BF Awards 2011 - Best Writer Independent: Cullen Bunn

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2011 was a big year for Cullen Bunn, the creator of independent classics The Damned, The Tooth, and last year’s Broken Frontier Award-winner for Best Debut Book, The Sixth Gun.

Bunn not only continued his supernatural western saga for Oni Press but also took the plunge into the big time as the writer of a number of Fear Itself projects for Marvel. So why’s the author of such summer blockbuster books as Fear Itself: FF, Fear Itself: Black Widow, and Fear Itself: The Fearless walking away with BF’s award for Best Independent Writer?

Well, setting all of those worthy mainstream titles aside, Bunn managed to turn in a sophomore season of The Sixth Gun that knocked our boots off. The sophomore jinx is no joke – many a series and creator have fallen prey to its ability to bog down, dilute, and otherwise undermine what surely seemed like a good idea at the time. Along with his ultra-talented co-creator Brian Hurtt, Bunn not only built upon the momentum achieved in the first arcs of The Sixth Gun, he broadened his audience’s understanding of the singular mythology he had created around General Hume’s infernal pistols.

Even in a year when he seemed poised to break out through his Fear Itself projects – not to mention scoring the high profile Spider-Man: Season One miniseries, Bunn fearlessly led his western heroes to the brink of damnation in the second year of The Sixth Gun. With his protagonists scattered throughout the American South, encountering new powerful allies and plagued by the evil legacy of General Hume, Drake, Becky, and Gord seem to be even further up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Utilizing a combination of high fantasy conventions, North American folklore, and spot-on character development, Bunn has succeeded (along with partner Hurtt) in retaining the singular flavor of The Sixth Gun and evolving his creation into a genuine modern independent classic. Possessing its one unique visual tone and homespun voice, The Sixth Gun ranks among the best of the supernatural-western sub-genre of funny books for its panoramic settings, breakneck action, and gritty characterization.

The independent arena has been the proving grounds for fledgling creators for years. Many a rising star such as Bendis, Hickman, and Lemire made a name for themselves bringing their visions to discerning fanboys toiling away for Image and Top Shelf before hitting the big time at Marvel and DC. Before Ultimate Spider-Man, there was Jinx and Goldfish. Before the sweeping epic changes to the FF’s status quo, there was The Nightly News. Before Animal Man and Frankenstein, there was the brilliant Essex County.

Before Fear Itself, there was and continues to be, The Sixth Gun – and that’s as valid a reason as any to bestow Broken Frontier’s award for Best Independent Writer on such a good ol’ boy as Cullen Bunn.

Full list of the 2011 Broken Frontier Award winners

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