Cullen Bunn first burst into the comics scene with his creator owned series The Damned and The Sixth Gun. Today, he’s one of comics most prolific and popular creators, working for all the major publishers, and writing for characters as iconic as the X-Men, Deadpool, Superman, Aquaman, Conan and more! Next month, he launches two new creator owned series- REGRESSION, from Image Comics, and a continuation of THE DAMNED from Oni Press. We were fortunate to sit down with Cullen and talk with him about REGRESSION and some of his other work!
Cullen- Thank you for taking some time to chat about what’s going on! I know you and Charles Soule are competing to be the busiest guy in comics right now, so it’s an honor!
Thank you! It’s a pleasure.
So tell us a little bit about Regression. What’s the elevator pitch for the series?
REGRESSION is the story of Adrian, an everyday, average guy who suffers from terrible waking nightmares. Desperate for help, her turns to a hypnotherapist and undergoes past-life regression. But something ghastly happened in this past life. And something has followed Adrian back.
What’s the origin of this story? I understand that you actually have a personal tie to the concept.
My father was a practicing hypnotist, and he sometimes conducted past life regressions. I sat in on many of these sessions, and I’ve always been fascinated by the concept. The initial idea for REGRESSION took root all those years ago. One of my biggest regrets is that I never asked my dad where he learned about the idea of regressing someone to a previous life.
Can you explain the concept past life regression to us a little?
The basic idea is that many of us (if not all of us) have lived many, many lives. When one person dies, that person is reincarnated into another life. Normally, we are not aware of the other lives we have lived.
Some say that we are living all of these lives simultaneously and that time itself is an illusion. Has anything like what happens in your story happened in the real world?
God, I hope not!
Me neither! So, how did you connect with Danny and Marie as your art team?
I was introduced to Danny by writer David Precht. They had worked on a book together, and David sang Danny’s praises. I met Marie because she is part of the same studio as my pals Brian Hurtt and Matt Kindt. When I started looking for a colorist, she was one of the first people I asked to try out.
What strengths do they each have that helps the story?
Danny does such a good job of grounding the series in reality. His characters and his settings look realistic and normal, and then he hits you out of nowhere with these horrific images.
Marie does some unexpected stuff with colors in the book, avoiding darkness in lieu of bright, vivid colors. They just compliment Danny’s work so well.
Have you worked with them on designing the look of the book?
A little bit, yeah, but just a little. I shared some of my thoughts on what I like design-wise, but they really ran with it.
Who are the main characters we’ll be following in the series?
Adrian is our point-of-view character, but we’ll also be meeting his friend Molly, who is a catalyst for this story. In addition, we’ll be meeting Anton Graymercy, a detective with a big role to play. And then there is Gregory Sutter, the past life Adrian visits. He’s our villain, but there’s more to him than you will expect in the early issues.
What’s the deal with Adrian’s hallucinations prior to his first regression session? Are they related to his past life?
Oh, yes. They are related to his past life, and that past life was up to some nasty stuff.
Will there be any other people in this world experiencing things like Adrian? Will we be meeting them?
You absolutely will be meeting other people who have experienced past lives. Some of them are lost, like Adrian. Some know a lot more about what is going on.
What’s your process for writing an issue? Is this different from your other creator owned work, or your Marvel/DC work?
My process is pretty much the same whether I’m writing creator-owned books or working with Marvel. I might have to go through more approvals and revisions with Marvel stuff, though. I do most of the heavy lifting in several outline stages. By the time I get to scripting, I know exactly where the story is headed.
All of your creator owned books seem to lean towards horror. What draws you to horror?
I just feel more comfortable dealing with horror elements. And horror helps me work through dark thoughts and fears that circle around in my head.
Why do you think horror as a genre is so popular?
I guess the simple answer is people just like to be scared. Maybe when you’re scared is when you feel most alive. But I also think that in horror stories, the emotions of the characters run high, and if the storytellers have done their job, the readers (or viewers) will connect and feel the highs and lows right along with the characters.
I wasn’t kidding when I said you’re incredibly busy. At best count, you have 10 books out in May alongside Regression. Did you ever think you’d have that much monthly output?
I only occasionally believed I’d even be working in comics at all.
What’s your schedule like day to day?
I write about 10 hours a day, five days a week. On weekends, I usually work another 8 to 10 hours. I have flexibility, because as long as I’m meeting my deadlines I can set my own hours, but I tend to start around 8 and call it a day around 6.
Which of your work outside Regression are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to be returning to THE DAMNED as an ongoing series. THE DAMNED was the first book I did as a professional writer, and it’s really satisfying to finally be returning to it after all these years.
And I think we’re going to be talking to you more about The Damned very soon! I also have to say I’ve been loving Harrow and your Marvel work in particular. What’s coming up in Harrow County?
I’m currently working on a HARROW COUNTY arc titled “Dark Times A-Coming” and that title is accurate. There are some very bad days ahead in that series.
Can you give our readers a tease or two for your upcoming Marvel books?
Well, I’m writing X-MEN BLUE, which follows the Original Five X-Men on some really fun, classic feel X-adventures. I’m also writing MONSTERS UNLEASHED which is a kaiju/superhero mashup. I have two other projects I’m working on for Marvel, but I can’t talk about them yet.
What are you reading right now, comics or otherwise?
I’m reading a bunch of Image books right now LOW, DESCENDER, and THE GODDAMNED are all favorites. I’m also reading the Milkweed series by Ian Tregillis.
Thanks Cullen! Do you have any last thoughts you want to leave with ComicBuzz readers?
REGRESSION hits the stands on May 10, so make sure to ask your local comic shop to reserve a copy for you!
I’d like to let people know that THE DAMNED, which I mentioned earlier, has a trade paperback out right now. It’s a great introduction to that world, and it only costs $10. Then, we launch the new ongoing, and the first issue is only $1! Please check those out!
Thanks Cullen! And hopefully we’ll be talking to you about THE DAMNED very soon!
Tony Thornley is a Mormon geek dad, blogger, Spider-Man and Superman aficionado, amateur novelist and all around awesome guy. He was born and raised in Utah and has been reading comics since age five. His first comic series was GI Joe and he was doomed from there. You can follow him on Twitter @brawl2099.