The Outhouse sits down with The Sixth Gun's Cullen Bunn and talks about The Damned, The Sixth Gun, and his early attempts at a Godzilla comic!
Cullen Bunn is the writer of The Sixth Gun and The Damned, two popular Oni Press titles. He sat down to talk with The Outhouse about his early work dabbling with Godzilla as a toddler, his recent work and the genre mash-ups he's become known for.
OH: To start, why don't you tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
CB: Let's see. I'm a writer who lives in St. Louis, Missouri. I've been writing—primarily prose and primarily horror—for many years, but in recent years I've turned towards writing comic books. My supernatural noir series, The Damned, came out from Oni Press a few years back, followed by my current ongoing supernatural western, The Sixth Gun. In addition, I've done work for Marvel (Immortal Weapons: Bride of Nine Spiders and Deadpool) and I've got a horror hero book, The Tooth, coming out from Oni next year.
Also, I make a mean margarita.
OH: Would you like to tell us how you first got into comics?
CB: I've been a comic book reader for as long as I can remember, and I've wanted to create may own comics for nearly as long. When I was very young (pre-Kindergarten) I wrote and drew a picture book/comic called Attack of the Monsters, in which Godzilla, King Kong, Mothra, and any other big monster I could think of went on a rampage against the human race. During elementary school, I wrote and drew a series of comics featuring the X-Laser Knights that I distributed amongst my friends. In middle school, my comics masterpieces included MatterMan, Captain Cosmo, and Fat Man. I didn't try my hand at comics again until many years later. I sent out numerous proposals, but aside from some short comics published in FutureQuake, I didn't have a lot of luck getting published until Brian and I sent in the proposal for The Damned.
OH: Could you tell us about The Damned, your first series with Oni Press?
CB: The Damned is a noir gangster story with monsters. The mob is run from behind the scenes by demons. All the rackets are just tools the demons use to get people to sell their souls. Over the years, though, the demons have started to grow soft, falling victim to the very vices they are us9ing against the mortals. A blood feud has broken out between the three demon broods, and anyone who gets in the way is in real trouble. Enter Eddie, a down-on-his-luck guy who has a knack for coming back from the dead after he's been killed. This ability makes him very useful to the demons, even though he really wants nothing to do with them.
OH: How did you come up with the idea of mixing demons with prohibition era gangsters?
CB: Brian and I both wanted to do something set in the roaring twenties. The story and visual possibilities were very appealing. But we also wanted to do something with monsters. From there, The Damned was born.
OH: Do you have any more The Damned miniseries coming up?
CB: Absolutely. We always intended for The Damned to be a series of limited series, and we have a definite storyline mapped out, bringing everything to an ending. After "Three Days Dead" and "Prodigal Sons" (the first two series) comes "Daughter's Danse," "Three Days Dead" was a noir story. "Prodigal Sons" was more of a rip-roaring adventure. "Daughter's Danse" is a horror story, definitely the darkest thing Brian and I have done together. There's no doubt that we love The Damned and that we want to return to that "world" again, but for the immediate future we're focused on The Sixth Gun.
OH: Tell us about your latest series, The Sixth Gun.
CB: The basic idea is that during the Civil War, General Oliander Bedford Hume and five of his most bloodthirsty lieutenants came into possession of six cursed pistols. Each of the guns exhibited a uniquely horrible power, and the General's gun was arguably the most powerful of the lot. At the close of the war, the General was killed, and his gun vanished. Years later, the gun resurfaces in the hands of an innocent young woman, Becky Montcrief. The forces of evil (including General Hume returned from the grave) converge on the girl, hoping to claim the gun. A mysterious gunfighter named Drake Sinclair is the only person standing in their way—but he may have sinister goals of his own.
OH: It seems like your protagonist, Drake Sinclair, isn't much of a good guy. What were your motivations for writing his character?
CB: Very few of my protagonists are really good guys. Bad guys are just more fun, aren't they? In the early days of brainstorming The Sixth Gun, Drake was hands-down the villain of the piece. As the concept evolved, so did the character, but his roots as a ne'er-do-well remained. I'll say this. Drake, like all of the characters in book, will go through some fairly significant changes as the story progresses ... but I can't tell you for sure if he'll be considered a hero or a villain when it all plays out.
