PKD’s (and David Mack’s) ELECTRIC ANT

The first issue of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant hit the stores this week like a psychic invasion.  Reading more like a copy of Heavy Metal than the latest release from Marvel Comics (which it is), Electric Ant hits all the right notes in introducing the reader to the mind of Philip K. Dick.  What a frightening, fascinating mind it is!

Recovering from a near-fatal car accident, Garson Poole discovers that he’s not human after all — he’s an Electric Ant; a robot programmed to think it’s a real person.  All his thoughts, his memories and feelings are artificial.  But why?  For what purpose was he created?  How can he tell the people in his life that he’s not one of them?  Do they already know?  Can he change his programming, or is he doomed to remain a slave; one that can see his chains but can never remove them?  If this sounds like something out of Blade Runner or Total Recall, you’re absolutely right, ’cause those movies are based on PKD stories as well.  Hell, the creators of The Matrix might as well send all their royalty checks to the Dick estate.  Dick’s world is one of sci-fi paranoia, where reality can shatter into a million fragments at any moment and you’ll never quite fit them back the same way.  It’s like contemplating “I think, therefore I am” on low-grade acid and never being sure if you’ve come down or not.

David Mack has done a wonderful job of adapting PKD into comics without losing the nervous frustration of his stories.  Kudos to Pascal Alixe and Chris Sotomayor for bringing a realistic quality to the artwork — these look like real people (heh) with real body language and expressions.  No Kirby poses here (although wouldn’t the King have done a great adaptation?) or wild distortions; the normality of the artwork makes the situation that much more unnerving.

During our Philip K. Dick special back in February, David Mack mentioned that Electric Ant is pronounced “electricant”.  Which sounds like “replicant” which are the synthetic protagonists of Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Mack stated that although each of PKD’s stories were separate, that the Marvel adaptations will shed light on the occasional overlap, creating a more cohesive world.  Seen this way, an Electric Ant would be the precursor to a replicant; and indeed, this issue mentions that Garson is an “older” model.  Which stories will come into play next?  PKD fans should keep an eye out for I Chings, stigmata, and mechanical animals in the background of future issues.

The first issue of Electric Ant is on sale now at fine comics stores everywhere.  Now, when will we see David Mack paint an entire PKD graphic novel?

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