Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The Bulletproof Coffin #6, which was published by Image and is cover dated December 2010. This scan is from the trade paperback, which was published in April 2011. Enjoy!
The Bulletproof Coffin is a very strange comic, and we see a bit of that on the first page of issue #6. Shaky Kane’s precise and hard-edged artwork provides us with a splash page that might not be too exciting but sets a nice scene. The details are impressive: The cracked rear and front windows, the pink fuzzy dice, the tacky red seat, the beer can and what looks like a flashlight and knife on the dashboard, Joey Spinoza’s mirror shades, the sweat dripping down his face, the matchstick clenched in his teeth, and the blood speckling his shirt. It’s a powerful image in its own right, and Kane’s idiosyncratic yet strong pencil work helps make it so. Meanwhile, Kane’s colors – dominated by red – imply rage, which is not a bad emotion considering the sweat, blood, and the fact that Joey is clenching his teeth. If we know nothing about Joey, we can infer from this drawing that even if he weren’t bleeding, he’d be the kind of guy who got angry easily. Kane’s coloring of his face is done well, too – it’s slightly ashen, giving him an unhealthy look. Yes, he’s bleeding, but the color of his face makes his state more explicit.
David Hine’s script is insane, creating new and new layers to the reality of Steve Noman (the main character) and everyone he comes in contact with. We get a sense of it here, as Hine gives us a narrative box that takes the hyperbole of comics narration up a notch, mocking it but also indulging in it – as much as Hine and Kane are mocking comic book conventions in this book, they obviously love the form. After this bombastic opening, Hine immediately adds a different narration, this time in Joey’s head, as Joey refers to himself in the third person, much like a narrative caption. This is a clever way for Hine to introduce the idea of different layers of reality – the omniscient narrator begins the book, and its role ends with “a true American hero!”, and then Joey takes up the baton, casting himself as that true American hero, fighting through the pain. Considering what happens on Page 2 (and far be it from me to spoil it), this is a nice beginning to this odd tale.
This might not be the most dynamic first page, but Hine and Kane do a fine job introducing (or re-introducing, if you’ve been reading along with the series so far) their themes, as well as making the page urgent and tense. While this page might not be too strange, the comic quickly veers into strange territory, and it’s well worth a look!
Next: I can’t escape the pull of Claremont! What comic has popped up again in my random dig through my long boxes? It’s something you may have forgotten Claremont wrote! Find more of his work in the archives!