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On Three Comics Adaptations of Philip K. Dick

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The World According to Philip K. Dick
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Abstract

‘Comics are a strange beast,’ to quote Warren Ellis, who adds that they constitute ‘a source of continual argument’.1 Yet it is also true that comics have now left behind their status as mere products of consumer culture and successfully entered the realm of academic debate. Over the past decade, one may legitimately speak of the emergent study of an independent and complex medium.2 This shift towards the perception of comics as an art form sui generis has given rise to an ongoing debate concerning the methodological issues involved in setting up an adequate theoretical framework within which the medium may be discussed. Notwithstanding their continuing importance, comics scholarship has begun to break away from its practice-based beginnings in Scott McCloud and Will Eisner, and today embraces a great variety of scholars who bring diverse interests and perspectives to the subject.3 Comics studies thus ranges across history and semiotics, (inter-)mediality and reception, production and dissemination, genre and authorship. Meanwhile, not only has the reputation of the medium changed, but so has its market value, largely through the production and reproduction of texts (in the broad sense of the term) that are either adapted from comics (most prominently superhero movies) or transformed into comics.

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Notes

  1. Warren Ellis, ‘Foreword,’ in The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach, ed. Aaron Meskin and Roy T. Cook (Malden, MA: Wiley, 2012), xii.

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  2. See for excellent introductions to comic studies: Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester, eds., A Comic Studies Reader (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009); and Hannah Miodrag, Comics and Language: Reimagining Critical Discourse on the Form (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013).

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  3. See, for example, Meskin and Cook, The Art of Comics; or Stephan Ditschke et al., ed., Comics: Zur Geschichte und Theorie eines populärkulturellen Mediums (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2009). Each of the introductory chapters in these volumes offers an excellent overview of methodological questions concerning the studies of comics in European and US-American academia.

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  4. Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Boston: Mariner, 2007); Jeffrey Brown, Little Things: A Memoir in Slices (New York: Touchstone, 2008); Charles Burns, Black Hole (New York: Pantheon, 2005); Phoebe Gloeckner, Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures (Berkeley, CA: Frog, 2002).

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  5. William Jones, Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011), 4.

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  6. For a discussion of the hybrid nature of comics as a medium see: Robert C. Harvey, ‘Comedy at the Junction of Word and Image: The Emergence of the Modern Magazine Gag Cartoon Reveals the Vital Blend,’ in The Language of Word and Image (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2001), 75–98; Aaron Meskin, ‘Why Don’t you Go and Read a Book or Something?,’ in Watchmen as Philosophy: A Rorschach Test, ed. M.D. White (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009), 151–71.

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  7. Spiegelman spoke of Dick as ‘the only living writer I wanted to meet’. In Jonathan Lethem and Pamela Jackson’s introduction to The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick we learn about a meeting that took place between Dick and Spiegelman in 1974, but Spiegelman’s plans to adapt an essay based on the ‘Exegesis’ for the underground comics magazines Arcade or Raw were never realized. See Jonathan Lethem and Pamela Jackson, ‘Introduction,’ in Philip K. Dick, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, ed. Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), xviii.

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  8. Moebius, ‘Clans of the Alphane Moon,’ in Pilote 743 (1974), http://pkdickbooks.com/blog/2012/03/10/moebius-legendary-french-artist-dies/.

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  9. Archie Goodwin et al., Stan Lee Presents: A Marvel Movie Special: Blade Runner, vol. 1 (New York: Marvel Comic Art Classic, 1982).

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  10. Robert Crumb, ‘The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick,’ in The Complete Crumb Comics, vol. 16, The Mid-1980s: More Years of Valiant Struggle, (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2002), 19–26.

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  11. Scott S. Maggin et al, Total Recall Comic 1 — The Official Adaptation of the Carolco Movie (New York: DC Comics, 1990); Philip K. Dick et al., A Scanner Darkly: A Graphic Novel (New York: Pantheon, 2006).

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  12. Tony Parker et al., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, no. 1 (Los Angeles: BOOM!, 2009); David Mack et al., Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant (New York: Marvel Comics, 2010); Chris Roberson et al, Dust to Dust, vol. 1 (Los Angeles: BOOM!, 2010), Vince Moore et al., Total Recall (Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite, 2011); Francesco Matteuzzi and Pierluigi Ongarato, Philip K. Dick (Padova: BeccoGiallo, 2012).

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  13. Warren Ellis, ‘On Philip K. Dick,’ in Tony Parker et al., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, vol. 1, March 2011 (Los Angeles: BOOM! Studios, 2011), n. p.

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  14. Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (London: Gollancz, 2007), n. p.

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  15. See Alf Seegert, ‘Ewe, Robot,’ in Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?, ed. D. E. Wittkower (Chicago: Open Court, 2011), 39–49; Ursula K. Heise, ‘From Extinction to Electronics: Dead Frogs, Live Dinosaurs, and Electric Sheep,’ in Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal, ed. Cary Wolfe (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 59–82.

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  16. Thierry Groensteen, Comics and Narration, trans. Ann Miller (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press 2013), 131.

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  17. Lawrence Sutin, Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick (New York: Harmony, 1989), 17–8.

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© 2015 Stefan Schlensag

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Schlensag, S. (2015). On Three Comics Adaptations of Philip K. Dick. In: Dunst, A., Schlensag, S. (eds) The World According to Philip K. Dick. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137414595_10

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