Friday, 28 February 2020

Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography Review (Laurent Queyssi, Maura Marchesi)

Opening with Philip K. Dick seeing early footage from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shortly before his death in 1982, Laurent Queyssi and Mauro Marchesi’s Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography is a fine overview of one of the most original and notable writers of the 20th century.

Dick had health troubles from birth, both physical and mental, exacerbated later in life by a heavy pill addiction that began to ensure his work rate remained high - he wrote five novels alone in 1964! But the drugs finally took over and began affecting his health until he went to rehab. His mental health though remained shaky until the end. Besides hallucinations about otherworldly beings speaking to him, he became paranoid, thinking the government was spying on him!

Beyond the generic biographical route showing his rise to fame from writing short stories for sci-fi magazines to Hugo Award-winning novels like The Man in the High Castle, we learn about his penchant for brunettes, his many marriages and suicide attempts. There isn’t much insight in the latter though beyond one page where he tells his second wife that he was sexually molested as a child. So, was that true or was that another hallucination? In this regard, I didn’t find this book especially informative or enlightening.

It’s not the most gripping of reads either which isn’t Queyssi/Marchesi’s fault as they’re just recounting the facts of Dick’s life. Dick was just another writer whose work was far more engrossing than their comparatively mundane life.

If you just want a brief summary of Philip K. Dick’s life, this comics bio will do the trick but not if you’re looking for a deeper understanding of the writer and the man. Queyssi and Marchesi give us a quick and readable but very surface-level account of this sci-fi giant.

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