February 20, 2013

Real Talk -- THE COFFIN: 10th Anniversary Edition

This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Keith SilvaThe Coffin lives (or dies) on big ideas; it's the kind of story no one seeks out because it asks more questions and questions more answers, yeah, it's that kind of book.
I'm drawn to these type of stories because … well I am. There is no accounting for taste, right? The Coffin isn't solely for shoe top gazers like me; it has steampunky robots, wackadoo science stuff and a female assassin with a headband, so cool stuff, yeah? For all its clankety-clank robots and pulpy sci-fi/horror, The Coffin houses a simple and difficult question: what do I believe?
Writer Phil Hester and artist Mike Huddleston leaven The Coffin's introspection with bravura action set pieces like rock-em-sock-em robot battles and some of the best visions of Hell this side of Gustave Doré and Hieronymus Bosch. Huddleston's Hell kills atheists. This is an actioner with heart and, yes, a soul. The Coffin is all about the soul, what a soul is, what a soul means, and what a soul looks like, and yeah, that last one is important, this is, after all, a comic book; looks count.
The "hellblazer" Hester imagines is a mad scientist type, Dr. Ashar Ahmad. The good doctor acts as an inverse Dr. Frankenstein, who seeks not the "spark of life," but the life force, itself, the soul. What Ahmad wants is a "live after death" situation where once the body and the mind go kaput, the soul (can) live on inside a sort of scaled-down "Iron Giant," the titular coffin. Like any other tin-pot Prometheus, Ahmad wants to do this for no other reason than because he can. Bastard. Ahmad with the help of his "his girl Friday," Dr. Goldenthal -- that is a situ. we'll talk about, FYI: issues -- has created a polymer so dense and yet so elastic as to be able to encase a soul; seems like a lot of trouble (and math) for a measly 21 grams, but judge not as the saying goes. After a bit of shoot-shoot, bang-bang, lab go boom, the demons come home for Ahmad and the stakes go up, way up. 
Anti-hero doesn't quite catch the spirit of lo' Ashar Ahmad. He's neither lovable rogue nor damaged/misunderstood angel. Ahmad is an asshole, plain and simple. While he plays tourist in Hell, Ahmad is asked by his murdered lab assistant, Liv, if he's ever read A Christmas Carol. Invoking Dickens most well-known curmudgeon/dick is an on-the-nose moment that Hester hammers on to make his point: this is a story of redemption as much as it is about life, death or something in between. Stories of redemption like The Coffin require a recovery -- if the protagonist falls from grace, he better figure out how to stick the landing. 
Ahmad's research is bankrolled by Mr. Heller (oh, Hester, you and your names). Part Howard Hughes, part Montgomery Burns, Heller is a soulless magnanimous corporate crook who explains his personal mission statement this way: "I do not create, I acquire. I do not labor, I contract. I do not build, I take advantage." At one-hundred-and-forty-four-years-old, Heller is not above harvesting his employee's organs, either, he is a man so in love with life he is willing to (have other people) kill for it.
It is The Coffin's pulpy prose that keeps it from becoming a midnight-hour stoner session; however, it's also this same aspect that creates gaps in narrative logic that distracts more than it embiggens. How is this story about a man's search for his humanity better because his soul gets trapped inside a robot? And if you were hella Heller rich, wouldn't you want to subject yourself to being the first (or second, just sayin') human subject to test the technology? I know, I know; if Heller asked nicely then Hester and Huddleston wouldn't have a story. I get it, but still.
So, Elkin, Giampaoli, am I too bound by my own logic, trapped in a casket we could call "over-thinking-it?" What do you two make of this sort of sordid and redemptive little tale? 
Daniel Elkin: You know me, Silva. I'm always in need of a redemption song. Or at least I feel that I do. Really. I feel it at the very core of my being. I feel it, dare I say it, in my soul?
As if that is something I could do. 
See, I've got an issue with this whole soul conceit going on in this book. I guess I just don't understand what the hell Hester wants us to conceive when he bandies about this concept. What are we talking about here? Is it the soul of Emily Dickinson's "The Soul Selects Her Own Society," the soul as in the "new way to roll" by Kia, or is it the thundering moist Barry White baritone kind of thing?
Our life essence? The seat of our consciousness?
And that's my hang-up with The Coffin. I just don't have buy-in because I just don't buy it. 
