And like that, Comics Disassembled is back. Let’s look at the week that was – and I elected to exclusively focus on the past week rather than including the one I missed – by highlighting ten things in the news and beyond that I liked or didn’t like in comics, led by a top creator following his own path.
1. James Tynion IV, (Dark) Horsing Around
Leave it to James Tynion IV to zig when everyone’s expecting him to zag. Even as a person who talks to James a bit, I was still a bit surprised by the news that Tynion was taking his talents to Dark Horse Comics for yet another one of their fancy imprints, joining names like Brian Michael Bendis, Eric Powell, Matt Kindt, and more. Tynion will be launching two Substack first projects there to begin with, as Blue Book – his alien encounters series with Michael Avon Oeming – and The Oddly Pedestrian Life of Christopher Chaos, which he created but is written by Tate Bombral with art from Isaac Goodhart, colors by K. Michael Russell, and letters by Aditya Bidikar, will be the first to debut next year. It sounds as if others will follow, with some arriving on Substack first and others hitting print to start.
I see Tynion’s logic here. The thought that his “true weird” work could have ads in the back of Hellboy or other notable horror titles over at Dark Horse is a nice hook. All this movement towards Dark Horse does make me wonder how much that publisher’s deal might have shifted of late, as it seems as if they have a real hook with some of the most fiercely independent direct market creators going today. It’s also interesting that this is where Tynion’s taking these projects instead of previous partners like Image or BOOM!, but Dark Horse – in its current state, presumably – seems as if it offers a nice blend of what both of those houses have to offer creators.
My main question is whether this is Tynion’s only home now, or if he’s playing the field and spreading the wealth to a variety of publishers so he can get a better sense as to what method and approach works best. Knowing Tynion, I’m betting on the latter, as it presents more optionality to a creator who loves to experiment. But as with this announcement, it’s entirely possible that the truth is far more unexpected.
We’ll see, as I’m sure Tynion has a lot more up his sleeve in 2023.
2. The Full Free Comic Book Day Lineup is Here (Maybe?)
The full lineup of Free Comic Book Day releases is here, and it’s a nice mix, combining an intriguing slate from Marvel (that we already addressed in this column), new titles from Jeff Lemire and Rick Remender/Max Fiumara over at Image, some mystery efforts from BOOM!, some Gabriel Ba art in the form of an Umbrella Academy release, a spooky Archie title, and assorted other charmers and crowd-pleasers. It honestly looks like one of the strongest lineups in recent memory, although one that has a DC Comics sized hole in it.
Not that this is a concern. When the list of releases was announced last year, DC was absent then, with the publisher introducing its own FCBD entries a few months later. That’s likely the play here. Realistically, this is probably just related to how distribution works today, with all the Penguin Random House publishers (i.e. Marvel, IDW, and Dark Horse) also being sold wholesale by Diamond Comic Distributors while DC isn’t. They’re just handled separately.
That doesn’t mean DC is certain to participate. I haven’t heard anything otherwise, and it strikes me as a good time to roll out new, exciting teasers for upcoming projects given all the change coming right now on key titles. But that’s not certain. I suppose we’ll find out whenever they do (or don’t!) decide to announce their participation, or when Free Comic Book Day hits on May 6th of next year.