Casey got to sit down and chat with Adam Tierney, author of Afraid of Everything from IDW to chat about the book, his video games that he wrote/directed, and so much more!
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Adam Tierney – Interview
[00:00:00] Casey: alright, everybody. Welcome again to another episode of spoiler country. My name is Casey Allen, and today on the show I have writer, creator, man of many hats, Adam Tierney. Adam, how you doing, man?
Adam Tierney: Thanks for having me on.
Casey: Dude, dude. Nope, no problem. I’m happy to have you on.
And I mean, I said you wear a lot of hats. you, you, you wear a lot of hats, man.
Adam Tierney: So more, more figuratively than literally. I actually don’t know how many hats I own, but yeah, I definitely do try a lot of different things, as far as like a job and art and stuff.
Casey: So, so, okay.
Adam Tierney: You
Casey: have a book coming out from, from IDW.
it’s afraid of everything and it sounds really, really freaking cool. It’s, basically a, a, a to Z of, of phobias
Adam Tierney: for kids.
Casey: And it’s all like little short, horror stories. Yeah. It sounds like a [00:01:00] blast. and, and I really want to talk about that. And we’re going to get into that.
Adam Tierney: But
Casey: you, you also have have an extensive career in video games and art and all this other stuff.
So, so tell me like, how did you get into what you do? Like where did, where did it all start?
Adam Tierney: Sure. Yeah. so I mean, this is my first book and we’ll talk more about that later. But as my day job, and, and especially for the last 15 years, I work in video games. so there’s a developer publisher named a way forward from California, and a lot of people know them.
For me, they’re doing the Shontay games, which we created, or we’ve done a lot of licensed stuff like a double dragon Contra. Duck tales was a big hit for us. So I joined up with them as an animator about 15 years ago, but I’ve always been more of a writer than an artist. I just kind of [00:02:00] sort of fell into the animation thing as like a hobby around that time, and once they realized, Oh no, you’re more of a writer electric, I quickly switched over and started doing more design work and directing and stuff for them.
So most of the time I’ve been doing that. And yeah, I’ve been there for about 15 years, directed about a dozen games. some of the games I did for way forward are aliens, Batman, justice league X, men, centipede, silent Hill. and then some original stuff like lit until morning’s light. Those are horror games.
Most recently I did, directed Berber city girls, which came out last year. but yeah, now, in addition to directing there, I also do the business development, which means I’m kind of the guy chasing down. What games we should do next, like saying, Oh, we should do this old classic Genesis or super Nintendo game, or, Hey, this is a really cool show.
We should do this. Like, a good example is we just announced troll hunters, that gamma Totoro Netflix [00:03:00] series. We did the first like big official console game for that. So that was like a deal that I put together. So yeah, a little, little bit of creative and a little bit of business. And, that’s, that’s mostly what I do at a, at way forward.
And then in addition to that. I’ve been getting more into books, stuff as a hobby. And then I also did a little bit of TV writing too. I wrote a couple episodes of a teen Titans go for a Warner brothers a few years ago
Casey: that allowed it allow that. So, so. I’m getting some echo. Sorry. For some reason it stopped.
Adam Tierney: Is there any on mine or am I coming through okay?
Casey: No, no. You’re coming through. Okay. For some reason, it just crapped out somehow, but yet, teen Titans go. That’s amazing. my. And I say that like, Oh, wow, I’m fanning out there because my five-year-old is nuts for teen Titans.
Adam Tierney: It’s a funny show. Yeah. And the way that one [00:04:00] happened is we did a Batman game, based on the brave and the bowl.
That was a show from, I think about a decade ago for Batman, and
Casey: that show was the truth. It was so good.
Adam Tierney: Thank you. Yeah, that show was awesome. We loved it. And so w we did the game based on it and basically, you know, it’s a funny show. And so the show has nonstop jokes, nonstop dialogue, very similar to like teen Titans go.
And we did the game. And so we said, okay, well, if we’re going to do a game, it can’t just be like beat them up. Cinematic going back and forth. The characters have to be talking and joking constantly. So we wrote the dialogue, so it was just nonstop, like what we call passive VO. So it’s like dialogue that’s happening while you’re fighting.
It doesn’t interrupt the action. And it went over really well and people really dug it. It was reviewed really well, but Warner brothers especially liked it. And so, yeah, because I had written the script for that. They, kind of took a shine to me and I get to write a couple episodes of the TV series teen Titans go.
Cause that’s what they were putting [00:05:00] together at the time. So I’d never written TV before. I’d written scripts for games, but that was the first time I got to work in TV. And that was really awesome
Casey: that that’s, that’s so rad that you were able to, to transition from your, your video game. Into, into television.
And, it seems like you’re spinning a lot of plates and you’re, you’re making a lot of stuff happen. And, what is it, is it more rewarding for you to, to, to do the creative aspect or, Or is it just as rewarding for you to, to chase after the talent and, and do that thing what like you’re doing for the, the way forward?