I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy reading this book. I did. I'm not saying that it wasn't engaging. It was. I'm not saying that I wasn't impressed with all the building that Hester and Huddleston have engaged in here. I am. What I'm saying is that there is a fundamental part of me that doesn't get the fundamental plot point of this book.
Maybe I'm the one who is so dense yet so elastic. Maybe I am staunch yet runny. But I am of the opinion that if you are going to build an entire narrative around a single idea (and really, with all its feints and big arms, that is what The Coffin is), it is helpful to define the idea in a useful form.
And that's where The Coffin fails for me. The devil is in the details and here, in this book, the "devil" says to Dr. Ahmad, "How can I be an artifact of your brain when that brain has been dead for days?" Ok. So. That's profound in that "I can guess your age and weight" kind of way, but adds to my conundrum. Mind/Body duality? The soul is something else here. Thoughts are in the brain, the groove is in the heart, what does this leave for the soul? Kindness? Attachment? A sense of paternal pride? Really? What? The soul? 
Especially one hermetically sealed in space-age polymers...
Justin Giampaoli: Silva, I'm glad you called out Ahmad. In short, are we meant to empathize with this asshole? The man behind the mask? The Vader to young Billie's Luke? Ultimately, The Coffin is the story of his redemption and reconciliation with his daughter. But, in order to become emotionally invested in this Iron Man meets Flatliners piece of baroque fiction (broke fiction?), shouldn't we like, or at least empathize with, the protagonist? I didn't. I'll use his spermicidal speech as exhibit A, an utterly ugly and flaccid projection of his own insecurities. It's classic attachment disorder for the man who was never attached to his lab partner, his lover, or his daughter, and is now not even attached to his own soul. Speaking on behalf of flawed men everywhere, I love flawed men. Flawed men I can handle. But a flawed protagonist, to the point the audience doesn't care, is something I can't handle. It's a cardinal sin in writing. In order to engage with the stakes of The Coffin narrative, we're asked to connect with an over-the-top caricature that I felt neither love, respect, or fear for, the three typical ways you can connect emotionally. 
Elkin, let the Skeleton Orgy Festivus begin! We commence with the Airing of Grievances. I agree with your soulful skepticism, and will raise you one dichotomous dogma. I'm confused about the paradigm divide between science and spirituality in The Coffin. Ahmad keeps rejecting the notion of Heaven, Hell, Demons, yet he firmly believes in the soul, he can physically see the soul. Can those two divergent ideas logically coexist? This muddled belief system seems incongruous to me. If he believes in the soul solely scientifically because he's proven its existence, that's a major tenet of the book, yet we never see it. It occurs off panel, in the past, and is never explained. There's too much fiction and not enough science in this piece of sci-fi for me. If he's not a believer, I don't think he's that great a scientist either. When he punches a TV in a fit of rage, he admits his new form lacks the biochemistry to do so, yet he also never commits to the fact that it's, what, divine vengeance? It has to be one or the other, so which is it? He doesn't accept this as proof by counter-example empirical evidence. The book is fundamentally about belief, yet I'm not sure what we're meant to believe the character believes. If Ahmad does believe in the soul, as he must, why create, and now cling to, this mechanical purgatory? His happiness is fleeting, going back is fleeting, life is fleeting, and accepting death would offer peace. The result is that the soul becomes a mere commodity, something to be bought and sold, coveted and leveraged, which isn't a terribly romantic worldview, out of step with many of the classic Romantic Period writers you academic types appreciate. 
Like Elkin, I enjoyed reading The Coffin, but was left trying to resolve a mixed message. In spirit, the book means to underscore an Emersonian "life's a journey, not a destination" ethos, but the actions we're left with speak otherwise. The journey was never important here, and when you strip away the slick robots, inventive action, and cool B-list characters (where my Blunt & Keen: The Cleaners spin-off book at?!), the denouement doesn't change that. Ahmad was so obsessed with prolonging (a form of) life that he never bothered to live the one he was given. Ahmad got what he wanted. He cheated death. He cheapened his emotionally devoid life even further. Now what? It's not like Ahmad and Billie just live happily ever after and go grab a fro-yo after soccer practice on the weekends.
Last grievance and I'll shut up; I hope we get to talk about things we did like. Silva, you mentioned the pithing in some of our preparatory email exchanges. Flag that and I'll come back. So, I confess, I cheated. I read the bonus material before I dove into this swanky hardcover. It's a habit. I was reminded of that old journalism adage: tell 'em what you're gonna do, do it, then tell "em what you did. Meaning, there is a ton of exposition up front in this book. Hester told me. Ahmad tells Lynde. Lynde tells Heller. I heard the speech 3 times. "Show, don't tell" being one of the ground rules in comics, I think there are instances that the creators didn't use the medium to its full advantage. For example, during that pithing scene, we see a pithing occurring while the dialogue is informing us a pithing is occurring. It's like the script said;
There's a pithing happening.
