Welcome back to Haunted Trails, Multiversity Comics’ column exploring the world of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s “The Sixth Gun.” In case you missed the news, “The Sixth Gun” is coming back in 2025, and to get us ready for this momentous occasion, Oni Press is running a Kickstarter for a Deluxe Omnibus Library, collecting “The Sixth Gun” and every single story to date—every single spinoff and short story. Most importantly, it’ll collect “Shadow Roads,” a series that acts as a kind of bridge from the original run of “The Sixth Gun” to the upcoming 2025 series.
If you want full details, Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt did a bunch of interviews last week with ComiCon.com, AIPT Comics, Daily Dead, Smash Pages, Wicked Horror, Traversing the Stars, and Cryptid Creator Corner. All make it very clear, the Deluxe Omnibus Library is an excellent way to experience this universe, especially for new readers.
And there’s something new for longtime “Sixth Gun” readers as well. To prepare us for the return of “The Sixth Gun” in 2025, Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt will be creating three one-shot prelude stories. These are separate stories, somewhat self-contained and featuring different characters (some new, some familiar), that will give readers a taste of what’s to come.
But that’s enough jawing from me. Let’s hear what Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have to say about the matter. Be warned, this interview is for those of you that have read all of “The Sixth Gun” and “Shadow Roads” and are hungry for more. . . There are spoilers ahead for those not up to date.
The last time we spoke, “Shadow Roads: Birthright” had just wrapped up. And by that I mean, the arc had ended, but it was otherwise wide open, lots of things looming. At the time, you had both remarked how “Shadow Roads” had taken on a life of its own. How did that series change from your original plans to what it has become now?
Brian Hurtt: It was designed out the gate to be a globe-trotting, ensemble comic and to that end, we succeeded. As we got into it, we realized that servicing all these different characters—and the world at large—was an even bigger endeavor than we realized and became its own runaway train.We quickly fell in love with these characters and saw all these paths and stories we wanted to tell.
I think what took us by surprise was how much the series would be tethered to the story and the lore of “The Sixth Gun” and how much we would build on that. Particularly with the idea of the crossroads and the characters of Kalfu and Abigail (and all of her unfinished business).
Ah, those are among my favorite plot threads in “Shadow Roads.”
Cullen Bunn: I’m not sure what I expected for “Shadow Roads” besides… you know… a great fun story. I should have expected that it would become the runaway train Brian described. Because everything we work on together becomes this sort of runaway train. We just can’t control the love of the characters, the love of the lore. At the time that we developed that series, we did not intend for it to connect to “The Sixth Gun” as much as it did. And now.
We’re really embracing that with what comes next.
Brian, you once mentioned how you wished you had more time in “The Sixth Gun” to simply spend time with the characters around a campfire. With “Shadow Roads” having such a large ensemble cast, some of which we barely know, I must admit, a big part of why I’m excited for the preludes is simply to spend time with the characters, getting to know them a little better. So for the pair of you, not your readers, what’s the allure of making these preludes?
CB: I approach the preludes with a little hesitance and caution. The one thing I don’t want is for these books to be simply character pieces or flashbacks to things that happened before. These preludes are going to be important to the story to come. And I think you’ll be surprised by the characters we focus on. That’s the thing I’m excited about. Surprising readers. Because what comes next is a mystery that I can’t wait to spring on you.Continued below
BH: It’s not just the cast of “Shadow Roads” that we miss spending time with, it’s all the characters of “The Sixth Gun” and the world itself!The preludes will give us the opportunity to tease where we might be headed in this ongoing chapter of “The Sixth Gun” while also giving the readers a chance to touch base with some familiar faces as well as some less familiar faces! There will be some surprises as to who shows up—both in the preludes as well as the upcoming new series!
In addition to the preludes, Cullen, you’re also writing a prose short story for the Kickstarter. You know I have to ask: “Mama Raptor” or “Darker Than Witches Blood”?
CB: That’s a tough question for me.
So… I started two “Sixth Gun” short stories. One was called “Mama Raptor” and the other was “Darker Than Witch’s Blood.” They were definitely flashback stories, telling the tale of Drake Sinclair before the events of “The Sixth Gun.” But neither of them were finished for various reasons.
If I’m going to finish them, at least as stories tied to “The Sixth Gun,” I have to do that now, because I’d want them included with the Omnibi, I think.
But I’m not sure if I have the time or bandwidth at the moment.
Now, the prose story being done for the campaign, that’s a different beast. I’m treating it as a prelude story as well. As such, it’s very important in relation to the story that’s on the horizon!
Now I’m even more intrigued! Brian, I believe you’re doing some illustration work for the prose story too. Any chance we’ll see you draw Gutshot O’Toole?
BH: I’m wondering the same thing! You’re referring to a pretty fun character that only appeared in a short “Sixth Gun” prose story many years ago.There is still a lot of wiggle room in this new prose story so we still have time to petition Cullen!
For me, that’s part of the appeal of the “The Sixth Gun” universe, that there is so much more beyond what the comics show. It’s a world with history—a LOT of history.
CB: It’s part of what I love about the series. We’ve done so much world-building. Some of it will never see the page. And there’s so much more to come!
BH: The lore of the series is something that Cullen and I talk about a lot.It’s something we were literally talking about just an hour ago! There is so much that has not made it into the comics yet and even more that may never make it in.We’ve had lots of conversations about where we might expand the world and the storytelling of “The Sixth Gun” outside of comics, whether it might be prose, table top role-playing, or what have you.We have lots of ideas and lots of love for this material—it’s only a matter of finding the right avenue for telling all these stories!
I understand you’ve also talked Chris Samnee into doing a new variant cover for “The Sixth Gun” #1, but that’s yet to be revealed. Do you think there’s a chance you could talk him into doing a guest issue for “The Sixth Gun Reborn” too?
BH: Can you imagine?! We’re both big fans and of course we’d love to see more of Chris playing in the world of “The Sixth Gun,” but that is a busy, busy man!We can always dream, though. In the meantime, we’re just thrilled to have any contribution from him and this variant cover he’s done is fantastic!
CB: I can be very persuasive when I need to be. Maybe I can sweet talk Chris a little.
Since you can’t reveal any of your secrets, let’s end with something fun. You have each unwittingly become bound to one of the Six. Which one is it and what do you do with it?
CB: If I have my druthers, it would be the Fifth Gun, which grants eternal youth. Brian and I were talking about how, when the Free Comic Book Day issue of “The Sixth Gun” came out, we did a signing at Austin Books and Comics. We swore to each other that we would stand all day… and we did. We signed so many books that day, and we never took a seat. These days, I’m not sure I could do that. But if I had the Fifth Gun… oh, yes!Continued below
BH: I’d pick the Sixth Gun so I can get glimpses into the future to see just how well our new stories are going to be received by everyone!
“The Sixth Gun Reborn” prelude set is currently available digitally as a backer tier for the Kickstarter and as an add-on. For all complete set physical tiers, they will be available physically as 24-page standard comic book issues. While these stories are only available as part of the Kickstarter campaign for now, they will eventually be collected with the new “Sixth Gun” series coming in 2025.
Backers will also get a first look at Cullen Bunn and Jesús Hervás’s “Invasive,” with a special 16-page ashcan issue. There’s still at least one more secret tier to unlock, so keep an eye on the updates page.