Adam Tierney: they, they balance each other out a lot. So like, I know that, that, you know, when I first started at way forward doing video games, it was around the time of game boy advance and then it was right about when like Nintendo DS was coming out. So a lot of what we did. You finished the game and then a couple months later when [00:06:00] it comes out, you get your copy of it, you get the cart, you put it in the system.
So it was like very, you know, physicals like traditional gaming. But nowadays that’s like less and less common. Like so many games now are just code. And in fact, like one of the biggest games I ever worked on. Was this horror game called till morning’s light for, iOS for iPhone never got a physical release cause it’s an iPhone release.
And then when they updated the, the last few system updates it, the game didn’t work anymore, so it just got deleted. So it’s kind of a bummer. It’s like, Oh, I spent a year of my life on that. And you can’t play it now because it was only digital and it doesn’t have the latest firmware. So. I think because all the games were kind of shifting in more of a, of a digital, kind of space.
And, you know, I didn’t have as much stuff on my shelves as far as like, you know, box copies of games I’ve worked on. It made me really want to do something very physical and very tangible. That’s why I, you know, I, before I had always kind of like done hobby [00:07:00] stuff in the background, but it was usually game related.
But once, you know, for the past couple of years, and starting with this book. I started getting really interested in, in books because it’s such a physical, tangible thing and sort of the opposite of a video game. And I really liked the experience of making something where it’s, you can hold it in your hand, you can flip through the pages, you can think about how the reader is going to experience it.
So, yeah, it was really kind of, you know, cathartic for me too. You’re the video game, all the digital stuff as a, as a living nine to five, but then be able to do this like very traditional old school kind of tangible art form in my own time. That’s,
Casey: that’s so cool. So how did you, how did you go about starting the, the book?
Like where did you get the idea for it.
Adam Tierney: so the idea, I know a lot of artists, through my job, because we, we hire a lot of artists, we use a lot for like concept art and stuff. And [00:08:00] I found this guy in Sweden named. Matthew cousin and his style is just great cause it’s like this weird combination of cartoony but also like really messed up and really horrible and horrific too.
So it’s like, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before where it feels like it’s like half for kids and half really, really not for kids. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. And, and so, and it’s kind of cool because since it is so cartoony, you can kind of get away with more gory stuff than I think you could in a kid’s book if it was just normal looking or more adult lucky.
So really, I just kind of saw his art fell in love with it and I said, Oh, I got to work with this guy. And I don’t remember exactly why I settled on a book. but it just sort of popped into my head. And basically I got him on board and then we did a couple of the initial stories and did those as a sample [00:09:00] and figured out the style.
And then we ended up doing a Kickstarter, mostly to get the money because I wanted to pay him up front. I didn’t want to just say, Hey, will you come in and work on this with me for a year and not get paid? I would rather pay him upfront and then, you know, we can get the royalties of the backend of course, and split that too.
So it was mostly the getting a Kickstarter together was to get the money to pay him to do the full book, cause it’s, it’s a to Z, so it’s 26 illustrations plus that additional ones for covers and interior, like little bonus and stuff like that. but yeah, it was cool to put together and, and the main thing that we really wanted to do was.
We wanted to do a horror story collection for kids, but one that was really pretty, genuinely dark. And, and I’ve got two kids. I’m a son who’s 10 and a daughter who’s seven. And back when I started this book, they were, I think like, probably like five or six, and you know, three or so, and my [00:10:00] son was really into spooky books, but I knew, I noticed that whenever I went to the bookstore there, they were all pretty tame compared to like what I grew up on.
So I grew up on like, you know, scary stories. Exactly. Are you afraid of the dark, scary stories to tell in the dark? RL Stein, like, you know, stuff that in the eighties and nineties was pretty much, you know, legitimate horror just written for kids. And when I was looking for that for my son, cause he was really into spooky stuff, I didn’t find much that was written.
Nowadays, most of the stuff was like, Oh, here’s a Halloween story, or here’s a ghost story or whatever. But it’s, it was so tame and, and nice and cheerful that it, it didn’t. It didn’t feel risky, didn’t feel like actually scary or dangerous. And I was kinda thinking, well, why? Why can’t you do that? Like, you know, you’re not going to do a story where it’s got Gore or it’s got a bunch of nudity or cussing or stuff like that for a kid.
But why can’t you do a story where, especially like the scariest stories to tell in the dark, it’s pretty creepy. And you’re [00:11:00] worried someone’s gonna, you know. Meet an untimely death, but just write it for kids. And so that’s, that’s kind of the seed of the idea that we came up with. And then the other big part was.
We wanted to do something where every single story was just one page so you could flip to any page in the book. And on the left is a big illustration by Matthew and on the right is a tech story from me, but then none of them continued to a second page. They’re always one pager. So on the one hand you get to do, you get like really a nice quick reading, like a kid can read a couple of them before bed.
It only takes like three or four minutes per story. But I also just love the. The visual of that and it’s just like flip to any random page and there’s this like totally self contained story and then just doing like a bunch of those to fill up a book.
Casey: But that’s the challenge in and of itself. Correct.
