Written by David Hine
Art by Shaky Kane
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Yeah - I know of Shaky Kane from way back. 2000AD and The Judge Dredd Megazine. Can't remember exactly which strips he used to do the artwork for - but his style stuck in my head like a knife. That's not to say that I was much of a fan: his style always stuck me as being a little bit too stark and desolate (wikipedia describes him as "psychedelic" - which seems kinda true - except that most psychedelic stuff makes drugs seem like loads of fun - while Shaky Kane's makes them seem like more like a form of GBH) . I mean - yeah - I get the Jack Kirby thing and all the rest - but my thought was that - hey: what worked back then doesn't necessarily work now (or something?) - but then maybe I'm just prejudiced against the old stuff - I dunno (and yeah I realise that have now put up posts for nearly 300 books and have yet to do anything with Kirby's name on it - so: sorry sorry sorry). Point is: even after a break of 10 years (guy disappeared from the comics industy in 2002 without even bothering to leave a note) my first thought on seeing this book was: "ah. This guy." Except not in a great way. Truth be told - maybe I even flinched a little.
David Hine on the other hand - him I know as being a mid-level writer of kinda substandard superhero dross. Read a book he wrote a few months back called Arkham Reborn that was all sorts of forgettable - striving towards some sort of Arkham Ayslum: A Serious House on Serious Earth level of profundity and instead coming up short. Before I read it I was going to try and write something about it - but when I was done - I just couldn't be arsed. (Although to be fair: I've heard there's a book he's made called Strange Embrace that's supposed to be really good - but Islington doesn't have a copy - so (oh well) for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist for me).
So: having said all that - strange as this may be - the messed up disappeared artist and the superhero hack guy have (somehow) combined their forces to create the comic book of - erm - 2010 (cough. yeah - sorry about that - it can take libaries a little while to wait for the trades paperbacks and catch up with all the cool kids...)
There has been lots and lots and lots of enthusiastic and positive on-line buzz surrounding The Bulletproof Coffin (hell - if you get the copy in your hand - just look at that back page - it's infested with praise and accolades: or just try some of the links below) so I was keen (and also slightly frightened - hype has a tendency to ruin things for me - and also I tend to find myself disagreeing lots with what other people tend to love) to finally see what all the fuss was about. But - hey yeah - (wipe that sweat from your brow) - when I got to the end and all the pieces fell into place - I liked it. I thought that it was good. Wild and insane in all the best sorts of ways - but also (and I got a little scared by reading a few comments that drew parallels with David Lynch - which made me fear for a whole bunch of craziness-for-craziness'-sake kinda sub-Grant Morrison stuff) - it's not just mindlessly wacky - but rather: it all coheres and hangs together in a brilliant way too (yay!).
But know this: I'd warn any average readers out there that a lot of the pleasure to be found inside (and there is lots of fun and crazy stuff for you interprid thrillseekers: odd-ball superheroes, post apocalyptic wastelands, evil zombies and time-travelling cavegirls - natch) come linked together with lots of tasty insights into comic books (and - strangely - the comic book industry) that only proper-comic-nerds are going to be able to fully appreciate (not so sure if I would count myself as a fully fledged comic-nerd yet - but I'm certainly much much closer than most).
Nearest best analogy I can come up with to describe what I mean: it's a bit like a Quentin Tarantino film - yes - anyone (if there's predisposed in the right way) can enjoy them - but old school film buffs are going to get a hell of a lot more out of them.
Links: Death to the Universe Review of #1, Mindless Ones Article, The Comics Journal Interview with Hine and Kane, Death To The Universe Interview with Shaky Kane.
Further reading: The Death Ray, The Filth, Seaguy, David Boring, Hard Boiled, Black Hole, Hicksville, Flex Mentallo.
All comments welcome.