Have you ever had a dream where you're exploring an unfamiliar house and your subconscious wanderings bring you into a secret room full of rare and never-before-seen miracle dream comics? I sure have. Now with The Bulletproof Coffin (Image; $3.99; 6 issues), we have a noir murder mystery set in the world of one of those wonderfully weird dreams.
In The Bulletproof Coffin, Steve Newman, assigned to clean out a dead man's house, stumbles onto a treasure trove of toys and comics, including a stack of mysterious David Hine and Shaky Kane Golden Nugget comic books. It seems Hine and Kane produced several years of bizarre, unforgettable comic books for Golden Nugget Publications from 1956 until the firm was sold out in 1962, and the two creators were split forever. Newman is thrilled at the discovery of dozens of previously unpublished issues of Coffin Fly, Red Wraith, Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age, and the Unforgiving Eye from after the supposed cancellation, and takes them home, only to discover a mystery behind the murder of the old hermit who owned the house, and indeed behind the very existence of the comics themselves.
Of course, the real David Hine and Shaky Kane did no such books in the 1950's and 60's, presumably had not even been born yet, but that doesn't stop them from weaving metafictional comics by metafictional silver age versions of themselves into The Bulletproof Coffin. Both came up in the British comics scene of the 1980's, and while the real David Hine is a relative newcomer to American comics, he has made a name for himself as a writer here in the last decade. The "real" Shaky Kane's work was all-too-scarce in America, seen only in Deadline USA, and a few issues of Doom Patrol in the mid-90's. It's a real pleasure to see him back to drawing comics, and drawing them really well, with this series. Fans of oddball Brit comics will recall he had a frenetic, Kirby-on-acid style, but he currently has developed a very appealing Geoff Darrow influence as well.
Each issue also promises to have a Golden Nugget comic-within-a-comic included, as with the first issue's "the Unforgiving Eye", which reads like and EC Comic on hallucinogens. This is great stuff, and frankly, right up my alley. Welcome back, Shaky!