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Pride Highlight: James Tynion IV

By Colin Vitro

This summer I’ve decided to exclusively read horror books (elevated, classic, trashy, etc.) so that’s gonna be my blog posts these next few years (scaredy cats can wait for Alain’s). My original plan was No Junji Ito June but I need a bit more time to prepare (stay tuned for No More Junji Ito July). PLUS I nearly forgot June is Pride Month (exclusively Rainbow Capitalism [which is still fine don’t be a lunatic about it]), so I’ve decided to highlight gay horror writer James Tynion IV!


Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country book coverSandman Universe: Nightmare Country by James Tynion IV with art by Lisandro Estherren
In April I finished The Sandman series after over 10 years and I was jonesing for more. When I started this continuation, I was worried it was going to be a shallow way to a late spin-off series but I was pleasantly terrified. Madison Flynn throughout her whole life has been haunted by something known only as “the smiling man” which has mouths instead of eyes; sounds familiar but is not everybody’s favorite nightmare, The Corinthian, who was released by the Dream Lord out of necessity. With The Corinthian’s interest piqued, he tries to unravel a mystery at the center of the story behind the Dream Lord’s back… but will The Corinthian return to his previous life’s appetites?

With Estherren’s wonderful watercolor-esque art that really helps with a dreamlike atmosphere, this series has the feel of an early 90’s Clive Barker movie that both stands on its own while building on Gaiman’s lore. It’s so good that it almost makes me tolerate my least favorite trope, anything about the artworld (I get it, it sucks and everybody is just insufferable so why would I want to be stuck in that world for what feels like weeks–I’m looking at you Candyman remake).


The Nice House on The Lake book coverThe Nice House on The Lake by James Tynion IV with art by Alvaro Martinez Bueno
So think Glass Onion but with an apocalyptic twist. Walter has invited ten of his closest friends to a week-long get-together at “The Nice House on The Lake,” but Walter is not who he seems. Oh, and also the world has just ended but the house and the lake are somehow fine. For the life of me I can’t think of the term to describe J.J. Abrams’ Lost-style mysteries (it’s gonna come to me after this is published) but regardless, TNHOTL is like that but sticks the landing.

Each issue focuses on one of Walter’s friends, their relationship with him, and what being Walter’s friend truly means. While binging this series I was able to flashback to my interactions with old friends and really reflect on our history and why we became friends in the first place; there are moments where I definitely identified with Walter–scary, creepy, Walter.

Oh, and this book is pretty spooky too.


Memetic book coverMemetic by James Tynion IV with art by Eryk Donovan
Killer memes but the memes actually kill. One of Tynion’s earlier works, this high concept, breezy book is part 28 Days Later and part I don’t know what’s a fun meme kids are sharing these days. Basically, a meme was created that causes madness upon anyone who looks at it and things escalate from there.

While that premise sounds ridiculous, Tynion and Donovan play it seriously which is much appreciated. Honestly this is a recommendation similar to my Jurassic League rec (It’s The Justice League but they’re dinosaurs). You’re either on board for the idea or you’re not cool.


The Department of Truth book coverThe Department of Truth by James Tynion IV with art by Martin Simmonds
What’s scarier than government conspiracies? What used to be fun nonsense about aliens and secret bigfoots is now just increasingly depressing (watching this country swirl around the gutter is just great).

Reads like The X-Files with a metaphysical bent, this series focuses on a government agency (led by Lee Harvey Oswald… or is it?) that’s trying to stop the wide belief of conspiracy from turning into and replacing reality. It’s almost a Grant Morrisonian level concept with a horror conspiracy twist. Now that I say that, this book does feel like a lost Vertigo book and Simmonds’ sketchy dark art style definitely evokes a similar feel.


Razor Blades book coverRazor Blades by Multiple Creators
It’s complicated: So this originally started as an online horror magazine curated by Tynion, and last August was collected into this spooky hardcover. Being more of an anthology magazine, it has both comics and short regular stories by familiar and new names alike. So if you’re in the mood for a quick whatever horror story or need a gift for a horror nerd but don’t know their preferences (it’s a wide genre with plenty of sub-categories: body, scifi, psychological, splatter, ghost, weird, monster, folk, eco, etc.)

I will also take recommendations for other queer horror creators. Please share! -Colin