blade runner

All posts tagged blade runner

Ever wondered what would happen if Blade Runner went on a drug-fueled nightmare rampage? Look no further than Frank Miller’s miniseries Hard Boiled, an early 90’s twist on Philip K. Dick’s classic novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep. If there’s one term I wouldn’t associate with 90’s comics, its subtlety. For the most part, everything was big, in your face, and edgy; Hard Boiled is certainly no exception. That being said, HB is clever with its edginess. If anything, it reads like a satire of violence and sexual imagery in modern pop-culture. Either that, or Frank Miller just really gets off on good old ultraviolence. Complimenting Frank Miller’s writing is the amazing artwork of Geof Darrow. Darrow’s artwork is easily some of the most detailed line-work I’ve ever seen; it’s pretty incredible. Combined with colorist Claude Legerist, the art looks like a fusion of Moebius, with the most detailed manga technology concepts you’ve ever seen (think Battle Angel Alita).

Hard Boiled -- Cover

Hard Boiled — Cover

Hard Boiled
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Geof Darrow
Colorist: Claude Legris
Letterer: John Workman
Editor: Randy Stradley
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Country: USA
Featured Edition: Dark Horse TPB 1993
Original Release Dates: September 1990 – March 1992 (3 issues)

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There’s an unwritten rule in Hard Boiled that every panel must include at least one item of real-world (or semi-real-world) merchandise.

Set in a near-future, albeit clearly dystopic, Los Angeles, Hard Boiled tells the story of an “insurance investigator” called Carl Seltz who seeks out various target individuals. Within the first few pages of the comic, we realize that Carl Seltz must be a cyborg, or perhaps an android, and that he actually works for a major corporation. Carl Seltz lives in an ideal suburban home with a wife, two kids, and a dog. To add to the general vibe that there’s something “off” about Seltz, we see him sleeping with his wife while his kids stand nearby, and then the kids proceed to dope him with some random narcotics… Typical suburban stuff, right?

Hard Boiled -- Frank Miller Geof Darrow 4

I could go for a mermaid massage about now.

As I mentioned in the intro, HB makes no pretenses at subtlety. The future vision of Los Angeles is clearly cyberpunk-inspired, and therefore rampant commercialism and evil corporations ooze out of every frame. Every panel is literally packed to the brim with variations of real-world products and brands, albeit with a satirical twist. For example, in one scene, a medical apparatus appears to be powered by baby fetus’, M&Ms, Snickers, and Baby Ruths. Perhaps I’ve been jaded by the dozens of cyberpunk movies, books, comics, and games that have been released since 1990, but the overabundance of brand parodies in Hard Boiled was almost too gratuitous for my tastes. We get it, the future will be overwrought with rampant, hopeless advertising and disposable pop culture, but do you really need to include a Coca-Cola can in every second panel? Then again, Hard Boiled seems to intentionally revel in exaggeration and tackiness.

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If you look really closely, Waldo is snuggled halfway between a prostitute and drug addict.

Carl Seltz/Nixon might not be a superhero, but he sure takes a beating like one! Hard Boiled is about 10% dialogue, and 90% action. Of the action scenes, nearly all of them feature Nixon either being thrown through a building, bus, or subway, or throwing another character through one of the aforementioned inanimate objects. I thoroughly enjoyed the action in HB, but we warned, it’s pretty damn violent. I’m fairly desensitized to fictional violence (but not to real-world violence, those are two very different things), and even I found the comic hard to stomach at times. Hard Boiled manages to fit more dismemberment and gore into its panels than almost any other comic. Frank Miller and Geof Darrow clearly set out to raise the bar for comic violence as high as they possibly could.

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In the time it must’ve taken to draw this splash page, other artists probably could’ve illustrated an entire issue of a comic.

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It wouldn’t be cyberpunk without plenty of riot police.

As if the violence wasn’t enough, nearly every second panel is chalk full of random sex and nudity. Within the first few pages, Nixon is smashed through a building in the “Pleasure Sector” of town. Nearby is a cage full of debauchery; as spectators watch, couples have sex, all while dominatrix-like women walk around with chainsaws and dismember the couples. What I love about HB is that every splash page is so full of detail that numerous stories are implied through events in the background of each scene. I’ve seen Geof Darrow’s artwork aptly described as being like a Where’s Waldo book; the only difference is that most of HB’s denizens are either naked or taking drugs. Although Hard Boiled is short, you can easily spend ten minutes per page absorbed in details.

Hard Boiled -- Frank Miller Geof Darrow 1

This is a good look for Harrison Ford.