Heller: "There's a pithing happening.
Well, like the Spanish accent in Barcelona, I'm "pithed" off because text and art functionally doing the same thing defeats the duality of the medium. Words should zig, while pictures zag, creating something more than the sum of their parts, this tertiary information delivery system allows the reader to participate, induce, reconcile, and provide closure. I didn't think The Coffin capitalized on this dynamic as strongly as it could have.
SilvaJustin Giampaoli, ladies and gentleman, that's why his blog wins awards.
Whew! Glad I'm not alone in thinking Ahmad is problematic. I believe someone even used the word "asshole." If you cornered Hester with a pithing rod, he might admit that that scene between Barry and Ahmad-coffin over coffee has designs on increasing our sympathy for the protagonist. Duh. Death gives Ahmad the ability to admit his faults. [slow clap] He confesses to Barry that he doesn't even know how one goes about righting an emotional wrong: "But I want to do something about all the pain I caused and I don't know how. Not without your help." Ahmad is borderline psychotic, he needs a sympathy surrogate; he needs Barry. 
I agree with you, Justin, the B-characters in this story would make for good spin-off series. I see Barry's story being written and drawn by Chris Ware or maybe a Harvey Pekar-type, poor old paunchy, sad sack Barry, living out in a trailer in the middle of the dessert, single and alone -- that's where you might get your weekend post-soccer fro-yo scene, Giampaoli. I digress. Barry doesn't do much -- he's kind of a dishrag -- except to be Ahmad's lifeline, his only friend in the world. Barry exists to humanize Ahmad, he's the heart in a story that purports to be about the soul.
Which leaves Billie; pun intended. Oh boy. Why doesn't Hester ever explain Billie's prescience, especially her drawings or do they say enough? If Barry lives to make Ahmad-coffin (slightly) more human than human, what's Billie's purpose? Is she a kind of (shut-in) fairy princess (a plot device) who needs saving? Ahmad needs something to make him want to put things right, so why not the daughter (he says) he never wanted, I guess? Perhaps this is some kind of fractured fairy tale or maybe our princess is in another castle. 
There are certainly some missed opportunities here for investigations into dark(er) nights of the soul and what Hester wants the reader to take away from this story. Elkin's instincts are right. To understand The Coffin, the reader needs to look past (or through?) all this soul-business -- the soul as a MacGuffin, now that's got to be a first. If so, Hester's play here, the soul of his story if you will, is to ask if an emotional degenerate like Ahmad can be saved, even after death. Is it nevertoo late
I keep returning to hell. When Ahmad sees Liv in the flames like some Francesca da Rimini (is Liv in hell btw? Why?) and she asks him if his ever read a "Christmas Carol." Is that what The Coffin is, an update of A Christmas Carol without the ghosts, the bed curtains, the little crippled boy and "the pudding?" A Christmas Carol is about the human capacity for change, for transformation. Ahmad transforms (more than meets the eye, indeed) and in the end he is a changed man in more ways than one.
Like both of you, I liked The Coffin as well. As a recovering Catholic, I got trapped in thinking this was a story about the soul. Thanks to you two, I realize that's a "fairy story." Hester is a romantic like Byron, Coleridge and the Shelleys. The Coffin holds a lot of atmosphere, contains a lot of feints and convolutions that keeps the reader asking questions. And by the time the tale is told, we have become like the wedding guest, sad and (hopefully) wiser. Am I wiser, Elkin, or am I trying to grasp onto something that isn't there... like a soul? 
Elkin: There you go, Silva -- looking for that redemption song again. It's like it's all Hester ever had in mind in this little yarn he spins. Taking Bob Marley to heart in this, though, would require us to agree that "None but ourselves can free our mind," and Huddleston and Hester have encased themselves in too many layers of polymer for this to be, in its entirety, the point.
Because if it is that simple at its core, then I feel cheated, misused, and stupid.
And the more I look at the last few pages of this book, the more I start to feel this way. 
