2/2/13

"Philip K. Dick's Electric Ant" by David Mack and Pascal Alixe

I've been re-reading all of Philip K. Dick's novels, so as a pause I decided to get the comic book adaptation of "Electric Ant." Based on the 1969 short story published in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Garson Poole is the owner of Tri-Plan Electronics, a company that develops hi-tech weapons systems. After a car accident the doctors tell him he's an electric ant, an organic robot, "a precursor to the more modern replicant."

Naturally, this is disturbing news and Garson not only has trouble breaking it to his girlfriend, but it also makes him doubt his purpose as "owner" of the company, and his very existence. Prying open a seam in his chest he discovers a spaghetti of components, including a spool of punched tape which seems to control his senses, or possibly even his reality. He begins to tinker with the tape, covering over some holes, adding new ones, and that's when reality begins to break down.  The ending, like "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch," is ambiguous, but slightly hopeful. We are left with the impression that Garson Poole has transcended this reality.

With flying cars and a light touch of Film Noir retro, David Mack does a good job of incorporating the modern interpretation of PKD into the story.  I liked the TV blurb "...this segment of the Palmer Eldritch Empathy Hour brought to you by Perky Pats."  I have not read the short story (it's on my list of "to do"s), but I gather from summaries that it has a slightly different ending than the comic.

Pascal Alixe's art, at first, was disturbing to me. The blocky human figures with heavy dark lines felt rough, more like a WPA mural from the '30s.  But the style grew on me, and it felt appropriate to the theme. As Poole explores his body, and the dissolving reality around him some forms become more organic, and Alixe even throws in some Dali-like melting objects.

Published in 2010 by Marvel Comics, the book includes the covers by Paul Pope, and a sketchbook at the end, but no other commentary on the work. They credit Brian Michael Bendis as a consulting editor.  They also give thanks to the Dick estate, and refer to Electric Shepherd Productions .
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