Dan Watters has an all new, gritty series coming out next month. From what we can tell, Coffin Bound is going to be a suspenseful, gripping, unique road trip following one of the most unique double-acts we’ve seen in a while.
Watters is creating the series with line artist Dani, whose incredible work birthed the idea for the whole series. After reading the first issue, we sat down with Watters to discuss Coffin Bound. Check it out below and be sure to pick it up on August 7th, and let your local comic shop know you’ll be looking for it.
AiPT!: Where’d the concept for Coffin Bound come from? Tell me about development.
Dan Watters: The book sort of span out of Dani and I really wanting to do something together. We had met each other at a bunch of cons and liked each other’s stuff. She’d read Limbo, which was my first Image thing I did, with Caspar Wijngaard, and she’d liked that. Her work is, and was, astounding. And we sort of realized we had similar aesthetic interests and a similar sense of humor and things like that. So we spent ages working out what we wanted to do together because I knew I wanted to do something that was fully collaborative — that wasn’t just sort of me dictating something to an artist. And something that was, you know, really worth taking to Image because when you’re doing stuff through Image you’re doing it all yourself. It’s a lot of work. So you really want to make sure it’s a project that you really love.
And we hit on it with this. I think it all spanned out of a commission she did of this woman sitting under a tree, which sort of sparked something. And we started talking about that, and who she might be, and it sort of ballooned into what it is. I was reading a lot of pessimistic, nihilist philosophy at the time, and some quite interesting ontological stuff, which posits objects as the central thing in existence as opposed to the human. It was a sort of slamming of that against the grindhouse, cheap, pulpy vibe which ended up turning into Coffin Bound.
AiPT!: I mean this In the best way — some of this issue is very disturbing. How do you find those things that make you uncomfortable and follow through?
DW: I think it’s literally doing that on purpose — seeing where you hit on something that makes you feel uncomfortable and then not backing away from it, because if you stay in your safe zone you’re pretty much gonna make the same book again and again and again. So, I knew there’s things I hadn’t touched on or things that made me uncomfortable. And those are the things, especially in a book like this — maybe it’s not the best if you’re writing a My Little Pony comic or something like that. But if you’re writing something like Coffin Bound it’s exactly where you want to go. I think if you can touch something which gets a reaction in yourself, then there’s a good chance it’ll do the same for other people. And if that thing is something uncomfortable, I don’t know, there’s something compelling in that, too, for most people, especially when you’re watching someone else explore it rather than have to do it yourself.
AiPT!: I wish you would have seen my face during the scene with the literal strip club. It was a lot, and I’m excited to see where that thread goes.
DW: Yeah, we’re definitely not backing away from that one. And that was one of those things where it’s one thing to write it, and then it’s another to get those pages back and see what Dani had done with it.
AiPT!: Izzy and Vulture seem to have a rhythm right away. She doesn’t question what he’s doing there, and it’s like they’ve been doing this for years. How did you find that rhythm for them, and what are we supposed to pull from it?
DW: Ah, I can’t really tell you that. Uh, but the story’s about Izzy. Vulture is a presence, and he’s active, but her reaction to him is more that she’s already been thrust into a really absurd situation. And she’s been through enough of them that she’s not really fazed anymore. And he seems nice enough!
Yeah, they definitely have a rapport that was easy enough to slip into. But, you know, you always want a double act in something like that. Otherwise it’d be really miserable. So throw a little Laurel and Hardy in there, a little bit of Didi and Gogo from Waiting for Godot.
AiPT!: Tell me about the wider art team.
DW: We’ve got Brad Simpson on colors. Dani’s work is so strong that I suspect … and I’m talking a little out of school because I’m not a colorist … but her stuff is all black or all white. There’s no half-tones or grays in her art and I suspect that makes her not the easiest artist to color. So we spent quite a lot of time thinking about who we wanted to color it. And then we came across Brad Simpson. He colors on Piotr Kowalski’s lines quite a lot, and the three of us did a Wolfenstein book together for Titan. And I loved the art in that book, and I loved Brad’s colors. And I thought he’d be a really good pick for this because he uses really strong colors but he doesn’t always go the obvious way. I think there’s a way Coffin Bound could have looked really different, with different colors. If he’d sort of just thrown a lot of Blade Runner neon on it, it could have given off a very different vibe and not quite the one we were trying to create. So Brad absolutely nailed that. He brought a lot of dirt and filth to these really bright colors at the same time. He’s absolutely nailing it.
And the lettering is Aditya Bidikar, who is just astounding. He’s a good friend, and he lettered Deep Roots, which I did over at Vault. Both on that and on this, he tends to get what I’m going for almost immediately. His letters slide in with no problem, but at the same time his lettering is never generic at all. He doesn’t ascribe to the invisible lettering concept, and I think he’s absolutely right not to because the things be does with balloons are absolutely fantastic.
AiPT!: The character design is so intricate and interesting. Tell me about that process?
DW: It was a lot of Pinterest between Dani and I. We were throwing back all sorts of weird things. It wasn’t just character design … Dani spent so long designing Izzy’s house, which we then immediately set on fire and drive away from. But that was a sort of thing, of getting down the world and her as a character was designing all this clutter that she surrounds herself with — all these weird totems that she makes and things she collects. For that, we were sending each other pictures of weird feathers on the ground and all sorts of lists of birds — there’s a lot of bird stuff going through Coffin Bound — and all these weird masks, especially for Eartheater and things like that. So yeah, we definitely combined a lot of elements when it came to those designs. Like I’d give Dani an idea of what I wanted something to look like and she’d come back to me with a bunch of pictures that either she’d taken or that she’d found online, and then I’d come back to her with more, and we’d sort of end up in this place adjacent to where we started.
AiPT!: What can people expect from future issues?
DW: We’re definitely gonna dig into Izzy’s past more. She’s on a road trip backwards through her life, trying to undo it as she goes. And we’re gonna discover just how easy or difficult it is to extricate yourself from the world around you and from other people’s lives. And also a lot more Paulie Starlight shenanigans upcoming, as well.
AiPT!: This is a doozie. But, if the Vulture showed up in your life, what would you do?
DW: Oh man, that is a doozie. I don’t know. I’ve written the first arc of Coffin Bound now, so I think I know now what not to do? I guess, just tell people you love them would be the most important thing to do. Is that sappy? That might be sappy. But it’s probably the right time to be sappy, if there ever is one.
Pick up Coffin Bound on August 7th at your local comic shop.