“I saw a massive horde of rats scurrying through the graveyard silently” Cullen Bunn talks reanimated rats and The Remains
Cullen Bunn’s American gothic supernatural horror story The Remains has been giving us nightmares since the first issue was published with it’s haunting tale of a mysterious stranger who visits a family in a rural American farm and has a creepy effect on it’s local rat population. Keen to find out where this terrifying idea came from we contacted the man behind it, writer Cullen Bunn to find out how he created such a nightmarish concept for his first book with MonkeyBrain Comics.
The Remains has a very classic American literature feel (shades of Twain and Steinbeck) what is it about that period that makes for such a rich period for story telling? And why set the story then not the modern day?
CB: For me, the setting reminds me of the stories my dad used to tell, stories of ghosts and “haints” and other wooly boogers that haunted the backwoods and forgotten tobacco barns of rural North Carolina, where I grew up. I’ve always envisioned this tale taking place in the mid- to late 70s or early 80s. I think the simplicity of the region and era accentuates the horror of the situation.
You’ve worked on modern day superhero books and wild west themed stories in The Sixth Gun (albeit with supernatural elements) and now this, which era do you prefer writing and why?
CB:My heart belongs to any story in which I can do a little world-building, whether that’s the Old West, the Viking era, rural North Carolina, the deep space stomping grounds of Sinestro, or the Marvel Universe. What I really want to do is expand the world—whether it’s mine or someone else’s—and the characters who live there.
Without giving too much away the story uses rats as a central ‘horrific’ theme, is that something you have a fear of which you knew you could exploit or was it just something you knew would be emotive?
CB: Actually, that part of the story is inspired by a couple of events that happened to me. First, when I was pretty young, my dad took me out to the old barn to shoot rats. There were some big, nasty ones that lived in the barn, and my dad and I sat out in front of the building at dusk, waiting for them to peek out. The rats were very hesitant to show themselves, and I remember thinking that they knew what we were doing and that they were trying to wait us out.
Years later, I lived in a small apartment that faced a large graveyard across the street. One night, while I was looking out the window, I saw a massive horde of rats scurrying through the graveyard silently. It was one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen.
How did you hook up with the Monkeybrain team and what was the experience of working with them like?
CB: Working with Monkeybrain has been great! I’ve wanted to work with them for some time, because I was interested in the distribution model and I was impressed by the books they’ve released. For various reasons, I couldn’t do anything before now, but I’m thrilled that The Remains Is my first project with them. I say “first” because I can’t wait for what’s next!
How did you come to work with artist AC Zamudio, have you worked together before and what does he bring to the book creatively?
CB: AC and Nick Zamudio were actually referred to me by the very talented creator Chris Schweizer. It was such a wonderful suggestion, and I hope it’s the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.
Finally The Remains is slated for a 4 issue run, what can we look forward to from you next? More indie books or more superheroes?
CB: A little of both. I’ll be writing Magneto for Marvel and Sinestro for DC. I’m also launching several new creator-owned projects over the next year. I’ll be doing a book for Boom! titled The Empty Man and a few more top secret projects for Oni Press! I like to stay busy!