James Tynion IV and Michael Avon Oeming launch BLUE BOOK, the first in a line of new digital comics series published by Tiny Onion Studios exclusively on Substack
(BROOKLYN, NY) Eisner-Award winning writer James Tynion IV (The Department of Truth, Something is Killing the Children) announced this Monday that he would be stepping away from writing his bestselling work-for-hire titles at DC Comics (Batman, Joker) in order to create a new line of creator-owned comics to be released exclusively on his Substack newsletter.
BLUE BOOK, co-created by Tynion and artist Michael Avon Oeming (Powers), with lettering by Aditya Bidikar (The Department of Truth), will be an ongoing feature in the newsletter, recreating stories of real UFO encounters in comic book form, based on the true-to-life testimonies of UFO witnesses with the goal of not sensationalizing or editorializing those accounts. It will begin to release on Tynion’s newsletter in early September.
“While researching The Department of Truth, I found myself reading more and more about the strange histories of the world,” Tynion said. “The stories of people who have encountered what they can’t explain and then have to grapple with what they may or may not have seen. And reading those stories I kept having the same thought, over and over – ‘This would make a really good comic book.’ With BLUE BOOK, I wanted to dig deeper into what I consider to be a strange cousin of the True Crime genre… Something I like to call True Weird. How do people tell the story of encountering something that defies all logic, and all the rules they’ve come to know about the world? What do those stories say about all of us? I couldn’t be more excited about exploring all of that with Michael.”
The first several chapters in the BLUE BOOK series will tell the story of Betty and Barney Hill and their abduction in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in September 1961, in recognition of the 60th Anniversary of one of the most famous UFO encounters in American history. This was one of many UFO encounters studied by the United States Air Force’s Project Blue Book in the 1950s and 60s, the project that gives this series its name (though the comic will not limit itself to cases investigated by the government program). The title BLUE BOOK also refers to the black, white and blue color palette for the comic series.
"I've been obsessed with the ‘what if’ aspect of UFOs all my life,” Michael Avon Oeming said. “I hope drawing the true events around BLUE BOOK with James awakens that same curiosity in others."
Readers can subscribe on Substack to Tynion’s newsletter, “The Empire of the Tiny Onion,” for $7 a month, or for a discounted rate of $75 a year. Paid subscribers will receive chapters of BLUE BOOK directly in their inboxes, and be able to read them on the Substack website. Subscribers will have access to the full library of comic titles that Tynion plans for the platform. They will also get early access to exclusive variant covers of his print comics, and early bird access to new Tiny Onion Studios merchandise.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a better deal in comics than what Substack is offering. We have complete creative control, we retain all of the rights for publishing and other media with no restrictions, and we have the money to pay people the kind of rates they might expect at one of the larger corporate publishers,” Tynion said, in reference to the upfront financial guarantee provided by the Substack Pro program. “If the creators taking this deal play their cards right, it means that we can rewrite the rules of the entire comic book industry on our terms, not the publishers. I don’t think people are going to realize how big this can be right away, but if we’re smart about it, this could be the start of a whole new paradigm in creator-owned comics.”
Tynion plans to continue all of his creator-owned titles at their existing publishers, THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH with Martin Simmonds at Image Comics; THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE with Alvaro Martinez Bueno at DC Black Label; SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN with Werther Dell’Edera at Boom! Studios (and its spin-off, HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER, launching this October with Tate Brombal and Chris Shehan); and WYND with Michael Dialynas, also with Boom! Studios.
More print-only creator-owned titles are in development to be announced next year, and Tynion has plans for each of his Substack properties in print. “I can’t tell you when they’ll be announced, or who will be publishing them,” he says. “Part of the joy of developing the comic first is letting each of these projects dictate the format we’ll be releasing them in print. I can tell you that I’ve had some very exciting and interesting conversations about what might be possible when we’re publishing a book that’s been paid for completely before it hits the stands.”