OH: With both The Damned and The Sixth Gun, it seems that you like to mix supernatural elements with historical time periods. Is that a conscious decision or coincidence?
CB: While I like the "genre mash-up," my real goal is to tell a great story. If that means combining a historical setting and the supernatural, then that's what I'm going to do. In the case of The Sixth Gun, the story was originally set in the here-and-now. But I couldn't get it to work. I almost scrapped the whole thing until I decided to give the Old West a try, and things just sort of fell into place.
OH: Is The Sixth Gun an ongoing series, or is it a miniseries liked The Damned? Do you have multiple arcs planned out for the Sixth Gun?
CB: The Sixth Gun is an ongoing series. Right now, I'm working on the script to issue 8. I have several arcs planned out (albeit in broad strokes) for The Sixth Gun. As with The Damned, I have a definite ending in mind, but Brian and I envision this series running for 36 to 40 issues at least.
OH: How did it feel to have The Sixth Gun chosen to be the FCBD book for Oni Press?
CB: I was thrilled that Oni Press thought enough of the book to make it a FCBD offering, and it was very cool that the issue got into the hands of so many people who might not have seen it otherwise. Also, FCBD gave Brian and I the chance to head to Austin TX and sign at one of the coolest comic shops I've ever been to—Austin Books and Comics. The whole experience was simply very rewarding.
OH: I don't know if you've heard this, but Oni Press just signed a first look deal with CBS for possible television deals. Could a Sixth Gun or The Damned television show be in the near future?
CB: You never know what's in the cards. I'm really doing my best not to think about it too much. I became obsessed with the possibilities for a while, and it doesn't do anyone any good as a creator. My best bet, I decided, was to concentrate on making the best comic book I can and be pleasantly surprised if any of the Hollywood stuff comes together.
OH: What is it like working with Brian Hurtt, your illustrator for both The Damned and The Sixth Gun?
CB: Brian is a great collaborator for a number of reasons beyond simply being an amazing talent. First and foremost, when he says he's going to do something, he does it. I know that's meant a lot of long days for him, but he's dedicated to making our work as good as it can possibly be. Another great thing about working with Brian is that he's genuinely excited and interested in the project. He wouldn't do it otherwise. That energy and enthusiasm shines through on every panel. Also, Brian challenges me. He won't let me get away with lazy writing, and I know it. So, I work very hard at surprising him with each and every script that I turn in.
Now, if I could only get him to illustrate my Creature-From-the-Black-Lagoon-as-the-World's-Greatest-Detective comic ...
OH: If you had to convince readers in twenty words or less to pick up The Sixth Gun, what would you say? (Bonus points if you do it as a haiku!)
CB: The Mystic Old West
Cursed pistols, undead mad man ...
Monks with gatling guns
Finally, Mr. Bunn completed the infamous lightning round, risking both life and limb to answer the gauntlet of challenging questions.
OH: Favorite type of food?
CB: Mexican, hands-down.
OH: Favorite band?
CB: Hell if I know. My wife and I never miss a Rob Zombie concert when he comes to town.
OH: Favorite movie?
CB: Big Trouble in Little China
OH: Beer wine or liquor?
CB: Tequila and Margaritas.
OH: Grizzly shark or sea bear?
CB: Grizzly shark sure sounds a lot cooler!
OH: Who would win in a fight: Al Capone or Jesse James?
CB: When I was a kid, I imagined that Al Capone was sort of this cool 70s character in a floppy hat and bell bottoms. He was a master of Kung-fu. If that's the version we're tlaking about, then Capone all the way.
OH: Favorite Godzilla character?
CB: Godzilla himself ... although Mecha-Godzilla takes a close second.
OH: How do you think the earth will end?
CB: In a moment when no one at all ... anywhere on earth ... even thinks the world is coming to an end ... it will simply just cease to be. As long as people are stressing over the end, we're safe.
OH: If you could drink with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
CB: Devil Dinosaur ... because chicks dig a guy who hangs out with a bright red T-Rex.
OH: Best book on the market not written by Cullen Bunn?
CB: Comic? Scalped. Novel? It's an older novel, but Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon is my favorite piece of fiction.
The Sixth Gun #4 comes out September 15th at a local comic store near you.
Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak