Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Trade Waiting – The Bulletproof Coffin

The Bulletproof Coffin is a comic that most comic critics loved but most comic buyers didn’t seem to pick up. At least, not as many as should have sampled the wares on this one so hopefully many will instead pick it up in trade. To aid the sales of such a phenomenal release, I have recovered an article from another reputable source that documents the creation of what would have been my review. Hit the jump to make what you will of my shambolic cerebral tap of a 2011 vintage.

The Bulletproof Coffin

Written by David Hine
Art by Shaky Kane

Much like a phrase from the book, "Everything that follows is true…”


Ryan K Lindsay wrote a review for this trade but then he was seen on top of his roof lighting it with a butane burner obtained from his kitchen and hurling abuse at the passing newscasters who couldn’t understand the Esperanto ramblings he was chewing out through his mouthful of cookies and vodka. What was retained of the charred remains of the review were merely a succession of words and clauses, no whole sentences survived the lexicofuneral pyre.

The literary rebuttal to David Hine and Shaky Kane’s trade paperback was handwritten in one draft and no files dedicated to the book could be found on the highly encrypted computer Lindsay hid from his wife in the attic. His wife reportedly didn’t even know specifically what he was writing about before his unfortunate descent in sadness as she never asked what he was reading or writing about after their altercation in 2009 (the specifics of which have been tied up in a red tape gag order Lindsay’s lawyers fought hard to obtain).

In order to see how Lindsay was affected by The Bulletproof Coffin, as he so clearly was, all we have to go on are the recollections of his wife and the few crime scene photographs made available to the press through an organised leak in the chain of evidence. The photos are stark and plain and they mask the sudden horror that overtook the Lindsay household in Lindsay’s last hours of being a productive member of society.

It took Lindsay nearly a week to read the trade collection, six issues over six days. The week started with Lindsay eating his usual cereal in the morning and putting his feet up with the book but by the fourth issue his wife noticed a change as he came home from an unknown deli with White Pudding and would only read the book outside on the grass. The final day yielded an unshaven Lindsay sleeping in and reading the book under his covers with a beer recovered from beneath the bed after he forcibly removed his wife from their shared sleeping chamber.

He climbed straight to his office in the attic and started writing. The scratching of his sharpened pencil against the paper on the bare hardwood floor worried Lindsay’s wife but she made no attempt to enter his writing domicile. When the music got too loud, Lindsay’s wife took their young child and left the house for two hours. Lindsay’s recovered computer shows a playlist titled “Music To Kill Comics To” which included the sombre stylings of Modest Mouse, Bernard Hermann, Ned Collette, and others. Some tracks appear to be homemade as they simply hold sound of a man breathing (possibly Lindsay himself) and the freestyle coughs and nose blows of a young female.

Two televisions in the room, which Lindsay’s wife says he used for visual comparison for a series of movie articles he said he was researching but for which no evidence can be found, soundlessly looped BluRay editions of Creepshow and a south Victorian stage production of A Clockwork Orange.

When Lindsay’s wife returned, she found Lindsay sitting at the wheel of his car sobbing profusely. She could make out what he was chanting but not what it meant. “We’re all in the book.” A warning to us all, perhaps. When she knocked on the car window, Lindsay fled out the passenger door and climbed a nearby tree. As he leapt onto the roof of the house, over a three metre gap, he screamed, “I will be drawn!”

Mrs Lindsay promptly telephoned the authorities as she had learnt her lesson from 2009. She waited for them in the house’s panic room and wasn’t retrieved until Lindsay had been detained in an armoured van. When police informed her they would be taking Lindsay in for his own health as well as the safety of his family, she replied by only saying, “Then I guess I better clean up this mess.” She grabbed a broom and refused to say anything else.

Journalists camped outside the Lindsay residence but were unable to secure an interview with the lady of the house and the best they could dredge up was a teddy bear in the garbage bin stuffed with 34 PayDay wrappers.

Three months later…

Lindsay was released under his own cognisance and all he had to say to the assembled press was the following prepared statement.

“Yes, I have been made aware of my actions. Am I proud of them? Well, actually, yeah, slightly, but I stand by the possibility that comics can and will change my life. I don’t read these pamphlets to be mildly amused in the moments between living my life. I read comics to be educated, informed, transformed, and informed. The book and I were placed into a pressure cooker of a week and we have each emerged like a BrundleFly of immense power and beauty. I have no regrets with what I am now and I am pleased to discover that the book has warped to fit my singular vision.

If you can’t handle what I am then don’t step through the looking glass, people.”

Lindsay walked the 15 kilometres home and has been happily writing haiku and hack letters in the months since. Telephoto lenses show him to be reading EC comics by the bag full, eating even more PayDays, ordering out of print Kirby collections on AbeBooks, and rubbing his wife’s feet nightly. Life seems to have moved on to a simpler regime for the one-time comic journalist and most can only be happy that he doesn’t file any articles anymore.

Yet he still gets weekly letters asking him for a redraft of his Bulletproof Coffin review. He happily burns these requests in his bathtub while listening to old country songs. Some journalists report him crying in these sessions and others report laughter. Either way, he always emerges to write more poetical musings he keeps to himself, and sometimes whispers to his child.

This article was compiled by online hack site The Coffin Fly. They present it freely to the world in the hope that others will understand the inherent dangers of comics and heed the senate warnings with full knowledge that these silly pictures and words aren’t to be taken lightly. Life’s can be irrevocably changed and not everyone is as lucky as Ryan K Lindsay to peer into the abyss and walk back with a skip in their step.

They hope the next time you pick up a comic, especially one not from the Big Two, that you do so with your eyes wide open and your thinking caps on.

Verdict – Must Read. In all seriousness, The Bulletproof Coffin is a smart comic that is also insanely enjoyable. It doesn’t rest on its laurels of erudition but rather plays against them by subverting the most puerile and deviant thoughts that Wertham would have hated because it strives so hard to prove him right. The narrative spirals into itself until it becomes nothing and the whole time Kane delivers gorgeous pages that cannot be ignored. This is a new millennium comic and as much as I want more like it there can’t be an influx of this type of metafictional tale, that would rob the genre of its inherent genius. This is a grand concept and a masterful execution. If you’re looking for something else out there then congratulations, you just found it.

And if you're still not convinced then go to CBR and read the entire first issue for free. That'll learn ya.

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