I mean, having to do a clear and concise story for kids all in one page. That’s
Adam Tierney: a. Yeah.
Casey: When it gets down to
[00:12:00] Adam Tierney: that, and then that was suppose 26 and then we had a sense as a Kickstarter and you do like bonus content and stuff ended up being 37 cause we had to do a bunch of stories. I immediately regret it because it made the workload so much more hard. But but the, yeah, you’re, you hit the nail on the head like it was actually.
I remember timing it because I had to write so many stories and just writing the first draft of a story might take me like 20 to 30 minutes, like just writing everything down. Like, Oh cool, and I got all the jokes and I got all the beats and all that 2030 minutes to write the story. The story is like three times as long.
Then it would take me no joke. Like. Three or four hours to shrink it to one page. And that was so hard to, yeah, keep the idea, keep like, you know, cause it’s also, we’re doing like a horror structure. So you have to introduce the reader and then you have to start getting creepy and then you have to make them wonder where it’s going next.
And then you have to have a big twist at the end. Like you have to go through all these story moments and you only have [00:13:00] one page. So. That was totally the hardest thing and part of it right away, it took us so long was he had just cramming it to one page. In fact, like I was like changing words based on how they would pop the paragraph to the next line.
It was like every single space in the story, like totally, you know, had to, had to live on its own.
Casey: That’s amazing. But part of it, it’s also that much more rewarding because you have this, you know, you have a challenge for yourself. Can I do this in one page? Can I make something that pops in in one page?
Adam Tierney: Yeah. And it was also like an interesting thing was I wanted to, another one that was like a real big influence on me when I was younger was the Shel Silverstein poems, because he would get pretty dark. He would have weird poems about like, like gypsy characters, like kidnapping kids and stuff. And so I, but the cool thing about Shel Silverstein is [00:14:00] the.
Formatting was all over the place. So he would have some homes, he would have some stories. He would have some weird structure. So I wanted to do that too. I wanted to have some poems. I wanted to have like play with shapes. So like the snake story as actually shaped the texts, like a snake story. And so that was really important to me to like vary that stuff.
So as I was writing, a lot of times I would have a totally fully written story. And just say, you know what? This one’s not working. Toss it completely and then just rewrite something from scratch or do something where it’s just oddball, weird layout or stuff like that. So that was a big part of it too, was not just coming up with the ideas, but then really being critical.
Since this was going to be my first book ever. And thinking, do each of these stories really work as good as they can and if not, just toss it and do it over. I ended up doing that with probably about a third of them, just like totally starting from scratch because the initial pastor’s wasn’t where I wanted it
Casey: was that hard to take the adult sensibilities that you have.
[00:15:00] As a writer and you know, just as a person and write a children’s book and for a, what’s a sensibly a horror book, but not go too dark, because I’m sure that you, you kind of have to pump the brakes a little bit.
Adam Tierney: there’s, there’s very little pumping. They get pretty damn dark. I would say, you know, it was mostly like, I didn’t want to second guess myself because if I like the whole point of, of the whole pitch of it to everybody, both on the Kickstarter and later on was, Hey, this is going to be as dark as like when we were kids.
Like, it’s going to be pretty messed up, but still appropriate. So I didn’t want to water it down. So it really was, I didn’t second guess it that much. It was mostly just like. Yeah, I’m not going to show Gore. I’m not going to talk about sex or nudity. Like there’s nobody, you know, like getting stabbed or decapitated or anything like that.
But there’s stuff where there’s like implied doom or a character getting sucked away and you don’t know what happened to him. So [00:16:00] I did want, like, that was one thing I didn’t want. you know, 37 stories where kids. Almost died and then came out of it and said, Oh, that was a close one. Cause what’s the point?
Like after the fifth story, you’re like, all right, none of them are gonna, you know, die or get hurt. I don’t care anymore. So I’d say probably it’s about, you know, probably close to half of them have bad endings and then the other half have good or clever endings or something. But yeah, as far as the horror stuff, I really, it was just saying, no Gora no language, no violence.
And then not limiting myself on, on what would happen. And then, you know, the only other thing that was like, as far as kids was making sure that I’m choosing words that are in their vocabulary. So I’m not using like, you know, super complicated words or stuff that they would be learning. And, you know, high school or college, it’s all stuff that, that I think would be mostly readable by like an eight to 12 year old.
but yeah, that was it. I didn’t, I, I really went out of my way to not censor it or dial it back too much beyond that, because. I think if I didn’t, you know, make good on the [00:17:00] promise that this is one of the darkest things, you know, as far as kids’ books, that that will have come in a long time. you know, I didn’t want to risk that by watering it down or it’s just, it wouldn’t have a point to even exist.
Casey: you test strategies out on your kids?
Adam Tierney: I did so. My son was constantly reading it, and he’s actually one of the stories, one of the characters in the story too. His is like fear of school and he gets like trapped. but at the end by this like evil creature and you don’t know if he gets out. And he’s always bugging me.
