Joe Coogan

Created by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson

“No use avoiding the obvious. I was dead.”
— Joe faces facts

This P.I.’s expired and gone to meet his maker! He’s a stiff!

Rough and tumble Los Angeles private eye JOE COOGAN‘s life may not have been much. For over twenty years, he drank in between bouts of “trashing scumbags and cracking heads for info to crack another scumbag’s head.”

But the good ol’ days of cheating spouses and putting the hurt on various scumbags is all over the morning Joe wakes up with the shit kicked out of him. And dead.

Yeah, dead.

As in permanent room temperature.

Expired.

Bereft of life, he rests in peace! Pushing up the daisies! He’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!!

THIS IS AN EX-P.I.

And that really pisses Joe off.

That’s the delightfully tongue-in-cheek premise of Dead, She Said (2009, IDW), a three-part comic book collaboration between writer Steve Niles (perhaps best known for 30 Days of Night and private eye Cal McDonald whose speciality is monsters) and legendary horror comics artist Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, Stephen King, blah blah blah). It was the duo’s first project for IDW, who published the comic over three issues in 2009.

So, yeah, Joe is dead. He wakes up to discover his intestines all over his bloodstained bed. Rigor mortis has come and gone, but his hard-on for vengeance is still throbbing. Thing is, Joe knows who gut shot him that last night. But he wants to know who paid for the hit.

So, after taping his guts back in (all praise duct tape), Joe grabs his gun and hits the streets. He doesn’t have time (and neither does the reader) to figure out how he can be moving around if he’s dead — his body is already starting to decompose, and he’s beginning to smell pretty bad. time is running out — literally — for Joe.

Niles and Wrightson manage a nifty mix of dark humor (the scene where Joe convinces sexy morgue attendant Veronica to embalm him in an effort to slow down his body’s decomposition is a classic, and the running gag about how bad Joe smells is a hoot) and moody, twisted noir that pays homage to detective fiction, cheesy horror flicks and EC Comics, and makes for one hell of a hook. Unfortunately, the insertion of B-movie sci-fi monster schtick into the latter part of the tale dilutes much of its power and changes the moody, atmospheric tone dramatically.

Still, for those looking for an unusual read that deftly mixes crime and horror fiction, you could do worse. Far far worse. It’s clear that for its creators, Dead, She Said is a labour of love.

Sick, perverted love, perhaps, but love all the same.

UNDER OATH

  • “It’ll take more than dead to stop me, chump.”
  • “By the time I reached Veronica’s morgue, I could feel my organ’s dripping inside my body.”
  • “He was a cheap crook — but I still liked the guy. Too bad he killed me. It would definitely put a strain on the friendship.”

COMICS

  • DEAD, SHE SAID
    (2009, IDW)
    Written by Steve Niles
    Art by Bernie Wrightson

    • “Dead, She Said (Part One)” (May 2008)
    • “Dead, She Said (Part Two)” July 2008)
    • “Dead, She Said (Part Three)” (September 2008)

COLLECTIONS

  • DEAD, SHE SAID | Buy this book
    (2009, IDW)
    Written by Steve Niles
    Art by Bernie Wrightson
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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