Fairy tales might tell us to avoid the deep, dark forest, but James Tynion IV forges on with his creator-owned BOOM! Studios series. The writer of “The Woods” announced at New York Comic Con that he and artist Michael Dialynas have received a 36-issue commitment from the publisher.
“The Woods” focuses on a group of 513 people from Bay Point Preparatory High School, mysteriously transported to a place filled with monsters and animals never before seen. As the kids, teachers and a few other folks explore their new environment, more and more mysteries present themselves.
The announcement marks a solid commitment from BOOM!, a company that tends to stick with limited series. CBR News caught up with Tynion on the convention floor to talk about the announcement, what it means for the plotting process and how working with Dialynas has improved the series.
CBR News: Was this 36-issue story length part of the plan from the beginning? On your end, at least?
James Tynion IV: I’ve always sort of seen the story in three books. We defined that first book as the first 12 issues, which was the original commitment from BOOM! when I brought “The Woods” to them. There were discussions about trying to get to further parts of the story and I was like, “No, no, no, no. This is the pace I need to tell this story. Even if there’s only 12 issues, I’m going to tell it the way it needs to be told.” So that’s really where it came from.
12 issues is the first year. I know what happens in the first book, second book, third book so I’m structuring it that way. I’ve had it as an outline as 36 issues for a while, and it’s just amazing to know that I will hit that issue #36.
Is it kind of like “Lost,” where having an ending at a specified point in the future allowed the writers to refocus their efforts and know exactly where they were going?
It really is an amazing thing. I remember back when they would announce what the last issue of “Y: The Last Man” is or what have you. Now, I can actually tell people that this is the second act of the story, and I can get people excited because they know where they are and they can see the shape of the whole thing.
When we talked about “Memetic,” you said that part of your process involves letting an idea sit for a year or two. Was that the case with “The Woods?”
Yeah. There are things that in the initial outline are like one sentence, but when I get to that one sentence, I have to do hours and hours and hours of research and work piecing it all together. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of craziness really building everything.
But now, the difference is that I have Michael, my collaborator on the series, to be able to bounce ideas off of. Now, I’m not building the series blind. I know what his strengths are and can play to those strengths and help use that to shape the story. I keep coming up with new creatures for him to draw because I want him to draw the weirdest, most awesome animals out there.
So the working relationship with Michael has helped you build out the series.
I think with any comic collaboration, that’s what happens. I had a vision for the emotional heart of it, and the mysteries and everything, but he brought that vision to life and gave it shape and form. Now I can see it in my head when I think of it.
When you say you have the rest of the series figured out, do you have arcs outlined out that you then get more detailed on when you get to them?
At the beginning of every arc, I do the issue-by-issue breakdown — but things change. There have been dramatic changes to what the story’s been since we started. Sometimes, you come up with a better solution.
Have you found the characters telling you more about themselves as you continue to write them?
Yeah. Calder was a character who was initially kind of throw-away, and he’s become one of my favorite characters to write. So, that’s exactly what happens.
Can you talk a little bit about what readers can look forward as the series continues on?
Right now, where we are in the series, they’ve discovered there are other humans on the planet. That’s a big game-changer. We’re going to see who those humans are and answer the mystery of what brought them there. We saw the Mayan temple, and we’re going to see the other elements and these hunters now coming into the foreground.
How long have humans been coming to this world? How have they gotten there? Do they have a better understanding of why they’re on this place, or do they have no idea? And what is the black city that Adrian keeps seeing. We’re going to start getting into the real heavy stuff, and I think it’s good. I’m really excited to see it come to life at Michael’s hand. Then I can’t wait for readers to see what we have in store for them.
“The Woods” continues to hit monthly from James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas and BOOM! Studios.
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