bone parish slice

Exclusive: Cullen Bunn and Jonas Scharf break down Bone Parish #1's big twist, preview #2

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Jul 25, 2018, 5:27 PM EDT

Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, Micronauts, Dark Ark) and Jonas Scharf's (War for the Planet of the Apes) necromantic horror series, Bone Parish, from Boom! Studios has garnered stellar reviews and comments from its first unsettling issue which invades comic shops today, July 25.

This supernatural cautionary tale set in steamy New Orleans was just picked up for a full 12-issue series, furthering the disturbing tale of the Winters family and their radical best-selling drug called The Ash, an addictive hallucinatory powder concocted from the powdered remains of dead people.

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The second issue arrives August 29, injected with more nightmarish trips and deadly secrets that will have you hooked with its immersive gothic terror and disturbing examinations of human nature. This is by far one of the most engaging comic titles of the summer and comes highly recommended!


SYFY WIRE spoke with Bunn and Scharf on the big twist in today's premiere issue, as the revelation that Grace Winters' husband, Andre, is no longer breathing God's life-giving oxygen and that he's in fact a paranormal manifestation of the matriarch's dangerous indulgences resulting from her abuse of The Ash.

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This dynamic creative team took SYFY WIRE inside the process of the final four pages of Issue #1 to see things from a creative perspective on just how this disturbing twist was accomplished through words, lettering, panel layout, colors, and shading. The writer of such tiles as Darth Maul, The Sixth Gun, and The Unsound joins the artist behind Warlords of Appalachia to set up August's second issue and hint at more horror to come as this frightening crime tragedy unfolds.

After the informative dissection, check out our exclusive 4-page peek at Bone Parish #2 in the gallery below!



Cullen Bunn: When I look back at my influence for Bone Parish I look at H.P. Lovecraft's,"The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward," which had nothing to do with drugs but it had a lot to do with "the essential salts of the human form." There's something about that term that stuck with me all these years and that's where I started from with this drug. The allure of The Ash is this idea of being able to experience someone else's life, very interesting lives like rock stars and cult leaders, and that's something that'll get explored in the series.

We worked hard on making this end twist play. The issue focuses heavily on the criminal side and business side of The Ash, and I wanted to show not only the supernatural side but also the very dangerous side. This speaks to the idea of seduction because Dante is this guy who should know better with this drug.  I wanted to show he's surrounded by it and close to it and he hasn't resisted and is doing it in dangerous ways. It starts out as a fun vision for him but it takes a very horrific turn very quickly!

Jonas Scharf: We decided very early on that the Ash-visions would have to be visually distinct and special. On my end, that meant I'd render those scenes a little differently than the rest of the book. Dry brushing the ink for more texture, adding a white glow to some of the highlights with the airbrush etc.



CB: Jonas does such an amazing job bringing all this across. These apparitions are rendered in this color that makes them pop, they're not dark and dreary.  They're interesting and enticing except for the fact that they're ghastly and doing terrible things. There's money flying off the table to show that it's a dangerous and alluring world. Dante's expression on the bottom of the page is his realization that he's stepped over the line now.

JS: While those techniques may be more subtle, what really makes the visions stand out is the work of Alex Guimarães, our colorist. I had seen his work, so I knew he'd deliver. That way I could focus on the storytelling. Took me a couple of tries to find the right angle for that splash page, which I assume is what you are referring to as the fearsome foursome!

I think there's something deeply disturbing about things turning from desirable and beautiful to horrific and rotten, which is why the idea works so well. In this case, it's not a slow decay, but more of a sudden realization. That thing you desire has been rotten all along and it will destroy you, but only now can you see it. I think it's a perfect metaphor!



CB: I use the voice-over from Lamont here to talk about the dangers that the family is going to be facing, and show the different sides of the business the Winters will deal with. This scene is a balance between the family business and the reveal of this supernatural element. This was a big challenge for me as a writer, and for Jonas too, to make sure we were revealing this in a way where we don't give it away too soon, but also so readers can go back and look at earlier pages and see that Andre had been a ghost all along. You often see Andre in shadow or where his eyes are just these pinpoints of light.

JS: In the script, Cullen did a great job describing the feel of Andre's presence in those scenes, so all I had to do was put that on paper. I don't mean to downplay my role in this, but when something is well written and works, then usually it's not that big a struggle. At this point it's really just about understanding the story and characters, listening to your gut, drawing some sketches and stumbling over cool ideas in the process. I dropped some hints throughout the entire issue, some more obvious than others, but hopefully that's something readers can have a little fun with upon second reading.



CB: To me the love story between Andre and Grace is where we get the real tragedy of Bone Parish. We see someone using The Ash for a different reason than wanting to be someone else, this is wanting to be WITH someone else and being unable to let go of a loved one who they've lost. As we've seen in the story, Grace is running out and is slowly using him up until there will be no more Ash to use. That dematerialization of Andre is all Jonas. My script reads something like "Andre is starting to fade, he's staring to come apart like mist," and Jonas just nailed it with that image.

The song lyrics were the last thing I wrote for the comic, and I bring it back around from the first user in the opening scene where he envisions himself as a rock star, and thought this song is really telling Grace and Andre's story on the first few pages.

JS: I'm not even sure what inspired the look for Andre's disintegration. I'm sure I subconsciously referenced a couple of things, but I try to stay away from imitation as best as I can. Of course there are also just so many ways you can draw somebody turning into dust and disintegrating, I guess.

With the coloring, Alex really added to that scene as well!

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CB: I want this to be a book that can really surprise readers and take things in a direction you might not expect. When we start the second issue in August, we join the story back with the overdosed drug dealer and introduce some new characters and big complications. Not only to we have Lamont from New York, and some cops who are on the Winters family payroll, but we'll be introduced to a dangerous new player on the field.

Lamont's story still has a big role to play and everything is really going to start pulling on the thread of this family. One of the nice things we get to see is where all the kids came from and how they see themselves fitting into, or not fitting into, the family and how they got to this point. If we've done our job right, I think readers will really connect with these characters and really fear for them and worry about them as we go along.

Check out some preview pages from Issue #2, which drops in August, below: