Image Comics’ devotion to diverse creator-owned works has set the industry on fire since 1992. In terms of horror and supernatural stories, there are few better than Image. With the release of their new series COLD SPOTS, writer Cullen Bunn and artist Mark Torres give readers a glimpse into a mysterious new world of spirits. When Dan Kerr’s estranged wife and daughter go missing, he must set out to find them. But when he tracks them down to the isolated Quarrels Island, he finds himself trapped in a supernatural mystery. Ghosts are rising in the town, and they seem to be attracted by Dan’s daughter Grace. Can he find Grace before the past catches up with him?

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CV: Could you give us a run down, in your words, about what COLD SPOTS is all about?

Cullen Bunn (CB): COLD SPOTS is a gothic horror thriller about a man searching for his estranged daughter. As he searches for her, he discovers that the girl is connected to the spirit world in an unimaginable way. This makes her valuable to other groups, most of which have sinister plans for her. The girl’s connection to restless spirit causes cold spots to manifest. These cold spots increase in intensity with the intensity of spiritual activity. As ghosts become more and more active, the cold increases, bringing about a deadly supernatural winter.

Mark Torres (MT): On the surface, it’s a nutriciously complex mix of supernatural horror, noir, drama, action, cosmic terror…with the human condition being its heart & soul.

COLD SPOTS
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Cullen and Mark, how did this collaboration originally start? Was it set up through Image, or did you know each other before working on this story?

CB: Mark and I had talked about working on projects together in the past, we just needed to make sure the timing was right and we had a project on which we clicked. That project was COLD SPOTS. It’s an idea I had been wanting to develop for a while, and I was certain Mark could bring the right eeriness to the page. I’m really glad he liked the idea as much as I did.

MT: Hook, line, and sinker from just that damned glorious pitch!

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CV: Cullen, COLD SPOTS is not your first foray into supernatural horror. In fact, with stories like HELHEIM, BONE PARISH, HARROW COUNTY, and THE DAMNED, many would say you gravitate toward that genre. How has this past work in the genre influenced your writing of COLD SPOTS? What other influences does this story have?

CB: With each of my supernatural/horror stories, I want to try something different and explore different story moods and tones. COLD SPOTS veers into a sort of deliberate gothic atmosphere. It is not as fantasy-based as, say, HARROW COUNTY. It does not lean into some of the visual and grotesque horror of a book like REGRESSION. I want each of my projects to feel very different for my readers.

As far as my previous work influencing this project, I feel like I learn something and take a little something away from every book I write. I pick up tricks and ideas along the way. For example, there might be an idea that pops into my head while I’m working on a book like THE DAMNED that just doesn’t fit into that universe. I’ll file it away for use in future projects. It’s difficult to pinpoint any specifics for where my other work has influenced COLD SPOTS.

I’m influenced by many of the horror novels, short stories, comics, and movies I’ve watched over the years.

COLD SPOTs
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Mark, your work in COLD SPOTS is incredibly distinctive. As it is fairly distinguishable from your past work on TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and JUDGE DREDD, what inspired the art direction for this story?

MT: Thanks! I enjoy switching up my approach, almost tailor-fitting to best compliment a project. It also keeps things fresh for me, as this line of work tends to be quite time consuming and labor intensive. But Horror & Noir will always be my fave defaults. COLD SPOTS having an abundance of those two, plus a whole lot more, is the perfect playground to let the (dark) creative juices run wild.

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CV: For both of you, tell us a little about working with protagonist Dan Kerr. He seems like a man wrapped in as many mysteries as the small town he is investigating. What are his connections to these supernatural events? What did both of you want to make sure you brought out in this character?

CB: Dan’s not a good person. He’s lived a very selfish life. Yes, he is surrounded in mysteries, but his selfish nature should be readily apparent. The biggest mystery, perhaps, is his relationship with this family he really knows nothing about. With Dan, I never want to use exposition to describe his past. I think I layer hints as to who he is throughout each issue, but there is definitely room for reader interpretation. Mark and I have ideas to deepen Dan’s story (and the story of the world of COLD SPOTS) in the future.

