In the first part of James Tynion IV's newsletter this week, he revealed how difficult this year has been, work-wise. And this is for the writer of the bestselling comic in the industry, Batman, writing the about-to-be-second best selling comic in the industry, The Joker, with hit creator-owned series Something Is Killing The Children, The Department Of Truth and Wynd, and the publisher of a hit cult horror magazine Razorblades. Surely everything should have been coming up roses for the Tiny Onion?
Not so much in April 2020. When the industry was in lockdown, DC Comics was jumping from one form of ritual suicide to another, printers were closing, distributors were closing, and everything was up in the air. And James Tynion IV was looking at other possibilities.
There were months where, especially here on the newsletter, I was grinning and handselling the crap out of books through tears and pain and panic, absolutely unsure if any of it was going to work, or if it was going to connect… I am pretty sure at some point in April I had a conversation with my friend and mentor Scott Snyder about taking some kind of admin role in his new publishing entity Best Jackett Press if I crashed and burned… But miraculously the books found their audiences, and I was able to parlay my success on Batman into success elsewhere and build on that success. I gambled big on 2020, and somehow that gamble paid itself off, and now I'm going to work my ass off to pay it all forward in a year I hope brings more stability to the comic book industry. Or at least, a little less instability.
That's right, instead of being the writer of The Joker War, and co-creating characters such as Ghost-Maker, Clownhunter and Punchline, James Tynion IV was considering doing Scott Snyder's stapling instead. But he also talks about his plans ahead.
Structurally, we need to build a better endgame to the industry (And beyond that, even, a better path toward retirement in the country at large). I'm trying to build my career today with my life 50 years from now in focus. I want to own more of my own IP outright. I want to have equity in more characters I create for bigger companies. I want to create perennial sellers that will keep me comfortable through royalty payments. I'll want to diversify outside of the medium so I can make enough money to keep making comics even if that's not the avenue I continue to make a living out of. But it should be easier, and the people in power should be doing more to fight to make it easier for us, and we should be doing more to force their hand to build those roads so our elder statesmen stop fighting for space in the same bake-offs that we're in, and they can focus on more personal work rather than still fighting with us paycheck to paycheck.
Which seems harder and harder these days.