Giallo-inspired horror from Cullen Bunn and Arjuna Susini is available in comic book shops today in Lamentation #1, "the 48-page opening act of Bunn & Susini’s collision of supernatural terror and gothic suspense!" Whether it's The Phantom of the Opera or Dario Argento's Opera, I always love a good story set within a theatre, and Lamentation had me hooked from the very first few pages. In our latest Q&A, Cullen Bunn talks about the orgins of this story, working with Arjuna Susini, and teases what's to come:
It's been very exciting for me to check out Lamentation, which does an incredible job of evoking the best gialli while still feeling unique and fresh. How did the idea for this series come about?
Cullen Bunn: The initial idea for this book came to me years ago. I saw a show at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis, and I was struck by the notion that the place would make an amazing setting for a tale of terror. With the seed planted in my mind, every now and then I would spend some time brainstorming the particular “flavor” of horror that might unfold in the theater. Over time, numerous ideas sort of floated into and out of my awareness, informing various takes on the story. Giallo, as you mentioned, but Gothic and Romantic surrealism, too. It took a while for the story to finally reach a place where I was comfortable bringing it to life, and I’m really thrilled because I feel like this is unlike anything readers are expecting.
The series revolves around a masked killer and a new production at the Requiem Theatre. When developing the story, what type of research did you do? Were there any particular films or books that served as a point of reference?
Cullen Bunn: Oh, many. The first few that immediately spring to mind are stories like Phantom of the Opera, Mask of the Red Death, Suspiria, and The King in Yellow. As I was doing that initial brainstorming and planning, I had stories like that, as well as quite a bit cosmic horror, in mind at all times.
Jennifer seemingly gets the role of a lifetime at the start of Lamentation. What can you tell our readers about your "lead actress," and developing this cast of characters for the series?
Cullen Bunn: Jennifer is a character I think readers will relate to. She has a dream and there are many things she wants to accomplish. So, when this role falls into her lap, she is willing to overlook some of the more strange aspects of what’s going on. Of course, by the time she really gets an idea of how much danger she’s facing, it is too late. Unlike the other members of the cast, Jennifer is more willing to question what is going on, and that only gets her into much more trouble.
I absolutely love the artwork for the series, which does a great job of not only bringing the characters, but the Requiem Theatre, to life. Can you talk about your collaboration with Arjuna Susini?
Cullen Bunn: Arjuna is a terrific collaborator, especially for a story like this. It’s a challenging book, with many very detailed settings and not just one version of each character, but two. In a visual medium, strangeness, oddity, and surreality only work if the grounded elements are on point, and Arjuna manages that with ease. Our collaborative process was pretty straightforward. I sent him a number of descriptions of characters, but I left the nitty-gritty to him. He got the scripts and delivered thumbnails before moving to the final product. It was a joy to see how he interpreted the story—especially the most bizarre aspects!
This is a story told over three chapters, with the first available on May 3rd! Can you give our readers a little tease of what they can expect in the next chapters?
Cullen Bunn: As the story progresses, things are going to get much weirder. The world of the play—and of other plays that have been performed in the theater—will start to bleed into the real world in terrifying ways. The mysterious Prince Razide will become much more of a player in the tale. And, of course, eventually it will be “curtains up” as the play is finally performed for its unnatural audience.
"After weeks of grueling rehearsals, a new production is set to begin at the famed Requiem Theatre: Razide's Lament, three acts of gothic horror set inside a haunted castle . . . with a story that some say is more than mere fantasy. Under the stern rule of a dedicated-but-temperamental director, the script seems to be ever-changing, and, more mysterious still, our lead actress has found herself cast in the role of a lifetime without so much as an audition. Her grand debut is fast approaching—and, with it, a barrage of razors in the night that will terrorize audiences and actors alike. There is no exit, no escape, and when the curtain finally rises, Razide himself will take center stage to cross the threshold into the unholy darkness that lies just beyond . . .
ACT ONE: Just in time for Free Comic Book Day 2023, the suspense begins in LAMENTATION #1, the 48-page opening act of Bunn and Susini’s collision of supernatural terror and gothic suspense—on-sale May 3, 2023, with covers by Ringo Award nominee Maan House (Nightfall Double Feature), Eisner Award nominee Yanick Paquette (Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman: Earth-Two), and acclaimed artist Kyle Hotz (Web of Venom, Immortal Hulk)!"
LAMENTATION #1 (of 3)