The Mad Max franchise is the pinnacle of post-apocalyptic science fiction and paved the way for countless other films and fiction that followed. With all the buzz around Mad Max Fury Road, and my excitement at an all-time high, I decided to take a retro art styled approach to some pixelated fan art for the film. Using the Retrospecs iphone app, you can create photos that would appear as though they were from consoles of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s (commodore 64, BBC micro, IBM EGA, SNES, Gameboy, Sega master System etc.). The images use different combinations of systems, dithers, and filters to give them a nostalgic look and feel. Check out the images below and see what Mad Max Fury Road might look like if it were a retro game!
Science fiction is constantly pushing the limits of our imagination, forcing us to question the paths in which human progress and ingenuity will take us. However, very rarely in history do many works reach levels of such philosophical, social, and emotional depth that they force us to look not only inside ourselves, but at our society as a whole, and to the core of what makes us human. Philip k Dick‘s work has always brought these things to light, pushing fans to think outside the box and really see the truth through the smoke and mirrors.
Synopsis (spoiler alert):
I recently picked up BOOM studios release of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, which is a verbatim translation of the book but in graphic novel form. Tony Parker‘s dark renderings of Dicks dystopian-noir future, immerse the reader in a world where massive corporate structures reduce the average person to ants, and technological perseverance has outgrown whats left of a post “World War Terminus” planet Earth. Many people have left earth for off world colonies and as an incentive for emigrating, have been given an android companion. Those left on earth live in the remaining city filth, which often does not see sunlight due to toxic clouds that fill the skies almost all of the time. In this future people utilize machines called “mood organs” which allow them to punch in any kind of emotions they wish, for any number of feelings or situations they could be in. Many are reliant on these machines and have forgotten how to really feel, as the world has degraded around them, leaving little in the way of personal happiness.
Bounty hunter Rick Deckard awakes to an argument with his wife about her use of her mood organ because she frequently punches in negative emotions like sadness and depression. This has put a strain on their relationship and Rick protests against using the machine. He leaves to go up to his hover car parked roof where his neighbor and him discuss the value and status of owning a real life animal. Many animals are extinct due to the ash left by world war terminus; and since humans have grown a intense sentiment for their companionship. Rick fantasizes about owning a real life sheep some day and will stop at nothing to feel the attachment that comes with a living animal. He leaves for work and is surprised as to what he finds when he gets there.
Upon his arrival Rick Deckard finds that he is now responsible to retire 6 rogue “Nexus 6” androids, which have apparently escaped from an off world colony and have attempted to settle in San Francisco. Rick is to administer the Voight-Kampff test on them, which is a test involving a series of questions to determine empathy, a trait that androids lack. Rick is assigned the task of retiring the androids because his senior officer Dave Holden, was attacked while giving the Voight-Kampff to one and is in a hospital recuperating. Rick sees this hunt as a chance to get enough money to finally afford a living sheep, which he is constantly researching in his Sydney’s catalog. This begins Deckards 24 hr manhunt to find the androids and….himself. On his journey, Deckard finds that the androids have integrated themselves into many aspects of society already and that the nexus 6 is the closest thing to a human he has ever seen. He eventually catches up with them and learns a lot more about himself then he ever had imagined.
Alongside the story of Deckard is that of J.R Isidore, who is a “special”, someone genetically damaged and unfit to leave earth and emigrate to the off world colony. He lives alone in an abandoned apartment complex and is in constant use of his “Empathy Box”, which allows him to completely immerse himself in the pain and struggle of Wilber Mercer. Upon use of the Empathy box, ones mind is transported, along with thousands of other users, into the mind and body of Wilber Mercer. Mercer is an old man, constantly climbing a mountain and having rocks thrown at him. This is a very real experience for those using the empathy box and any pain inflicted by rocks is actually done to them in the real world. This shared mutual pain and struggle has created somewhat of a religious cult called Mercerism. Those who follow Mercer believe in his existence and the idea that no matter how bad things are, you are never alone and that their are others out there like you who feel the way you do. At the same time throughout the story their is an opposing television icon called Buster Friendly who is most likely an android, as his show runs for 23 hours a day and is only off for one hour. Buster Friendly is the force of anti-Mercerism but provides hours of entertainment for those willing to watch. He ends up exposing/debunking Mercerism on live television in a grand announcement which is televised worldwide. Isidore’s loneliess turns into a desperate friendship with android Pris, who uses J.R’s apartment as a hideout for her and the rest of her android comrades. The escaped androids believe that Mercerism is a hoax and discredit Isidore’s beliefs leaving him empty.