My favorite comics are able to tell a story visually without having to rely heavily on monologues or dialogue. Hard Boiled does an excellent job in this regard. There’s actually very little text, but the narrative is able to flow nicely thanks to clever angles and visual cues. Frank Miller is an excellent visual storyteller, and he only includes as much text as is absolutely needed. This was nice and refreshing, especially after the last comic I read, which felt the need to explain every little detail.

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Nixon’s probably in need of an oil change about now.

Overall, I would highly recommend Hard Boiled to anyone who’s interested in cyberpunk (duh), or anyone who appreciates experimental storytelling in comics.The average sci-fi fan will definitely appreciate the artwork, but the extremely graphic content might turn-off even fairly hardcore genre fans. HB is unforgiving with its gratuitous display of sex, drugs, and violence, but these acts are never glamorized. Instead, the story serves almost as a cautionary tale against overindulgence in these vices. There’s nothing particularly sexy about an enormously fat man being massaged by naked android mermaids (yes, that actually happens). I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Hard Boiled’s political message is especially clever; every cyberpunk tale cautions against the overabundance of various vices. Also, it could be argued that Hard Boiled revels a little too deeply in the content that it parodies. Regardless, the readers of this blog can probably handle HB’s hardcore content, so I recommend reading it if you haven’t done so already.

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Clicking any of the following thumbnails will open a gallery of images from Hard Boiled

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Welcome to Xenomorphosis, a blog for those of us who crave the dark side of science fiction. Right about now you’re probably thinking: “the dark side of science fiction? He must mean sci-fi horror”. Well… You’re mostly right. This blog will certainly cover everything sci-fi horror, and more. This isn’t a pure sci-fi horror blog; we cover the dim, dank, twisted side of science fiction, in all its incarnations. The distinction is that we aren’t limiting ourselves to pure horror. Instead, we’ll explore any science fiction that’s thematically dark, but isn’t necessarily considered horror. For example, Blade Runner is a dark science fiction movie, but definitely not horror. Because it’s dark, we can still cover it. In the end, we all win, because Blade Runner is pretty damn awesome.

As you may have guessed, I’m kind of a big Aliens fan…

What can you expect from Xenomorphosis? Expect a lot of feature-rich content. The bread and butter of this blog will be an ever-growing selection of ongoing series that will cover all aspects of dark science fiction. Ever wondered about H.R. Giger’s influence on video games, chestbursting scenes in movies other than Alien, xenomorph variations in Aliens spinoffs, and underwater horror movies inspired by Alien? Well, for the 0.1% of the population who finds these topics as fascinating as I do, we have you covered. As much as possible, I’d like to cover topics that have never been extensively explored. Look at this blog as a journey into the deepest recesses of the genre. In addition, we’ll post the typical opinions and reviews that should be expected from a blog of this nature.

Exploding into Body Horror.

Which mediums will we cover? The short answer is: all of them. Movies and video games will be our primary focus, but we’re more than happy to explore books, comics, toys board games, etc… When dealing with a relatively niche subgenre like sci-fi horror, there’s no point in being picky with how you take your poison. Furthermore, this blog won’t be relegated to any one region. I’m a fairly big fan of Japan’s finer exports, namely video games, anime, and manga, so expect to see your fair share of content from the land of the rising sun.

Tabletop games? Sure why not.

What can we promise you? We promise that the writing quality will be fairly strong, and that our contributors will be at least decently knowledgeable. Furthermore, there will be a strong focus on aesthetics. Images and videos will be woven into the posts whenever possible. I’m a visually oriented guy, so one of my main goals is to capture the look of dark science fiction.

Who am I? I’m a twenty-something-year-old guy who’s been into science fiction since, well, forever. Science fiction is in my blood. My grandpa collected hundreds of sci-fi books, which he then passed on to my mom. In turn, she introduced me to movies like Star Wars, Alien, and Terminator at a young (probably too young) age. At five-years-old she bought me a Kenner xenomorph action figure. Science fiction books are what got me into reading in a big way. My memory of the classics is fairly fuzzy, mostly because I read them all before the age of fourteen. My love of horror started a little later – around the age of sixteen I became interested in zombie movies and slashers. Soon afterwards I was introduced to hardcore punk, and then metal. I now collect death metal albums, which are a great catalyst for my love of dark twisted imagery. I try to capture this look in another one of my hobbies: artwork. For those of you who are interested, you can see why more recent works here. Finally, my other love is video games, which I also collect. Basically, this blog is a culmination of years of ideas that have been brewing in my head as a result of my various hobbies.

So, what can you contribute to this blog? Please, send me your ideas for interesting topics or series! We’re all in this hobby together, so we may as well engage as much as possible! If you’re a decent writer, and you’d like to contribute content, please contact me at xenomorphosis@gmail.com. The more the merrier. Most importantly, please leave comments and suggestions as often as possible. I’d like this blog to evolve based on your feedback. Happy reading!

Ripley, is that you?