in horror. Having those kinds of discussions about fear, monsters, and all sorts of creepy crawlies with your best friend is a really, really fun process. With any collaborative process there is always an edge of one-up-manship. You want to be the one who has the idea that pushes it over the edge and makes people freak out. We’re going to build up to those moments in a big way. We start off with a really strange sequence, but there are some really big scares coming. What we’re doing with the house is a combination of Lovecraft, horror manga, and a huge wide array of influences that are very disparate. Noah and I have very similar taste so we’ve read all the same things. There are lots of moments of “oh I see what you’re doing there.” So it creates this really nice short hand. We aimed for each chapter to have a moment that uses the format in a way that you haven’t seen before.
BD: What’s it like working with Eryk Donovan on the series?
JT IV: We worked together before on “In The Dark.” The moment he sent in his first character designs I knew I had to lock him down and get more work out of him. He has an incredible storytelling sense. I love the expressiveness of his characters and the world that he is building. When he first threw together the cover design I knew he got it. He got exactly the tone we’re going for. He had a touch of the classics but had a contemporary hue with bright strange colors. He’s working with our colorist Fred Stressing who’s knocking it out of the park issue after issue. There are lots of strange colors in this book, not that it’s not grounded it just adds an extra strangeness almost like an Argento view of the world. I’m incredibly proud of the entire creative team on this book.
House In The Wall, along with all the other content on Thrillbent, is available with the $3.99 monthly subscription (also available through the website). To get House In The Wall, and all the other content on Thrillbent, people can click the below link (also available through the website).
The horror tale tells the story of Ariel Carpenter who has been sleep-walking through life for as long as she can remember. Nothing, not her boyfriend, her job or her friends… none of it seems to bring her any closer to reality. The only thing that seems solid, seems real, is a spectral house she visits every night in her dreams. But when she discovers a door to that impossible dream house in the wall of her run-down Brooklyn apartment, she’ll unlock an ancient horror that has the potential to destroy her life forever.