Something Is Killing The Children Writer Talks Monster Hunting, Staying Away From Shock Value, and More

Fans were introduced to a new world of characters and threats in BOOM! Studios' new horror series Something Is Killing The Children, and as you can see in our full review of the debut issue, it came out swinging. The new series is written by James Tynion IV with art by Werther Dell'Edera and Miquel Muerto and makes one heck of a first impression. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to talk to Tynion all about the new series, where the idea came from, and how it's transformed into the series you now have in front of you, and it all started with Erica Slaughter.

"Towards the end of last year, I had the idea of this character, this monster hunter, Erica, a blonde woman, and I saw her with these like deep, sunken eyes that it's clear she's not getting enough sleep," Tynion said. "She is working, and she's on the job, arriving on a bus in a small town in the upper Midwest. Then she gets off that bus and kills the monster, and then she gets on the next bus and goes to the next town and it all starts all over again. It was just like just this idea about this character who ended up becoming Erica Slaughter, one of the core figures in this book, sort of started marrying itself to a lot of the different ideas that had been in each of my Something is Killing the Children pitches. It all really started to come together, but even then it evolved from when I pitched at the end of last year."

"When I started writing the first issue, my intent was every issue was maybe a one-shot," Tynion said. "It was going to be her arriving in town, and at the end of the issue, she'd get on the bus again and go to the next town. But it was in the writing that first issue that I realized that I felt the power of this town. I felt Archer's Peak, and I could feel the sorrow from all these characters, because I mean they're dealing with the death of their children. It's something that's so horrifying, it's not something where a character can come in and solve something in 30 pages and get out. It's something that to dig at the emotions, we needed to linger in it. We needed to see the shape of it."

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(Photo: BOOM! Studios)

That's when his vision for the book completely changed. "I threw out my entire outline, and I texted my editor and said, 'I'm going to stay in this story.' And then from that moment on it has continued to change, and honestly, it makes it a very exciting project, and it feels like it's alive in its own way."

Fans eventually meet more characters outside of Erica, including a traumatized young man named James. While they only meet for the first time in this issue, you can plan on seeing quite a bit of them as the series goes on.

"You're going to see the kind of partnership that they forged together, and you see even in that little flash we get of Erica in the first issue in the previous town where she was fighting the previous monster," Tynion said. "We see that she often kinds of has ... like her partners in this war against the monsters are the only people who can see them, and the only people who understand what they are, and those are children."

Not only are the children the targets of this mysterious threat, but they are also the only way to hunt the monsters down and end that threat, and fans will see James and the rest of the town struggle with that realization as time goes on.

"Adults cannot see the monsters, and that is a huge part of this story, and it's part of why the entire town of Archer's Peak is going to be very suspicious of Erica, and why she's coming in and why she's digging into this, because they have no answers of what could be causing all this trouble, what out there is actually killing the children," Tynion said. "And the only thing out of the ordinary that they can see with their own two eyes is Erica, and that's going to cause a lot of trouble."

The series does live up to its namesake, and there are several moments that evoke a strong reaction, though that is on purpose. That said, Tynion made sure that there's always something character-wise grounding those moments so they avoid becoming pure shock value.

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(Photo: BOOM! Studios)

"I think I knew that I never wanted to play it just for pure shock value," Tynion said. "I will always want to play it in the most emotionally authentic way, and I think that it is shocking, it is horrifying, but I look at two my favorite Stephen King novels, Pet Cemetery and IT, and neither of those stories flinch away from the type of horror that we show in this book."

"So those were really my guides because it's about making it emotionally authentic," Tynion said. "It's never just going for the gross-out or going for the most shocking thing. It's about building a sense of dread. It's about building this deep, dark horror that feels overwhelming to everyone who lives in this town, and that fear that nobody can do anything to stop or propose to stop this threat, or protect their children. And we're gonna see a lot of that helplessness in this story, and what it does to people, and what it pushes people to be. The question is very much a part of what we're building here, but it's something that I feel like I've always known that as long as I approach it in this emotionally honest way that I won't cross the line into just pure sensationalist horror."

Fans can look forward to seeing more memorable characters in Archer's Peak, but there is also plenty of more time with the town's Principal, who makes quite an impression in the first issue on both James and the reader.

"We want the entire town to feel like it's a vibrant place," Tynion said. "I mean, issue two opens with the introduction of a new character, who is the night manager at the local Applebee's type restaurant in town. We're going to see a lot of the kind of back and forth, and there is this kind of almost gallows humor of existing in a world where you've faced so much. You've got to laugh, you got to not be too...he'll poke fun at it, but it's all kind of a defense mechanism up against a real, genuine horror and helplessness that they all feel. So, the principal is a character who will be coming back as the story moves forward. The school is an environment that we're ultimately opening up. We'll meet some of the police officers. We're going to meet the local bartender, and the local barflies, like all of these characters who really make Archer's Peak into a living town in which we can really tell this story."

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(Photo: BOOM! Studios)

Artist Werther Dell'Edera and colorist Miquel Muerto deliver stellar visuals throughout the first issue, helping to bring that unease and times outright frightening tone to life on every page.

"It was very apparent from the beginning once we signed onto this book that we had made the right choice," Tynion said. "I remember the first sketches he started sending in of Erica and everything that he brought to the character. She was so immediately formed. It's really just calmed me down, and made me feel like 'okay I have a partner in this. But even more than that, beyond that character, once we started getting the pages of this small town that really feel like it captured the feel of small-town America, that's what knocked me over. It was just like this is a very grounded story even though Erica is not a grounded character. That is the joy of seeing those two come together and then come together so naturally under his pencil."

"Then the other part of this artistic team is Miquel Muerto who is our colorist, and his work is just blowing me away," Tynion said. "The vibrant blues, and then red later in the story are just like ... he captured the feel in a way that the book always needed to be, but it wasn't until I saw it that it all came together. It's an incredible art team, and I feel honored that I get to be a part of this creative partnership."

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Something Is Killing The Children #1 is in comic stores now.

What did you think of the issue? Let us know in the comments and feel free to hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things comics!