The second issue of Boom! Studios' Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? is released today, continuing the graphic translation of Philip K. Dick's classic novel. We spoke to editor Ian Brill about how it came about, and how it's done.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is an interesting project.
It's a project like no other. We've never had a complete text of a novel in comics. Not [like this], with word balloons coming out of people's mouths and sequential artwork. We definitely consider it an experiment, but the first issue has been more successful than, certainly, I could have ever dreamt. Reviews were giving it four out of five stars, saying "This is great, if you love Philip K. Dick, you'll love this." When you're inside that bubble [working on the book], you sometimes think, "'I can only hope that people will enjoy this," and people seem to dig it. I was really happy, because the first issue is not Deckard blowing away androids. There's a big difference between Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but I'm glad that people are sticking around for the actual thing and not just hoping for Blade Runner the comic. This is a much deeper, bigger, project.
Did you wish that you could've re-arranged scenes to start with something more explosive? "Suddenly, there's a gunshot!"
We really can't change things, we are doing the text. In upcoming issues, there will be flashbacks where you see that kind of thing. We do like Deckard blowing away androids, but we're not going to throw it in for no reason. It's got to be something that's already in the text.
We're happy with the fact that the story goes into areas that the movie didn't. In Warren Ellis' backmatter essay [for the first issue], he talks about Mercerism, which is a religion in the book which - to the best of my recollection, I saw the movie about three years ago, last time - isn't in the movie. There's nothing about John Mercer, this character going up a hill and the people of Earth basically logging on to his experience to become more empathetic. There's nothing like that in Blade Runner, and it's such a cool concept, and something that's very visually interesting - something that Tony Parker, the artist, and Blond, the colorist, who we're very lucky to have, can really do some great stuff with. That's something we couldn't do if this was just Blade Runner. It's something you can only do with the original Philip K. Dick text.
How did the book come about?
Philip K. Dick's daughters, who have a company called Electric Shepherd Productions, contacted Ross [Richie] and Andy [Cosby, Boom! Studios co-founders] in 2008, and were impressed with what Boom! had done. They wanted to do a project that was really cool, but off the beaten track. They thought we were the ones to do it.
So how does the process work? Does Tony break everything down and decides who goes where? Do you, as the editor, place the word balloons and decides what goes into which panel?
It's Ross Richie. We have the text, and he turns it into a script, with panel descriptions, what the characters will say, what the captions will say, everything like that. Then we send it to Tony, and Tony is great at looking at panels and deciding how much to put into it. And when he's done, we send it to Blond and we send it to [letterer Richard] Starkings. And Starkings is a master of, "How does everything work?" He came up with idea for the first issue of some of the text being embedded, so it's not just caption box after caption box; some of the captions will be in the art.
It was our marketing director Chip Mosher's idea to bring in Richard, and he's just a godsend. There are a lot of great letterers out there, but Tony and Richard are such smart guys that they really make it work, this strange thing of having an entire text in a comic. The reason why we get good reviews is because of them. Those guys make it work.
Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep #2 is available in comic book stores today.