While James Tynion IV has been a popular, prolific writer of mainstream superhero stories for years at DC, he has also steadily built an acclaimed library of creator-owned comic books at BOOM! Studios, with many of the series embracing the possibilities of the horror genre. His latest, Something Is Killing the Children, created with artist Werther Dell'Edera, is no exception.

In Something Is Killing the Children, which debuts this week, an otherworldly monster stalks children in a Midwestern small town, leaving the community devastated. As a boy named James lives with the trauma of losing his friends, a mysterious monster hunter, Erica Slaughter, arrives, looking to slay the evil lurking in the woods.

Speaking with CBR, Tynion explained the beginnings of the story, and how it changed and expanded from his original idea.

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CBR: James, you had previously done this trilogy of John Carpenter-esque apocalyptic horror. This is maybe the most personal, intimate horror story you've told yet. What helped inspire the shift?

James Tynion IV: It's strange to talk about this series in a really basic way because there have been a lot of different iterations of this story that have sort of been shaping in the back of my mind for a long while.

Even when I pitched the most recent iteration of the comic to BOOM! towards the end of last year, I saw it as a very different book. I saw it as a series of one-shots that were going to show this character, this monster hunter Erica Slaughter, showing up in different towns coming in as this mysterious force of nature and solving a problem that only she can solve and then moving on to the next town; the idea of this never-ending horror, that there are so many monsters out there and her journey never really ever ends and nobody gets to really understand her.

But in the first few pages of writing the first issue, I did thing I think a lot of writers do, where before I know the names of the characters I plug in my own name and the names of my friends, people who roughly fit the general type of character I'm going for to get a sense of the voice.

In doing that, it created a connection to these characters and I realized, after writing the first scene as it appears in the book -- the truth or dare scene -- I texted my editor Eric Harburn and said, "I don't think that this is a one-shot. I think this is a whole story that's going to take place in this town." And I saw this longer form narrative and now we've just announced this series is going to become an ongoing series, it's strange, it keeps expanding and it's keeps doing that because of this strange, personal connection I have to this book that's not what was intended, not what was planned, but it really is the book dictating itself to me which is something I've heard other writers talk about it and I've talked about myself.

When I was writing The Woods, I had plans for the books and the characters wouldn't move so it changed my plans for the book. But this is the first time that I've really felt, "Oh, the book is in charge of what shape it's going to be, the book is charge of how personal it's going to make me get and open up for the series." It's a really exciting and frightening process because it's digging deeper into me than I expected but it's pulling out some really good horror.

In a lot of ways this opening issue is really evocative of 1980s horror and you had mentioned the story taking its own path; Stephen King has mentioned something similar happening to him as well. What were some of your more specific horror influences in crafting this tale?

I think you can definitely see the DNA of It in the story, which is my favorite Stephen King novel. Stephen King is one of my primary horror influences and, on top of that, I'd say Pet Semetary, just in terms of actually dealing with the horror of something so unthinkable as the death of children.

Those stories came back into my mind as I was writing this and, in terms of the horror itself, I've also been really inspired by the new class of horror directors that have come on the scene in the last few years. I think horror always defines the era, there's always a kind of cultural horror that we're feeling and horror fiction rises up to reflect the moment. Even when there's something not necessarily deliberate in the making of the story, there's something that comes to life in the telling of it.

So I think there are a lot of influences -- the world itself is a major influence -- but I think what it really comes to down to is the sense that we kind of live in this world of horror day-to-day and a lot of times we want somebody to just show up who knows how to face the horror we don't know how to face and I've decided to literalize that with a blonde monster hunter named Erica Slaughter.

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Where did the inspiration for Erica come about?

Honestly, it was the image of this woman with deep, shadowy eyes -- someone who is clearly not getting enough sleep -- arriving in a small town on a bus. Someone who you wouldn't expect to be the person to arrive and solve the problem. I think a lot of that comes from years of writing superhero comics for DC.

I'm writing Justice League and Justice League Dark right now, dealing with cosmic, multiversal threats and all that stuff and these characters that are these larger-than-life heroes and larger-than-life villains. It was wanting to create a character who had that kind of iconic quality, I wanted to make sure she stood out not as a fully grounded character but as a counterpart to the grounded world in Something Is Killing the Children.

Erica kind of played that fictional character arriving in their midst -- she's a bit more grounded than Batman or Superman -- but she's arriving to save the day and a lot of that came into it. It's interesting, the image of Erica Slaughter came pretty quickly and the description in the original pitch document I sent last October had a pretty concrete vision of how I saw the character and when Werther Dell'Edera, our artist, drew her for the first time, he introduced a few extra elements that really brought her together and made her into the character we have today.

What made Werther the perfect artist for the job?

Honestly, we talked to a number of people, but I remember when I was working with my editor Eric that he was sending me these pages for a number of different artists we wanted to approach and I believe there was one, and I wish I remembered which series it was from, but from one of Werther's recent titles.

It was a picture of a gas station and I loved how he drew characters, how he captured the humanity and there was this style to it that felt very grounded. It was seeing the gas station that really kind of cemented him in my mind as, "OK, this is the person that can draw the type of world that Something Is Killing the Children needs to exist in."

Within a few days of conversation of with him, he had a few sketches of Erica and he's the one that introduced the idea of the [character's] bandana with the teeth on it. That, I think, was the final touch that made her the Erica that she is and, really, the final step in the process was bringing on the incredible Miquel Muerto on colors in the series because the series has this really great feel.

It's very moody, it's very atmospheric and it's also the brightness of the blood when the blood comes in; it's just so perfect that I'm very excited to continue working with these guys in developing this world.

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Is there something else you want to tease about Something Is Killing the Children?

The biggest thing I want to get across is that I'm just so incredibly grateful that there's an excitement around the series. This is a deeply, deeply personal comic to me in ways that I described that I didn't even expect when I started writing it. It's a story that I'm very excited to tell and it was a story that was originally going to be a series of one-shots and that first one-shot expanded to five issues and now, because of the support of preorders on the first issue, we're going to be able to make it the long-form story it always needed to be.

The way that I see this is that this is a horror novel and I'm excited to tell a long-form horror novel in the town of Archer's Peak and Erica Slaughter is the only one who knows what that is and she's the only one who thinks she'll be able to stop it and even that'll come at a great cost. I just really, really hope people enjoy the series and enjoy this strange, horrifying world that we've built.

Something Is Killing the Children #1 is written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Werther Dell'Edera. The issue is on sale now from BOOM! Studios.

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