Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4: Reassembled

The latest issue of “The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred” (#4 of 6) is an open experiment in Dadaism.  They’ve invited the reader to cut it up and make their own story.  So I did.  Here it is.  It's roughly 19 megs of .pdf surrealism. Enjoy.

I read this issue-as-published once all the way through and it made completely no sense.  I knew it wasn’t suppose to, I’m familiar with cut-ups from reading Burroughs in high school/college.  I didn’t really understand it then, I still don’t completely understand it now.  I do better with poetry.  If I can read the abstract image that the poem is purposefully or accidentally trying to invoke in a very pure thought and/or emotion, I follow the narrative (however loosely) a bit better.  This is my attempt at imposing order on chaos.  I tried really hard to look for narrative and visual transitions between panels that threaded a path, while still being textually self-aware of the Dada aspect of the whole thing…which if the ultimate goal is for art to inspire art, then it worked.  I made a new story. 

It was a lot of staring at the panels.  I made black and white copies of all the pages, cut them up with a mat board and an exacto-blade then laid them all out on our dining room table.  I think the panels being b&w might have had a less than exciting influence on me, Kane’s art is eye-mind melting and to take away the color is to take away the true impact of the images.

And that’s when my lovely and talented wife stepped in, I could scan the book and rearrange those panels in any order you like in photoshop, to which I replied “Fuck Yeah!” It took her sometime and I thank her profusely for it, she is amazing and I am incredibly lucky to be with her.

I looked for groupings of panels that made sense together first, like the “Hairy man,” and JFK getting shot up by the MIBs.  The meteor shower being prevalent in so many  helped, the George Adamski panels too.  Steve Newman’s dreamscape is really the only setting.  If you accept that (“the willing suspension of disbelief”---coincidently(?) the same message Adamski gives the Pope from the Space Brethren—at least in my version) forgives the non-sequitor panel transitions a little.  It lends itself well to Steve’s alien abduction scenario around page 13. 

Past that it gets increasingly self referential to older characters: the Twins, Red Wraith, Aunt Sharon.  I use the eyeball in the box as a transition for the narrator’s observation “no man is born bad, the seed of evil grows in tainted soil.  Some day the taunts and the jeering of his class mates will yield a bitter fruit.”  Followed by a historical retrospective of evil and conspiracy.  There’s a panel I use in the JFK sequence that’s really Magritte’s painting Time Transfixed but with UFOs coming out of the fireplace instead of a train.  Magritte’s surrealism is right at home here in H&K’s non-linear narrative panels experiment.  It gets a bit dicy-ier from there on out.  I don’t know if there’s really any cohesive narrative thread there after page 14-15.  I tried for about a week (after rereading bits and pieces every day for about 2 weeks) with the loose panels.  The more I look at it the more I feel like I can randomly shuffle pages toward the end and still change it for the better

One thing I did notice, on the second to the last page of the issue, in the “Destroyovski” column, was a photo of all 84 loose panels but without any narrative or dialog balloons.  What’s that all about?  Did Hine write the dialog after H&K invited their mates to a friendly pub shuffle?  I’d like to know.  So I posted this question in the comments section of his blog on a posting about BPC:D#4:

“Hey Mr. Hine, did you write the dialog for Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4 before or after you and your coconspirators arranged the present published layout?  I noticed in Destroyovski’s editorial section the panels in the photos are absent of word boxes/balloons.  How Dada did you get?”

A couple days later I got this response from Mr. Hine on his website: " Some of the dialogue and captions I wrote in advance along with the panel descriptions I sent to Shaky. Most were written after the art came in. Those panels in the photo don't have any lettering because they are print-outs of the pre-publication art. Lettering is only added after the pages are sent to Richard Starkings' Comicraft for design and lettering. All lettering and captions were written before the final order of publication. I didn't want to be influenced by the juxtaposition of images. Those four full-page splashes were re-written to show how the juxtaposition of certain images can suggest new associations."

Thank you sir!

Overall I’m satisfied with the result.  Maybe there will be a new appreciation for the Dada with me, maybe I’ll see the surreal a little better.  I do like this issue now more, now that I’ve gone through the process of making it my own.  In order for the panels to make sense to me as a linear story I had to accept a certain amount of absurdity into the narrative sequence.  Accepting the absurdity was crucial, just-like-real-F’ing-life.  It made me really look at each panel and try and imagine the who, what, why, and how it fit in with the rest.  Every panel then became the potential for a new story thread.  It didn’t seem like a lot at first, then after a few days I realized I had to give much thought to each one.  I was intrigued.  I felt like I was on the verge of discovering some ancient secret formula of narrative images creating the true story, the one the creators intended. 

Thing is, H&K selected 84 random panels.  There never was an intended linear story.  I had attempted to super-impose a sense of order to the panels, a “story” of some sort, but in the end it became an extremely limited amount of control.  No matter how much I tried there was no way they were going to transition as easy as a Big Two superhero muti-title cross over, but with a little effort I was able to come up with a some-what linear story that descends into a character’s unconsciousness, that transitions into an opportunity for H&K (and me) to play with all sorts of levels of their multi-issue narrative.  I hope it make sense to you a little bit.  If they don’t make sense to you, F-you, cut your own up and make a new one then why don’t ya?       

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