He’s like, I don’t like that one because I don’t know what happens to me. Like, you know, I like leaving some of them nebulous, but the, the, my big kind of, you know, editor, kid editor basically is, My boss at way forward. His name was boldly, way, and that’s where the way in way forward comes from. His daughter, was like a tween at the time that I was writing it.
And she loves horror stuff, loves spooky stuff. So I actually like basically contracted her to read [00:18:00] all 37 of my stories and then I gave her this long form. And you know, was like, what do you like best? What do you not like best? How do you rate this? What was confusing then? That was really good in terms of helping me kind of see which of the stories that were going to stand out with kids.
And then, which are the ones like, I think I just said, I’m going to take the, you know, five or 10 stories she likes least and just toss up. Just totally redo. I’m not even trying to fix them. So, yeah, working with my, my boss’s daughter, she was fantastic in terms of really making, you know, me kind of understand what was working and not working from a kid’s perspective.
Casey: That’s great to have that site, that type of, just oversight or feedback from, from somebody that’s actually going to be appreciating it. Yep. So that’s red. So, this is your first book. Are you planning on doing anymore? I mean, you can’t stop it. Just one, right?
Adam Tierney: Oh yeah, no, I’m, I’m completely addicted.
And that was so the, you know, the cool [00:19:00] thing. So, but this one took forever. That was the crazy thing. So we started it in 2015 five years ago, right before Halloween. And I think on the Kickstarter we said, Oh, I’ll take us a year or so. It ended up taking us between writing it. And editing it. And then I also did all the design work and Photoshop and none of that.
And then printing, we had to like print it and we had to find a printer and test printers and, and you know, ship back and forth and hundreds of copies. And it ended up taking us about three years between coming up with the idea and actually shipping it out to all the people. so you know what, what I learned on that though is like.
Speedy or turnaround, like what worked and didn’t work on that. So I have, my second book is, I did a Kickstarter a while back and that was called those kids, you know, and it’s, it’s another weird one. It’s not a horror story, but that one is like, it’s basically like taking a bunch of tropes, like stereotypes of like teenage kids and just saying like, Oh, there’s this kid and this kid.
And they’re like [00:20:00] weird little, you know, perspectives on them and they’re like little mini poems. And then for whatever reason, we decided to do it as a. As a board book, you have young kids. So you know, those big, shiny, you know, thick board books are when they’re like, you know, one or two years old. So that one we’re almost done with.
and then I’ve got a couple others that are in, various States of development. Most of them are poor theme, just cause I love horror stuff. but yeah, it’s cool. It’s really cool to work on those. And. I mean, the nice thing is with the freight of everything, we finished the book and then we shipped it to all the people that backed it, and then I sold some additional copies that was back in like 2018 and I said, okay, now that I’ve got it, I have no interest in being like an actual publisher.
I don’t want to keep making copies of books. I just want to write the books. So I reached out to, a handful of, of, publishers and comic places and stuff and IDW who I’ve loved for ages. the comic book publisher, they got back to me and [00:21:00] said, Oh, this seems awesome. Let’s do it. And it was crazy cause I think they were in the first batch of people at email and it was like two days later they’re like.
Oh yeah, that’s cool. Let’s, let’s do it. And it was, I had figured, I had other, other friends that work in books and they’re like, Oh yeah, I’ve been trying to shop my novel around for, you know, two years now or whatever. And I’m like, Oh yeah. It took me like two days. I just got lucky. Really exciting about IDW.
that made me immediately want to go with them. Is. They just took it as is. They’re like, Oh yeah, we get this book and we’ll run it. Like they would have, you know, there was very little editorial, like most of the changes that they brought was, you know, we worked together on like giving it a different look and like, you know, making the page layouts, like, you know, more fancy and adding more kind of, you know, unique typographic.
But they didn’t really water it down at all. And that was my big thing was. I didn’t want to like bring it to like a traditional kids publisher. Cause again, those are the places that are kind of doing the more [00:22:00] safe books. And so I’m sure even if I was able to get one of them interested, they would say, well that’s okay, but you can’t have these eight stories and these five you’ve got to pull out the ending and blah, blah, blah.
I didn’t want to do that. I wanted frankly, kind of a messed up. Like weird and dark book that that kids would say, Oh man, this is like really creepy and really get into the same way. That was was scary stories and IDW was like, yeah, this works. We’ll just take it as is. And so now, like the, the book is finally out.
We’ve been working on it back and forth for about a year. I have it in my hand. It actually just came out a few days ago and it’s beautiful. But yeah, it’s amazing that they’re just like, they understand what I was going for and they’re like, yeah, that fits into our. Into our, you know, style and, and we’re going to roll the dice on it.
And, and it is, and it came out and it’s completely non censored. It’s exactly what me and Matthew wanted to do. And, and now we’re just really excited to see, you know, how people react to it. That’s
Casey: great. has been [00:23:00] putting out some amazing stuff lately, so I’m glad. I’m glad that they grabbed hold of your project and, and kind of ran with it because it, I think it’s a great addition to the stuff they’re already putting out, and
Adam Tierney: it was.
