Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep #9 Written by Philip K. Dick
Art by Tony Parker
Covers: Moritat, Scott Keating BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99; Release date: March 3, 2010
Full disclosure, I love Philip K. Dick. I have almost every novel and short story he’s ever published including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. While Androids is not my favourite book, it is the most well-known Dick novel, so it came as little surprise when I learned that BOOM! Studios was adapting it into comic book form.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep #9 picks up one of the most fascinating sections of the novel: the bounty hunter Deckard has been cornered by suspected android Luba Loft, who accuses him of being a sexual deviant. Instead of simply executing him right then and there, she calls in another police officer, Crams, who claims that he has never heard of a bounty hunter in the San Francisco police department named Deckard, nor has he ever heard of his superior, Harry Bryant. In fact, when Deckard tries to contact Bryant, the connection is cut off before Crams has a chance to speak with him. After finding the body of a “retired” android in Deckard’s car, he is arrested and shuffled into the back of Crams patrol car. Deckard soon realizes that he has been duped by the androids, and he is now at their mercy.
This chapter is an excellent example of why Philip K. Dick remains one of the most popular soft science fiction writers of the 20th century. Suffering from schizophrenia, Dick created narratives where psychic tampering and government manipulation meant protagonists were often unable to trust their own minds. Deckard’s tidy and organized world is suddenly thrown into a fun house mirror when he is unable to confirm that he is, in fact, a bounty hunter and his victim an android. Many serial killers and mass murderers believe that their victims are somehow “˜soulless’ machines or zombies, and for a brief moment Deckard is forced to consider that he may simply be psychotic. This loss of personal identity is only aggravated when Officer Crams suggests that Deckard himself may be an android. It is not the last time he will have to face that possibility.
Dick’s writing has been edited well to fit into a graphic format, allowing the visual depictions to replace much of the exposition within the text. But it was the art of the comic that really caught my eye. Most people are familiar with Androids from the 1980’s Ridley Scott film adaptation Blade Runner, a movie that not only proved science fiction could be intellectual, but also paved the way for the cyber-punk and tech-noir aesthetic. It would have been easy for artist Tony Parker to simply copy Scott’s visual style for the comic. Instead, Parker created his own unique vision of Dick’s near-future world. The clothing, the technology has a contemporary feel while at the same time projecting a futuristic bent. Instead of a dank, crowded metropolis, we have an empty ghost city. Police officers are clad in uniforms so similar to today’s you wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the street next week. The flying cars, while clearly futuristic, have the same visual feel as a humvee or a VW bug.
This adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep is a very pleasant surprise from BOOM! Studios. If this series successful, it would be nice to see more adaptations of Dick’s lesser known works, such as Counter-Clock World, Deus Irae and Vulcan’s Hammer.