Cullen Bunn Brings Horror to Image with Regression
Regression Volume 1: Way Down Deep
Adrian is plagued by ghastly waking nightmares. To understand and possibly treat these awful visions, Adrian reluctantly agrees to past life regression hypnotherapy. As his consciousness is cast back through time, Adrian witnesses a scene of horrific debauchery and diabolism. Waking, he is more unsettled than before, and with good reason-something has followed him back. Adrian descends into a world of occult conspiracy, mystery, reincarnation, and insanity from which there is no escape.
Presented by CULLEN BUNN (Harrow County, The Sixth Gun, The Empty Man), DANNY LUCKERT (Haunted), and MARIE ENGER (Pistolwhip, 2 Sisters), REGRESSION is a tale of supernatural terror and intrigue unlike any horror comic you've ever experienced.
Learn more about this new series and the personal connection behind the story in our interview with writer Cullen Bunn!
Vince Brusio: Did you go to H.P. Lovecraft’s grave site, and perform some sort of sick séance to suck a nightmare from the depths of the Earth? What is that ungodly thing on the cover of your book?
Cullen Bunn: Do I lose cred as a horror writer if I admit that I've never been to Lovecraft's grave site for a vigil using candle's dipped in blood?
But--yes--there's definitely a bit of Lovecraftian horror in this series, and there's an equal amount of demonic horror and erotic horror and slasher horror and body horror and psychological horror. ALL the horror sub-genres are celebrated in this book! Now... just imagine a Cronenberg Lovecraft movie... That's kind of the mood
Danny Luckert created that bit of nastiness for the cover. It's an image that makes me say "Yeeech" every time I look at it. But it plays into the idea that there's something inside of our main character--maybe something inside all of us--that is awful and nasty and just aching to get out if it ever gets the chance.
Vince Brusio: The main character in the story is a lad by the name of Adrian. It sounds like he would rather suffer from insomnia than see his visions at bedtime. To describe what he sees, you’re mixing a Molotov cocktail of “debauchery” and “diabolism.” Is he being overwhelmed by some sort of mystical ViewMaster slideshow of the Marquis de Sade’s bedroom? If this guy had to file a police report, what would he say that’s going on?
Cullen Bunn: Adrian is having some of the nastiest nightmares a person can have, but now they're not just hitting him while he's asleep. These horrific visions are starting to bleed into the waking world. He can't trust his own eyes anymore, and when that happens a person might think they are starting to go mad. The visions have gotten so intense, he turns to the idea of past life regression hypnotherapy. What could go wrong, right?
Everything. Everything could go wrong.
Also, it's funny you mention filing a police report. Adrian may have to do that very thing, especially when the consequences of the past life regression come to light.
Vince Brusio: If you enter “past life regression hypnotherapy” into a search engine, all kinds of links pop up, from “high quality and affordable courses” to YouTube videos showing you what you can experience when watching someone under a state of meditation. Did you do any kind of intense browsing online to see what sort of backdrop you could add to this story? What kind of digging around did you do to formulate foreshadowing, plot, or character development?
Cullen Bunn: This is a case of "writing what you know."
When I was a kid, my father was a professional stage hypnotist. He performed at fund-raising events and schools and fairgrounds. I even got into the act as "the World's Youngest Hypnotist" for a little while. Sometimes, he would conduct smaller group sessions, and that's when he would often conduct past life regressions.
Now, in the years since, I've been to "regressions" conducted at New Age bookshops and the like, where everyone sits around and "envisions" what their life might have been. If that's all you know about regressions, let me assure you, what a hypnotist like my dad does is something else entirely.
I saw people describe in vivid detail day-to-day life in other cultures and times. I've heard people speak with perfect accents or in languages they didn't previously know. And I saw one guy get regressed into... nothing. He just sat there in eerie silence. My dad said something about him being a "new soul" but I always felt that whatever he was experiencing in the regression was too horrible to speak about.
Vince Brusio: How do artists Danny Luckert and Marie Enger compliment your vision on Regression? Did they tap into your psychosis from the start, or did they need to a little more push?
Cullen Bunn: I don't want to say Danny and Marie are as twisted as me, but they immediately jumped into the story and started making it their own. I didn't need to push them into thinking about the horror aspects. Their minds were already there! The only thing I didn't want was a horror book that gets murky just for the sake of murkiness. I wanted the grotesque stuff brought into the light and I wanted it to look real. And I wanted the characters (because this series has a fairly good size supporting cast) to be people you would empathize with, fall in love with, fear, or fear for. These two nailed it.
Vince Brusio: Adrian is said to be sucked up into a world of occult conspiracy, insanity, and reincarnation. Sounds like he’s riding an elevator to Satan’s basement, and yet the elevator keeps on falling. Does any of this feed into the concept that we make our own Hell? Or does your world of the “occult” involve angels or devils? Or, to take another angle, is this us going back through time — via the power of comics — and seeing how we all looked once we crawled out of the oceans as a collective primordial ooze? We’re not asking you to give anything away (yes, we are!), but what kind of road signs might we see on this highway to Hell that starts with Regression #1?
Cullen Bunn: This isn't a book where a spiritual angel is going to show up and save anyone with a swing of a mighty sword. The devils in this book are human. The demons, though, they are both metaphorical and literal. In REGRESSION, we have an escalation in horror. In the beginning, Adrian is plagued by ghastly visions. Then we layer a bit of Jekyll and Hyde split personality into the story. Then we add a bit of demonic influence. Then we start sprinkling in the conspiracy angle.
What starts out a seemingly straight-forward horror tale will turn into this epic, twisted horror conspiracy with nasty, blood and ichor-dripping fingers reaching back, way past this life, through history, into other lives.
I think this will be a surprising, scary journey, and I can't wait to see what readers think!
Pre-order issue two now!