Sales is a tough business, and any door-to-door salesperson will have plenty of stories from their travels. In Vault Comics’ Door to Door Night By Night, the horror of knocking on doors for sales numbers is taken to a whole new level thanks to writer Cullen Bunn and artist Sally Cantirino. Dee Cunniffe is on colors, Jim Campbell handles letters, and Tim Daniel is on designs (look for covers by Cantirino and Brian Hurtt).
Read the full synopsis here:
“From all-star creators Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, The Last Book You’ll Ever Read) and Sally Cantirino (I Walk With Monsters, Human Remains) comes the story of a motley crew going to battle against supernatural evil throughout the American South.
Perfect for fans of “The Boys,” “B.P.R.D.” and “Proctor Valley Road.”
The Heritage Mills sales team travels from town to town, knocking on doors. They’re the best at what they do… which also means they’re the worst. They’re broken, each and every one of them, haunted by closets so full of skeletons, they’re bursting. When they discover a terrible secret behind one fateful door, it opens their eyes to a world full of real monsters hidden in every small town.”
The Beat chatted with the creative team ahead of the first issue’s debut on Wednesday, November 16.
Deanna Destito: How did you come up with the idea of a team of door-to-door salesmen as your monster-hunting heroes?
Cullen Bunn: When I was a young man, my dad ran door-to-door sales teams all over the country. I often tagged along with him on his trips to different small towns where the sales team would knock on doors in support of the local volunteer fire departments. My dad had a belief that the very best salespeople were often drunks. They’d work like crazy during the day, make a lot of money, then be flat broke the next day. It was not unusual for him to pick up a hitchhiker and hire them on the spot. Come to think of it, it wasn’t uncommon for him to bail one of his top salespeople out of jail so they wouldn’t miss a sales trip. Anyhow, when I went on those trips, those were the people I was surrounded by. Believe me, they were real characters. Over time, I started to wonder what it might look like if the fate of the world was in the hands of a team of broken individuals, just like the sales teams my dad employed. Thus, this series was born.
Destito: They are unlikely monster hunters. Each has a clearly complicated past. Is this a redemption story for our heroes or something else entirely?
Bunn: There’s most certainly an element of a redemption story here. The elements of several redemption stories, in fact. Redemption, though, is a funny thing. Some of these characters will fall very short of actually attaining redemption for the sins of their past. Here’s the thing, though, you don’t necessarily need to find redemption with a capital R to be a good person, despite your past. The sales team here will shine a spotlight on that idea.
Destito: While there is plenty of horror and our characters are complex, there is a lot of humor. What made you take this horror/comedy route?
Bunn: Horror and comedy have always been bedfellows, you know. Some of my favorite horror tales—Phantasm 2, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil—are fusions of these genres. And, having been surrounded by these real-life characters, I know that their antics can only be seen as comedic, even though that’s just how they live their lives. In short—for me, it just felt right to have our characters played for laughs to some degree, while the horrors they face are always played with fright in mind.
Sally Cantirino: I spent a lot of Saturday mornings as a kid watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000, so my brain is permanently wired now to find some level of silliness in horror movies. Actually, I think it’s a very normal human reaction to nervous laugh, to find some kind of absurdity or something to laugh at in a situation where you’re totally overwhelmed or scared. I think our characters would be the same.
I’ve been really enjoying drawing a horror/comedy comics this time around. There’s a certain level of cartooning/cartoony-ness and physical humor that I get to do each issue that’s been fun to draw.
Destito: How did you come up with the character designs and their specific voices?
Bunn: Each of the characters in his series are amalgams of people I knew back in the day, back when my dad was running those door-to-door sales teams. Their voices were pretty easy to come by.
Cantirino: Cullen gave me some great notes and descriptions to start with when it came to the characters and I brainstormed from there. Most of them, I knew how I wanted them to look right away. Like, I immediately knew that I wanted Cal to sort of look like a frazzled version of Burgess Meredith in the “Time Enough At Last” Twilight Zone episode. I designed Alex based on a memory of a science teacher at my middle school who always had a giant, wild beard, with a little Cameron Britton in “Mindhunter” on the side. Laney was easy to design- I wanted her to have big asymmetrical ’80s hair and a new outfit every issue.
When I first designed Will, I imagined him as being a softer, warmer Don Draper type. I ended up drawing him looking a lot like Cullen’s dad, even without having seen a photo of him. When I was designing Fred, I started dropping photos of my dad in the 80s that I had on my phone, from negatives I scanned after he passed away, into the file as reference for Fred’s mustache and clothes. At some point I posted the file in Slack and Cullen was like, “that guy, with more meat on his bones!” So Fred ended up very much based on my dad.
Destito: How has it been working with this creative team?
Bunn: Sally is an absolute blast to work with! She has such a great grasp on each of these characters, and her horror and humor sensibilities are second to none!
Cantirino: This is my third horror project at Vault, it’s been awesome working with Adrian [Wassel] again and it’s been extra awesome to have the editorial guidance of Der-Shing Helmer this time around. She’s been such an excellent addition to this book, she has such a great eye for visual storytelling and her input is always spot-on. Dee is fantastic at what he does as well, he’s so good at evoking a mood and emotion with his color choices. And getting to work with Cullen is such an honor, he’s really a horror master in comics and I’m always excited to get my next script and see how the story unfolds.
Destito: Who is your favorite character?
Bunn: I don’t know if I can answer that question! I think the easy answer is Fred, who is sort of the poster child for the sales teams I knew when I was a kid. But I really, really like how Sally depicts both Laney and Cal, and there are moments when they shine through as my favorites. Both of those characters have such interesting and complicated pasts.
Cantirino: I think Cal might be my favorite to draw because he’s such a weird, angular guy! I can get away with giving him some really over-the-top facial expressions. Especially in scenes with Alex, I love the contrast of the two of them together. Picking a new look for Laney each issue is a fun little bonus– I imagine her going thrifting in every town they hit and being a little bit of a shapeshifter, like she’s still trying to figure herself out.
Snag your copy on November 16 and check out a sneak preview below!