Contemporary comic book superheroes are steeped in history – virtually all of the heroes at the top of today’s sales charts were created decades ago but have managed to endure over the years. But what about the forgotten heroes like the Red Wraith, The Shield of Justice... or better yet – Coffin Fly?
What, you’ve never heard of them? Well, you’re like a lot of people that don’t remember those heroes from the Golden Nugget publishing company of the 60s. But in the upcoming Image miniseries Bulletproof Coffin,
we’re going on a psychedelic trip down memory lane, through the long boxes and long memories of a unique kind of comics fanboy into the strange world of Coffin Fly and his fellow heroes.
is coming from a pair of old friends and UK comics alums Shaky Kane and David Hine. Hine is well known in American comics circles for his work at Marvel and DC, but he comes from a rich history of independent work such as the recently reprinted Strange Embrace book. Cartoonist Shaky Kane has lesser recognition to American comics fans, but for a subset of UK comic fans his art is a welcome sight after years of infrequent output. Kane’s unique line owes much to the works of Jack Kirby and artists of his era, but through the lens of independent comics like Jeffrey Brown or Mike Allred. Together they’ve created this new miniseries and Newsarama has the scoop.
What can you tell us about Bulletproof Coffin, guys?
I’ve already said too much. I described the story outline on the Millarworld message board and someone instantly wrote us off as 90’s post modernism. I would have liked to be as enigmatic as possible about what this series is going to be, so people come to it without any particular expectations, but I guess you can’t expect either the readers or the comic stores to invest in a book blind. This comic is the book Shaky and myself have always wanted to buy, but no one was really doing it. It’s a satire of all the comics we love from the last 60 years, including the post modern comics of the 90’s. We mock but we do it with deep affection. It’s like taking the piss out of your Grandad. He may be old and smelly but you still love him.
It’s a six-part series recounting the events which surround Steve Newman, who’s life follows the path of obsession to the extent where reality and fantasy overlap to such a degree that he finds himself torn between the two, with life threatening consequences.
And of course being, a collaboration between David and myself it’s about a whole lot of other stuff as well!
It’s about dead superheroes, stone-age girls in chamois leather bikinis, eyeball-headed psychics, bulletproof coffins with spiked tires, spirit walkers, secret attic rooms full of comic book collections, and resurrected GI’s!
The lead in this is a guy named Steve. What’s he about?
Okay, you’re twisting my arm, so... Steve Newman is a collector of Pop ephemera, who comes across a collection of comics that shouldn’t exist because the books were cancelled in the sixties. These comics smell of fresh ink, and he realizes that the creators must still be turning out their depraved stories. Things get weird when he’s contacted by the ageing real-world versions of the comic characters, who are convinced that someone is trying to kill them. Meanwhile Steve finds that his own memories are getting confused. Is this really his beautiful wife? How come he can’t remember how they met? And why does the family’s pet dog have no genitals?
In Steve’s big comic collection, the one he holds highest is called Coffin Fly, and is about a hero of the same name who travels around in a makeshift ship he calls “bulletproof coffin”. Can you tell us more about this fictional comic and its star?
Every issue of Coffin Fly opens with these immortal words': “In the far-flung future, the Earth has been reduced to an arid wasteland! Here Coffin Fly wages a lonely war against those who would plunder and desecrate mankind’s heritage!”
Coffin Fly wanders through this desolate graveyard planet in the Bulletproof Coffin, trawling up forgotten artifacts. He’s trying to preserve the history of human culture – the important stuff like the McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, X-Ray Spex and of course, comic books. When he’s not doing that he’s battling Giant Radioactive Insects, Mutant Nazis and Vampire Aliens. We’ll be featuring his epic battle with the Vietnam Veteran Zombies, a.k.a. The Hateful Dead.
These comics are put out by a publisher named Golden Nugget that went under in the 60s. But you’re featuring these “lost stories” in the back of each comic. Can you tell us about these characters, and their style?
The origin of the characters, featured in the 8-page section stems from an idea I had, maybe ten years ago, certainly before the zombie thing had become such an overused genre. I put together a strip entitled Cease To Exist, a sort of disjointed narrative wherein once-dead superheroes ‘Now walk the Dead Beat’!
The idea lends itself to a gothic melodramatic, yet conversely B-Movie treatment.
The name ‘Coffin Fly’ sprang to mind along with ‘The Red Wraith’, and the idea of a drowned cop. A lawman dredged from the murky Hudson, on a hooked pole. The idea surfaced in a small press magazine entitled Dream Factory.
I find thinking up these ideas relatively easy. David, of course is able to take the ideas and make them into something much more complete, and I hope, reader-friendly. In fact amazingly so.
Ramona, Queen of The Stone Age, is a real crowd pleaser! I’ve always been a sucker for ’In A Savage Land’ type characters, Queen of the Stone Age/ Jungle girl, it’s a mix and match item!
The painted coffin was manufactured out of biodegradable compressed boxboard. It was called an ‘Earth Sleeper’. It featured my Missile Elvis character from Deadline magazine. I painted it up to look like Japanese robot packaging! It would make a cool bookcase and of course a final resting place.