There is no doubt that one of the hottest and hardest working writers in the comic book industry right now is Cullen Bunn. With a total of ten books currently ongoing or in development with seven different publishers, it is an absolute marvel that the quality of Bunn’s writing remains at such a high level considering the amount of titles on his plate on a month to month basis. I had the opportunity to ask Bunn a few questions about some of his current, previous, and upcoming work.
Geek Sushi: First off, with “The Sixth Gun” being your longest running title and probably the one most personal to you, what are your thoughts as it approaches its final run?
Cullen Bunn: It’s certainly bittersweet. When I first pitched this series, I never imagined it going so strong for so long. Now, I can hardly believe we’re approaching the end. I’ve been working with these characters for so long, it’s going to be really tough to say goodbye. At the same time, I’ve got other stories to tell, and Brian Hurtt and I are excited for what’s next.
Geek Sushi: “The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead” was announced as a mini-series scheduled for this summer. What are you able to tell us about this prequel right now?
Bunn: This limited series, like Sons of the Gun, is co-written with Brian Hurtt, It will be illustrated by Mike Norton. It features a number of characters who have played prominent roles in the series–Brother Roberto, Jesup, and Abigail Redmayne. This is the story of an adventure they shared years ago, one that shaped the heroes and villains they would become.
Geek Sushi: What was it like watching The Sixth Gun pilot on-screen and meeting George R.R. Martin?
Geek Sushi: Sticking with Oni Press, your second Helheim series “Brides of Helheim” comes out this October. How is that progressing? Knowing that there are additional “Helheim” volumes planned, how does that factor in on the current “BOH” story that you are working on now? Have you thought that far ahead? Is there a working title for the next “Helheim” series?
Bunn: “Brides of Helheim” is progressing quite well. Joelle Jones is working on the third issue right now. We do have another series planned, and the tentative title is “The Womb of Helheim.”
Geek Sushi: Also being released in October from Oni Press is “Hellbreak”. It is being described as a cross between Aliens and Inception which sound incredible. Elaborate if you can on the idea/premise for this story.
Bunn: Yes! “Hellbreak!” Because you can never have too many comics with “Hell” in the title. With this story, you have to imagine that there is an infinite number of Hells. Some might resemble urban nightmares. Some might be demon-filled warrens. Some might resemble an endless cubicle-farm. Now, you have to imagine that a crack group of mercenaries is able to access these Hells. They are working with the Church to assist in exorcisms. While the priests exorcise demons from their hosts, the mercenaries enter Hell to track down the lost souls. It’s a military action story with heavy supernatural overtones.
Geek Sushi: Let’s switch gears and publishers now and ask you if I may about “The Empty Man” from Boom! Studios. What we know about this story is it involves a virus that quickly spreads and attacks the human brain causing hallucinations and violent behavior. You have mentioned in other interviews that illness in particular seemed to be occupying your own thoughts as of late. Does any of this come from a more personal nature or experience?
Bunn: Yes, there’s a personal angle to this. My father, who passed away last year, suffered from Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Watching the steady progression of the disease was terrifying. Keep in mind, when I first started thinking of this story, my dad wasn’t sick at all. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. But now that I’ve seen the impact of this disease, it has obviously influenced many of my decisions.
Geek Sushi: Our third publisher, Dynamite recently announced you will pen their zero issue of “The Shadow” which will focus on Lamont Cranston in his days before becoming The Shadow and his relationship with Houdini. Where was this idea derived from and how perfect is this story for you considering your family history in the magical arts?
Bunn: Well, my dad was a performing stage hypnotist for many years, so that influences a lot of my work. I’ve also always been fascinated by magicians and escape artists in general, and Houdini is such an enigmatic and interesting figure. I wanted to introduce a secret society of magicians who could serve as villains in the piece, and readers will be introduced to them in this story!
Geek Sushi: I understand there is also another project in the works with Dynamite. What are you able to tell us about this right now?
Bunn: Right now, I can’t really tell you much about the other project. I’m sworn to secrecy! But hopefully something will be announced soon!
Geek Sushi: Publisher #4 is Monkey Brain in which you are currently working with a pair of fantastic artists in A.C. and Nicolas Zamudio in “The Remains”. You have had the opportunity to work with some amazing talent in Joelle Jones, Brian Hurtt, Vanesa R. Del Rey, and Will Sliney. Talk about the process and decision-making when it comes to collaborations in comics. How much say does a creator have in determining who the artist will be?
Bunn: I’ve been very lucky in terms of the artists I get to work with. Every project comes together differently. Sometimes, the artist and I work together to bring the project to a publisher. Other times, the publisher suggests potential artists. Sometimes, I don’t know who the artist is until I start seeing pages of art! In every situation, I feel like the collaboration just works best when there is open dialogue between the artist and myself.
Geek Sushi: “The Fearless Defenders” was such an amazing series with strong and compelling female characters which the industry is in desperate need of. Sales were ultimately the determining factor for its cancellation. How discouraging was that considering the strong and dedicated fan base this title had? Have there been discussions on possibly bringing it back, perhaps as a miniseries?
Bunn: The cancellation of that series was pretty devastating for me, even though the writing was on the wall for a while. the series had a strong reaction from a lot of people. Even now, when I go to conventions, I meet more people who not only liked the book, but for whom the book really meant something special. I’d jump on a return to those characters in a heartbeat, but I don’t think it is in the cards.
Geek Sushi: In addition to the wide range of publishers you are currently working with, you also have a couple of titles with the big two (Marvel #5 and DC #6). Both Magneto and Sinestro were recently launched. Talk about the challenges and or differences in writing for a protagonist that is an antihero if you will.
Bunn: The biggest challenge when it comes to writing two books about villains (especially characters who, on the surface, seem to have similar personalities) is making sure each book stands on its own and has its own voice. Luckily, Magneto and Sinestro are much more different than most people think, and the tones of the two books are drastically different. I think writing stories about villains and antiheroes is much more satisfying. There’s simply more story to mine.
Geek Sushi: Okay so news just broke about the new “Godzilla Cataclysm” comic miniseries from you and Dave Wachter coming in August from IDW. This makes publisher #7. How and when were you approached about this project?
Bunn: Actually, I was speaking to IDW about Godzilla even before I went full-time as a comic book writer. The way the timing worked out, though, I signed an exclusive contract with Marvel before I landed on a suitable Big G project. When my exclusive ended, I contacted IDW and asked if there was any room for me to work on Godzilla. That’s how “Godzilla: Cataclysm” was born.
Geek Sushi: If Godzilla is a delineation of the environments response to humanities mistreatment or neglect of our planet, will this message or warning (if you will) be conveyed over to this series? If so, how will you approach incorporating it into your story?
Bunn: This story takes place after the monsters have ravaged the world, and there’s certainly a parallel to our mistreatment and neglect of the planet. How that manifests, though, is something I have to keep under wraps unless I want to reveal key secrets of the series.
Geek Sushi: Are there any announcements we can expect or anything you can talk about now from upcoming projects with Marvel, DC, or any other publisher?
Bunn: There are a couple of new projects that I think will be announced relatively soon, but nothing I can talk about just yet!
Geek Sushi: Is this the most comic book titles you have been working on at any particular time in your career?
Bunn: Ha! Definitely! I’m balancing quite a few titles right now. Times can be hectic, but this is a job I wouldn’t trade with anyone!
Interview conducted by Peter Rodriguez