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DF Interview: Cullen Bunn takes his turn at the venerable Cimmerian in Conan the Slayer
By Byron Brewer
Alone, battle weary, and with nothing but his sword, Conan of Cimmeria faces his inevitable death in the arid wastes … but instead stumbles into a camp of Kozaki raiders. With a knife at his throat and a band of Turanian hunters at his back, will the half-dead barbarian find a new ally in the Kozaki chief?
Kicking off a brand new series, Conan the Slayer is penned by writer Cullen Bunn (Harrow County) with art by Sergio Davila (Red Sonja). For more on Conan’s latest S&S rumble, DF spoke with the writer.
Dynamic Forces: Cullen, is this the first time you have written the adventures of Robert E. Howard's barbarian?
Cullen Bunn: It is! I've probably written a bunch of prose Conan pastiche, especially in my younger days, but this is my first time writing an official Conan yarn.
DF: Tell us what you can about how this new Conan adventure from Dark Horse came about and how you became attached to it.
Cullen Bunn: Dark Horse has been publishing a long line of amazing Conan stories. Each series has followed a chronological progression of Conan's life. But, even though each series has included at least a couple of adaptations of Robert E. Howard stories, they also expand on the mythos, adding new adventures, embellishing on stories only hinted at in Howard's tales, and introducing new characters. Dark Horse reached out to me about this series, probably because they know I have a soft spot for barbaric stories.
DF: In your eyes as writer, who is Conan?
Cullen Bunn: I can think of no better description to sum up Conan than Howard's: "Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet." That pretty much paints a perfect picture. For me, Conan may be a barbarian, but he is more "civilized" than most city-dwellers, especially the rulers and their generals he meets in this story.
DF: Tell us about the storyline of Conan the Slayer.
Cullen Bunn: This story begins with a simple idea. Conan stumbles into a Kozaki camp armed only with a sword. If you're familiar with the Conan stories, you might know that eventually Conan rises to power among the Kozaki. How that happens is a big part of this tale, but it is also the story of ghosts, hideous creatures, bitter betrayal, and a vendetta against Conan by one of the greatest rulers in all the lands.
DF: Is this a new, original story or an adaptation of one of Howard's tales? If the former, was there any particular source of inspiration?
Cullen Bunn: As we begin this series, we're exploring new territory -- new companions, new villains, and new threats. As the series progresses, I will be adapting a couple of Howard stories: "The Devil in Iron" and "The People of the Black Circle" but there will be a lot of new stories being told before and after those tales.
DF: Are there any new interesting characters we will be meeting?
Cullen Bunn: Several new characters will be introduced, in particular among the Kozaki people. In addition, some of the characters who were only briefly mentioned in the Howard stories will be fleshed out in much greater detail. And I'm introducing this particularly nasty ghoul-like creature who follows along behind Conan like a scavenger.
DF: Why is artist Sergio Davila right for this series?
Cullen Bunn: Sergio was born to draw barbaric action and Hyperborean horror, which this series is chock full of!
DF: Cullen, any other projects current or near-future you'd like to mention?
Cullen Bunn: My book The Sixth Gun is coming to an end, with issues 48 through 50 coming out during April, May and June. And from Dark Horse I'm writing the horrific fairy tale Harrow County.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Cullen Bunn for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Conan the Slayer #1 from Dark Horse hits stores July 13th!
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