This book was also made into a Ridley Scott film titled “Blade Runner” in 1982, starring Harrison Ford, which received critical acclaim from fans of the book as well as general fans of science fiction. I personally think that the message the book attempts to convey, is not as directly portrayed in the film. The book really emphasizes Deckards aloneness, emptiness, and his questions on the morality of what it means to be human. Many other aspects involving the two major religious themes in the book (Buster Friendly and that of Mercerism) are lost in the movie. Many more things also happen in the book that develop these ideas more thoroughly, while also painting a deeper picture of Deckards inner turmoil, and the desperate cling to empathy to retain his humanity. Deckard questions if he is any different then the androids he is hunting.
One thing that i found interesting about Dicks character Buster friendly is the channel that one must dial in to view him: 888. In the bible the number of man is 5, the devil 6, and god 7. As i was reading this i wondered if this was Philip K Dicks way of telling us that television is the next religion. Television provides people with an escape from their everyday life by creating dramatic fantasies. It allows them to relate to something imaginary and be controlled and influenced by pixels of light. In a post apocalyptic future where everything has gone to hell, it is not hard to believe that humans would yearn for an escape as simple as this, and we see Buster Friendly’s influence in his discredit of Mercerism.
Overall, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a masterful work and deserves every bit of credit that it gets. This story leaves the reader with many questions of their own and i believe that any writer that can make his audience question what makes them human, well they’ve done their job. If you haven’t read this book pick it up!
Thank you PKD.
Vertigo has had many amazingly gritty and off-beat titles through the years; Hellblazer, Transmetropolitan, Preacher, and V for Vendetta to name a few. The stories they put out push the boundaries of the comic book medium and create worlds we would never get the chance to experience without the talented writers they have on board. One newer release that i believe has become highly embraced by the comic book community is Sweet Tooth, written by Jeff Lemire (Animal man, Jonah Hex, Superboy).
Sweet Tooth is a post-apocalyptic story about a boy named Gus who lives with his father in a cabin in the woods. The interesting thing about Gus is that he was born with antlers and thus opens the main mystery. Since he can remember, it has only been him and his father and that is all he knows. His father is a religious man who tells him that the world outside of the woods is dead and that there are evil people there who will harm him. Unfortunately, his father’s lunacy is not far from the truth, and we find ourselves in a torn world where people scavenged for food and survival of the fittest is king. This new world has become stricken with a plague that has wiped out most of the human population and many remaining survivors attempt to find out the cause. Eventually, Gus’s father passes from the plague, leaving him with his fathers journal alone to face the world; Gus’s curiosity of the land beyond the woods fascinates him, despite his fathers warnings of the evils that exist. His curiosity is cut short by the presence of a few men who attempt to capture Gus, they are slain by a man named Jeppard, whose sordid past has made him cold to the horrors of the new world. Jeppard deems Gus “Sweet tooth” for his candy obsession, and offers to take him along and protect him in the world outside the woods. Thus begins Gus’s journey through the wasteland and a long quest to find out what caused the plauge, where he came from, and who is Jeppard? The story takes tons of twists and turns, with a healthy amount of violent realism, and a lot of quirkiness to follow which makes it a really unique book.
Sweet Tooth is a fantastic piece of post apocalyptic fiction and fans of the genre can definitely appreciate the spin that Lemire has put on the genre. Where the story is going, I can only imagine what will happen next!
Check out issue #1 of sweet tooth here!
I have been waiting to share my love for this particular graphic novel for quite some time (since i actually read this story about a year ago). It is continuously a book that i tell others about and truly believe it may be one of the best comics i’ve ever read. Y: The Last Man is a post apocalyptic graphic novel comic series written by Brian K Vaughan. The series ran from 2002 – 2008 and is now collected in 10 trade paperbacks which can be found at most major book stores and pretty much every comic shop. The graphic novel has been well received by many forms of media and their are even rumors of a movie to come some time in the future.
The story of Y: the last man takes place in a contemporary United States. Its about main character and wanna be escape artist Yorick Brown, whose life is changed drastically due to the catastrophic end of the world. In short, the world ends for an unknown/mysterious reason and happens to kill everything on the planet with a Y chromosome (all male mammals), leaving only females to try to pick up the pieces and put them back together. However, Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand survive and are the only two remaining males alive on earth. For some this would seem like a great thing, being the only guy left in the world would leave quite a few sexually charged cats without a scratching post (score!) but what Vaughan shows us is quite the contrary. In all the chaos that is the extinction of males and the destruction of infrastructure, females are left with the impending realization that humanity as a whole will soon be extinct.
