Starting a new job can be stressful. But it’s probably not as stressful as Ashli’s first day at St. Cascia Psychiatric Hospital. In Boom! Studios’ THE UNSOUND, we step into a terrifying and confusing world where anything is possible. Writer Cullen Bunn focuses on the theme of sanity and what reality truly means. Are we all just ignorant to a hidden world where the laws of the natural world cease to exist? We talked with Bunn about what we can expect from the following issues of THE UNSOUND. 

Exploring THE UNSOUND

ComicsVerse (CV): What are your main influences for THE UNSOUND? 

Cullen Bunn (CB): There are so many! I’m not even sure I can pick all of them out of my own gray matter. But I’ll try to name a few! Movie-wise, I’d say JACOB’S LADDER, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, and SESSION 9 all spring to mind. With books, the work of Lovecraft and his influences and peers. The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers served as a bit of inspiration. As did The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson and even The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

CV: Ashli is a great protagonist who struggles with her own mental illness. Will we be seeing more of her past or focusing more on the present?

CB: We will definitely be seeing more of her past… or is it her future? In a story like this, time starts to have less and less influence on reality. Either way, though, you’ll learn more about where Ashli comes from and why she is so important to the residents below St. Cascia.

READ: Interested in more of Bunn’s work? Check out REGRESSION!

Behind the Scenes

CV: You’ve worked with some huge publishers like Marvel and Image. What’s it like working with a smaller publisher like Boom! Studios?

CB: Working with Boom! is terrific. They’re encouraging me to create this wild, strange, mind-twisting world and run with it. That’s exactly the kind of support I need when writing a book like THE UNSOUND.

CV: What do you think Jack T. Cole’s artwork for THE UNSOUND brings to the table? What was it like collaborating with him to bring these images to life?

CB: Jack is such a treasure! He brings so many great ideas to the page, giving the entire series this creepy, unhinged look. And the emotions of the characters he draws are clear in every panel.

the unsound
Image courtesy of Boom! Studios.

Making Original Horror

CV: Asylums and mental health facilities are a popular backdrop for the horror genre. How do you think THE UNSOUND makes the setting its own?

CB: The asylum in THE UNSOUND is just a doorway if you think about it. Once the characters descend into the sub-basements of St. Cascia, the story becomes less and less about the physical institution and more about this overwhelming sense of surreality. Yes, the trappings of their surroundings draw inspiration from St. Cascia. But the horrors they encounter are pretty disconnected from what’s real. Or maybe they represent exactly what is real, only we’re too blind to see.

CLICK: Need more horror? Check out our interview with WINNEBAGO GRAVEYARD’S Alison Sampson!

CV: When writing horror comics, what do you believe are the most important elements?

CB: A sense of mood and pacing is essential in a horror comic, whether you want a slow build or a roller-coaster ride. You control that with the pacing and mood. More importantly, though, you have to make sure the readers care about the characters and fear for their well-being. That’s the best way to make readers afraid in regard to what’s about to happen.

The Unsound
Image courtesy of Boom! Studios.

What’s Next?

CV: What can we expect from the final issues of THE UNSOUND? Will we get to meet the prince? 

CB: I’ll say this. The story is going to get much, much stranger. The underbelly of St. Cascia is not the end of the journey. And yes, you’ll meet the Idiot Prince. Who’s to say you haven’t already met him? Not in the comic, but in your day-to-day life. Quick — right now! Look over your shoulder. You might just glimpse him. He’s out there, and I bet he sees you even if you don’t see him.

Be sure to check out THE UNSOUND on Comixology or at your local comic book store. Look out for the fourth issue September 20th!

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