What do we find there? Little Billie says, "Nothing's scary. Not anymore." Here she is having gone through what she has been through (POW!), looking into the "eyes" of the father, one who has heretofore completely abandoned her but who is now the "Daddy" she has envisioned (How? Why? Huh?), with an openness and acceptance and the innocent all-encompassing love of a child. Ahmad is redeemed. He has fought the forces of evil and death and has found himself through his child.
Everything else? All that was just a diversion, a page filler, a depth charge?
Or was it?
He can't let it go, can he? Hester has to put Heller in Hell right at the end, making this soul-business NOT our MacGuffin at all. By doing so, Hester upends all of this easy cheesy and reconfirms that his earlier posturing was his true stance. Indeed there is more going on than just a redemption story. There has to be, right? Or why else the return?
Earlier Silva tossed out that Hester might be pursuing an idea of belief as the core of this story. Perhaps this last panel confirms this is a polemic on faith after all. 
So then what is redemption in this book? Is Dr. Ahmad only really redeemed because he acts with faith? By following the dictates of morality as transcribed by his overarching religious sensibility he is able to finally "live"? It doesn't work, does it? 
All I have are questions and The Coffin seems to go out of its way to confound any simple answers. I find myself in a place where the pieces don't fit together and I feel either insulted or confused or shamed. Regardless -- it all leads to anger.
The more I consider The Coffin the less appeal it has for me. I long for it to be a simple tale of redemption, one full of "steam-punky robots, wackadoo science stuff, and a female assassin with a headband" -- if it could just stay this then I would shave my legs and go dancing in the streets.
But it can't.
So I shan't.
And I shake my fist at its creators. I rotate my head at my own sense-making. I rattle the cages of this coffin, and I stamp my feet in frustration. I feel pushed in the mud by a bully of an idea gone awry and I've got no quarters left to run the wash cycle.
Maybe it's the readers who need that fro-yo now, huh, Giampaoli?
Giampaoli: To channel Jon Heder's great life coach, quit being so flipping' negative all the time, you guys! Gosh! We've now aired the dirty laundry of The Coffin, so here's my laundry list of what it got right, what I found interesting.
Blunt and Keen. It's yet another example of Hester's maybe-too-on-the-nose naming conventions, where the characters actually are what they're named. Blunt is the muscle and Keen is the brains. I just really enjoyed these characters and found myself starting to do plot outlines for the first mini-series of Blunt & Keen: The Cleaners. Jae Lee can handle art. By the time Keen is transformed into this beautiful and menacing mechanical angel of death, I was in some type of non-corporeal lust.
From Oni Press to IDW. For this project, we all read the 10th Anniversary Edition Hardcover published by IDW, but I remember buying this in singles when it was published by Oni Press. This felt like a marker for a lost era. I miss that early period of Oni Press's work that Bob Shreck initially kicked off -- *Sniff* -- the one that put out books with a more serious tone. Not to denigrate the work of these other creators, but I feel like today's Oni Press is more Scott Pilgrim or Sharknife or Sidescrollers than it is Whiteout or Local or Queen & Country. If you're in the mood for a good spaghetti with marinara sauce, that's a lot of egg noodles and ketchup. 
The Nature of Death. The opening imagery and sparse text really sets the tone. "There is nothing." It's that simple and it lets us know that death really is something to be feared if this total vanquishing of any and all sensory reference point is all the great beyond has to offer us once we shuffle off this mortal coil. If this is what we can expect, some sick semi-consciousness devoid of, well, anything else, then it's no wonder Ahmad and Heller want to protract (any form of) their lives by any means necessary.
The Art. It's really good! Looking at his bio, I was surprised that I've consumed as much of Mike Huddleston's art as I have. I'll use a couple recent examples just to make my point, which is how damn versatile the guy is. Take The Homeland Directive with Rob Venditti. His art is appropriately inky and murky to capture the conspiratorial qualities the story relies on. Or look at Butcher Baker: The Righteous Maker with Joe Casey, where it's all raucous and erratic -- a perfect tonal match for this subversive book. Yet, I'd boldly say those are wildly different than the slightly ethereal vibe we get here, where there are literally ghosts in the machine. With just black and white, he balances the genre forces of the horror and sci-fi aesthetic, capturing the sort of basic morality play that fueled the old EC Comics line. There's power in his shots. The image of Ahmad mortally wounded and slithering across the floor stuck with me; it's one of the best depictions of blood I've seen in comics, without the benefit of full color. There's the beautiful "soul explosion" in the desert, Ahmad plunging into the vat to be reborn, and the visuals of Keen, all very keen visually.
