In the story of Noah and the Ark, Noah crafted a ship to herd and save every kind of animal - and his own family - to survive a flood of literally biblical proportions. But what if another man was tapped - by higher power other than the Judeo-Christian God - to make a craft to save the other creatures... the supernatural ones?
That's the gist of the upcoming AfterShock series Dark Ark by Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe. Scheduled to launch September 20, the new spin on the Old Testament tale is one that Bunn said he thought was too "crazy" for any publisher he currently works with - and he works with alot - to publish.
But AfterShock stepped up, and now Newsarama is talking to the prolific writer about this new creator-owned title.
Newsarama: Cullen, why do you go to such dark places like Dark Ark when thinking about the biblical story of Noah and the Ark?
Cullen Bunn: I guess the only answer is that I'm a sick and twisted individual.
Nrama: [Laughs] Tell me more.
Bunn: I wanted to take the story of mankind's salvation and retell it as a tale of ghouls and goblins and other hideous things. I guess I just thought it might be fun to imagine what an ark filled with some of the nastiest beasts to ever walk the Earth might look like.
Nrama: So how did that idea grow into the concept for a comic book – this one, to be exact?
Bunn: Believe it or not, I probably dialed back some of the "sick and twisted" elements of my personality while writing this book. While there are certainly horror elements in this story, I don’t think of it as a horror story at all. Dark fantasy, sure, but not horror. There are plenty of unnatural beasts in these pages, but I wanted to follow more grounded concerns they might have while trying to survive on a vessel filled with other, equally awful things. We see fear and frustration and anger and even love among these creatures. The fun part is showing how those emotions manifest differently than they would in a mortal being.
Nrama: In the promotional material from AfterShock, there is a sorcerer named Shrae who is the ‘Noah’ of this ark. Who is he?
Bunn: Shrae is a man who has done some terrible things. He has helped to usher evil into the world time and time again. But he was trying to put all that behind him. He had given up his sorcerous ways. Until, that is, the rain started to fall. Then he was contacted by sinister forces and promised salvation - if he performed one last task for them. The task: build an ark for all of the unnatural creatures of the world.
Nrama: “Unnatural creatures”… can you be more specific?
Bunn: Shrae has every manner of terrible creature on his ark. Vampires, manticores, goblins, werewolves, giants, dragons, ghouls, naga. Even unicorns (who believe they were put upon the wrong ark). Monster wise, you name it, Shrae probably has them on board.
Nrama: In Noah's story there's his family that is a huge part of this. Does Shrae have a family to consider here?
Bunn: Yes, Shrae's family plays a huge role in this story. They are the real reason he wanted to shed his evil ways. He wants a better life for them. They are the real reason he accepts the offer of building an ark for monsters. Shrae wants his family to survive the flood. They are very important in this story, because the monsters see Shrae's family as a weakness they can exploit.
Nrama: Any other biblical overtones you aim to go for here?
Bunn: In a story like this, there almost has to be, right? But those will be undertones rather than overtones, I imagine. I am much more focused on the interactions between these horrible creatures confined in close quarters. I'm more interested in seeing how Shrae and his family survive alongside these inhuman beings.
Nrama: You work with pretty much every major publisher in comics - why was Dark Ark the best fit at AfterShock?
Bunn: Dark Ark is a story I've been excited about since I came up with the idea, but – honestly - I didn't think any publisher would be crazy enough to give it a shot. It's a story that is pretty out there. When I was talking to AfterShock, I gave them a list of my story ideas. (I have this ever-growing, ever-changing catalog of story snapshots that I sometimes share with publishers.) I told them, "Some of these stories are nothing you would even consider. They're just too off-the-wall." Dark Ark was what I was thinking of when I said that, but they jumped on it. I love that they are willing to consider such weird stories.
Nrama: You're working with Juan Doe here, arguably one of the most iconic and unique artists working today. What made him a good fit for this idea?
Bunn: Juan has such a distinctive, unique artist, and he draws monsters with amazing gusto. Every page he draws is full of action and drama and intensity, and it is just so much fun to look at!
Nrama: If Dark Ark works, do you have dark mirror versions of other biblical tales planned?
Bunn: [Laughs] I haven't considered that, actually. I don't think I have another one in me. I wanted to tell this story because I'm excited about it and I feel like it is a tale that is unique to me. I'm sure there are other "dark mirror" Bible stories to be told, but I'll leave that to other creators.