Monday, August 30, 2010

Golden Nuggets

The Bulletproof Coffin #2 & #3, by David Hine and Shaky Kane

I am struck by how self-referential this comic is, both to itself and to the world of comics more generally. The main character, Steve Neuman finds a stash of old Golden Nugget comics, but they date from after these classic titles were all cancelled. In each issue he reads one of the comics, and we see the crazy issue he does. But then in the third issue he reads an issue of Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age (which tells of a large-breasted woman in a skimpy outfit who lives back in the time of dinosaurs and primitive savages), which in turn has a reference to an issue of Ramona inside it. On finishing it, Steve meets the actual Ramona and they realise that the comic has hidden within it the secret to saving the world from some unspecified catastrophe.

Or maybe Steve has gone mad and imagined everything – is it not a problem for comics fans everywhere that they lose touch with reality? But, then, who were the weird old people dressed as wrinkly incontinent old arse versions of Golden Nugget characters who showed up at the end of #2? They told him that because he had found the costume of The Coffin Fly (another Golden Nuggets character), he had been Chosen – he was now The Coffin Fly, doomed to ride the Bulletproof Coffin across a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape.

Aside from the meta-textuality and evident fascination with comics and the forms' history, the title has this sense of creepy dislocation in the here-and-now. The protagonist seems completely alienated from his wife (who thinks, perhaps correctly, that he needs psychiatric help), his blank and uncommunicative yet monstrous sons, and the ugly hairless and sexless dog. Maybe the ugly dispassionate despair of every day life is what causes Steve to retreat into the brutal yet fascinating world of the comics, or maybe there is only one world and later episodes will throw everything together.

wrinkly image source

issue 2 cover

An inuit panda production

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