Rising star Cullen Bunn stops by the Outhouse to discuss his current and future projects as well as his transition to full-time comic book writer.
Cullen Bunn's star has risen dramatically since the last time he visited The Outhouse. The last several months have been busy ones for Bunn, who wrote stories for three different publishers and has several more project . We caught up with Bunn to talk about his latest projects and dealing with his increasingly busy schedule.
The Outhouse: The last time we spoke, you were working on The Sixth Gun and working on The Tooth graphic novel. Now, not only is The Sixth Gun coming out on a monthly basis and The Tooth due to come out in May but you're also working on two new projects for Marvel and DC. How are you juggling all the different projects?
Cullen Bunn: It's taking a little getting used to. I'm not one-hundred percent sure that I've adjusted completely to doing it. I just started writing full-time this week so this is my second day as a full-time writer. What I've been trying to do is prioritize my projects I have and figure out when things are due so I can meet those deadlines and give each project the time they deserve.
OH: How many projects are you currently working on?
CB: I have five active projects on my plates, counting The Sixth Gun.
OH: Now that you're approaching the second year of The Sixth Gun, how do you feel the book has been received?
CB: I couldn't be much happier with the reaction that the book has received. Most of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Readers seem to really enjoy the book. We've gotten a lot of feedback from people who say things like "I hate Westerns but I love this book". I'm hoping that the book continues to build an audience. Oni Press has been very pleased with how the book has been doing and they've been very supportive of the project. I look forward to continuing the story for some time to come.
OH: Is there anything you would have done differently?
CB: I don't think so. My original plan for the book was quite different than what people are reading right now. I'm glad I went the route I did. The Sixth Gun was originally going to be a six-issue limited series that was much darker. It was definitely a horror story as opposed to a fantasy story. When we started talking to Oni about the book, I started thinking about it in a different light and approached it in a different way. I made it a broader story and added the fantasy and swashbuckling elements of the story. That was the right move to make. I still like the darker story in the original script but I don't think that readers would have liked it near as much.
OH: What can we expect to see in the second year of the Sixth Gun?
CB: We're going to start revealing some things about the guns. The Guns have a purpose and a power that we have not revealed yet. We'll start revealing that around Issue #11. We also spell out what the purpose of the Six is pretty clearly. From there, the story will start moving towards a more definite endgame. Also, the characters are going to experience some significant obstacles in the third arc and especially in the fourth arc.
OH: The Sixth Gun continues to expand its mythology to incorporate not only your unique mythology but also aspects of other cultures' mythologies. Your most recent arc is using Loas and other Haitian mythological aspects. Can we expect to see any more monsters or new mythologies in upcoming arcs?
CB: Yes, definitely. One of the things I really like is the fantasy element of the story. But I can balance the fantasy element with traditional and nontraditional folklore .I don't want to reveal too much, but there are some different creatures, myths, and folklore aspects that start showing up from here on out to the end of the story.
OH: Let's talk about your Sorcerer Kings arc in Superman/Batman. How did you get this gig with DC? This is your first work with DC, right?
CB: This is my first work with DC. The editor actually read The Sixth Gun and liked what he read. He liked the big sweeping action and the epic feel of it. He contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing an arc of Superman/Batman.
OH: For those who haven't picked up the first issue, what's the storyarc about?
CB: It's difficult to explain without sounding completely ridiculous but that's part of the story's charm. Basically, it's a story which features magic and time travel.
The Shadowpact, which is DC's magic investigative team, encounter someone that they believe to be Superman who is quickly killed by a horde of demons. They find out that he's not the Superman they know so they reach out to our Superman. When Superman shows up, a new Batman arrives, armed with all sorts of alchemical substances and magical devices. That Batman kidnaps Superman and takes him to what Superman thinks at first that it's an alternate reality. However, he realizes that it's not an alternate reality but a future in which Metropolis is radically altered due to magical forces.
And that's basically the first issue, which sets up the entire arc. Something happens to change the world and the Superman that we know is trapped in the future while the Batman we know is in the present trying to figure out what happened.
OH: Sorcerer Kings features the return of several of the members of the Shadowpact. Will they continue to play a role in the rest of the arc?
CB: Yes, they will be in the rest of the arc in varying degrees. As the arc closes, they show up again in a bigger way. Shadowpact, and in particular Blue Devil, were characters that I was excited to write. I have a list of fifty things I want to accomplish in comic books and writing a Blue Devil book has always been one of them.
OH: Just out of curiosity, what are some of the other things on the list?
