NYCC EXCLUSIVE: Bunn's Favorite Character Takes Center Stage in "The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust"

The weird western world of "The Sixth Gun" is about to get bigger, with new miniseries "The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust" announced Thursday afternoon at New York Comic Con, during "The Oni Press Comicstravaganza!" panel.

Written by "Sixth Gun" scribe Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Tyler Crook -- a Mignolaverse veteran who's stepped in a few times for Brian Hurtt on the main "Sixth Gun" series -- "Dust to Dust" focuses on Billjohn O'Henry, personal friend to Drake Sinclair and Bunn's favorite "Sixth Gun" character. While Billjohn met an unfortunate end early in the "Sixth Gun," this series gives Bunn the chance to tell a "funny, sad" story with "plenty of action and weirdness" in the character's past.

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CBR News has the first interview with Bunn on "Dust to Dust," discussing how miniseries like this one allows him and Hurtt to open up the world of "The Sixth Gun" -- which may continue even beyond the main series' planned conclusion -- and working with Crook, who the writer says is drawing some of the best work of his career. Bunn also talks his long and fruitful relationship with "Sixth Gun" publisher Oni Press, which dates back to his and Hurtt's "The Damned," which started in 2006.

CBR News: Cullen, a new "Sixth Gun" miniseries is on the way from Oni -- "Dust to Dust." What can you share about this story? I know it's focused on Billjohn O'Henry, telling more of his past.

Cullen Bunn: It's no secret that Billjohn is my favorite character in "The Sixth Gun." I love the character -- which is probably why I was so terrible to him in the first arc of the series. Obviously Billjohn's continued to be a part of the story, but there have been times where I write these flashbacks -- Billjohn where he was alive -- and it really lit a fire, for me, that I wanted to tell a story about Billjohn during his days before "The Sixth Gun."

I think it's a different kind of story. Obviously there are guest stars and characters that tie-in to the main "Sixth Gun" story, and there are callbacks to things we've seen our characters talk about -- even Billjohn talk about. But it's a very different kind of story for "Sixth Gun." I think it's funny, and it's sad, and it's got plenty of action, and it's got weirdness in it. There's something about the tone of this that I think really stands out. I'm pretty excited for people to read this one.

What strikes me about it is that with these miniseries, and going to different time periods within the story, and broadening that world -- even though I know the main "Sixth Gun" series is a finite run, theoretically as you have the stories to tell, you could revisit this world at different points in the narrative. Is that something you've been thinking about, with the larger structure of the story?

Yeah, absolutely. Brian Hurtt and I talk a lot about this. We like the world-building aspect of "The Sixth Gun," and the way we can tell additional stories. I have other stories I'm going to tell, Brian has stories he wants to tell; set in the "Sixth Gun" world. And I like that. I like that we can come back to it and return to it again and again.

The thing is, when "The Sixth Gun" ends with issue #50, that will end the story for those characters. We'll wrap that all up with a nice little bow. But that doesn't mean there aren't other stories to tell. There are stories in the past we can tell. There are stories of others characters that we want to explore in the world of "The Sixth Gun," and we definitely will return to that again and again -- hopefully. [Laughs]

It seems almost Mignola-esque in the type of potential for branching out with different stories, characters and timelines within one world.

I think that's a fair comparison. When we started "The Sixth Gun," we didn't know if it would go past the initial six-issue arc. But the more stories we tell -- we don't have room to fit all the stories we want to tell in the main 60 issues. If we did, the story just wouldn't end. We don't want to lose momentum on that story that we're telling in the main series. But the world is much bigger than what we're seeing just in the main series.

The art on this series is by Tyler Crook -- he's done a couple of "Sixth Gun" issues, but this is the first story of length you've gotten to do with him, right?

Yeah, this is the first time we've worked on an issue-to-issue story. I believe it's the best stuff I've seen from Tyler, and I'm a big fan of Tyler Crook. But this stuff is, for me, just some of his best work. Brian Hurtt and I joke about it a lot, we look at these pages and say, "Man, Tyler draws a really great action scene, and he draws some great, creepy stuff." But we both agree -- Tyler draws an amazing sad Billjohn O'Henry. He really gets the emotion of this story, and brings that out of these characters, I think.

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You've had a relationship with Oni dating back to "Damned" -- currently you've got "Sixth Gun," "Brides of Helheim," "Terrible Lizard" and more. How much have you enjoyed that relationship over the years, and especially right now? What makes it the right home for your creator-owned stuff?

The nice thing about Oni is, it's been since 2006 I've been working with them. And that relationship has definitely grown over the years -- and that's really what it is. It's the relationship I've built with them. I see these guys are my friends in many ways. I love those guys. And I love the team there, and I feel like they really care about these projects. They care if the books are going to succeed. They want to put the best work out there.

I love working with them. It's a little bit bittersweet to me, because I feel like, yeah, I do have a lot of books with them, and at some point, they can't take all of the projects I'm gonna do. [Laughs] There are projects that I'll do with other publishers, too, but Oni is a home for me, because they stood by me for so long. And they've taken chances. They've done a book like "The Tooth," which was obviously a very strange book for them, and it's a big chance to take, and it's a book I'm not 100% sure would have gone with any other publisher. But they're also very open to me saying, "OK, I've done the supernatural western. And I've done the really violent, bloody, viking story. Now I want to do an all-ages story." And they're open to those kinds of things.

I love what they do. I will continue to do books with Oni. But at some point they're going to say, "Enough's enough Cullen, we can't do anymore." [Laughs] I've got unannounced books at Oni that go off for the next couple of years. They just haven't been announced yet.

"The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust" #1 is scheduled for release on March 4, 2015.

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