Ghosts, gun slingers and the new frontier of digital comics. The Sixth Gun writer Cullen Bunn talks about it’s success on the iPad

The growth of digital comics apps for the iPad has created an exciting new market place for independent comics publishers. With regular sales promoting titles from smaller publishers, ComiXology does a great job of getting it’s readers to check and out and sample new titles with the convenience of a digital download. One such title which I was tempted to check out for the the first time recently is The Sixth Gun from Oni Press. A supernatural western it combines all your favourite elements of the classic wild west with a brilliantly gothic under current that would make HP Lovecraft or Mike Mignola proud. The man behind the title is writer Cullen Bunn, who you might be more familiar with from his run on Marvel’s Fear Itself, so I got in touch with him to ask just what the effect of digital sales are having on books like The Sixth Gun. Your book The Sixth Gun was recently promoted on ComiXology‘s site, have you had a surge in interest in the title and your work as a result of this?
CB: Yes, there was definitely an increase in our readership. It was a great opportunity for people who had never read to series to catch up very quickly.

What are your thoughts on digital comics in general? Are you a fan and do you think they are having a positive or negative effect on the comics business and small publishers?
CB: I’m a fan. I approve of anything that offers another vehicle for getting comics into the hands of readers. I think it’s a very cool time to be a comic fan, because you can get your books in single issues, trade paperbacks, digitally, etc. However you prefer to read your comics, there’s a great method for you. I think expanding awareness of the medium and making comics available to readers–existing and new alike–can only be a boon to the business.

Are you you an iPad/iPhone user yourself and do you read comics on them? If so how do you feel about reading comics on them and what books are you currently reading that you would recommend?
CB: I do read comics on my iPad. I’m one of those guys who reads some books in the floppies, some in trade, and some digitally. The last book I bout for the iPad was Scott Snyder’s recent Batman run. I had the first couple of issues in singles, but I wanted them all in one place that was easy to access. I also bought a bunch of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine. Again, I have the singles, but i wanted to have them on the iPad for reference.

What inspired you when writing The Sixth Gun? Did you want to create a western or a horror or was it always a plan to make a combination of the two?
CB: It’s the kind of book I’ve always wanted to write. One of the biggest inspirations, I guess is Joe R. Lansdale’s novella DEAD IN THE WEST and the short story Hell Creek by Karl Edward Wagner. Both of those are supernatural westerns that i really loved.

What are you working on next and how do you think digital publishing will factor into producing that book? Will you be learning lessons from the successes of The Sixth Gun?
CB: When I approach a story, I don’t tend to think of digital or print. I just want to tell a good story. In the future I’ll probably start taking it into consideration a little more often, but right now I try not to worry about it. I’m currently working on a number of Marvel books as well as two new creator-owned titles.

Issues 1-20 of The Sixth Gun are currently available on ComiXology for £1.49 each and you can follow Cullen on Twitter at @cullenbunn