Cullen Bunn may be one of DC’s busiest writers with four ongoing series, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time for his favorite genre of horror.
Bunn and artist Tyler Crook are launching a new creator-owned series at Dark Horse in May titled Harrow County featuring a young woman with an unshakeable connection to her small town’s supernatural population. Described by Dark Horse as a “southern gothic fairy tale,” Harrow County looks to build about Bunn’s work in The Sixth Gunn and Crook’s own work with Mignola on B.P.R.D. and The Witchfinder for a throwback hometown horror story.
Newsarama: Cullen, how'd you find your way into doing Harrow County?
Cullen Bunn: Harrow County started a few years ago as a prose project. I was writing it as a serialized novel. At the time, though, I was starting to get more comic book work and I had to make a decision to put my prose work on hold for a while. I still kept thinking about this world I'd created, though, and I knew I'd never be able to shake this story. When Tyler Crook and I started talking about comics we'd like to create for Dark Horse, we threw a lot of ideas around. When I told Tyler about this story, we both realized that this was the story we wanted to tell.
Nrama:What can you tell us about Emmy, the main character of this?
Bunn: Emmy is one of my favorite characters. She's kind-hearted and strong-willed and she sees the world around her with wide-eyed fascination. She also possesses a terrifying power that is only just beginning to reveal itself. My hope is that readers will both love and be a little uneasy when it comes to Emmy.
Nrama: What's Emmy's connection to the supernatural?
Bunn: The exact nature of Emmy's connection to the supernatural is something we'll be slowly revealing over the course of the first few issues, and it will completely turn her world upside down. We will see, though, that Emmy is surrounded by restless spirits and strange creatures. She's grown up accepting that these beings haunt the shadows around her, but she's starting to learn that her own life is tangled up with these "haints" in a way she never expected.
Nrama: Where are Emmy's family in all of this?
Bunn: Emmy's mother passed away when she was very young, but she lives with her father, who plays a very important role in the story.
Nrama: What kind of supernatural creatures, or “haints”, show up in this?
Bunn: Harrow County is just rotten with disembodied spirits, monstrous trees, skinless horrors, goblins, grave wights, and more. One or two of these creatures play important starring roles in the book. There's a wide range of creepy crawlies that Emmy will be encountering. What might take readers by surprise, though, is how Emmy interacts with these ghoulish characters.
Nrama: I know you grew up in North Carolina -- is Harrow County based on any specific geographic area?
Bunn: It's more of an amalgam of several places I lived in North Carolina, with maybe a few hints of the Missouri Ozarks (where I moved when I was 18) thrown in for good measure. If I had to pin it down on a map, I'd say that Harrowis a fictionalized version of Wilson County, where my dad grew up.
Nrama: How many issues you plan Harrow County to be?
Bunn: There are plenty of tales to be told in Harrow County, so we'll keep telling 'em as long as readers keep reading 'em!
Nrama: Tyler did three issues of The Sixth Gun with you -- but how'd you end up doing a creator-owned book together?
Bunn: I'm a huge fan of Tyler's work, and every time we've worked together on something (he also did the upcoming The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust) I've cast the line out to work with him on something else. Tyler was talking to the good folks at Dark Horse about doing a new project, and he thought of me as his collaborator.
Nrama: This isn't your first supernatural story, by far -- have you had any supernatural, or what you thought might have been supernatural, experiences in your life?
Bunn: In every issue of Harrow County, we're including illustrated essays about the inspirations for this story. I don't claim to have had any supernatural experiences, but there sure were plenty of unexplainable, strange things that have happened to me and those around me. My imagination likes to take the ball and run, so if something a little out of the ordinary happened to me as a kid, I'd start thinking up some of the wildest explanations. In addition, I grew up not far from the famous Devil's Tramping Ground and the Maco Ghost Light, and kids in my neck of the woods just knew that this one house was a "Devil Church." I also had a dad who loved spinning tall tales and ghost stories, and I read dozens of "true" ghost story books during my formative years. I draw on all of those sources of inspiration in this book.