Throwing Pearls to SWINE and Being Torn to Pieces – An Interview with TYRONE FINCH
If you read the credits of your favorite television shows, you might recognize the name Tyrone Finch. He’s currently associated with shows like Station 19 and the short-lived (and under-rated) Grounded for Life. But he also, quietly, contributes to comic books. Now he takes the full stage lead on writing SWINE, a dark horror comedy graphic novel, coming out on October 5, 2021, from Humanoids publishing. Comic Book Yeti carefully steps in the pen to talk pigs, horror, and comics with Tyrone Finch.
COMIC BOOK YETI: SWINE is about pigs. Not just pigs, but demonic pigs with Biblical roots. Having spent a portion of my youth on a farm, I can vouch for how scary pigs can be. They aren’t all Babe and Wilbur. What brought SWINE to life for you?
TYRONE FINCH: I stumbled upon the idea for SWINE while I was having lunch with a couple of friends. I’m sorry that I can’t recreate the whole conversation for you, because it was bizarre. I can tell you that at some point the thought “Wait a minute, pigs can swim” got stuck in my head. I know that seems like a relatively useless piece of knowledge, but it led to the birth of SWINE.
CBY: SWINE has already seen a Humanoids European release as PORCHERY. Has it done well? Do you think they relate to the hog like we do here in North America: as a pet or prizes in county fairs and, finally, as bacon; or do they relate to it more biblically: as a filthy animal not fit for pearls or as Legion?
TF: I think PORCHERY has done well in Europe, but I’m not entirely sure. To my knowledge, I haven’t been barred from entering France, so at least it hasn’t offended anyone who’s incredibly powerful.
I think anyone who has spent time in the presence of pigs has learned to respect them. They’re very smart and they can be very helpful. They’re delightful service animals and their prowess at truffle hunting is unmatched. On the other hand, a team of wild boar are destructive enough to wreak a lot of havoc and smart enough to get away with it.
CBY: Is this your first full-length go at a comic book? How does writing for television differ from comics? We see so many comic book creators with dreams of seeing their creations make it onto the screen, yet we see TV/movie people jump into comics. With a foot in one and a toe in the other, would you say there is a dichotomy of the creative freedom that comic books provide versus the comic books' financial perspective into TV/movies?
TF: This is my first graphic novel, and it was a blast to work on it with such a talented team. Whether you’re writing for television or writing a comic book, the goal is always to create a good story. With television, you’re writing words that are meant to be heard by an audience. With comic books, the audience has to read your work. I had to learn how to accommodate that difference.
I can also say that one of the pleasures of writing a comic book is knowing that you don’t have to worry too much about the budget. If I need a scene to take place in an undersea laboratory that’s staffed by penguins, no one needs to build an undersea laboratory or train penguins. As a rule, most television networks will object if you ask them to build an undersea laboratory and staff it with penguins. Most comic book artists will be delighted to do it.
CBY: I typically don’t ask but, because of your lack of comic book history, can you share which creators and books got you interested in producing your own work? Anything you try not to miss out on right now?
TF: That’s a tough question to answer. I’ve been reading comic books since I was a kid. I’d stop for a few years at a time but I’d eventually start reading them again. I think my interest in writing them started to grow when I realized that I had come up with several ideas that I couldn’t bring to life in any other way.
SWINE is a good example of one of those ideas. I’m sure it could exist in some other medium or format, but I don’t have the wherewithal to pull that off. It’s the undersea lab with penguins problem again.
And I’m all over the place with my reading right now. Mostly, I’m reading a lot of books from independent and smaller publishers. I still love Spider-Man, but lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of books that aren’t built around superheroes.
CBY: This was one of the best-paced books I’ve read. There was no runaway plot or wasted characters. You didn’t bury us under exposition, and every motive is genuine and every twist made sense, even when it gut punches us. Is that a product of writing for time-crunched television?
TF: Wow. Thank you for that. Managing the pace of the story was one of the biggest challenges I faced and I don’t think writing for television truly prepared me for that. Comic books force you to be as economical as possible with dialogue because you don’t want to put too many panels on a page and you don’t want to cover the art with a bunch of word balloons. You never have to worry about word balloons in a television script and television editors can expertly cut an episode to the appropriate running time after it’s been shot. (Television editors deserve much more credit than they ever receive.) I should also mention that my editor for SWINE (Rob Levin) was great at letting me know when I was trying to accomplish too much in too small a space, and vice versa.
CBY: How did SWINE get into Humanoids' hands? Did you approach them, or is there an interesting story here? How did the creative team of Mauricet, Lee Loughridge, and DC Hopkins come together? How did your working relationship work? Were you hands-on, or did you trust the “pros”?
TF: SWINE had been gathering dust on my hard drive for a while when a friend of mine suggested that I submit it to Humanoids. They had very easy submission guidelines on their website, so I gave it a shot. They contacted me a few weeks later and expressed an interest in publishing the book. When they asked me if I had an artist in mind, I gave them Mauricet’s name. Mauricet and I had worked on a small project for AHOY! Comics and I was anxious to work with him again. Humanoids assembled the rest of the team, and I started cranking out pages.
From my perspective, our collaboration was smooth and effortless. Mauricet responded well to my suggestions and, if he had a better idea, he knew that he was free to execute it. We developed a nice rapport when we worked on the project for AHOY! Comics and it made working on SWINE a breeze.
CBY: You leave SWINE with the prospect of a follow-up, but you also laid the foundation so we can create our own conclusion. Do you plan to continue the story or trust us to finish it ourselves?
TF: I would love to write the next chapter in the SWINE saga. Can I call it a saga after just one book? Probably not. I do have some ideas about what comes next, but I think we’ll have to see how people respond to this first installment before we start work on volume two.
CBY: What more can we expect from Tyrone Finch, in any medium, that you can share? More dark horror/comedy, or something very different? Say, a comic musical like Singin' in the Rain?
TF: I do love Singin’ in the Rain. And, oddly, I was working on a musical before COVID forced me to put it on the shelf for a little while. I’m also working on a book for AHOY! Comics that might be available sometime next year. Beyond that, I truly don’t know what I’ll do next. I tend to write whatever occurs to me. Once I get an idea stuck in my head, I have to put it down on paper to make room for the next one. If I’m lucky, I get an idea like SWINE and I can find a home for it. If I’m unlucky, I get an idea that gathers dust for a few years before it finds its way into the shredder.
And I have burned out the motors on a lot of shredders.