so, about a month ago, i posted something on Facebook mentioning that i’m digging in for real on the comic book biography of Philip K Dick. i gotta say, i was pretty surprised at the response.
today at the studio i cracked 90 pages of roughly scripted pages; there are scenes and pages in rough pencil form here and there, a couple sequences that are pretty well etched in stone, and a few finished pages. here’s a couple snapshots of where it’s at:
at first i thought the book would be at least 200-250 pages… as it takes more shape, i’m now thinking it’ll be closer to 150-175 very dense pages.
this is a book i’ve been thinking about doing for… something like 18 years now (actually for a long time i thought i’d “write a film script for it someday”, and then realized that 1) it takes a sickening amount of time, money, contacts, etc to get a movie made, and i have very little/ none of any of those things 2) hollywood blows and 3) i’m a cartoonist, i can do it all myself). i have always, always known what a mammoth task it’d be when and if i really waded in, in a serious way. which is, i think, why it’s taken me so long to dig in and commit. because now that i’m in it– i was absolutely correct.
but, 5 or 6 years ago, i landed on how i would structure the thing, and a visual theme to hold the story together– and then things started clicking into place. i even went so far as to call agents and pitch it to an NYC publishing house. with the amount of work i knew i needed to do, what i was hoping for is some kind of advance that would enable me to devote all my time to it for a given period, so the damn thing wouldn’t stretch out over the next decade (see: Sammy The Mouse), with me somehow “finding time” between work and paying projects to get it done. it’s a really difficult way to get anything done. and let’s face it: if you know PKD, you know that you don’t dip your toe– you get in over your head or get the hell out. but the general consensus was “yeah– looks great. we’re interested. now script the whole thing and we’ll talk more.” which…that’s the double bind, no? i need $ to finish the thing, and i can’t get $ till i do all the work.
anyway. my take on Phil’s life/ the structure of the book is pretty simple: women.
PKD was married 5 times, and he was absolutely haunted for the entirety of his life by the death of his twin sister Jane (who died when they were 6 weeks old). Phil was utterly and absolutely adrift without a female presence in his life, and yet he could never quite…make it work. there was always something missing. i could go on and on about this, but that’s why i’m doing a book and not a blog post. in any case, the book is structured in chapters, based on the important women in his life (it starts with Jane, of course).
the visual treatment, i’m pretty proud of as well. the majority of the book is in black and white with washes; there is also a spot color pink, which serves a couple purposes– firstly, to represent PKD’s “theophany” in 1974, and also as a treatment of his concept of “orthogonal time”.
i’ve been urged by some smart friends to post process work from the book, as i work. as anyone who has ever looked at this (or the La Mano) site knows, i am terrible at posting. but as i said above, the response to a little FB post was kind of wonderful, in a lot of ways. firstly, it got me fired up to keep ploughing away at it. because, i’m doing it without a book deal. there is not a publisher lined up. i got to the point where i realized that was a bullshit excuse for not doing it, and that if i’m ever going to do this book i should put up or shut up and let the chips fall where they may. knowing that people out there are interested, and want to see this book…it’s a great motivator. secondly, it really organically drew some interesting stuff/ talk about PKD, and even gave me some new research avenues to go down (as if there weren’t enough of those already…), and people to talk to.
i’ll write about some of the research next time, maybe throw up a few more pages. i gotta go a cat just started screaming. someone hassle me if i stop posting. thank you.
(and yeah… “The Empire Never Ended” is one working title. but i’m leaning lately towards simply “Pink Light”)