You guys are so active on this thread, I thought I'd throw you a small exclusive. The Greek publishers of Spawn are putting out Gunslinger as a special double-issue and the editor asked me to write a few words for a new introduction:
Gunslinger Spawn: Introduction for Greek Edition
David Hine – 13th March 2008
After the success of the one-shot ‘Mandarin Spawn’, my editor, Brian Haberlin, suggested more specials based on Spawn action figures. It’s unusual to write a story based on a toy, but when the toys are as cool as the McFarlane action figures, you can’t help but be inspired. A few days after talking to Brian I was in the Forbidden Planet store in London with my 12-year-old son and he spotted the 12-inch Gunslinger. One look was enough. The lean, mean, gun-toting Hellspawn, in his tattered coat and tall hat, was the scariest thing I’ve seen in a long time. The figure was actually based on a single panel from Spawn 119 by Angel Medina, depicting dozens of Spawns from across history. Apart from that one brief appearance, nothing had ever been written about him, so I had a blank slate.
I started to think about Westerns and I knew I wanted to write about the kind of mayhem and destruction that happens to a small town in the movie ‘High Plains Drifter,’ directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. I also wanted to tie it in to Al Simmons’ ancestry. So what would Al’s ancestors be doing in the frontier period of American history? The logical choice for Al’s great grandfather was to make him a Buffalo Soldier. After the American Civil War, with slavery abolished, cavalry regiments were set up specifically for black soldiers. As I began researching the history of the Buffalo Soldiers I came across an event that looked like the starting point for our story. In 1881, in San Angelo, after a black soldier was murdered by a local man, around 70 Buffalo Soldiers shot up the local saloon and afterwards, several of those soldiers went on the run.
From that incident, the story you’re about to read unfolded. Most of what you’ll see in the following pages is authentic. I read half a dozen books on the American West and several on the Buffalo Soldiers, including letters written by the soldiers to family and friends. The voice of Henry Simmons is taken from those letters. Comments attributed to characters in the story are also culled from contemporary accounts. This was a period when all black people in the USA faced racism on a daily basis. Here’s what a white cavalry officer’s wife had to say about the ‘coloured regiment’ in 1872: “The officers say that the negroes make good soldiers and fight like fiends. They certainly manage to stick on their horses like monkeys.” I adapted that line for the story. The soldiers’ declaration on Page 3 of the story, is taken almost word-for-word from the actual declaration made by the soldiers of the 10th cavalry. Although the town of Bane is fictitious, its location and background reflect the silver-mining communities of Colorado during the period. Everything about the story is authentic… except perhaps the part where a representative from Hell named Mammon brings a dead man back to life as a Hellspawn.
I deliberately scripted this story like a movie and the second half of the story delivers all the vengeful violence of a spaghetti western. The art team on this book did an amazing job. Bing Cansino and Geirrod Van Dyke are relative newcomers, but their teamwork created a Spawn story that stands with the best art the character has ever seen. Veteran Spawn artist, Greg Capullo painted two of his greatest covers for the series and also had a hand in laying out the art.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as we did creating it.
In the words of Gunslinger Spawn: “Let the killing commence…”