The Ninjabot

James Tynion IV Returns to Thrillbent with “House in the Wall”

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 9:00 am by Tyler Waterman

Whether you love it or hate it, digital comics are here to stay. While print comics aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, comics in digital form continue to grow in popularity each year. Between the convenience of carrying hundreds of titles without lugging heavy longboxes, and the interactive presentation digital books can offer that print can’t, the “digital revolution” is definitely going strong, and Mark Waid’s Thrillbent Comics has been at the forefront of the movement.

Just like digital comics, James Tynion IV’s popularity keeps skyrocketing as well. Renowned both for his work at DC on titles like Batman Eternal and Talon, as well as his outstanding independent work (most notably The Woods, published by BOOM! Studios, as well as The Eighth Seal, also with Thrillbent), Tynion is rapidly becoming a household name among comic fans around the world. Today, his latest independent title House in the Wall premiers on the Thrillbent service, and Geek Legacy was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Tynion about his latest project.


GL: First and foremost, tell our readers what they need to know about House in the Wall.

JT:  Horror is my favorite genre, bar none. I did my senior thesis in college on international horror cinema, I’m a big geek. And the way that the reveals pop up through the Thrillbent format, it breaks the standard comic limitations on horror where there’s only one moment every two pages for a surprise; it’s when you turn the page. In this format I’m able to make every swipe forward a surprise. I have lots of horror stories in my head, and it was around last fall that I started to have some thoughts about putting together a ghost story, and wanting to do that in a way I haven’t really seen, in a setting that I don’t really feel is getting a lot of play, and that’s the setting in which most of my friends live right now. Being in your early twenties, feeling aimless, in a crappy apartment way out in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and not really knowing what’s coming next. That was the root for this series. It was playing around with characters who are very much like people in my own life, and dealing with some of the core anxieties of being a young twenty-something, which is not something I’m seeing so much in comics and particularly in horror right now. That’s really where the impetus for the series came.

GL: Now you’re rapidly becoming known for your horror both with this book as well as your part in the In The Dark compilation, and then of course you have the sci-fi horror with The Woods. Is there something different to approaching “classic horror” as opposed to the sci-fi horror, or do you come at it from the same angle?

JT: The angle I want to come at it from, regardless of what I’m doing, is that I want to be doing things in ways I haven’t seen before, because I think horror is a genre that leans on its tropes a bit too often. In this story we’re playing with one of the biggest tropes of all, it’s a haunted house, but this is a very different kind of haunted house. Part of the premise of the series is that this young woman Ariel finds an impossible door in her wall, and this is a wall where the other side is outdoors, it’s a street, but when she opens up this door it takes her into a house that she’s been dreaming of for years and years, and it’s an impossible house. It keeps changing, the hallways don’t lead to the same place twice, all sorts of creepy stuff. And then of course what’s inside the house will be seen throughout the course of the series. It’s wanting to take the edge of a trope and then dive at it from a totally new angle. I don’t see it as wholly different. In The Eighth Seal it’s a bit Lovecraftian, the supernatural, sort of my take on Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen, those kind of political, thought-edged horror movies. This is me sort of doing my take on the recent glut of movies like The Conjuring, where it’s about a haunted location, and what haunts that location, except it’s breaking the location out of the literal sense. The big thing is I don’t want to scare people with the same thing they’ve seen a hundred times because that’s fun but it doesn’t capture that same core fear. You need to make people look at something in a way they haven’t looked at it before, and I think a fear that a lot of people deal with is life right now. With the job market being what it is, and the idea that it’s becoming clear right now that maybe there’s a chance you did four years in college, maybe got your masters, and that hasn’t prepared you for anything. The real world doesn’t feel real anymore, there’s this disconnect going on, and the idea that stumbling across something imaginary that feels real, and getting lost in it. Imagine liking a girl and half of it is in your head, and you get lost in the fantasy of it, and slowly that fantasy can rip apart your life. The way the fantastical interpretation of reality can become the reality that you start disconnecting from, that’s where the horror is, that’s where the danger is, and that’s what we’re trying to access in this series.

GL: Now, of course you write several types of horror, but you’re also known for some superhero books as well. There’s that Batman guy who’s really starting to take off, and you’re a big part of that world. Does it take you out of your wheelhouse to go back and forth from horror to heroes?

JT: Honestly, it’s more energizing than anything. If I was doing nothing but horror, if I was writing five horror books, just going from the same thing, all kind of playing with the same themes and types of characters I’d get bored. But the fact that I get to write the scariest thing I think of, and then walk away from it and dive into a big, bombastic Batmobile chase for Batman Eternal, that just keeps me excited and keeps me energized to keep going. I have interests in telling all sorts of stories in all sorts of genres. Horror is something I know I’ll always come back to, I’ll always have a foot in that world, but there are plenty of other worlds I’m going to want to get my hands on.

GL: Now we kind of touched on this before, but of course the “digital versus print” debate is always going to be prevalent, at least for the years to come as we sort of go back and forth. Thrillbent has very much been at the forefront of that digital revolution. You already explained what it is that makes digital great, but what is it about Thrillbent in particular that keeps you coming back?

