Comic-Con Exclusive: Interview with writer James Tynion IV of Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and more

There was no downtime after the Matt Kindt interview. In fact, I was actually supposed to interview James Tynion IV first but things were running late on DC’s end and the schedule got switched around a bit. Now I was set to be Tynion’s final interview of the day. I had to talk to him right now and we would have to stand off to the side of the roped-off area. As I reset the audio recorder and re-angled the microphone that clipped onto the end of my phone I told the writer of Talon about how I thought that the gadget didn’t even record anything earlier that day, how I had no notes, and how I usually just do reviews, but like him this would be my last interview of the day as well.

Tynion: Have you been out to San Diego before?

Andrew: Nah.

Tynion: So this has to be big and crazy!

Andrew: Yeah well, I’ve only been to one comic convention–

Tynion: Oh, wow! So this must be extra big and terrifying!

Andrew: Yeah, I’m from St. Louis and we just had our first one a couple months back so it’s still small. How many of these have you gone to now?

Tynion: I’ve gone to four San Diegos, two when I was just a fan and two now as a pro, but I love coming to these shows! There’s a special magic to San Diego I always come in and it’s terrifying at first and I walk around on preview night and it’s “Oh God, there’s four more days of this!” And then it’s like I get sucked into it and get swept up into the real fun and energy of the place and I definitely have not gotten sick of it! It definitely still has that same energy it did when I was a fan coming here for the first time.

Andrew: Are you a lot more recognizable now? Are you able to go to panels or walk the exhibit hall floor?

Tynion: Oh, please! I will say that it’s nice being here because there are a lot more people a lot more impressive than me walking around. You Know? Some people might stop me to take a picture but I’m still so weirded out when that happens and it’s amazing and I’m so grateful that people like recognize me and like me but it’s still like the strangest thing! Like, you know, I walk around with my best friend from college and he’s making fun of me like, “Yeah, that person was just like ‘ah, that’s James Tynion over there!'” That’s not supposed to happen! It’s not a thing that is real life! It does NOT feel like real life! It’s just… It’s cool!

Andrew: So would you say life has changed substantially since breaking into comics?

Tynion: I wouldn’t say substantially, but it makes conventions a very different, very cool experience and it’s great. I love it.

Andrew: Do you get much writing done when you come to something like this?

Tynion: No! No! I have friends who manage to sneak away and get a few hours of work done but if I sneak away I need to sit down and like stare off into space just to recharge my legs!

Andrew: So what is your process usually like? Do you shut yourself off from the world?

Tynion: Yeah, I like to do all of my writing in my apartment so it’s just I gotta find where the creative energy is flowing in my apartment whether it’s the couch or my desk or the kitchen table and sort of set up camp there and try to get into the swing of it. That’s the hardest thing. Starting is always the hardest! And once I’m in the middle of a script it can all flow out because I do lots of outlining so once I start scripting I know what’s going to happen so I can just sort of build off what I’m doing. It’s just about finding the energy and being able to power through the whole story.

Andrew: Do you know a different rhythm in your process between doing Talon or Red Hood or doing your Thrillbent stuff?

Tynion: Absolutely! I mean, you know, action has a very different feel than horror and Talon is a cool book because it steps into both of those, but obviously Red Hood is very much an action-adventure title The Eighth Seal, my Thrillbent title, is pure horror. So the pacing is very different because in horror you want that, like, slow build-up. You want someone, like, walking down a hallway and looking both ways and you’re not sure if anything is going to come out of any of the doors. And in action you want someone to walk into a hallway and then, like, twenty machine-gun wielding gorillas come through all the doors at once and then they’re all firing! THAT’s the difference between horror and action-adventure!

Andrew: Is it more challenge to wright the Thrillbent stuff because it’s layered and interactive?

Tynion: Yeah, it is. And the benefit is that since I’m so new to just regular scripting is that I’m figuring it all out simultaneously. So I’m very conscious about the pacing and how that works both on a printed page and for Thrillbent. They’re very different animals, but once you see how an artist works you can sort of see where they’re going– you can picture what they’re going to draw while you write it and… most of the time it’s nothing like what I pictured but it’s still awesome! So that’s a really cool moment.

Andrew: I really like Talon a lot.

Tynion: Thank you.

Andrew: It took me a while to give it a chance, I waited until there were like four or five issues in a row.

Tynion: That’s the way to do that! Like, you know, I think… Especially… The one thing that drives me crazy because it was such a rookie mistake is that– it’s the one I’ll always point back to as like “This was my first issue of a printed comic series and I screwed up!” It’s like Talon number one and there is a WALL of text down the left-hand side of the page and it’s like all of those sentences are very crafted and very deliberate but there’s WAY too many of them! I’m very happy with what’s in them, but ehhh! (laughs)

Andrew: Yes! I’ve already got notes down because I will review the graphic novel when it comes out–

Tynion: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Andrew: And it was noticeably wordy in the beginning but it wears off later on.

Tynion: Yeah, yeah, yeah! And that’s the thing I’ll always love this book for is that this is readers seeing me learn how to write an ongoing comic series and I think it does get better each issue but the heart of it stays true and the story is, ya know, hopefully… people seem to be enjoying it and it makes me happy!

Andrew: Is it more challenging writing for Calvin Rose now that he’s an “undead”?

Tynion: Oh…

Andrew: Because it’s tougher to get him into situations that really get the reader on edge now that his weaknesses are far fewer.

Tynion: Well… It just means I’ll have to amp up the threats then and uh… Just because he can’t get hurt physically doesn’t mean you can’t totally tear his life apart– especially with people he cares about!

Press Handler: Last question!

Tynion: Alright.

Andrew: Tell us something to get people excited about Red Hood and the Outlaws. What’s something you have planned that you can actually tell us about?

Tynion: Um… There’s a very, very, very big character coming up in this series that, you know, we’ve been hinting at but, uh…

Andrew: Ra’s Al Ghul?

Tynion: Well, you’re just going to have to wait and see.

Andrew: Do you say “Raish” or “Rahz”?

Tynion: Um… I honestly sort of switch out of both because I’m not sure which one’s the right one because I’ve heard different creators who’ve like written the character for years say both versions of it so it’s just like, I looked up I think the actual Arabic and it’s like “Reese” Al Ghul? “Rice” Al Ghul? It would be the actual pronunciation, but I’m not about to pronounce it that way.

Andrew: You could spearhead it!

Tynion: Yeah. Um… yeah, because it just sounds strange because it has to be “Rahz” or “Raish” because those are the two versions I’ve heard my entire life.

Andrew: Well, if you do turn out to use him in a story you could always throw that into some dialogue and go down as the guy who added a new pronunciation for Ra’s Al Ghul.

Tynion: Oh yeah!

James Tynion IV currently writes Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws, the digital horror comic The Eighth Seal (which can be read for free at, and he co-writes the back-up stories with Scott Snyder in the ongoing Batman series.