Cullen Bunn is a comic book writer who always seems to have a new title coming out. Be it his creator owned Sixth Gun (happens to be one of my favorite titles on the shelves now!) or some variation of Deadpool killing things, Bunn is damn fun writer who always works with young talented artists. Last week saw the release of The Remains, a horror comic written by Bunn, drawn by A.C. Zumadio and released by MonkeyBrainsComics. Bunn took time to answer a few questions for us about The Remains, his upcoming Magneto mini series and his new short story collection.
Bub Smith: I gotta kick this off asking about my all time favorite Marvel character Deadpool. Is writing the Merc With A Mouth as much fun as I think it is?
Cullen Bunn:When I first starting writing Deadpool, I didn’t have much of an interest in the character. I knew who he was. I liked him just fine. But he wasn’t a favorite of mine by a long shot. That said, once I started writing the character, I really started enjoying working with him. A big part of that is probably because these stories have been so crazy. It’s a lot of fun to just cut loose like I have with these books.
BS: A lot of your work revolves around horror, The Tooth, Sixth Gun, Night of the Living Deadpool and most recently The Remains. Are you a fan of horror films? If so which ones influence your work most?
CB:I’m a big fan of horror movies and literature. Movie wise, there are a number of flicks that have stuck with me over the years. EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD 2, FROM BEYOND, JACOB’S LADDER, PHANTASM, PHANTASM 2, HALLOWEEN, PUMPKINHEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, THE THING, and ALIEN are just a few that spring to mind. More recent movies include THE CONJURING and JOHN DIES AT THE END.
Fiction wise, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Skipp and Spector, Bently Little, Joe R. Lansdale, Thomas Ligotti, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Richard Laymon are all influences, as are a number of great short story collections that I still return to again and again.
BS:Was tackling a villain as epic as Magneto ever intimidating? What kind of shenanigans can we expect to see Erik get into?
CB: I think approaching any character who has a significant fan base, as Magneto does, is a little intimidating. But I just have to put that behind me and write the Magneto story I want to write. Hopefully, people will dig it. You mentioned horror, and this book will have a distinct horror/noir vibe. Magneto, in my opinion, should be scary as Hell to the average person on the street.
BS:The Remains is a damn creepy comic. Each page seeps with dread and I have a feeling nothing good will come for Birdie. What can you tell us about what you have in store for her?
CB:Our first issue shows Birdie and her sister encountering some strange supernatural goings-on. Those types of events will only grow progressively worse and more terrifying as the “hired man” Cole Jensen makes himself at home. THE REMAINS has two threads of horror. One is the “real world” horror that Cole brings into the story. The other thread is an otherworldy, supernatural, dead crawling from the grave kind of horror. Some readers may be more creeped out by one instead of the other.
BS:The Remains, like most horror tales, features a female lead. Was it important for you to have a female lead?
CB:THE REMAINS is based on a novella I wrote. In the novella, the Birdie character is actually male. That worked just fine for the novella. But as I started developing the comic, I thought that a female lead might be someone the reader would identify with a little more easily. In a horror story, it’s essential for the reader to connect with the protagonist quickly, so it hurts more when you put that character through Hell. That said, it could have been just as likely that “Birdie” would appear as “Seth” in the comic. When I wrote the novella, I readily jumped into Seth’s head. In the comic script, it happened that I found Birdie’s voice more easily.
BS:Much of the aforementioned dread comes from A.C. Zamudio’s understated art. She has an ability to match the tone you are writing. How did you come to work with her? How involved in the writing process is she (If at all)?
CB:One of the things I like about comic books is that the artist and the writer get to work together to build the world and story. A.C. definitely helped to shape the direction and tone of the story. We met through a mutual acquaintance, Chris Schweizer, who is an amazing talent. When he recommends someone, I listen!
BS:MonkeyBrainsComics is a very small ( but totally kickass!) comic publisher. What was about them that made you want to release The Remains?
CB: I’ve always been intrigued by the digital-first model they employ, and the quality of their books is just top-notch. I’ve wanted to work with them for a while now, and I thought THE REMAINS was a great book to start that partnership.
BS:What can you tell us about your book of short stories, Creeping Stones & other Stories ? Very excited for this by the way!
CB:CREEPING STONES AND OTHER STORIES is the first of two collections of my prose short stories. It contains 14 of my short stories and novellas, some of them rather old. In fact, it contains the novella upon which THE REMAINS was based. The book is available in hardcopy and digital. The second collection, titled A PASSAGE IN BLACK AND OTHER STORIES, will be released later this year.
BS: I can’t do this interview without asking (you’re probably sick of it) BUT The Sixth Gun pilot (which NBC foolishly passed on!) any chance we will get to see? Perhaps another network?
CB:There’s always a chance, but I’m not sure. At this point, if another network were to pick it up, the show would go through some significant changes, mainly because many of the cast members have moved on to other projects.
BS:Lastly, what comics coming out this year are you most excited for?
CB:I have a few new books coming out that I’m really excited about—MAGNETO, SINESTRO, for example. I also have a new creator-owned series titled THE EMPTY MAN coming from Book and a couple of other new creator-owned books that haven’t been announced yet… but will be soon!