It was very much like when I first started talking there, kind of the reaction was like, well, we could do this, but like, you know, we do comics, right? Like we don’t know. And I’m like, Oh yeah, I don’t care. Like I just want to, you know, I trust you guys. Like you guys are my favorite publisher. And, and it was funny cause it, most people do think of them as comics for, they also, you know, do TV shows like they did.
Dirk gently and they do lock and key and stuff like that. But, apparently, and I didn’t even know this when I first approached them, they do have these very small kind of line of, of kids’ books that they’ve done over the years that are legitimate kids’ books. And the other thing that’s interesting about them is.
They said their distributors are traditional book distributors. So a lot of comics are like, you know, they go through diamond [00:24:00] distributors most like exclusively where it’s just like targeted at the, like a hobby comic shops. They were using like the traditional book places that just put it in Barnes and Nobles and Amazons and stuff like that.
So I’m like, Oh, this is perfect. Like I can do the book with you guys. It’ll look, you know, it’ll, it’ll be exactly the same and it’ll look even better than the original version, and we can get it everywhere. It’s like, right now it’s like any long land store you go into, you just type it in and it’s available at all of them.
So it was like perfect, perfect match as far as the, what the book was going for and the publisher. That’s
Casey: great. Yeah, that’s great. yeah, I was actually looking at the, the, those kids, you know, campaign that you did and, the art by, Kelly Fakara. Yeah, it is fantastic. It looks like a really fun book.
Adam Tierney: yeah, she’s really young. She’s only in her early twenties, but her, look, her art has this like. Totally like seventies eighties school house rock, kind of like retro.
[00:25:00] Casey: Exactly.
Adam Tierney: And it was a, it was the exact same thing with her was just, I saw her art and I’m like, man, I got to work with this person.
And so we came up with the idea together and then we did a couple sample pages and she finished all the other pages. And yeah, I think that for me, at least on the book side, that’s what really gets me going is. Finding amazing artists that just blow me away with like super unique styles that are drawing, like unlike anybody else out there.
And then just teaming up with them and seeing what we can do.
Casey: That’s great. So what’s next for what’s next for you? Like, what’s the next big project that you’re going to be?
Adam Tierney: So, let’s see. well actually, you know what, I’ll T I, so my next book, I have not. Announced my next book anywhere, but I’ll exclusive now.
Yeah, I’ll announce it right here because I’m planning to start putting, you know, Kickstarter together. Anyways, so the third book, just because I like doing weird stuff and I like, you know, the first book is, you know, a to Z [00:26:00] phobias and it’s children’s books. One page. The second one is like a weird, like a encyclopedia of, of like.
Like weird, you know, cool teenagers, but it’s like, like a baby board book. So the third one is, is I was looking up a, again, horror stuff, and there’s this, Japanese myth of a, of a woman named and she, and like, she’s known as like the slit mouth woman. So if you ever see like more stuff, but yeah, with a mouth is like cut up on the sides.
Like joker. And so I started reading up on this. I just kind of stumbled upon it one day online, and it was like, it was so fascinating because it’s like, so based in a rules, it’s almost like a video game. So they’re basically, it’s this woman and she wanders around so they don’t know if she’s a ghost or a YOKA or what do you know, whatever.
It’d been various like legend to lead them. If you wanders around Japan and you, she corners people in an alley and then she says like, do you think on pretty? [00:27:00] And then if you, you know, depending on what you say yes or no, then Oh, she has a mask and then she’ll pull the mass down after you answer and then she’ll kill you if you say something.
But there’s all these weird rules around it. Like, well, if you ask her. A question in return and say, well, do you think you’re pretty? Then it can confuse her and you can run away. Or it’s like they say, if you have, like, coins or hard candy in your pocket and you throw it at her feet, then that can distract her.
So it was the weirdest thing. I was like reading like all this Wikipedia and all this, like Laura on her, and it’s like. It’s almost like a guide. It’s like, you know, it’s, it’s this, like, you know, a horror story, but it’s like, okay, if she does this, then make sure you have this. And if she does this, then think about having one of these.
And, and, you know, it was so bizarre and just fascinating that I started, kind of coming up with an idea. So the third book is called the, Saki etiquette. And so the basic idea is it’s super weird. It’s even weirder than the first two books. and, I’m doing it with, a wonderful, artist [00:28:00] named Katrice.
And so basically the third book is, it’s almost like a travel guide. So it’s like one of those like skinny vertical, like glossy kind of things. Like, Oh, I’m going to Japan, like, here’s the sightseeing stuff in Japan. But it’s all about this like horror, horrible, creature character. And you flip through the pages and it’s like, if she tries to do this, then do this.
If she tries to stab you, then ask her this question. If you have coins, then do this. And the art is really gorgeous. We haven’t revealed it yet, but, but once I get like, you know, the, the kind of presentation. And it’s, yeah, that’s the next one is basically, you know, a travel guide on how to survive an encounter with this like horrible, like demon ghost woman.
If you happen to be walking around Japanese alleyways and bump into her.
