Disinterred: Hine and Kane Dig Up The Bulletproof Coffin - Part 2

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This January sees David Hine and Shaky Kane return to the dark world of The Bulletproof Coffin in the follow-up Image Comics miniseries The Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred. In this second part of our bumper chat with the chaps we discuss the structure of the new series, the metafictional aspects of the first and what’s coming up in the future from this remarkable duo...

Read Part 1 of this interview here

BROKEN FRONTIER: Comic book company buy-outs, legal weasels, ageing fan boys and creators’ rights: volume 1 of The Bulletproof Coffin certainly had a number of things to say, within the context of the story, about the comics industry and the super-hero genre in particular. Will The Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred touch on similar points?

DAVID HINE: No. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves too much and to be honest I just didn’t feel like ranting any more. The characters of Kane and Hine kind of took over the first series and we turned into a couple of grouchy old curmudgeons – in real life as well as in the book. This time it’s just a case of coming up with a bunch of stories we wanted to tell.

BF: One of the great pleasures of the first volume was the twisting, turning narrative that was chock full of surprises. Can we expect the unexpected again in The Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred?

HINE: There will still be lots of surprises. Each issue has its own style, so not only will readers not know what to expect from this series, but there will be changes in style and subject matter from issue to issue.

For my part I had an idea that I pitched to Vertigo a few years ago. The story of an overweight housewife, whose hobbies are housebreaking and crime fighting. No one at Vertigo seemed to go for that but I’m convinced it’s a winner. So I’ve turned that into a one-shot, which will be the last in the series. Then issue 2 is 'Tales from the Haunted Jazz Club', which started off as nothing more than a title. Once we decided to turn Red Wraith into the beatnik host at a jazz club where they tell true stories of love loss and mutilation, it all came together.

One of the stories is an adaptation of a true account by Frederick Treves, the man who discovered the Elephantman, then there’s a tale of a woman with a  phobia about body hair, called ‘Hairy Inside’ and the third is ‘Fixing Suzi’ which tells how a young man cures his girlfriend’s stammer. The Haunted Jazz Club was a challenge to see if we could actually do a whole issue of those short mystery tales that we seeded into the first series. That leaves issue 4 and we’re still undecided on what that should be. We were planning for an issue of Voodoo Romance stories. But I haven’t come up with any yet, so that one’s still up in the air.

BF: Can you give any teasers for which of the characters from the first series will be back, and in what capacity? And will The Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred continue with all the extra nostalgic mock lettercols and evocative fake ads?

HINE: Shaky wanted to tell the origin of The Shield of Justice, which is the first issue, then he wanted to do a Kirby-esque blockbuster featuring a retro version of the Unforgiving Eye and the original Coffin Fly. That’s in issue 3. We’re also having one issue featuring the notorious Hateful Dead bubblegum cards. Each page will feature a blow-up of one of the paintings featured on those cards, with the full story of the Hateful Dead that ran on the back of the cards. So there are a number of plot lines growing out of the first issue. I’ve also sneaked in a few subtler references to events and places from the first series, so the plot is constantly weaving in and out of the previous story. We’re still working on the extras for the new series and we will probably not do the same kind of ads as last time. We both felt there were a few things we did in the first series that worked very well, but too much of a good thing gets old very quickly.

BF: The metafictional aspect of volume 1 was obviously a huge part of its appeal and its use was always wonderfully inventive. Indeed, that first miniseries really rewards re-reading to pick up on things you missed first time round. Did you have any trepidation, though, about building an entire arc so firmly on that thematic foundation, given some of the fan apathy in recent years towards the perceived over-use of metafictional plot elements in super-hero comics?

HINE: It never bothered me at all. It just grew that way. We set out from day one to write and draw the way we wanted without worrying too much about the response from the public. We’ve been in the business a long time and we were drawing on ideas we’ve had kicking around for 20 years, so clearly they won’t be as fresh and innovative as they might have been 10 or 20 years ago.

The idea of multiple realities and overlap between real and fictional worlds is as exciting now as it ever was and is moving into the mainstream. The boundaries between reality, virtual reality, memory and the infostream are all breaking down and our brains are being re-wired to cope with it. That’s what they tell me, and my brain certainly feels re-wired.