Da Rimini vs. Remini vs. Dickens. Silva, I don't know about your theories on hell or A Christmas Caroland the only Remini (sounds like Rimini) I know is Leah. I actually did try to track your Dickens lead down. The Coffin is originally published in the year 2000, Heller is 144 years old, which means he was born in 1856. Some interesting stuff happened that year (The Great Train Wreck, The Battle of Seattle, Nikola Tesla is born -- which makes me feel like we're getting closer to something, but no), including quite a few books being published by the likes of Melville and Dickens and Bronte, but sadly A Christmas Carol isn't among them. As Elkin said, there's no significant connection to be found, no puzzle piece snaps firmly into place. Shame on me for even looking. Idiot! But wouldn't it have been cool if Heller was 157 years old, putting his birthday in 1843, the year the Dickens classic was first published? That's the kind of intertextual reference I live for.
Fathers and Daughters. Silva, you mentioned something about Barry that makes for a nice entryway to my theory. I'm fascinated by all of the father-daughter relationships found in The Coffinwhich cover this full spectrum of existence in various states. We've got Barry as a sort of surrogate father to Billie, simply by default, as the least morally corrupt man around. We've got Ahmad and Billie, obviously a damaged relationship that's ostensibly being repaired. We've got Heller and Keen in this sort of liminal patriarchal state. We've briefly even got Heller making an abortive attempt to father Billie. Misguided as some of them may be, isn't a human heir a healthier legacy to leave after your death than trapping your sentient brain fart inside some spandex and a tin can? I think there's something deeper to the multiple instances of father-daughter pairings. Elkin said that the book might be struggling to be about what it's really about. Is it about the soul? Skeleton orgies? Steampunk robot suits? Wackadoo science? Female assassins with headbands? Nah, man. I think John Mayer was right all along. "Fathers, be good to your daughters." I think the book might actually be about Hester subconsciously examining his role as a parent. I'm dying to know if he has a daughter. Maybe this is why Billie is an abstract mystery and we can never get into her head. The story is always told from the POV of the father figures because that's all the writer knows.
What say you, Silva? You're not gonna make us read Deep Sleeper are you?
SilvaDeep Sleeper you say … hmmmmm. I reckon after this suggestion, you and Elkin would rather I take a dirt nap than be put in charge of our next project. Speaking of which...
You're a good Italian boy, Giampaoli, and you've never read the Divina Commedia, the preeminent work of your people? What do they teach you kids these days? Dante aside, Giampaoli, I know how you like a good faux-Shakespeare needle drop, so here goes: I come to bury The Coffin (not) not to praise it.
As for you Elkin, I'm thinking Melville. I wonder if, like poor Ishmael, your hypos have gotten the upper hand and if you find yourself pausing before coffin warehouses in order to keep from "methodically knocking people's hats off?" Is it, sir, "rainy November" in your soul?
Coffin-wise, Huddleston's the draw for me. I'm with you Giampaoli, those opening pages -- mirror images of Ahmad-coffin and Ahmad-doctor -- are a fine how-do-yeah-do to a tale that talks a good game even if it gets tangled in its own middling and muddled musings. Before I forget, Keen-coffin's cape reminds me of the sort Princess, Jason, Mark, Tiny and Keyop wore in Battle of the Planets. I love(d) Battle of the Planets.
Huddleston's art is kinetic; his panels presuppose a sense of proportion and propulsion that is downright dynamic. Look how Huddleston divides the page when Keen-coffin escapes from Ahmad-coffin. Keen runs up the left hand side of the page which Huddleston composes in a medium shot (almost a time-lapse) as she Whap!Thap! and Swak(s)! her way up the wall and ends up upside down at the top of the page. Huddleston divides the right hand side of the page into three elongated rectangles: one wide and two close-ups. He uses the panel to the left as a long shot to show how far Keen and Ahmad are apart (physically, not spiritually). The next two panels are close-ups with Ahmad looking up and Keen looking down as each tries to figure out his/her next move. It's a minor story beat at best and Huddleston handles it with so much thought, care and the deft skill of a master storyteller. 