CB: Well, some of the things that will never, ever happen. Others are probably pipe dreams but there's a little more of a chance that it will happen. Like writing a Devil Dinosaur story, that's something that I've always wanted to do.
There are also other characters that I've always wanted to write but I don't want to mention because they're going to show up in the Superman/Batman arc. And then there are a lot of artists that I want to work with at some point. The good thing is that I'm starting to get to work with some of them on at least a few projects.
OH: Will you continue to write Superman/Batman after the arc wraps up or is this a one and done?
CB: For now, this is the only one I have planned. I pitched two or three ideas for arcs and I'd love to do them at some point in the future but for now this is the only one I have going on.
OH: Another recently announced project of yours is the Fear Itself: Black Widow one-shot. What's the premise for that project?
CB: It's a tie-in to the main Fear Itself event that features Black Widow. She goes into Paris, France to avert a nuclear disaster. However, she's coming into the mission with a very dark view herself due to various reasons. Also, Paris is in chaos due to the events of Fear Itself, which will cause her all sorts of trouble.
OH: What's it like to be working for DC and Marvel? How does it differ from your creator-owned projects?
CB: The difference between working on a creator owned project like The Sixth Gun and working for a company like Marvel is that I'm not the only one working on these characters and in this world. In The Sixth Gun I can do pretty much anything I want to and I answer to no one except for my readers. For a Marvel project, I have to be careful with what I'm doing and how it affects continuity and the universe as a whole.
OH: Do you prefer working on the creator-owned work or on the Big Two's projects more?
CB: Here's my very political answer: I like both. There are benefits to both ways of writing. I love telling creator-owned stuff. It's my own stories and they come from a personal place. But at the same time, the characters from Marvel and DC helped to shape who I am as a creator and a writer. I love working on these characters that I've been reading for years and years.
Also, writing can be a lonely profession. The nice thing about comics is that it is collaborative project. Working for DC or Marvel gives you another aspect of that collaboration as you're working with bigger editorial teams and other creative teams. It makes you feel like you're part of something.
OH: The Tooth will be hitting shelves soon. Now that the project has been wrapped up and at the printers, what can you tell us about that book?
CB: The Tooth is another one of those stories that's kind of hard to explain without sounding ridiculous. It's a horror hero story that's very similar to Swamp Thing and Man-Thing and Werewolf by Night and other horror comics of the 70's. I've described it is as Swamp Thing meets a Harry Hanson movie meets every awesome comic that your mom and dad threw away in college. It's a tribute to the horror comics that I loved growing up and it's a tribute to comics in general. It's a big fat story of monster vs. monster action.
OH: How many pages is The Tooth?
CB: I'm trying to remember. It's got to be 150 pages at least. We added some stuff in and moved some stuff around. The project has been around going on six years now so there's parts of it that I've forgotten. Hang on, let me look it up. (slight pause) Oh, it's close to 200 pages. It's a big thick book!
OH: Who's the artist for The Tooth?
CB: Matt Kent, who did Superspy and Revolver.
OH: Any upcoming projects you can talk about?
CB: Fear Itself: The Deep features Namor, Dr. Strange, and Silver Surfer (three of the four classic Defenders), along with the Savage She-Hulk and Loa (for a little new blood). Thanks to the events of Fear Itself, they're faced with a group of villains who threaten to conquer the seas and the surface world. I don't want to say too much about the heavies in this series, but they have long-standing ties to our heroes.
I have also been talking to Oni Press about doing a couple more creator owned projects in the near future so those will start taking shape soon.
OH: Are there any more installments of The Damned due out soon?
CB: Brian and I were talking about that today, actually. We're trying to work that into the schedule. The Sixth Gun has a ten issue a year cycle so as long as we stay ahead of the game, he'll be able to carve out the time to draw The Damned very quickly. The next installment is a three issue series that ties into the last three issue series. We've got it plotted out so we just need to find the time to have Brian draw it.
OH: Final question: Godzilla comic. Your thoughts?
CB: (laughs) I'll definitely be grabbing it. As a Godzilla fan, I have to support the book. As soon as I heard that they were doing it, I tried to pitch them a couple of ideas. I'm excited about it. I especially like that they're using some of the other Toho monsters. It's fun to create new monsters for Godzilla but I'm glad they're getting to use the classic monsters. I'm really looking forward to see what they're going to do with it.
To be the coolest kid on the block, pick up The Sixth Gun, available where ever comic books are sold. The first two issues of Cullen Bunn's Sorceror Kings arc in Superman/Batman are also available at your local comic book store.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer