Few comic book creators could be mistaken as a member of a heavy metal band, on stage thrashing to the screams of adoring fans. Brian Pulido, however, is one. As the creator of Lady Death, amongst many others, and owner/operator of Coffin Comics, Brian is more rock and roll than any of us could hope to be in our most fevered dreams. With an incredible energy that his loyal and die-hard fans find contagious, Brian has been killing it on the independent scene since the early 90s, especially with the long-lived character Lady Death. Today Coffin Comics’s success is evident in the rumors of a TV series for La Muerta and the many successful Kickstarter campaigns. Comic Burst’s Nathan Liberty was fortunate to find time on Brian’s schedule to discuss music, comics, and some exciting things to come.
This interview has been lightly edited for readability and length. A special thank you goes out to Brian Pulido himself, for being kind enough to let us interview him twice for this article.
Comic Burst Hey Brian, thank you so much for joining us today. We know you must be an incredibly busy man.
Brian Pulido What's up?! Thank you for having me! I'm excited to be here.
CB With new readers just getting into your comics and story lines, what would you recommend as a good starting point for the reader?
BP Well, as you know, I’ve been doing Lady Death for over 25 years now. I’d like to recommend jumping into the current era of Lady Death, which is the Coffin Comics era. So that would begin with a storyline called Chaos Rules. Actually, since we’ve begun with new story lines... since 2015 actually, we’ve released 7 of what we call “Chapters". They are thicker, 40 to 50 page comics. So I’m recommending Coffin Comics era, and then go back in time to the Chaos! Comics era. I may be biased, as Chaos! Comics was done under my own tutelage, and lasted from something like 1992 to 2002. In between there were a couple of other publishers… Avatar, Boundless. but you don’t even have to bother reading those because, as we revealed in Chaos Rules, it’s not part of the canon. They took place when Lady Death was cursed and fell asleep, and so were some of the dreams and nightmares she had.
CB I think that’s helpful. The continuity issue you bring up--do the other publishers count?--is a common question, so I really believe this will help the new or casual reader. Thank you for clearing that up.
BP NOW YOU KNOW! Another thing I’d like to point out, if I may, is that our Lady Death is the same Lady Death from the Chaos! Comics era. We brought her forward. One of the fascinating things from a continuity point of view, is that many of the other characters aren’t currently involved in the story. So, what happened? I can tell you there is a story reason behind that, and one day we will get to it.
CB Awesome! Sounds like exciting things to come for sure! Let’s touch on gimmick covers for a moment. As collectors, we love gimmick covers. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the gleam of foil lettering or a chromium wrap causing a gleam on the newsstand. Is there a special cover that you have personally wanted to do, that just hasn’t happened yet?
BP Well, I think you’re right. I have a long history of having fun with cover enhancements because I’ve always loved them. Ya know, I always looked at it as a way of competing with the big boys. In the 90’s you would have these monolithic companies--Marvel, DC--putting out these books and having gigantic marketing budgets. I thought maybe if I could offer something that was unseen I could compete, which I did with the leather and flocked covers, better known as velvet covers, and I was an early adopter of chromium. It really did allow us to compete. People would walk by and be like “What in the heck is this?” It was worth intangible millions in marketing dollars.
Now, for your question... what makes that difficult to answer is, this very afternoon, we are trying to debug a couple cover enhancements that we haven’t done before. What I can say is we have done sculptured, embossed, chromium, glow in the dark chromium… but one of the more obvious ones that we have never done, and really want to do, is lenticular. Pretty simple and we haven’t done that one. The thing I’m very attracted to with lenticular is it will be a very, very small print run. Marvel and DC have super high print runs, and the volume makes the per-comic costs feasible. A small lenticular run of 200 or 250 that is reasonably priced has been a challenge. Besides lenticular, there are a couple others up my sleeve that I JUST CAN'T TELL YOU GUYS ABOUT YET (laughing). I can tell you about them off the record over a beer, but to give it away just yet, wouldn’t be fun for anyone. I love the element of surprise and for Lady Death fans, it will be one.
CB That effort definitely comes through to the fans. Speaking personally, you are the master of the gimmick covers. I actively seek out “gimmick covers" and yours are some of my favorites.
BP Thank you. I love them!
Lady Death: The Movie
CB In 2004 there was an animated movie for Lady Death. With the huge popularity of Coffin Comics, is there any chance of a new animated movie or show?
BP There is a chance for future media. I don’t know if we are looking at doing any animation, but since you asked, Coffin Comics has teamed up with Sherry Marsh, who worked on History Channel’s show Vikings. We really gelled a couple of years ago and we formed our own production entity for the exact purpose of bringing Coffin Comics characters to life in other media. So with Lady Death we spent some time finding like-minded show runners: people who could oversee and write the show. We did find those people but I’m not going to announce who they are. But I can give the teaser that the two show runners for the R-rated live action Lady Death cable TV show are Emmy award winning writers from the hit Hulu show The Handmaid’s Tale. So we have put all of the elements together over the past couple years, and are about to have the runners pitch the show to the studios.
I am not at liberty to say much, but our character La Muerta is even further along in that same vein. Maybe even crazier. I think culturally the success of movies like Coco and Black Panther have really changed how motion picture studios look at diversity in movies and audiences. In La Muerta literally 95% of the characters are Mexican-American and it now has the potential to reach a much broader audience. So that’s my long way of saying no new information, but keep your eyes out for the TV series.
CB A TV series could translate much more successfully than even an animated movie.
BP In comics, we come from the tradition of cliffhangers; always the “tune in for the next episode." So that’s where a Lady Death TV series would be great, because you can tell these ongoing stories seeing, season after season, her struggle and rise through the ranks of hell.
CB Chaos! Comics had its own heavy metal album Doomsday back in the 90’s, with which many nostalgic fans are still in love. If Coffin Comics had its own music album, who would appear?
BP Ah, that’s easy! I write with metal in mind all the time. Arch-Enemy, Lamb of God, Slipknot, and to change the tone I might throw in some Greta Van Fleet, that new Zeppelin-esque sounding act. I definitely can't forget the classics, so I would have songs on there by Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio, Mötley Crüe because that’s kinda the vibe and the feel. As an example, when I was writing the Chaos Rules story, I was listening particularly to Arch-Enemy’s song “Under Black Flags We March". That song just kept forming Coffin Comics storytelling.
CB I’ve always seen the fanbase as the people in high school would write “Slayer” across the top of their notebook, or wore the denim jackets with the patches… that was me.
BP (Smiling) We appeal to the fans of Slayer, or the people who like that state of mind. There might be a person with a rebellious spirit who, even if Slayer isn’t their bag, is attracted to the kind of energy Coffin Comics espouses. It applies to doctors, lawyers, accountants, librarians and people from all walks of life. It’s fascinating. As much as I dig the metal, I do hear people say “well we don’t like your heavy metal, man, but we do like your energy.” To me that’s great!
CB If you could be any superhero, from any publisher, from any time, who would it be and why?
BP Wow! What a fun question! I’ve never been asked that. Let me see… Captain America is my favorite of all time. I have read him consistently, without fail since July of 1974. BUT, I don’t know if I want to BE Captain America. Because if I get to pick any kind of character…how about this, how about I get to be Thanos or Darkseid, BUT I get to use my powers for good instead of evil? I don’t know if I can pick between those two dudes. I like them both! I like Darkseid and his Omega beams that he shoots. I would definitely pick one of those two dudes and I’ll use my powers for good.
Let me keep answering this question because it’s a rich question! I immediately thought I would be Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth which was a DC/Jack Kirby creation. He has no powers but his story was so far out and adventures so trippy that it would be really fun to experience them. For example, he was recruited for a race on giant grasshoppers by this crazy guy Mr. Sacker, who was a giant snake. Maybe just for fun I’d like to be in that story.
Oh man, this is such a tough question. How can you just narrow it down into one? Why don’t I just be Ghost Rider? Ya know? Johnny Blaze? He’s so cool! He’s like the coolest character!! Don’t get me started (laughing).
CB That was the best possible answer I could have asked for! So, what’s next Brian? Do you have anything coming up or any projects you would like to discuss?
BP Well since you asked what’s on the horizon, let me tell you! Coming May 9th to Kickstarter will be “La Muerta: Retribution”. This concludes the story line that we began last year with “La Muerta: Vengeance" and we are bringing back the entire creative team. That’s Mike Maclean, Joel Gomez, Ceci de la Cruz, and the covers by a who’s who of phenomenal talent, including Mike Crow, Collette Turner, the list goes on and on.
Also, here we are coming into the big convention season. Coffin Comics will be in full effect at Phoenix Con, Denver Con, San Diego Con and Dragoncon. And for each one of those events, we have planned an onslaught of super special, radical exclusives including work by J. Scott Campbell, Frank Cho, and the list goes on. We are pulling no punches, taking no prisoners, and we are out for blood man, so come on out! We are having a blast at those.
I can also tell you that we are in really good shape for the Lady Death: Apocalyptica Abyss Kickstarter. We have gone to print on every single book, and everything is at the printer. We have reached a great majority of the stretch goals: they are printing the fine art and the patches are in the mail. We are in really good shape to begin shipping as promised, right at the beginning of May. So those are some things to look forward to in the short term.
CB Lots of fun and amazing things coming out of Coffin Comics and Brain Pulido. Thank you for speaking with us today. We very much appreciate having you and it’s been an absolute pleasure.
BP (Brian holds up a ring printed with FTW, then he gives “The Horns") it was my pleasure!! Thank you so much for having me! Brian out!
Writer: Nathan Liberty
Editor: Dr. No