Exclusive interview: Cullen Bunn blends the horrific with the mythic to produce his new title, Helheim!
Cullen Bunn and his work are quickly becoming favorites in the offices of
Coming in March from Oni Press, Bunn will be releasing a saga titled Helheim!
Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up with the prolific scribe for an exclusive interview on his coming book.
Cosmic Book News: First off, how does one go about mixing the horror genre with Norse mythology? What kind of an animal is Helheim?
Cullen Bunn: I’ve been short handing the description of Helheim as “a Viking-era Frankenstein story,” but that really only scratches the surface of what the story is about. This is a tale of the undead and demons and witches, yes, but it is also a tale of betrayal and loss and corruption. It’s violent and brutal and savage, but it’s got a heart.
As far as infusing Norse elements with the horror genre goes, it came pretty naturally to me. Keep in mind, my first exposure to tales of Norse heroes was Beowulf, which is loaded with horrific elements. Beyond that, there’s a feel to Viking stories … a bleakness … that makes them right at home in the horror genre.
Cullen Bunn: Rikard is a young hero, one of the best and brightest. He’s learned how to be a warrior by watching his father, Kirk, and now he’s fighting right by his side. His skill is unmatched, really, and he lives by a valiant code of honor. So he has to die.
Rikard’s biggest challenge, though, is that after he is killed, he is denied the Paradise he deserves. He’s brought back from the dead, his severed head stitched onto the monstrous body of a makeshift warrior. Now he’s a killing machine in the war between two terrible witches.
As he sets out on this violent, bloody path, he begins to wonder if he’ll ever achieve the peace he longs for … and if he really deserves it.
Cullen Bunn: The primary antagonists are two witches. Rikard and his people are caught in the middle of a war between them. These witches have influence over the human world; the first villains we see are some savage warriors in thrall to one of the witches. But they also control the demonic world and the world of the undead.
Cullen Bunn: Well, this is primarily Rikard’s story, so we’ll be focused on him. We will see a bit of his village in the first issue, and in subsequent issues we’ll spend some time looking at how the Witch-War has affected other people. But I don’t spend a lot of time with the villagers. Rikard is isolated and alone, and I try to bring that across. Other characters will share the spotlight, of course. Rikard’s father, Kirk, has a role to play, as does Shad, one of Rikard’s fellow warriors. The witches get a lot of panel-time. And in the third issue we introduce a character who, in many ways, will serve as Rikard’s savior.
Cullen Bunn: Joelle is a wonderful artist and a great collaborator. She brings these characters to life in such a vivid way, and her work is fluid and packed with action and emotion. She doesn’t shy away from the dark, violent elements of the story. She’s unflinching in what she brings to the page.
Cullen Bunn: Well, that all depends on reader response. No matter what, you’ll see six full issues that tell a complete story, but if the book strikes a chord with readers, there is a much bigger tale to tell.
Cullen Bunn: For a book about an undead Viking battling demonic beasts, Helheim will have a lot of surprises. I doubt anyone will suspect where this story will take them.
Cullen Bunn: I’m still hard at work on the ongoing creator-owned series The Sixth Gun, as well as a couple of unannounced new projects. I’m also hard at work on Venom and The Fearless Defenders for Marvel.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Cullen Bunn for spending some time with us, as well as Oni Press.
Hellheim hits shelves in March! Head on over here for our advanced review.