Arthur Pendragon was the king of all Britain. His story is legendary. Merlin. The Lady of the Lake. Excalibur. Camelot. The Knights of the Round Table. But these stories are bright lies painted over the truth. Here is presented the gospel of Arthur’s bloody rise to power and his unholy reign. The legend of King Arthur is not the stuff of legends, but the fuel of nightmares.
As Arthur descends into darkness, is there any lingering hope that he still might do something good?
From writer Cullen Bunn (Uncanny X-Men, Deadpool) and artist Mirko Colak (Punisher) comes a Lovecraftian take on the Arthurian legend that HAD to be told at AfterShock Comics. Check out our interview with these creators below!
Unholy Grail will be available March 20, 2018.
Ashley Kronsberg: Unholy Grail takes a look at some of the most well-known British Medieval literature and spins it into a refreshing, new tale of horror. What inspired this take on the Arthurian legend?
Cullen Bunn: I first came up with the initial seeds for this idea more than 20 years ago. I still have the notebook where I wrote the first few lines down. At the time, I think I envisioned this as a novel. It’s been so long, though, I can’t really tell you what spawned the combination of legend and horror. I’ve always been a fan of Arthurian stories, and I’ve always been a horror fan. I guess it just seemed like a perfect combination to me. It’s stuck with me all this time, though, when other older ideas have fallen to the wayside. I’ve always known that at some point I would tell this story.
Ashley Kronsberg: Cullen, when you begin writing a comic, how much time do you dedicate to researching topics to enhance the script? Mirko, do you have a system for researching that you do prior to putting pencil to paper?
Cullen Bunn: For comics, I do enough research to make me dangerous. I don’t tend to big myself down in weeks and weeks of research. I do enough to make sure I have a solid grasp on whatever topic I’m writing about. I think it’s much more important to have the right tone and mood, to “feel” like it’s accurate, rather than be perfectly researched. Now, in the case of this book, I have done plenty of the legwork over the years, some for pleasure, some with this project in mind, so I really just needed to do a few refreshers.
Mirko Colak: Of course. That's something I learned during my work for French publishers. They insisted on me to be careful with clothes, architecture, etc. So, yes, I've done a lot of research for UNHOLY GRAIL. Sometimes it was a book or a movie, but sometimes it was a good old Google.
Ashley Kronsberg: Cullen, what is your process for scripting? You have become well-known in the world of horror, including nominations for the Bram Stoker Award for Horror for both your work on Harrow County and The Sixth Gun. Do you take a different approach to these scripts than you do to superhero scripts?
Cullen Bunn: My scripting process and format doesn’t really change from genre to genre. I’m sure my horror scripts focus more on mood and brooding menace than my superhero scripts do, but that comes across in the writing. My process is pretty simple, but I go through many outlining phases before I ever script. First, I list out all the major events and scenes and character moments I want to occur in the book. I don’t worry about when they will occur, just that I want them to happen in that issue. Then, I organize those scenes into some sort of page order. At this point, I usually discover I’ve plotted too much content for the issue, and I start tightening scenes up. Once that is done, I do a detailed outline. This is a beat-by-beat outline that an artist could use to draw the issue if the absolutely needed to. If all is well, though, it never comes to that. From that beat-by-beat outline, I then write the script. That’s pretty much the process for every issue I write of every comic.
Ashley Kronsberg: Mirko, can you tell us a little bit about your art style? How did you develop it through the years? Do you prefer to hand draw before you digitalize or do you digitally paint much of your comics?
Mirko Colak: Well, since I am from Europe, precisely, Serbia, of course, I have a European style, but I interfere with the American way of drawing. In this way, I have a unique and recognizable style. If I have to choose between these two, I will choose a digital way of drawing, painting, but not because I prefer the technique, but because of the simple fact that I am faster. Most importantly, there is no scanning anymore.
Ashley Kronsberg: Do you have any final thoughts for readers before they dive into Unholy Grail Volume 1? And can we expect more from this Medieval universe you two have created?
Cullen Bunn: I’d love to revisit this world. While this trade tells a complete story, the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are plentiful. We could revisit any of those stories, and I have lots of plans for how that would enrich and enhance the story presented in this trade. We’ll see.
Mirko Colak: I can only promise ... the fans will enjoy. This is a completely different approach, and this story is presented in a completely different way. So far, we have had incredible support from readers. And yes, we met again to tell you another story. What will happen to King Arthur? ... Who knows, never say no. :)
Ashley Kronsberg: AfterShock has recently announced a new series with both of you attached as the creators. How will this be different from Unholy Grail?
Cullen Bunn: The new series is titled THE BROTHERS DRACUL and, like UNHOLY GRAIL, it is a horror story that takes familiar legends and turns them upside down. In this case, we are telling the story of Vlad Dracul (who would become the infamous Vlad the Impaler) and his brother Radu when they were teenagers. History tells us that the pair were taken and held prisoner by the Ottoman Empire when they were young. What history doesn’t tell us is that during that time they were trained to be vampire hunters. The setup for the book is much different than UNHOLY GRAIL, which is presented as a series of short, often horrific moments, told in a non-linear way. BROTHERS DRACUL is a more straightforward, linear horror-adventure tale. It’s still very dark, but more action-packed and violent. I think readers of UNHOLY GRAIL will enjoy this new story, too!
Mirko Colak: Completely different and at the same time Very similar. The style of drawing will be slightly darker, different, but once again, I promise that fans will enjoy.