Gunface: The Fall of Tommy Gunn creator and writer Tim Hunger penned this article as a reflection on his creation.
The idea seems simple; it always does in hindsight.
An idea in its conception is little more than a frail skeleton, vulnerable to threats from time, fear, insecurities and pressure from other ideas. The story for Gunface started with the name and the name started with the man.
When I was a young I was introduced to a man who had attempted suicide by shooting his own head with a shotgun. I can’t remember a word he said to me but his face is still as clear as if I saw it yesterday. I talked often about him and thought more and more about what his situation must have been like, before and after the event. The scars on his face suggested a very private world where so much remained hidden. It never crossed my mind that this man had never shown weakness, only a strength that stood out above everything.
I didn’t know it at the time, but he was the first piece of Gunface…
Around 2006 I began developing an idea around a bodyguard who was forced to choose between protecting one of two powerful families. However, the idea lost traction, there was no real depth to the issue of power and this siphoned away the strength of the main protagonist. After some frustrating early attempts I scrapped the writing I had done and went back to research – in particular the stories of powerful families (Montana, Montague, Capulet, Wayne, etc). It didn’t take long to establish what created the power – money and family history. In less than two weeks I had created the two families that would sit either side of Gunface: the house of Tommy Gunn and the house of Texas Patterson. This set me up to build a character that would complement but not conform to their family traits.
The details around Gunface and his world had to be clear and straightforward while providing the background for a character of depth and complexity. Before I built any opposing characters or worlds I had to understand the driving force of the story. In the end I developed Gunface on the following principles.
1. Gunface must show strength in his life before and after the scars.
This creates an arc for the character. The fact that he can return from such trauma gives him an essence of strength, courage and hope – what I consider the fundamental characteristics of a hero.
2. He can die.
I always knew I was going to develop a hyper-reality film script. For that reason the second concept for Gunface was decided for me. If he is immortal then his scars are merely battle wounds and do not hold the significance they would for a mortal. The fact that he can die also strengthens the first principle by emphasising how close he is to losing everything.
3. Gunface must feel equal shares of love and hate.
This principle is what gives Gunface his most powerful weapon – his inability to walk away from a great love and to feel levels of anger and pain from which I can draw in developing the overall story. Inner conflicts complicate things and complications drive his actions and choices. I tried to keep the love and hate balanced over time and through hostile discord. I needed Gunface to be balanced in this way, creating a very complex and layered character.
Once I had enough of a picture of what he looked like and how he acted, the next thing to create was the world in which he lived – Clip City and the nine counties.