Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Bulletproof Coffin Vol. 1

We need to talk about something very serious for a moment. I’m sorry it has to be in this forum. I’m sorry because it’s going to hurt your feelings and you are going to associate that with me, and that hurts me, but what I’m doing transcends whatever you and me are.

Comics can be art. They can carry as much symbolism and message as any other finely crafted artifact. Artifacts carry the meanings of entire cultures. They can capture the whole of a civilization in a simple urn or serve as vain, dusty monuments to long dead god-kings. But to the point, SOME OF THE COMICS YOU READ SUCK.

Don’t be angry with me; be angry with your self. Yes, I forgive you. I know how you feel I really do. You get some money, you go to the comic book shop, and the first shiny Ultimate-New-52-Crisis-On-Infinite-Assholes-Point bullshit you see you buy. You like the art and the story is okay, so a month later you buy the next one. That one is okay, so you might as well read the next one too. But that one is just flat. And so is the one after that. Now you’re 4 in to the 5-6-7-12 part series---and don’t forget (your favorite artist) is doing next issue’s crossover variant, OH I CAN’T STOP NOW! You whine like a child for its mother’s breast. This is how you stop the cycle of violence you mommy marvel teat sucking baby: Go and buy the trade paperback of “The Bulletproof Coffin.” Or better yet go onto ebay and find the individual issues. Sell an organ, maybe a handy-J or two, whatever you have to do to acquire this publication. This is all that’s going to save you.

David Hine has been writing comics since the early 80s, lots of comics. Go to his Wikipedia page here, if you don’t believe me. I felt a little bad to have not read more. I read X-Men: the 198, Spiderman Noir, and the X-Men Civil War stuff, but wasn’t really moved. I’m told Strange Embrace is cool but haven’t picked it up. Spiderman Noir is my personal favorite of the three I’ve read, but until BPC I wouldn’t have recognized his name. Michael Coulthard, aka “Shaky Kane,” has also been involved with comics since the early 80s. I’ve never read any 2000AD and the only Judge Dredd I have is a Batman crossover---which is pretty awesome. Simon Bisley did the art and won an Eisner in 1992 for it. He has a Frazetta/Sienkiewicz feel that I dig.

There is a really good interview with Hine & Kane over at The Comics Journal website. It does a good job of covering their pasts, work ethic, and where they see themselves going post BPC. There has been some recent dust up (here) about them cutting up a Fantastic Four #2 in an effort to Billy Burroughs the story. The cut-up technique was cool for Burroughs in 1955, but fuck if I know what The Nova Trilogy is about. You read it, you tell me. Burroughs called it “Mythology for the Space Age” and there is a mirroring in what Jack Kirby does in the early 1970s at DC with The Fourth World. It is an immediate and actively conscious effort to create something NEW; to take ancient concepts driven by primal behaviors seen through a modern psychic-lens of theoretical science and technology. There is also the presence of a spiritual philosophy professing interconnectivity, a macro-web that connects everyone with everything, throughout the whole of time and space, never really ending, never really beginning. Oh. My. God. I just had a thought…what if Jack Kirby illustrated a comic written by William S. Burroughs? How f-ing ultimate would that be!? Alejandro Jodorowsky does the movie adaptation and Brian Wilson does the soundtrack. I am so high right now.

There have been a good number of insightful reviews of BCP. People dissect the shit out’em, and get real Marianas on it. Go google them, I don’t have time to hold your hand. Like the reviews, what makes these books great is the detail. Not just the story and the art but little subtle things, like in issue #3, page 17. The page is printed to make it look like its corner is torn off, revealing page 19 below. You turn to page 18 and its corner is still printed like it’s torn, showing page 16. The main character in panel one of page 19 is holding a comic with the corner torn that looks exactly like the corner of your “torn” comic.

H&K constantly play with pop-culture symbols and icons on multiple levels, breaking the fourth wall with both their main character as he reads their comic, but us as their readers reading-their-comic-about their-main-character's-comic-reading-their-comic. Meaning morphs from one line to the next, through each panel, constantly being reworded and redrawn as something else to touch us deep inside that reptilian part of our brains.

Kane’s colors are synesthetic, how can you not hear The Retro Eye in the panel above fighting the red racist scourge? The missing narrator panel says because they’re fighting on the moon and space is a vacuum, there’re no sound effects, that we have to imagine the ker-pows! This is from issue #3 of their current efforts, "The Bulletproof Coffin, Disinterred.” Yes, those are communist-KKK-assassins, the “Kommunist Kill Kadre.” Do you understand why you have to buy this book now? Do you see why you have to help The Retro Eye and Coffin Fly defeat the Red Menace and his giant robot made from stolen national monuments? Do you see!? DO YOU SEE!?

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