Here at Nerdophiles, we’re huge fans of Cullen Bunn’s on-going series Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics and we were fortunate enough to sit down with him at San Diego Comic Con 2016 to discuss some of our favorite characters, the different artists that have worked on the series, and how the lore is weaved in.
At the end of the interview, we discuss minor spoilers concerning the current arc, but nothing that will take away the enjoyment of reading this series. Pick up Harrow County at your local comics shop today!
Who do you consider the main character of Harrow County?
Cullen Bunn: That’s a great question because on the surface it’s Emmy, but we started introducing a lot of other characters in there that we fell in love with – Bernice for instance, Emmy’s friend. I could see a point in the series where Bernice actually takes more of a lead than Emmy.
So the real cheat answer is for me to say the county itself is the character and all the people living within it are just components of it. But for now we’ll say Emmy, with potential for other characters to take the lead.
Bernice was one of my favorite arcs, that’s why I was curious to see if we’d see more of Bernice.
CB: That’s why we did that Bernice arc, we wanted to see what readers felt with just a story with just Bernice. Tyler Crook and I, we talked at length about what the series would look like if it were solely Bernice.
We love Emmy, we love that’s she’s so powerful, but that’s the problem with her. She’s got these vast powers and I think there’s something nice with Bernice with not being this supernatural being. She sets a nice tone for the series. So you’ll definitely be seeing more Bernice stories.
Good. Speaking of Tyler Crook, he is one of three artists that have done work on this series, Carla Speed McNeil and Hannah Christenson have done one-off issues. How has that been working with different artists?
CB: It’s nice. The toughest part of it is finding someone whose style compliments what Tyler has done, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job. Carla Speed McNeil is actually doing another couple of issues for us in the future. She’s doing a two issue arc of the series, but in the end it’s Tyler’s baby. It’s still nice to bring in some other styles and some other kinds of talent to vary the stories up a little bit.
Speaking of varying the stories, with the one-page stories in the back of each issue, what’s the process of putting those together?
CB: Initially, I was writing them all and then we were sending them to different artists to do or Tyler would do them. But then Tyler got really excited about writing some, so he’s written a bunch of them. We’ve had other creators who have come in and contributed these one page stories. They’re super hard to write, a one page story is really difficult, so I have no problem with other people jumping on to write them.
But we’re even doing some interesting things with those. Tyler’s just written four one-page stories that interconnect into a bigger story that will be appearing in the next few issues and I think he gets a real kick out of those one page stories. A lot of times, we come up with ideas that just don’t fit in the book itself and the one pagers are a good way for us to do something with them, to show that those kind of ghosts and stories are out there.
Initially, these one-page stories didn’t seem to be connected to the main story, but now going back through the series readers can start to see where some connect. How does the lore of these fit into what you’re creating?
CB: It’s interesting because sometimes we’ll do something in one of these one pagers or one shots that we really gravitate to or hook on to and we start to weave that back into the mythology. We have a core story and a core mythology in mind already, we know how the story ends, we know what the end point is of Harrow County but there’s enough room that if we find some great idea that we want to revisit, we can do that.
Sort of like the old stories I heard when I was a kid, my relatives would tell me these wild stories and there was always a changing landscape. They would tell one story and they’d tell another story and the third or fourth story they’d tell, they’d say, “Oh and it was connected to this.” They’d start weaving these connections in and those were the stories that inspired Harrow County at the beginning.
Do you plan far in advance if you want to weave them in or do you get them and think, “Oh this is neat, maybe down the line this will work.”
CB: It’s always nice to have the plan in place, but to leave enough room to be open to those opportunities. For the most part, we try to plan it. We’ve got a plan in place, but sometimes something happens during the creative process – either I write something that I want to do or Tyler draws a character that I want to revisit and really focus on and we go from there.
Going back to Harrow County as the cheat main character of the series, are you going to explore at all or are you going to focus in on Harrow County?
CB: Maybe. Tyler and I have had a lot of conversations about it, because I would actually love to see Emmy in the larger world to see how she interacts. I have a planned arc where it’s Emmy in the outside world, outside of Harrow County, and what that’s like. So we’ll see.
With Emmy’s powers and how strong she is, as well as hints of Kammi’s powers in many issues, are there going to be any more people that we’ll see out there that are on par with Emmy?
CB: Yes, in the arc that is currently being published right now, Emmy is finding that she has a “family,” at least a group of characters that call themselves her family and they’re all very powerful entities that are coming into her life.