The Vertigo imprint at DC Comics continues to defy pundits, with new series debuting practically every month. December brings Wolf Moon to the table, the new creator-owned series from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jeremy Haun. We checked in with Bunn (whose current credits include Sinestro, Lobo, Army of Darkness, and Magneto) to find out what we can expect from this brand new werewolf tale!
Matt Santori: Cullen, congratulations on the new Vertigo series! You have a strong background in creator-owned work with The Sixth Gun and The Damned previously. What’s different about this time around with Wolf Moon?
Cullen Bunn: Every creator-owned project has its own opportunities, challenges, and flavors. With The Damned and The Sixth Gun, I was writing supernatural/historical mash-ups. Lately, I’ve been writing straight horror stories, though — The Empty Man, for example, and the upcoming Harrow County.
But even those stories are quite different from what you see in Wolf Moon, which is a horror story but a little more visceral in nature. With this story, I had to balance the blood-and-guts horror with the terror of what the presence of this werewolf can do to those who encounter it.
CB: I’ve always liked werewolves, but one of the things that I think is most terrifying about the monster is that it completely takes over its human host. Imagine what that does to someone. Imagine how that could ruin a life.
I wanted to be able to see several people who had been impacted by the werewolf. I wanted to explore how different people might react to the Wolf in different ways. By having the Wolf “move” from person to person each month offered a way to explore how these lives were changed. I was really able to look at the horror these people experienced — whether they themselves became the werewolf or they were victims or they lost someone they cared about to the monster.
MSG: Why did it seem important to the storytelling to alter that transmission agent?
CB: One of the things I didn’t want to change was the look of the werewolf. I wanted a rather traditional hulking monster/killing machine. But I still wanted a fresh angle to the story. I wanted something unfamiliar that would set the story apart. The Wolf’s method of transference definitely fit the bill.
What’s interesting about that, though, is that after I decided that would be a story element, I started doing research on folklore I could tie into my version of lycanthrope. I discovered some Native American legends that worked so perfectly with the story I was trying to tell. Weaving those elements into the story really gave it another layer I think readers are going to love.
CB: Your main character, Dillon, clearly was no simple victim of the werewolf, and seemingly was a carrier of the disease himself. Is there an ongoing connection between him and wolf that we’ll see play out, other than his hunt?
MSG: The only lingering connection is the guilt Dillon faces for what he did as the Wolf. That drives his every action. It pushes him forward and it gets in his way.
There’s a line in the first issue that reads, “The Wolf doesn’t just reshape flesh and bone. It reshapes lives.” That’s the theme of the series, and Dillon is our primary example. Nothing will ever be the same for him. We’ll see that with many other characters, too, and we’ll see how each encounter with the Wolf leaves lasting scars. Some of those scars are physical, but the deeper wounds are psychological.
MSG: From the events of the first issue, you’re clearly not shying away from the gory details! What kind of balance do you aim for in the anticipation and the actual reveal when you’re writing, and how important is that to you?
CB: With Wolf Moon, I wanted to tackle the visceral elements without blinking. I tried to imagine what this creature, bottled up for all but three days a month, might want. I wanted to make sure that it was very clear how brutal and monstrous this thing could be.
As for the importance of balance, it’s different with every story, really. With some horror stories — like Harrow County, the ghost story I mentioned earlier — it’s more important to focus on mood and creep out readers in a different way. There’s blood and violence, but the real scares are a little more subtle. With Wolf Moon, we’re dealing with a beast that enjoys brutally killing people, so that brutality had to come across on the page.
CB: Jeremy and I have wanted to work on something together for a long while, but this is our first project. One of the many things I love about Jeremy’s work on this is that he just infuses so much evil into the werewolf. When you look at this beast, it’s more than just a monster. You can see real malice in its eyes.
MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases for the next issue of Wolf Moon?
CB: In the next issue, we’ll learn more about Chase, see how he got those scars of his, and get a glimpse at his time as the Wolf. We’ll meet Dillon’s friend Mason, learn a little about how the Wolf transfers from one person to the next, and be introduced to a new hunter with a very different MO.
Wolf Moon #1 is in stores now, from DC Comics/Vertigo!