Casey: That sounds like a hoot. That sounds great. So you, how did you get into the video game thing? Thing [00:29:00] because didn’t you start like traditionally as, or start as like more of a traditional artist.
Adam Tierney: Yeah. So I mean, all in, in, when I was a kid, I was an artist, but really more of a, of a writer.
Once I got to middle school, I was always writing plays or short stories or stuff. So I went to college for creative writing and then learned sort of how to do production with like radio plays and stuff. And I knew I wanted to do something with writing, so I figured I would be a screenwriter or a book writer or something.
But, when I got out of college. It just happened that I was like really into game development at the time when I started kind of as a hobby, doing pixel art and animation and for whatever reason, that ended up turning into a career faster than the other stuff. I was also, at one point, I was going to be a teacher, so it was very weird when I was starting at way forward.
I was directing video games during the day and then at night I was going to. Classes to be a middle school English teacher. Cause that’s what I was planning to do. And the video game stuff, I basically hit a [00:30:00] point where I’m like, it’s all taken too much time. I have to pick one or the other. And my mom was a teacher and she said, you should go for the game.
She’s like, you know, it’s so hard to be a teacher right now. And obviously I was a little more, you know, excited about that. But, but yeah, the way I got into it was really just like. I had dabbled in hobby dev doing art, and then also the the website IGN. I had written for them for a while doing review articles and previews and stuff like that, and just by nature of kind of being in that world, I connected with that Lozan our creative director, who’s.
The director on all the Shawntay games on, he said, Oh, Hey, you’re in Los Angeles. Like you should come visit us. And so I got kind of chummy with them. And then once they realized like, Oh, he can animate, and you know, he’s got some good design ideas and stuff. they ended up hiring me. And so my first couple of projects, I was just.
Helping out with art and animation. And then I think within about a year, I had transitioned to like, okay, now he’s actually like designing, directing games. And that’s what I’ve [00:31:00] done for the past, you know, dozen years or so. And then now, just in the last couple of years now I’m also doing like the BizDev stuff, which means, you know, if we want to do like.
Other Contra game or another double dragon game, or like, you know, like whatever is the cool like brands that we’ve always wanted to work with. Now I’m the guy that like hits those companies up and says, Hey, like can we work on this together? And here’s a, an image of what it would look like and you know, kind of puts the deals together.
So that’s, that’s really exciting because in addition to just shaping the individual games, the way forward does with the ones I direct personally, now I can kind of. Make sure that we’re getting lined up for doing the kind of cool games that that’ll really set us up for. You know, being a pretty memorable developer.
And that’s really what I want to do in that role is get us more of those games and less of kind of the licensed games that we don’t really care about. Really just line us up for like all the brands that people are going to go just absolutely crazy over.
Casey: That’s great. That’s great. But speaking [00:32:00] of like the licenses that you’ve done, man, you’ve really gotten a hold of some really fantastic properties, X-Men and, Batman, all these crazy things like that.
has it been fun to, to play in that sandbox a little bit and just kind of get your feet wet with those characters.
Adam Tierney: Oh, definitely. I mean, especially like Batman was a huge turning point for us because before then we get, you know, like my first game as a director was X man. So it was cool to write Wolverine and like, you know, have him like reference, you know, Jean Gray and like stuff like that.
Like doing all that stuff was really cool, but that man was crazy because. It was not just text dialogue, it was a VO. And so when we wrote the game was really like, probably the most single, most amazing like professional experience in my life is after we wrote the game, we got to go to one over their studio and for two weeks we got to sit in and they recorded all the dialogue that we wrote with the full cast [00:33:00] from the TV show.
And so we were dealing with like, you know. Legends of VO that I’d always wanted to meet. And you know, they’re writing, they’re reading our words and they’re doing our characters. And so that stuff was amazing. And then we put that in the games. And then that, that totally changed how we do games. So now if you play a way forward game in 2020, like almost all of them are just like a wall to wall VO and cinematics, and they get more and more cartoon, like, because I think a lot of the, The director has just come from that kind of world of loving cartoons. but yeah, no, it was really lucky. Like, I, you know, I had a good company that, you know, Matt as our creative director and, and the rest of management were going after these really good brands. But then, and then now that I’m, you know, part of that process, I can even more specifically say, well.
You know, that’s a good one. But how about this game? Based on this classic Japanese game from, you know, 1998 like we can get real specific on like the really hardcore ones that we go after. And that’s been really, you know, even more exciting.
[00:34:00] Casey: Well, it seems like you guys have a lot of really good vision for, for what you do.
So, and it takes that if you want to stand out amongst the sea of, of other, game developers.
Adam Tierney: So I think that’s what people are looking for now is, is what you’re gonna do with the brand. And so, like, you know, a really good one for us. that I didn’t direct was a duck ducktails when we remade the NES game and we made it look like the cartoon, that was one of our biggest hits.