BF: I know you can look back on very similar formative influences from when you first met in the late ‘70s but your individual styles would - at least from this reader’s admittedly superficial perspective - seem to have gone in very different directions over the years. David’s work strikes me as touching on often dark and grotesque themes while, when I think of Shaky’s art, I think of bold, brash colours and imagery. Yet on The Bulletproof Coffin your very individual sensibilities complement each other perfectly. A case of a serendipitous creative alchemy or do the true Hine and Kane really resemble their Bulletproof Coffin counterparts?

HINE: The roots are the same. The interpretation is very different when we’re working separately but there was certainly a kind of alchemy going on with Bulletproof Coffin. There’s a more abrasive edge with the second series as we both move outside our comfort zones. It makes this series a bit riskier but if we didn’t take a few creative risks it wouldn’t be worth doing.

And we do resemble our Bulletproof Coffin counterparts more every day, though we haven’t yet taken to carrying loaded weapons.

SHAKY KANE: That's the thing with comics, all comic books are imaginary stories, It's one of the only genres that doesn't have to make sense, none of it makes sense anyway.

It's this longing to be taken seriously, the constant retelling of the same basic idea with an added dimension of realism which to me has spoilt what was once magical about them in the first place.

I don't do noir, I do retro. I don't do female private eyes, I do private eye-fulls!

I'm not going to start getting artsy on people. You either get what I'm doing or you don't. If someone else had handled the art it would have been something completely different. When Dave's script comes in I'm as big a fan as anyone reading the books.

BF: David - you’ve worked a lot on super-hero-related books for the Big Two over the last few years, often finding a deliciously darker or more macabre slant to the characters and their worlds. This isn’t meant as a dig at the big super-hero franchises but was there something liberating about playing with your own toys on The Bulletproof Coffin, free of the restrictions of an established fictional universe?

HINE: I guess I was always the proverbial square peg trying to slot myself into the round hole of mainstream comics and it is eternally frustrating to have to tailor my stories to the requirements of the superhero mythologies. I always tried to insert my own sensibilities and wherever possible my politics and deep reservations about the fascistic/vigilante element to superhero comics. If you read between the lines in the mainstream work, you’ll see a lot of the stuff that came out full-blown in The Bulletproof Coffin. The cuffs were off with The Bulletproof Coffin and I loved every minute of it. It’s interesting that although we weren’t aiming to please anyone but ourselves, the reaction to the series shows that we struck a chord with a lot of other people.

BF: Finally, what else can we expect to see from you guys coming up on the comic shop shelves and are there any further planned collaborations for the Hine-Kane team in the near future?

HINE: I hope we’ll continue to collaborate one way or another, though we haven’t thought much beyond this new series of The Bulletproof Coffin for now. In other work, I seem to be shifting more into creator-owned and independent publishing. The highest profile work right now is The Darkness, which I’m taking over in March with issue #101. That’s still work-for-hire but there’s a massive amount of creative freedom and everyone at Top Cow works very closely with a lot of mutual respect, from Marc Silvestri to Publisher Filip Sablik, President Matt Hawkins and all the creative teams. I’m going to work long-term with Jeremy Haun as artist, who is great. I’ve worked with him before at DC on the Arkham books, so I know exactly what to expect when I write a script for him.

I’ll be writing an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s ‘The Man Who Laughs’ for SelfMadeHero in the UK, with artist Mark Stafford. We have already worked together on a story for SelfMadeHero’s H P Lovecraft Anthology.

I’m also working on another creator-owned book for Image and a couple of horror books for another independent publisher. All that will be announced soon.

KANE: Monster Truck Deluxe edition is out any day now from Image. I'm sure we'll be back again. These books take me an unfathomable amount of time to draw. I've no idea what the future holds, but I know Image and in particular Eric Stephenson is backing us, so things are looking good. On a personal creative level things can only get better.

The Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred #1 is published in January by Image Comics (NOV11 0363) with #2 hitting shelves in February (DEC11 0549). Volume 1 of The Bulletproof Coffin is currently available in trade paperback.

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