MT: Dan’s a no-good SOB, who’s bout to find out there “could” still be some redemption for him, as he goes on this quest, facing an unimaginable, rising horror. I would like to say I place myself in his shoes whenever I put pencil to paper…but I don’t. I’d rather beat the living hell outa him. But as the looming terror awakens & intensifies in every issue, we’ll witness the extents that could either make or break Dan.

CV: What can you tell us about the mystery surrounding Alyssa and Grace’s disappearance? In the story summary, this spiritual “epidemic” seems to be connected to Grace, and from what we can see from the artwork in her room, this isn’t simply a sudden occurrence. She’s seen these spirits before. How did you, Cullen, go about building this mystery, and also the world of Quarrel’s Island?

CB: There is a deep mystery surrounding Quarrel’s Island and, as with Dan, I don’t want to put too fine of a point on the explanation. In this initial mini-series, I will give you plenty of hints as to what has transpired on the island in the past, but there will still be an air of uncertainty and mystery. Again, these mysteries will only deepen in future stories in this world.

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CV: When it comes to the spirits themselves, some seem harmless, like the children at COLD SPOTS #1’s opening, while others seem to have their own vendettas. Cullen, is this force largely malicious, or is there a deeper side to these creatures? Mark, the designs for the spirits as well are incredibly distinct. How did you land on the “smoky headed” spirit design?

CB: Most of this is on Mark’s shoulders. It’s his fault! His fault! I wrote a brief description of the spirits, and let him go for it.

MT: Cullen kickstarted it, suggesting they be hazy apparitions, shadowy faced, with pinpoint ghastly light eyes. I totally loved the idea and added in the vibe of these entities existing as if in between Viewmaster frames. There’ll be variations of ‘em in the story, to reflect their nature, or intent.

COLD SPOTs
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Cullen and Mark, what was it like working in this small town setting? Why did you decide to keep the scope of this story so limited, compared to say BONE PARISH which is set in the city? What challenges and benefits came into play with this?

CB: I wanted to evoke a sense of isolation in this story. A small town accentuates Dan’s own loneliness. It helps us focus on how Grace might feel. It also gives us the idea that the world is closing in around them. Once Dan reaches the island, we may get the idea that there is no escape.

MT: Notice that most legendary horror, be it in books, movies, etc…have an element in common: isolation. Of people confined in their houses, towns, space stations, minds…haunted by forces man wasn’t set up to comprehend. Having this smaller location, helps Cullen, myself, and the readers connect with the characters better. From there we escalate gradually…making the town a character in its self. And from there…Wink! Wink!

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CV: What can we expect to see next for Dan, Grace, and the town of Quarrels Island?

CB: Dan is heading to Quarrels Island, where he will quickly see that there is something very, very strange going on. There, he will meet the Quarrels Family. They have no intention of letting him leave with the girl. The Quarrels have a very dark purpose in mind for Grace, one that will rattle Dan’s understanding of the world he lives in.

MT: We’ll find out which is more terrifying…the great unknown…or the hearts of men.

COLD SPOTS
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: For both of you, what other projects are you currently working on?

CB: Right now, I’m working on REGRESSION,  BONE PARISH, ASGARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and a bunch of other projects, most of which I’m forbidden to talk about right now!

MT: Laser-focused on COLD SPOTS in terms of comics. Outside of it, I dabble in Designer Toys, as well as finishing up a solo EP album I’ve been itching to release.

Want More COLD SPOTS?

COLD SPOTS #1 releases on August 22, 2018, with the rest of the series set to release monthly. To learn more about Cullen Bunn, check out his Twitter, @cullenbunn, or his website. For more on Mark Torres, follow his Instagram, @towersmarked.

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