10 years ago, Dan Kerr left his wife and unborn child, but finding them again after they’ve gone missing might be a trip through a personal hell. From Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Sixth Gun) and Mark Torres (Zombies vs Robots: Undercity) comes Cold Spots, a contemporary ghost story spelled out in five issues, debuting this week from Image Comics.
Bunn and Torres tell Newsarama that they want to immerse readers so much into their haunting tale, so much so that each issue comes with an MP3 download intended to form a full soundtrack.
Newsarama had the chance to chat with Bunn and Torres about the upcoming series, and if they’ve had any supernatural experiences of their own, and the kind of ghosts that people create for themselves.
Newsarama: So Cullen, Mark, Cold Spots carries more than one meaning here, what can you tell us about the meaning of the name and how it works for this mini series?
Cullen Bunn: On the surface, the title refers to the paranormal manifestation of dropping temperatures in the presence of ghosts. In this case, these cold spots are so intense that they might cause pain or worse. On another level, though, the title refers to the loneliness of the lead characters and the “coldness” with which one human being might treat another. I like that these two ideas will play against one another in the series.
Mark Torres: The title is an immediate signifier that there’s gonna be more to this story than meets the eye. On the surface, it may seem like another horror book, but as you open that cover, start experiencing the pages, the story… an awareness will hopefully awaken to the many layers we’re narrating, crossing genres, and steering readers to some dark parts of not only the universe, but humanity. This book aims to make folks start thinking twice whenever they feel a sudden cold, shiver crawl up their spines.
Nrama: You both have horror backgrounds so was this something you came together on or did one of you pitch it to the other? How did you guys come together on this?
Bunn: Mark and I have been trying to work together for some time now. Our schedules just never meshed for the longest time. When the stars finally aligned, we talked a lot about the type of book we might work on together. I had the pitch for Cold Spots ready to go, and I sent it to Mark. I’m so glad he connected with the material the way I did.
Torres: As I’ve said before… Hook, line, and sinker! Sometimes it’s really just ‘bout timing. We could’ve collaborated on another exciting project way before Cold Spots… but the universe, and all her sexy mysterious ways, had bigger plans for us.
Nrama: Who is Dan Kerr to you? How do you see him?
Bunn: Dan is last guy you would want as a dad. In many ways, he is the embodiment of my fears as a father, my fear of complete and utter failure. Despite his status as a bit of a scumbag, I think readers will be able to connect with him… because he messes up just like everyone does. All right, his screw-ups are a bit more extreme, but you get the idea. I think readers will want to see him make amends and improve as a human being.
Torres: Dan’s a messed-up, no-good excuse of a human being. I had the strong urge to beat him up, smash his face with a bottle, as I was working on the initial issues. But as the story progress, as his story progresses, we’ll learn that there could, just maybe, still be some redemption for him. He’s only human, like all of us, who’s made some pretty bad decisions in his life… and how he confronts not only the consequences, but more importantly, the oncoming, maddening terror (sans any superpower or special weapons)… will ultimately define who Dan Kerr really is.
Nrama: Who did the designs of these covers?
Torres: I take full responsibility for any nightmares or traumas caused by these covers. But that’s actually a goal going in…. to tease people’s eyes and seduce their souls. My design thought here is more akin to album covers and paperback novels… playing with symbolisms, rather than being flashy.
Nrama: Have either of you had a supernatural experience?
Torres: Lots. From one involving dwarves, to smelling flowers or candles (out of nowhere!) present at a wake and remembering the person that passed distinctly. Just earlier this year, my Grandma.
Bunn: I’ve had numerous strange experiences in my life. Some of them might have been supernatural. I want to believe in that sort of thing, but I also look for rational answers to these situations. When those rational answers (even when they are a stretch) elude me altogether, I’ll know I’m onto something!
Nrama: What is it about ghost stories like Cold Spots that could resonate with readers?
Torres: The reality of the stories, that we all can relate to the characters. Ghost stories, as well as others that deal with the supernatural, have a very grounded nature. We get introduced to these people, their personalities, aspirations, frustrations…all very universal conditions… and follow as their lives get turned upside-down by whatever forces of darkness they’ll need to face, and eventually, overcome. We all meet strangers who become part of our lives, be it in a good or bad way… and we all come to a realization of the inevitable end (figuratively and literally). This kind of tales can somehow prepare us when that force ultimately arrives in our lives.
The monsters are secondary in horror, it’s the human condition that’s both essential and tricky (more so for printed stories).
Bunn: Ghosts embody our fear of death, our fear of loss, our fear of leaving this world without resolving all of our BS. They might represent the past. They might represent our future. But they are inescapable. In Cold Spots, these spirits are not necessarily malevolent, but they are still chilling because of their otherness, their disconnection from the life they once had.
Nrama: What would you say is the main theme of Cold Spots?
Bunn: This is a story about death and loss and fear, but it is also a story about second chances. In manifesting after death, these spirits have a second chance to accomplish something. Maybe it is something small or something big. Maybe it is something with ill intent. But the real second chance comes with Dan as he struggles to rescue his daughter and become the father he’s never been.
Torres: “Reunion”… the first track off the original soundtrack, and main theme song of the series. A downloadable MP3 file comes free in every issue to make the Cold Spots experience fuller, more haunting. And also as a thank you for the kind folks supporting our baby.
Wait…were you asking about the story’s theme…