And people just loved the fact that it looked like a Disney cartoon and it had all the voice actors. So stuff like that is cool. And then stuff like river city girls, which we just did, that was one where we took an existing brand. The river city ran someone. And we said, Hey, we’re going to, we’re going to do our own thing on this.
And so we kind of reimagine the characters and came up with an all new art style and music style. So, you know, that can be really freeing to is to, you know, put our own spin on it and like make it way forward as we call it. And then, you know, that that ended up getting a ton of attention and ton of, you know, [00:35:00] good press and downloads and stuff.
So really like a good, I think that’s what the director’s that way forward. Love is a good mix of. I’m doing licensed stuff that we grew up on, and then kind of putting our own spin and original ideas into games as well.
Casey: That’s, that’s great. Do you have anything coming up through way forward that you’re particularly excited about?
Adam Tierney: Yes. And I can’t say, I can say the most recent thing that we’ve announced, they had a trailer a few weeks ago was, we’re doing the first troll hunters game for Gamba. Arturo. And so, you know, I love Del Toro’s horror movie is, and my kids, and I love the Netflix series. And so that was like an example of like.
We met with a publisher and they’re like, Hey, here’s like a dozen things we can do both folding on are like that one, that one. Cause we were like super into Deltoro and super into, you know, that, that sort of storytelling. So that’s the next thing. But yeah, no, there’s, [00:36:00] there, the stuff that we’re, we have brewing right now that’s going to come out and in 2021 or later this year is some of the best stuff, way forwards ever done.
So it’s a really good time to be, It’d be a way forward for them.
Casey: Those are big words, man. Those are big words. I’m excited to follow along and see what you guys are doing because it sounds like not only do you love what you do. But you also like you, you don’t just love your job. You also love your hobbies, and you take equal pride in both of them.
So, that, that’s awesome. It’s, it seems like a lot of people that when they get into, you know, something on the side of this, because. Maybe they’re not completely fulfilled in, in their, their job that they do already. So it, it sounds like you’re, you’re equally stoked.
Adam Tierney: Yeah. This was really, like with afraid of everything.
I was really just like, I want to do something very physical and very like, you [00:37:00] know, also just like a pure experience. Cause when I’m directing a game, you’re working with, you know, 20, 30 people, everyone’s contributing. Some of it comes out. How you thought. Some of it comes out better, some of it comes out not how you want it and you have to redo it.
So it’s a very collaborative process. So for books, it was really appealing to me to do something where there’s only two of us involved and we have like total say. So, you know, and again, I’m so happy that. That IDW ended up picking up, our book, afraid of everything. Cause I think if I had done the book and then, you know, either it didn’t, you know, fund on Kickstarter or it did fund, but then no, publishers were interested.
You know, it could be the kind of thing where I’m like, ah, you know, maybe this is not really worth my time. Maybe I should just focus on, on the games. And you know, if anything, do my own games on the side or something. But the fact that, yeah, again, like we, we found. Send it to IDW and they have really embraced it and they’ve like, you know, a gorgeous addition.
Like it’s, it’s so much [00:38:00] nicer in terms of the design, in terms of the materials, it just feels, you know, I was proud of the first version we did, but this just takes everything to like a next level. it’s been really good to work with them and, and hopefully it’s, you know, the first of many times that, that I get to work with them.
Cause I really, they’re also local. They’re down in San Diego and I’m in Los Angeles and I visited them and they, they really just have this very kind of like family feel to them. So I, I’m totally addicted now. Super excited that, that we got to do our first book with them and hoping that we can do many more with them in the future.
Yeah, for sure.
Casey: So, right now things are, things are kind of crazy. And, obviously, due to covert, a lot of places have had to shut down or stop operations, comics and, you know, books in general are kind of, you know, w we need those things around. Right? And in order to sell comics, in order to sell books, you [00:39:00] have to have bookstores.
You have to have comic shops. Do you have any local comic or bookshops that you want to shout out
Adam Tierney: while
Casey: while you have, you know?
Adam Tierney: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve, I’ve been out here in Los Angeles for. about 20 year. Yeah, 20 years. Exactly. after I graduated college and there’s this amazing shop, it’s the best comic shop I’ve ever been to my, in my life in Pasadena, which is one of the areas of Los Angeles, and it’s called comics factory.
And you can see the website if you go to comics factory.com, or if you just look it up on Facebook or whatever. And it’s been my comic shop for 20 years. It’s just. Perfect blend of like the latest comics of like really good indie and like, you know, kind of weird section. So like, I would never have heard of IDW had they not, you know, had a huge section of their kind of stuff at the shop.
And what’s funny is I’ve never lived in Pasadena, so it’s always been like, quote unquote, my shop [00:40:00] never lived in the town where it is, but it’s always been better. Then the shops that are actually in my town. So yeah, for me, definitely comics factory and Pasadena, if you’re in the LA area, check them out.
It’s, it’s one of the best comic shops I’ve ever seen. And the people there are so nice. And the, the, you know, the way they have it laid out and what they have for sale is just amazing.
Casey: Is there anything in particular that is really knocking your socks off in terms of comics today?
