Interview: "Unearth" A New Nightmare from Image Comics
May 26, 2019
A new type of horror story is forming underground from Image Comics.
In the brand-new series Unearth, a flesh-warping disease ravages a remote village in Mexico and a scientific task force travels to the inhospitable area to investigate the contamination. Tracing the source of the disease to a nearby cave system, the team discovers a bizarre, hostile ecosystem and a supernatural revelation from which they may never escape.
The creative team of writers Cullen Bunn and Kyle Strahm and artist Baldemar Rivas talked to PREVIEWSworld about their new series.
Unearth #1 is available at comic shops July 10
PREVIEWSworld: Tell us a little about our setting. What’s happening in this Mexican village?
Cullen Bunn: On the surface, it looks like a horrifying flesh-warping disease is tormenting the residents of this war-torn region. The illness causes the most horrible mutations and sudden, horrifying shifts in the mental states of its victims. That’s just the beginning, though, because we’ll soon learn that this disease isn’t random at all.
Kyle Strahm: And this isn’t a disease like we’ve seen before in comics, TV, or movies. The victims don’t turn into zombies, in fact they’re completely immobilized and unable to communicate...until something even more horrible begins to happen.
PREVIEWSworld: Who is this task force we are first introduced to? What’s their goal?
Cullen Bunn: To contain the disease before it spreads beyond the boundaries of the “hot zone” the United States government has dispatched a group of scientists to uncover the source of the sickness and begin developing a cure, if possible. Since the region is experiencing a great deal of violence of late, a team of tough-as-nails soldiers accompanies the scientists. It’s all about brawn protecting the brains… and the brains protecting all of us.
Kyle Strahm: Even though they’re all on the same side, not everyone on the task force always gets along. Some of the members are more interested in cataloging every strange specimen they come across, while others like to run a tight ship and minimize any sort of risk-taking. While discovering just how hostile their environment is, our team can be pretty hostile toward each other.
PREVIEWSworld: How would you describe this series? Horror? Adventure? Survival?
Cullen Bunn: All of the above! This is definitely an action/horror story, but it’s a tale that will evolve into something very different… and then into something even more different… as we go along. There are definitely aspects of survival horror and cosmic horror and trippy surreal horror in this book. But I don’t think anyone will be able to pin down exactly what we’re up to or where we’re going with this book. I think it will satisfy horror lovers of all varieties.
Kyle Strahm: I think we’ve struck a good balance between a slow-burn horror story and an intense action adventure. But that aside, I like to describe Unearth as “beautiful horror” because of Baldemar’s artwork. I’ve never seen ugly things look so pretty.
PREVIEWSworld: Baldemar, what are the challenges in drawing this grotesque, body-warping disease from this series?
Baldemar Rivas: One of the challenges in drawing the body horror was to come up with a design for the first stage of the disease that has not been seen before and also still recognizable as human. Doing research on human diseases was something else.
PREVIEWSworld: Cullen and Kyle, how do you intermix elements of sci-fi and horror in one series? How are these two genres related?
Cullen Bunn: I was a kid when movies like ALIEN and THE THING were coming out, and then a little older when I started getting into the work of David Cronenberg, so horror and science fiction have always been closely related in my mind. I think the important thing to remember here is that science is scary! We’re using it to decipher secrets that we might be better off leaving alone. There’s a quote from Lovecraft that scared me quite a bit when I was younger and still haunts be today. “The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. ”
Kyle Strahm: Cullen nailed it, but I’ll add that I’ve always liked how Ghostbusters began with some scientists doing tests in a university, grounded in reality, and ended with four guys fighting a 100-foot marshmallow man. Our story begins with some scientists in a cave, taking samples, and ends somewhere far more terrible than a 100-foot marshmallow man.
PREVIEWSworld: What can readers expect from the rest of the series?
Cullen Bunn: Lots of surprises! Lots of strange, horrifying moments of visceral horror and of mind-numbing terror. This story gets bigger and more strange and more frightening as it goes along. There are huge, shocking moments set up all along the way, and every time one occurs, the series mutates into something unexpected.
Kyle Strahm: Lots of wet stuff! Spewing fluids! The readers will be asking repeatedly “What just happened?!”
Baldemar Rivas: The readers can expect a gross descent to madness!