Speaking With Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook About The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust

Last week marked the debut of the prequel to The Sixth Gun. The series subtitled "Dust to Dust" stars a character created by writer Cullen Bunn and main series artist Brian Hurt. I had a chance to talk to Cullen Bunn about the series along with "Dust to Dust" artist Tyler Crook about the new mini-series out from Oni Press. The interview is in two parts, the first is with Bunn and the second with Crook.

Cullen Bunn

Dustin Cabeal: Can you start by telling us a little about the series?

Cullen Bunn: Dust to Dust is a three-issue series following the adventures of Billjohn O'Henry before he became embroiled in the events of the main series. Billjohn is a bounty hunter, but we find that he's not a cold-blooded killer at all. In fact, he's collecting bounties in efforts of finding a way to save his daughter, who is suffering from a terrible illness. It's a bittersweet story featuring plenty of action, humor, heartbreak, and a few familiar faces.

0020What’s your goal for the prequel and why visit the timeline prior to the events in the main Sixth Gun series?

Bunn: In many ways, this story is a farewell to Billjohn. He's been in the series since the start, but in most issues he has been this near mindless husk creature. Dust to Dust gives us a chance to see him in his more lively days, and it allows us to see what he was doing before he joined Drake Sinclair on this wild adventure. Billjohn was always the heart and soul of the little group, so I want to show what he lived for before the Six really played a big role in his life. I hope this makes readers miss Billjohn even more.

In reading the first issue I noticed it had a far more western feel to it compared to the main series. For instance the dime novels which really don’t have a home in the main series, but was that part of the charm of creating the story?

Bunn: Yes, I wanted to write a story that had a slightly different feel. Even though this is set in the fantastical world of The Sixth Gun, I thought a more traditional take on the story might work well here. There's also a little more humor than what you see in the main series. One of the things limited runs like this show off is that there are many different types of stories to be told in this world.

With the art I picked up some, well let’s call it watercolor type scenes, will those be explained as the series goes on and do you want to drop any hints?

Bunn: Those watercolor scenes are important to the story overall. They are little flashes to adventures we've seen in the main series. But this story takes place some time before the events of The Sixth Gun #1. What's going on here? We'll definitely explain it by the time the third issue wraps.

0021With Billjohn being such a popular character, what are you hoping to add to the character with this story?

Bunn: Billjohn is my favorite character in the series. Always has been. That's why I was so cruel to him in the first arc. Well, I guess I wasn't mean enough, and I wanted to put him through a little more pain and suffering. 

In the end, though, I think this story makes Billjohn, who has been something of a "monster" throughout most of the series, a little more human.

Have you always had a love for westerns or is that something that’s developed because of The Sixth Gun?

Bunn: I've loved westerns since I was a little kid watching reruns of Wild Wild West on TV. In those early years, I also liked comics featuring Kid Colt or the Two-Gun Kid, and I watched a few episodes of Gunsmoke along with my dad (although I always wanted just a bit more weirdness in Marshall Dillon's adventures). Later on, I read quite a few western novels, and eventually discovered the weird western novel in the form of Joe R. Lansdale's Magic Wagon and Dead in the West. Even the first prose story I ever sold was a weird western. 


Alright last question: Kurt Russell Wyatt Earp or Kevin Costner Wyatt Earp?

Bunn: Kurt Russell, hands down. I mean, note the lean silhouette. Eyes closed by the sun, yet sharp as a hawk. He has the look of both predator, and prey.

Tyler Crook

Dustin: Having worked on different genres in comics what were the challenges of working on a western?

Tyler Crook: I don’t know about challenges. I mean, the hard part of every comic is just getting it to make sense and express all the ideas and emotions in the story. Everything after that is just surface. The fun and interesting thing about drawing a western is digging through old photo reference. That was the period where photography was invented so it’s possible to get a lot of great, engaging details and textures that are true to the time. And horses are super fun to draw. It’s hard to get them right but when you get close it feels great.

0016That said, a lot of your genres have been period pieces of sorts. What are the challenges with art when working on a period piece?

Crook: I was just talking to a friend of mine about that. And I was arguing that period pieces are a lot easier than contemporary stories. I think it’s because period pieces are interesting to look at by their very nature. You draw one gas lamp instead of an electric light and the reader knows that they’re in another time and they can’t expect things to work like they do now. Contemporary stories can be a lot harder to find a visual ‘hook’ that makes them interesting to look at.

With the Sixth Gun having an established look and design what was your goal in approaching the material so that you were true to your style and that of the series?

Crook: I don’t think I do anything to intentionally change my approach or art style for Sixth Gun. Brian Hurtt and I have a similar approach to how we like to tell stories and it comes across when we are using the same source material. I think that if my stuff fits the Sixth Gun world it’s mostly because of Bill Crabtree’s colors. Even though he colors my stuff different from Brian's, he still makes color choices that sort of unify everyone’s work.

Alright last question: Kurt Russell Wyatt Earp or Kevin Costner Wyatt Earp?

Crook: This is a trick question, right? Kurt Russell 1000% of the time no matter what. Kevin Costner is only good in movies with titles that end in “world”.

I would like to point out that both men answered the last question correctly. Also thank you to both Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook for taking the time to talk with me and be sure to check out The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust out now from Oni Press. The first issue was quite good and you can read our review for more information.