I'm going to offer up another metaphor, maybe you can cop to this one, Elkin. Huddleston's design of the coffin itself is … so damn great, so damn great -- bricolage at its best, steampunk cosplay made from parts of the Tin Man, The Iron Giant and Iron Man. Can we all agree that the suit is cool, yes? The one aspect I can't quite understand is what's with the steam/smoke that trails behind the coffins like a telltale? It reminds to me of those banners the samurai warriors carry in late-career Kurosawa pictures like Ran or Kagemusha
If it's steam, where's the water? And what about the fire? If it's smoke, where's the fuel? And what about the fire? Something is missing, but it looks … right, right? You would think a suit made out of a "perfectly impermeable" polymer combined "with an onboard computer" wouldn't vent anything (or need to) and yet there it is, in fact, that mile high plume of smoke (or steam) is the one of the quality that makes a coffin, a coffin, well, that and a soul. Can mystery, menace, and atmosphere be enough? 
The smoke, steam, whatever, it doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, but it looks … awesome. That's The Coffin to me, it looks cool and yet it doesn't all add up and maybe it doesn't have to. 
Giampaoli sugars The Coffin down to a saccharine (heartfelt) pop song -- once you go Mayer you can never go back (or so I've read). For me, The Coffin is far from bulletproof, but it is a conversation starter, it's a puddle, really, a mile wide and an inch deep. Like a puddle, it reflects and maybe that's enough, perhaps the depth of The Coffin depends on how far you gaze into it or maybe it's only style, a shiny surface with nothing below, no guts, no stones, no soul. And all that steam, all that smoke that's all it is.
What makes a coffin, Mr. Lebowski … umm, I mean, Elkin?
Elkin: Silva, at this point my answer is that it is neither preparation to do the right thing, a pair of testicles, a mile high plume of smoke (or steam) or even an opportunity for redemption. For me, what makes a coffin is a pause, a delay tactic, a physical manifestation of our fear of the "Nothing". Death scares. We plop bodies in coffins so we don't have to think about decay. Shuffling off the husk and leaving it to rot. By encasing it, we continue our conceit of control. 
We have fathered a life and want it to make something of itself.
It's legacy building. What do we leave behind? Maybe THIS, finally, is what The Coffin concerns? We just don't want to die -- there all this cool shit we might miss.
And that, perhaps, is the soul of this book.
Or not....
I just don't know anything anymore.
It is cold, gray, and drizzly outside. A train is barreling through the mountains headed to parts West to disgorge its cargo. There are no sandwiches to be made in my kitchen.
Oh, my fine fellows, I've grown grim around the mouth, and it is high time I get to sea.
Giampaoli: Silva says Alighieri's work is the great contribution of my people, not the mysteries of the Etruscans, the Ferrari 288 GTO, the great ambrosia known only as pizza, Alyssa Milano, Scorsese or Coppola? (Speaking of the latter, continued talk of Deep Sleeper will likely yield an invitation to a fishing trip in Lake Tahoe). For our purposes here, I'd probably vote for Michelangelo's emotionally menacing The Last Judgment in this case, and here's why.
Like Elkin's riff on the fear of death, or Silva's issues with bouts of illogic and the failure of science regarding everything from the heady origins of the soul to the more pragmatic origins of the damn steam, The Coffin simply appeals to our hearts, not our minds. Meaning, the great meaning, Keith, is, uh, yeah, the suits ARE cool. And being a bit more charitable, perhaps it seeks to merely prompt the audience like Walter Donovan: "It's time to ask yourself what you believe, Dr. Jones."
As Elkin said, the coffin may be interpreted as a symbol for man's failure to contain the only certainty in life, our own mortality. Chaucer is credited with giving us the saying "All Good Things Must Come To An End" (The Pardoner's Tale seems apropos for us here; three rogues set out from a pub to hunt for Death in the woods). So, anyway, over the effervescent flume of microcomputers venting heat, I must say "Goodnight, sweet prince(s), and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." For though The Coffin tries to prolong life unnaturally, our review must surely come t --


Justin Giampaoli went from Dick Grayson to Callum Israel in 30 years. Award-Winning Writer @Thirteen Minutes, Senior Reviewer @ Poopsheet Foundation, Host @ Live From The DMZ, Freelance Contributor @ Dark Horse and DC Comics. Follow @thirteenminutes.

Upon his death, Daniel Elkin would like to be left in the woods for the wolves to feast upon. Tomorrow, though, he would like you to bring him a sandwich. He tweets about the lack of sandwiches in his life @DanielElkin and postures as Your Chicken Enemy.

Keith Silva chooses creamation over a full burial. Surviving heirs, friends and well-wishers are advised not to let Walter Sobchak near the urn, coffee can, what-have-you. Read Interested in Sophisticated Fun? and follow @keithpmsilva.

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