by Jarrod Jones. Cullen Bunn thrives in the dark. Harrow County, Sinestro, The Empty Man, The Damned… I could keep going. His bibliography speaks for itself. The shadows, the scary things, they’re his to control. Like toys. That’s the privilege of appreciating his unique brand of storytelling craft—unnerving people only appears to be child’s play to him.
But we know the truth. Cullen Bunn works his ass off. Luckily, for him and for us, he loves what he does. His enthusiasm is contagious especially when we talk about Punk Mambo, Bunn’s latest flirtation with the occult, this time for Valiant. His first response to my questions made me grin like an idiot: “This is my kind of book!” Knowing what he’s capable of, I know that to be the truth.
“It’s pure joy writing Punk Mambo,” he tells me. “The character is such a great mix of action and magic and bad attitude and horror. It’s all the things I love to write about.” Not only is he generous with his praise for the project, Bunn also has nothing but superlatives for his Punk co-conspirator, Adam Gorham. “He just lends such a wonderful frantic energy to the book,” Bunn professes. Y’see? Consummate professional.
And his diligence, as usual, is reaping dividends. Following the critically-favored debut of Punk Mambo earlier this month, DoomRocket spoke with Bunn about what readers can expect from Punk’s latest wild descent into magic mayhem. Below you’ll also find an exclusive first-look at Punk Mambo #2, in stores May 29 (Diamond Code: MAR192067), courtesy of Valiant. Such a raucous mini-series with a creative team like this only demands our utmost attention. Fortunately for everyone involved, it’s so damned fun.
1. Let’s set the scene with that riotously good Grunch sequence at the beginning of ‘Punk Mambo’ #1. What arcane disco did you have to conjure to plot out such a great action sequence? Turning cannibals into vegans with Adam Gorham—how much fun is it to be working on Valiant’s Vodun punk priestess?
Cullen Bunn: This is my kind of book! It’s pure joy writing Punk Mambo! The character is such a great mix of action and magic and bad attitude and horror. It’s all the things I love to write about.
That opening scene with the Grunch is meant to set up the flavor of the entire series. Punk Mambo is a supernatural investigator, yeah, but she is not afraid to jump into the thick of things and get her hands bloody. And working with Adam is so much fun, too! He just lends such a wonderful frantic energy to the book!
2. For reasons specific to Punk Mambo’s overall health and vitality, you’ve moved her from her typical stomping grounds of New Orleans to Haiti. What regional folklore do you plan on brandishing against our favorite spell-weaver? What dangers await Punk when she’s lost home turf advantage?
CB: I researched quite a bit of the folklore of Haiti. I also spent some time digging into the creatures and spells associated with Voodoo. I wanted to create a kind of Voodoo pantheon for this book. Of course, I didn’t stick to the lore religiously (pardon the pun). Instead, I gave it some twists and turns of my own design. I also took some cinematic liberties with Voodoo in general. This is a fun comic, so I wanted the magic—dangerous though it may be—to be part of that fun.
As for the dangers Punk faces, there are some fairly lethal loa (spirits) she’ll be contending with, not the least of which is Uncle Gunnysack. She’ll also have evil practitioners to face. But her chief antagonist in this series is… something new. I created him from scratch, pulling him from the dark recesses of my mind. He’s very bad news to someone like Punk Mambo, and we’ll meet him a little later in the series.
3. Punk Mambo has quite an array of mystical powers. When you’re researching magic and other supernatural things that never seem to materialize on our earthly plane when we’re looking, how do you go about affixing them to action sequences or even character moments? When you’re writing comics, how does one wield magic?
CB: It’s very important to me that magic ties into the wielder’s personality. A spell shouldn’t look the same from person to person or creature to creature. There’s no such thing as a “standard” spell. Punk Mambo’s magic, for instance, is powerful, but it is also wild and dirty and mean. Some of the other magicians we encounter in the book have a subtler approach… or have even more horrific manifestations of their powers. But magic materializes in a way that says something about the magician.
4. You’re famous for writing the scary stuff. You’re staring down the abyss seemingly on a nightly basis. So what frightens Cullen Bunn?
CB: I’m not sure I should say! I mean, like a true name, knowing what terrifies me could give you some sort of power over me.
5. We were just discussing this on our podcast, going through July solicitations and seeing all the Bunn on offer: Just how do you get all this writing done?
CB: Right now, I feel like I’m running behind on everything, so it might not be the best time to ask me this question! During the best of times, though, I work long hours. I sit down around 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, and I work until 5:00 in the afternoon. Typically, I work an hour or two later in the evening, too. That’s Monday through Friday. On the weekends, I work at least a few more hours. This isn’t about me fetishizing overwork. This is just the schedule that feels most comfortable to me. I keep a lot of running to-do lists, and I prioritize what I need to do every day.
‘Punk Mambo’ #2 hits stores May 29. You can pre-order it now (Diamond Code: MAR192067). Final Orders Due: May 6.
Check out this exclusive 5-page first-look at ‘Punk Mambo’ #2, courtesy of Valiant!
PUNK MAMBO #2 (of 5)
Written by Cullen Bunn.
Art by Adam Gorham.
Cover A by Dan Brereton.
Cover B by David Mack.
Cover C by Cris Delara.
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | MAY 29 | FOC: MAY 6
From Valiant: A totally disgusting demon named Uncle Gunnysack is abducting powerful spirits called loas. Can Punk Mambo stop the drooling, sharp-toothed fiend before it strikes again? Get ready for magical brawlin’ in a bazaar!
Guys, this comic has spirit snakessssss. They’re voodoo gods. And they’re giant snakes. It’s awesome.
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