JT: I think we have incredible content on the site, and with the new relaunch and the app that’s coming with it, the idea that for the cost of one comic a month you have over 300 chapters of incredible content coming from so many amazing writers and artists, and they’re playing around in an experimental form, and seeing people who are just legitimate geniuses in their work experimenting with a new style, that’s exciting. When I read my first Thrillbent comic I was so hooked that I immediately shot Mark Waid an email, and that’s how I ended up getting involved. I saw the potential for something new and different, and I saw potential in that for horror. As far as print versus digital, I’m a huge fan of print, I have a huge library across my wall. At the same time, in high school and in college the majority of the comics I read were webcomics, because I didn’t have money for print comics nor did I have the room to keep all of the print books I wanted to read. Webcomics are something that kept me invested in the medium and were something I always wanted to be a part of. At the beginning I think there was some fear that the two worlds would clash, but I think if anything they just compliment each other and make each other stronger. Look right now over at BOOM! Studios where they’re bringing in all these amazing webcomic artists and writers to do these crazy series like Lumberjanes, which is a massive success. These worlds fuel each other; the more stuff out there doing new cool things is just going to lead to new ideas and new ways of storytelling that are just going to keep people invested in this medium we all love.

GL: I know you’re co-writing this book with Noah J. Yuenkel, who is pretty much an unknown right now in comics. What is that like bringing someone seemingly out of nowhere, and how does the co-writing process work?

JT: For me, he’s not coming out of nowhere. This is my best friend going back all the way to freshman year of high school. The two of us started writing together back in high school, although back then the egos of sixteen year-olds start clashing, it’s like “no, we’re doing my story” and “no, we’re doing mine!” Now we’ve calmed down a little bit, he’s my best friend in the world and we had this idea together. Our tastes have always been absolutely in sync, and he’s been involved in the comics world from different angles for a long time, as the editor for newspaper comic strips for about five years. He’s very invested in the whole comics community, and I’ve been running my stories by him in college, and since I started writing professionally I’ve continued sending my stories to him. I trust him implicitly, and when we had this idea I knew I wanted to do it with him because he had such an incredible style and he comes at things from very interesting angles. It’s been amazing working with him on this book. In terms of the co-writing I’m very used to it, since I’ve done so much with Scott Snyder, and it’s very much in that format where we plot it out together, and then Noah takes the plot to full script, and then we throw it back and forth and back and forth, polishing and polishing and polishing it, until we’re confident that it’s the best it can be, and then we send it off to Eryk our artist. And that’s exactly what my process has always been with Scott. It works really well on the Bat-books, and it works really well here.

GL: Are you excited to be doing another project with Eryk Donovan?

JT: Absolutely. From the second I got the first character designs from my In the Dark story from Eryk I was basically like “how can I tie up this guy’s schedule for the next twenty years?” Every single page is a little better than the last page, and his art is so kinetic and has so much youthful energy that it feels very contemporary. It’s so of the moment, and has so many influences that are also my influences. On top of that he’s the nicest guy in the world, so I love working with him and I want to keep working with him until he gets sick of me. That is definitely my plan.

GL: Now obviously you’re not going to say any type of detail, but is it safe to assume that House in the Wall is not going to be your last Thrillbent project?

JT: Oh yeah. There are more chapters of The Eighth Seal coming, and there are always little conversations that Mark and I are having, including some crazy ideas that I’ve been throwing at him, so we’ll see what it will be. I love the Thrillbent format, I love working with everyone on Team Thrillbent, and I intend to be a part of it for as long as they’ll have me.

GL: My last question for you is a simple one: do you ever think digital comics will replace print books? Will there ever come a day where we are only downloading our comics?

JT: No. I don’t think so. I think the market will change, but as long as there are fans out there who continue to support the print books than the print books will continue to exist. Even if something happened ten or twenty years down the line where the weekly digital books don’t ever come out in stores, there is still going to be a huge market for trades. People want things on their shelves, and comics have a collectible angle, and I think that that is always going to be a part of it. I think the two have a symbiotic relationship where they both continue to expand the audience of comics. As the audiences expand, the tastes broaden, and I think that’s what we’re seeing a lot of right now, like the book I mentioned before. Lumberjanes doing as well as it is, that makes me really excited about the future of comics.

House in the Wall is written by James Tynion IV and Noah J. Yuenkel, with art from Eryk Donovan and colors from Fred C. Stresing. You can follow them on twitter at  @JamesTheFourth@noah_j@ErykDonovan and @FredCStresing.

 To get House In The Wall, and all the other content on Thrillbent, click the below link for the low $3.99 monthly subscription rate (also available through the website).


Offical Thrillbent Press Release:

“Following up on the launch of Empire Volume 2, Thrillbent has revealed the next original digital comic that will launch on the one-stop showcase for creator-owned digital comics — James Tynion’s House In The Wall. The book is co-written by Tynion and Noah J. Yuenkel with art by Eryk Donovan, colors by Fred C. Stressing, and letters by Troy Peteri. The first chapter launches on Thrillbent this Friday, June 20. Following that, the limited series will be serialized exclusively on Thrillbent twice-monthly thereafter.

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.

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).”

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