Oni Press had more buzz in 2010 than just about any other comic book company. It really boiled down to two words: Scott Pilgrim. Between the final volume of the beloved series being released and the fanboy wet dream movie, 2010 was the year of Scott Pilgrim.
But, along the way, Oni also managed to release a few other titles that got lost in all the Scot Pilgrim hype. While we have already covered Spell Checkers in the podcast, The Sixth Gun has managed to escape our sights…until now!
The Sixth Gun is an ongoing comic by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt that combines elements of Supernatural as well as Western genres. Drake Sinclair is on the hunt for a set of mystical guns which were used by General Hume and his followers during the Civil War. The guns could “bring forth fire, strike with the force of a cannon shell, spread disease, raise up the spirits of the dead, and grant ever-lasting life.” In short, in the wrong hands they could be extremely dangerous. One of the guns, the Sixth Gun falls in to the possession of Becky Montcrief, the daughter of a minister who had one in to hiding to keep the gun a secret. As the forces of General hume close in, Sinclair is forced to take desperate measures to keep the gun from falling in to enemy hands. But, are his intentions purely noble?
Bunn’s writing is a fantastic blend of drama and pacing as he moves the characters along on their journey. Nothing feels padded or over-worked. For people who have complained about the glacial pacing of today’s writing for the trade mentality, Bunn’s scripts come as a breath of fresh air. He also manages to avoid falling in to the cliches of making the series either too Western (see Jonah Hex) or too Supernatural (see American Vampire). The Sixth Gun is a story that works as both, while avoiding classification as either.
I also appreciated the character work. Bunn knows that not every character needs a full back story and motivation. Comics are about fun, and it is okay for some characters to just be bad. This saves plenty of space for deeper exploration of the main characters. It also allows their histories and motivations to be revealed at pace and in a manner which is natural and improves the storytelling, instead of being spliced in as exposition or used to pad out an issue.
Hurtt’s art is also something unique. It is fun and free-wheeling. It gives us the spirit of the Wild West without getting all grim and gritty as so often happens with supernatural books. The colors are bright and the action is clear, allowing the reader to fully drink in everything that happens on the page.
The art is more stylized than cartoony. It eschews the current trend of photo-referenced, over-manipulated figures and settings and allows Hurtt to create a seamless world where the characters all seem to live and belong.
While Oni is not known for putting out books on a regular schedule (looking at you, Stumptown), The Sixth Gun has come out every month like clock work. The first six issues have been collected in a trade (out this month!) and issue seven is on stands right now. Do yourself a favor and get caught up with this fun and exciting series! Check out the first issue for free right here!