On paper it sounds like a good idea: Why not take the Philip K. Dick book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and make a graphic novel out of it? And that’s what BOOM! Studios has been trying to do for about seven issues of this comic book and they just can’t get it right. I’ve been looking at the previews for a while and something has always set me off about them. Then it struck with this latest issue — this isn’t a graphic novel based upon the novel, but a bad xerox copy of Blade Runner which was the famous film which was based upon the novel.
I’d point a finger at artist Tony Parker but that would be unfair. After all my guess is that when Blade Runner came out as film he wasn’t even born yet — and having grown up as an artist my bet is that he came across the film in his past and the look of that feel seeped into his mind. Of course that’s not an accident: First of all Ridley Scott is a master at visual film making. On Blade Runner he did an amazing job borrowing bits from everywhere from Metropolis to 1940s film noir with just a touch of 70s London punk rock thrown in for fun.
Scott also had a very talented crew working with him, from the location scouts to the set designers. And speaking of set designs it should also be noted that Syd Mead worked on the pre-production of Blade Runner which is why the mecha is so damn good. Then add to that some great casting and you’ve got a film that’s a classic all of these years later. So Tony Parker is stuck with a clear dilemma — pick of on the film or do something very original.
Sadly Tony didn’t seem up to the task of doing something original, but I suspect that it isn’t his fault. The sad truth is that BOOM! Studios specializes in licensed comic books that are based upon films. My guess is that some agent had the rights and was looking for some cash — and BOOM! Studios knew that it was hard to go wrong if they carefully played the Blade Runner card correctly.
So the comic book looks like it was reviewed by a lawyer. Inside the book you never see the words Blade Runner least it triggers a lawsuit, but the PR material starts off with “From the bestselling book that inspired the film Blade Runner”. The artwork hints at Blade Runner but becomes just generic enough when it matters. The result is you get a Ken doll version of Harrison Ford wandering around a vague looking Metropolis.
All of this is to me a slap in face at Ridley Scott who did such an amazing job of that film all of those years ago. In fact one thing that I admired about Scott — he didn’t demean his film by making a sequel to it when it started to get popular in the years that followed. In fact to his credit he always seems to be doing something new and unexpected. Yet in a sense by trying so hard to dodge the look of Ridley Scott every panel in this comic book is haunted by him.
The result is terrible! In fact what pains me is that even though Philip K. Dick never lived to seethe release of Blade Runner it’s well know that what he did see of the film he liked very much — even the casting of the actors (which is rare for a writer). Something tells me that the author wouldn’t be pleased with the graphic adaptation of his book.
And it’s because this comic book is so second rate that Scott will have his revenge: Sure it will make some money from the fanboys — but within time nobody will remember that it existed.