“Realism Is Pretty Much A Concept For Fascists And Accountants” – Dan Watters On Coffin Bound
by Olly MacNamee
Hot off Dan Watters’ success as writer of DC Comics/Vertigo’s Lucifer relaunch last year comes a new creator-owned series from Image called Coffin Bound. It’s already a sell out success with a second printing on the way, but I wanted to know more about this grindhouse-inspired sci-fi fantasy comic. Watters is certainly busy, busy, busy, so it was great to be able to catch up with him again in-between writing. Read on, as we talk about the book, its bizarre cast, and his partner on this title, DaNi and her amazing, gritty Frank Miller-like artwork, amongst other things.
Olly MacNamee: Coffin Bound has been described as as everything from a “Literary grindhouse comic” (Kieron Gillen) to a “Lynchian crime chase desert noir fever dream” (Rob Williams), but what is it to you? How best to sum up this mad, bad, and dangerous to know comic book series?
Dan Watters: Coffin Bound is a book about a woman who finds out she’s going to die, and decides that rather than fight this fact, she will use her remaining time to wipe out every trace of herself that she’s left on the Earth. This is going to involve backtracking through her life and revisiting where she has been, and those she has loved – and those she has decidedly not loved. All of which is going to require a fair number of fast cars, big guns, and will be facilitated by a vulture skeleton in a robot body. It’s going to be a blast, and we very much hope you’re along for the ride.
OM: It’s certainly a comic book that’s fascinated with death, isn’t it? Obsessed, even. From our protagonist Izzy Tyburn’s own fascination with this subject and running right through pretty much every character, death, and entropy, are certainly hot topics that loom over this series. Why’s that? What are the origins behind Coffin Bound?
DW: I guess it’s simply a universal subject isn’t it? I find, at least on a personal level, that any question about how to live life – how to live a good life – is necessarily going to require a fair amount of thinking about death. We’re on the planet for a limited amount of time, and whether that makes the things that we do while we’re here matter to us more or less seems to me one of the biggest definers of how we live – does nothing matter as it’s all temporary? Or does that mean that each moment is as important as the other, and therefore everything matters regardless of posterity? I’d like to think the latter. Which is all a very long way of saying, it’s a book talking about death to talk about life. As Izzy points out in issue 1, we’re all coffin bound.
OM: Even after this first issue, there are some stand-out characters. For me, I’m interested in the buddy-buddy philosophising Izzy has with vulture/cyborg; a character straight out of your worst nightmares, yet here given nobility, of a sort, in his dialogue.
DW: Vulture is a joy to write – he’s one of those characters that sort of leapt straight out of our heads onto the page. I don’t want to say too much about him, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think that his appearance as Izzy’s portent of doom is what has led a fair few people to describe the book as dreamlike, though that wasn’t something we actively considered when making the thing. I’m always a fan of throwing a schism into anything that might be perceived as realism, since ‘realism’ is pretty much a concept for fascists and accountants.
OM: Now, those of us who read 2000AD have been all too aware of the talent that is DaNi, who’s art style reminds me of an early Frank Miller. She’s a great fit for this book and finally gets to strut her stuff for our Colonial cousins. Was she at the front of your mind when coming to write this book?
DW: There is no Coffin Bound without Dani. We formulated the project together from day dot, which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest joys of working on a book like this, and a major reason that I work in comics in the first place. There’s a joy to combining your own sensibilities with an artist’s and seeing where the joins and divergences are. Coffin Bound is pretty different to Limbo, my first Image book, for example. Caspar (Wijngaard) and I work together differently and gel together on different things than Dani and me. It’s always exciting to see how that’s going to shake out, and I’ve been excited since Dani and I started formulating, to see exactly that.
OM: It would seem, what with your work on Lucifer too, that you have a fascination – at least for now – with death, poetry and philosophy. You don’t take your readers for chumps, do you?
DW: Nope. In honesty, I’m writing about the things that interest me. I have to assume that they’re interesting to other people too – that’s kind of the job. But by the same token, I really don’t want to make my work inaccessible in any way. It’d be easy to study a subject in detail, then act as though it was common knowledge, making oneself look smart but alienating readers into the bargain. I’m not into that sort of thing. I’d rather touch hearts, which sounds dreadful, but that’s kind of the job, too.
OM: Finally, Dan, what can we expect from the rest of the series, given the surreal, LSD-induced landscape and characters you’ve set in motion? More entropy and more death, I imagine. But, what else?
DW: More life, too! And all the laughter and tears that brings with it. We’re essentially road-tripping back through Izzy’s life as she attempts to erase all evidence of it- but that means she must engage with it too. Which I think and hope has the potential to be funny and heart-breaking and all the things that lives are.
OM: Always a pleasure to catch-up, Dan, and all the best with Coffin Bound and your continued success on Lucifer too.
DW: Likewise! Thanks for the interview. I’m off to write a little more of the latter now…
Coffin Bound #1 is out from Image Comics now.