Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > A Scanner Darkly [Graphic Novel]

A Scanner Darkly [Graphic Novel] by Philip K. Dick
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Philip K. Dick & Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly - A Graphic Novel
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 30, 2015

A Scanner Darkly was the 1st Philip K. Dick bk I read. It wd've been recommended to me by my friend Lamar "Chip" Layfield. I'd read a fair amt of SF as a child & a teen, authors like Robert Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, & Arthur C. Clarke. Then I decided it wasn't serious enuf literature & stopped reading it. Reading A Scanner Darkly over a decade later might've been my 1st delving into it again, giving SF a 2nd chance. I wasn't impressed.

Not much longer after that, that all changed. The 1st movie that I noticed based on A Dick bk was Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). I loved it. Starting in 1984 I spent the next yr reading about a Dick bk a wk. I was hooked.

Blade Runner wasn't really the 1st of the Dick movies, there had been a 1962 tv show episode based around Dick's short story "Impostor", but Blade Runner marked the 1st of high-quality works based on Dick & I was excited about all of them. Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (1990) was the next important milestone for me.

I'd already been familiar w/ Richard Linklater b/c of his Slacker (1991) wch interested me b/c of the subculture represented but also b/c he used the PXL-2000 camcorder wch I'd used extensively. Here's a link to a website that indexes some of them: http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/Philoso... . I liked Slacker so when Linklater made a purportedly rotoscoped version of A Scanner Darkly I was intrigued.

It's somewhat vague to me now but as I recall I was disappointed by Linklater's movie. 1st, I probably wasn't impressed by the 'animation'. I was long-since familiar w/ rotoscoping, a technique in wch drawings are based around individual frames of film & then animated. In its original form, where filmmakers wd project the film using an analysis projector & draw on pieces of paper that the film was based on, there was a labor-intensiveness that cd produce very rich results. My friend Steve Estes had dome great things w/ the technique.

Knowing how labor-intensive ir was, I'd get some cynical amusement when I'd see a rotoscoped film that wd start off very ambitious & detailed & gradually dissolve into lazier & lazier drawings made more & more minimal as the filmmaker broke down under the workload.

Linklater's movie didn't strike me as 'real' rotoscoping at all. It seemed more like using computer filters to 'posterize' color than it seemed like the result of actually making drawings. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Linklater had a whole assemble-line of cell-animators. Whatever the case, the result has a homogeneity to it that reeks of computer generalizing rather than hand-touches. I much prefer the animation/pixillation of such greats as Norman MacLaren, Robert Breer, Jan Svankmajer, Walerian Borowczyk, & Wladyslaw Starewicz, to name a few. Anything that has a highly uniform frame-to-frame registration just seems visually dull. Furthermore, it seemed to me that Linklater's A Scanner Darkly was a bit too much yet-another-aren't-stoners-funny? movie w/o really getting into the tragedy of Dick's take on the down side of drug culture.

NONETHELESS, when I saw that the movie had been made into a graphic novel & that I cd pick it up for 6 bucks I 'just had to add it to me PKD collection. THEN, it sat there & collected dust b/c why the fuck wd I want to read the graphic novel version when I'd already read the bk at least twice & quite possibly seen the movie that many times too?

As I've no doubt written elsewhere, when I was a kid I read comic bks & Mad Magazine & its spin-offs: Cracked & Sick. Then there was Famous Monsters of Filmland. By the time I was a teenager National Lampoon came along. All were picture-heavy. Comic bks were 'looked down on' b/c they seemed to be targeted to, & reinforcing of, the minimally literate. There didn't seem to be much of an appreciation for their involving 2 art-forms, they were commonly seen as failed literature w/ the art hardly even worth mentioning. They certainly weren't glorified as "Graphic Novels".

That wasn't really fair. Culture snobs objected to their hybrid nature, the text wasn't full-blown literature, the images weren't paintings in & of themselves. Now it seems that the graphic novel has become 'respectable'.. but have comics? Maybe they're still not. Whatever.

I read thru A Scanner Darkly - A Graphic Novel in a few hrs. Alas, I find myself in agreement w/ my archetypal stuffy critic above: I didn't really get the literate experience from it that Dick offers, I didn't find the art outstanding, it just seemed like the easy-reading experience, an intellectual-lite beer. Still, I have some respect for the whole process that went into its making, it's all very 'professional'. Still, wd I recommend it over the bk or the movie? Nah. I'd recommend the predictable (from my critical perspective): read the actual PKD bk, maybe check out the movie, but, nah, don't bother w/ the graphic novel, it's so stylized & diluted that it's not worth it.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 29, 2015 – Finished Reading
July 31, 2015 – Shelved
July 31, 2015 – Shelved as: sf

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