Every time I turn around, Cullen Bunn has something new up his sleeves. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, he writes what is probably my favorite on-going comic at the moment, Harrow County, and has more recently released Regression from Image Comics and The Unsound from BOOM! Studios. Other creator-owned comics he’s writing include The Damned, The Sixth Gun, and the upcoming Unholy Grail.
As if that’s not enough work to keep him busy, he’s also soon headed back to Marvel with Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe… Again! and Venomverse. And while he’s well-known for his comics, recently Bunn has started a Patreon account to share more of his prose work. The short stories, comics process posts, and early previews are just bonus perks!
We caught up with Bunn to talk about how he juggles all of this work, how he spends his time interacting with his fans, and what fans can expect as Patrons for less than the price of one Starbucks coffee a month.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you stay organized between all of your different projects?
Busy! Right now, I’ve got more on my plate than ever before, so I’m absolutely working extra to get it all done. I usually work from 8 to 5 every weekday, just as if I had a “real” job… only I can work in my pajamas if I want. Lately, I’ve been working a lot at night, too, and pulling long shifts on the weekend.
Staying organized isn’t usually a problem. I keep all my notes and outlines and plans organized into folders to help with that. I’m starting to put together ever-updated story “bibles” to help keep me focused on where my different stories are going. That’s probably the biggest challenge. I may be writing a script for a certain comic only every other month, and the risk is forgetting what I had planned!
Especially recently, it feels like you have a new series coming out weekly. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you keep it?
Inspiration isn’t really an issue. I’m pretty open to new ideas, and I have notebooks filled with story seeds and ideas for new characters and bits of dialogue I think might be interesting. The notion that a writer has to wait for inspiration to strike is ridiculous to me. I want to shut it off sometimes!
That doesn’t mean it necessarily mean it always came naturally. I feel like that kind of inspiration can be cultivated. I force myself to sit with my notebook every day and just brainstorm… about something… about anything. Sometimes those ideas die on the vine. And that’s all right. Sometimes they grow over time. And sometimes they become something I MUST write about at that very second.
After the release of The Unsound #1, you ran an informal contest on Twitter. How do you characterize your relationship to your readers and in what other ways do you interact with them?
I try to stay as involved as possible with my readers. I try to answer questions and respond to comments on Twitter (that’s my primary outlet), Patreon, and Facebook, among other social media platforms. I love meeting and talking to readers and signings and conventions. These folks love comics and stories and nerdy stuff–just like me!
I’ve always been a very shy person, but being a comic writer (surprisingly) has helped to bring me out of my shell a bit. I’ll continue to do contests and prize drawings and the like, because it’s a fun and I think readers like it.
You recently set up a Patreon account to release prose writing, comics behind the scenes info, and it’s nearly a direct-line to interaction with you. Why have you decided that Patreon was the right place to begin sharing these things?
More than anything, I wanted something to keep me motivated when it comes to prose. Now, I have people awaiting new chapters as I publish them, and I don’t want to let those folks down.
But I also get a ton of questions about process, and I thought it would be a good way to post my thoughts on writing comics (writing in general, really) and share those things with people who are genuinely interested in how I work.
Are the prose writings, process essays, and short stories that you’re creating and sharing on Patreon ever going to be available in other formats for people who are not Patrons?
Eventually, yes. At least, the novel and stories will be collected and published at some point. My plan, though, is to give people who have been patrons first crack at those published works. There’s a good chance, assuming the Patreon is successful, that I’ll end up giving Patrons hard copies of those works when they are published.
Bunn has opened several of the Patreon posts to the public, in order to give a better idea of what to expect from him each month. The first post is a behind the scenes look at the initial proposal for The Sixth Gun, while another post reveals the first chapter of Shadowcage, Bunn’s prose writing. There are scanned sketches and brainstorm work, as well as Patreon-only posts with more behind the scenes information and short stories.
It’s rare to get this kind of direct engagement from creators with regards to their work, but Bunn offers an all-access tour behind the scenes as well as content from him that you won’t find anywhere else. He also takes the time to comment and engage with fans over the platform, promises future live Q&A sessions, and has weekly content offerings for Patrons.