The Boyf and I were loading some groceries into the car on Saturday evening when he noticed the back of one of my recent comics purchases featured an advertisement for a comic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Holding it aloft he asked me to add it to my bag at good ol’ Chapel Hill Comics. “It’s Philip K. Dick!” he said, but my eyes fixed on something else: Warren Ellis.

Reading up on it this morning I now know that he’s not writing it or doing the adaptation of the novel. Instead he’s going to be writing something called “back matter,” which is the commentary and fan interaction at the back. Apparently the text of the comic itself just comes straight from the book, suggesting that this is in more ways an artistic endeavor than a literary one. I think this is a good thing. Why? Because much as I love a lot of what Warren Ellis has written, and much as I will always treasure Global Frequency for containing the most sincerely sweet storyline ever penned about a bunch of people in one neighborhood in NYC who are made to weep tears of blood, become bisexual and speak an alien language, he is just shite at finishing things. I confess that I have come to have something of a love-hate relationship with his work and seeing his name on a title for the last couple of years. Here’s why:

  • The Authority was, when he was writing it, amazing. So ridiculously good, and I’ll be the first to say that The Midnighter was a total hottie. Ellis wrote a couple of funny, affectionate drama queens really well.
  • Global Frequency was a really neat idea, really fun stories and perfect for my short attention span. That the TV series never got made really disappointed me because Ellis so heartily endorsed the pilot. Ah, well.
  • Transmetropolitan, when it wasn’t just filled to brimming with how much it liked itself too much, was a really fascinating setting with some very original elements.
  • Planetary was, almost entirely, amazing. The last issue that showed up in my bag – #24, I guess? Something like that? – anyway, the last issue I read left me with the distinct impression of having gotten closure and that was refreshing. Now apparently there’s another one coming out? Another three issues or something? Fuck. Given it took ten years for them to crank out 24 issues then I have no idea when or if it will ever finish. I’ll buy it, though, because The Drummer is so mad hot and because whatever bizarre gems of classic comics and/or sci-fi lore Ellis unearths to drive the story will be worth consuming.
  • Nextwave is a fascinating idea that has thus far suffered from a trainwreck of a publishing schedule. Is it coming out? Is what’s coming out a one-shot? When whatever may or may not come out does hit the streets will I remember a thing about the last issue? Will I still care? Let’s find out!
  • Desolation Jones is/was, to be honest, revolting. I have no problem with comics that tend towards the gritty, the over-the-top, the “adult,” the scandalous or even the disturbing. This one was too much for me, though. I would sit there reading it and wonder whether another issue of Planetary had been delayed so he could produce this, the 24 of exploitation porn. No thanks.
  • Fell, which is fantastic and makes me wonder just what was going on behind the scenes to disrupt the schedules of good books and push one bad one to market for so long: too many projects? Too little time? Rent due? YouTube addiction?

Maybe I’m being too critical. I dunno. When I first, mistakenly thought that Ellis was adapting Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I said to The Boyf, “Well, I’ll add it to the bag, but I’ve got to be honest and warn you that if it promises 24 issues in two years we’re going to be lucky to get fifteen in five.” If all he’s doing is the back matter, OK, I’ll give it a chance.

That said, this further illustrates (no pun intended) what an interesting publisher BOOM! has become. Fall of Cthulhu is, honestly, pretty dreadful. Cthulhu Tales, on the other hand, has been wonderful. Farscape‘s first three issues left me completely cold but I have no choice except to believe that a title like Muppet Robin Hood must surely be fantastic. The original titles they’ve produced seem to be hit or miss, as are their adaptations, but when they hit they are truly something special. I don’t really have any love left for remakes, adaptations or otherwise resoled properties – the film industry has used up all my tolerance for them – but if one is likely to catch my attention, at this point, it’s probably going to come from BOOM! so I am, in all sincerity, pretty stoked about this PKD adaptation.

(Now if only BOOM! would pick up Spellgame from the defunct Speakeasy Comics portfolio…)