Adam Tierney: I haven’t been reading that much in terms of comics, just because I’m so busy between the, the stuff we’re producing and the kids, and then especially like, you know, so the video game stuff has gone pretty well.
since we’ve been working from home, but like a lot of people when you’re working from home, there’s not really a cutoff. And so I’m just always, always doing email, always doing like, you know, zoom calls and stuff. So I haven’t been reading that much, to be honest. I really need to catch up and I’m really looking forward to.
When the shops open [00:41:00] again and when I can browse, cause you know a lot of comic shops including that one. I know that they do the, you know, curbside pickup. But I’m a, I’m on browser, like I’ve, I’ve never really, other than a few times how to pull list, I always want to just browse and I kind of pick stuff up as I go.
So I’m really waiting til, yeah, I, I’m waiting till stuff is, is opening again, so I can start. You know, perusing the shelves and grabbing things with cool art. so yeah, right now I’m kind of in a wait mode on that, but definitely looking forward to, to, to check out what’s out there. Well, once we get going again.
Casey: That’s awesome. And just to restate, I’m afraid of everything is out by IDW. Where can people get that?
Adam Tierney: Yeah, so it’s, it’s available now and the way they did it, it’s available pretty much everywhere. So if you go on Amazon or Barnes and noble, if you go on like any. Online bookstore and just type in afraid of everything.
You’ll find it. And they actually, they have a landing page. I think it’s IDW, [00:42:00] publishing.com/afraid. If you type that in, it takes you to a page where it has like links to like all the different sites. but yeah, really, if you just type in afraid of everything or afraid of everything, horror book or, you know, look in any place that sells books, it’s on all those, it’s a 1999.
It’s a beautiful hard cover. And, I think it’s 96 pages, tons of illustrations. it’s got 26 a to Z stories with Matthew art, and then it’s got 11 more stories with guest art. And that was really cool because I got to pull them some of the video gaming people. So like Tammy. Yeah. Tammy Chang is an animator on Undertale.
everyone knows her from that, and she was like the Tammy character. So she did a story. I got to get Kotek hoochie. Who is the guy, if you’ve ever seen warrior or the warrior where that’s all his art. And then like the game grumps I got Aaron Hanson, he did a story, did some art as well. So it’s really cool to like get people from the industry to contribute.
So yeah, but it’s, it’s a really cool book. I mean, [00:43:00] obviously I’m biased, but yeah. Has got 26 main stories. 11 bonus stories and then it has all the extras that we had like stepping you through the process of how Matthew and I came up with the idea, how we design the pages, sketches of the illustrations, how we marketed it.
It’s, it’s a PR. You get a, you get a lot. You got a hell of a lot for 20 bucks, that’s for sure.
Casey: That’s great. Adam. Thank you.
I can’t wait to read. It looks awesome. Awesome.
Adam Tierney: And
Casey: I’m still getting that damn echo.
Adam Tierney: Oh, no worries. Yeah. Thank you so much. It was really good to talk about this and, and yeah, it was awesome to work on the book. It’s, it’s so good to have it out there and to just like, you know, be talking about it with people and see people reacting and see people reviewing it online and stuff.
So, yeah, I hope you dig it once you get a chance to dig in.
Casey: Dude, it looks amazing and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to get it. I’m afraid of everything. You guys check out, afraid of [00:44:00] everything. Adam Tierney, Matthew cousin is out by IDW and, you can get a pretty much anywhere. So look that book up and, make a great gift for the kid in your life or for yourself.
I mean, it little short horror stories are fun. So
Adam Tierney: check it out. As long as they’re brave, as long as they’re not easily scared.
Casey: It actually said a 10 to 14 on the, the age listening. Yep.
Adam Tierney: That sounds about
Casey: right. Oh yeah. Yeah. Which is right at the age where kids are starting to get into my nine year old right now is into things that are a little spooky.
Adam Tierney: Yeah, that’s good. That was the age for me is like fifth grade is when we were all reading scary stories and we would, I remember in fifth grade coming to school and we were like, Oh my God. Did you read that story in the latest? Like, like having that kind of after. And you know, mid recess chatter about the cools, like horror stories we’re reading.
So yeah, I think that’s, you know, we [00:45:00] wanted to write something that would appeal to anybody and, you know, comic book people, it’s, it’s got great arts. So like, you know, 30 year old, 40 year old, you can enjoy the NIH, but I really wanted something that, that was particularly exciting for that age. Like around like, yeah, 10 to 12 somewhere around there.
Casey: I could totally see this book on sale at like hot topic or something
Adam Tierney: like that. Yeah, I can see,
Casey: you know, like right at that like, you know, tween teenage where it’s there in the kind of cool, spooky stuff, but it’s also kind of cute.
Adam Tierney: So
Casey: yeah, that’s rad, man. I can’t wait to see how this book does and I can’t wait to read it.
Adam Tierney. Thank you again, buddy.
Adam Tierney: Yeah. Thank you for having me. This has been fun.
Casey: Alright, take it easy.
Adam Tierney: Bye. Bye. Bye.