After the world collapses Yorick tries to reunite with his mother, who is a member of congress. She then commissions agent 355, a special US agent who has been trained since childhood, to protect Yorick and get him safely to Boston to meet with a geneticist named Dr Allison Mann. From there they begin their quest to find out why man has perished and what the plan will be for humanities future. For Yorick it is more of a quest to find the love of his life Beth, who, when last spoken to, was in Australia. Yorick knows in his heart that she is alive and tries desperately, with every chance he has, to find her. As the story goes on the plot thickens, twists, and turns. YTLM is filled with more drama, sex, laughs, nerdy references, scissoring, and action then you can chain up in a straight jacket. You’ll find that as Yorick and his friends get closer to finding out the truth, the truth gets further and further away.
There are many themes that play a large part in what makes Y the last man a great book. I think the largest being that of feminism. Vaughan’s interpretation of how women would react to an extinction of men is interesting because you have a large portion of the female population who believe that men were killed off because they are weak, evil, greedy, power-hungry chauvinist’s, (many of who go on to become Amazons). These females believe they can reshape the world in their image and rewrite his(her)tory. The amazons have an extreme hazing ritual: you must first cut off one breast to show your allegiance to the group and become a member. By that alone, you can tell these chicks are hardcore and are not to be messed with. The other group of females misses men terribly and never had anything against them, most feel helpless because without men you can not have babies. Lots of feminist view points come into play in this book and really do a great job of showing how even extreme feminism can cause women to turn on each other. The other thing that is so interesting about this book is all of the theories that come into play about why men were killed off. Some groups come from a more spiritual ideology, that mother earth no longer would accept the wicked ways of men so she wiped them out. Other explanations also come into play from characters of science or even other countries. This opens up the question for more wondering while you progress through the story.
Overall, Yorick Brown is a great character, whose wily charm, comic relief, and nerdy intuitions make him a really enjoyable character to read about. He makes dorky references to movies and comics throughout the series, and because Yorick was an English major in college even makes references to some of the very popular writers of English literature (Shakespeare etc). Yorick even makes a great reference to the graphic novel preacher written by Garth Ennis. Yorick Brown is basically the guy you would want to restart the world if it were to end. He’s kind-hearted, faithful to the girl he loves, nerdy as hell, not a douchey jock who bullies others, has a great positive outlook on life and who aspires to be a magician, how cool is that?
Y The Last Man is a fantastic read and i definitely recommend it to anyone, even first time readers of graphic novels or comic books because of its ease, page flow, and overall interesting concept. It’s a very accessible book because it’s not pigeonholed to a super hero genre or anything like that. In my mind Vaughan hit a home run with this book and it has turned me on to all his other work as well! Y the last man is just a good time front to back!
you can download issue #1 here!
Released today is a post apocalyptic survival adventure game called “I am alive”. After the earth suffers a series of catastrophic natural disasters it plunges into total collapse, and a lone man finds himself on the search for his family. Released today (march 7th) via the xbox live arcade and playstation networks, this game revolves heavily on survival tactics and climbing around the endlessly dilapidated wastelands. From what i understand I am alive is not really an action game but does feature some action game mechanics. You can utilize many different weapons that you come across in the wasteland, but scarcity makes using bullets or arrows a tough decision. Many of the other humans you come across in the wasteland may not want to talk to you and can shun you if you rub them the wrong way. Pulling out a gun may cause the people around you to put up their hands in fear, or strategically surround you in retaliation. The game heavily involves smart decision making, because you never know who you are going to come across. The over world exploration looks like a great time. Climbing downed skyscrapers, swinging from pipes, running through mashed up trains; it reminds me so much of prince of persia but set in a post apocalyptic environment. I am super excited to get my hands on this one! I am alive looks like a survival master piece and looks to add a new flavor to the post apocalyptic genre! Check out the trailer!
There is one thing that i constantly find myself reading about. It’s something that i am just as interested in as i am afraid of it, but for some reason find it completely fascinating. That thing is … Thermonuclear War. I came across this film randomly a few months back and was flabbergasted at its accuracy and realism. “The War Game” is a black and white documentary style film created in 1965 by Peter Watkins. This film was censored by the BBC for 20 years and wasn’t released until 1985 because of the potential it had for causing mass hysteria. At first glance and before researching this film i thought it was a true to life documentary. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how i had not heard about the events that were unfolding in the film. Luckily for myself, and the people of England, its pure fiction. The films shockingly realistic portrayal of a nuclear missile attack on Britain, from Russia, morbidly shows the physical effects of radiation and the post nuclear infrastructure collapse of society. Disturbing shots of civilians with radiation sickness (due to winds carrying nuclear fallout), psychological effects, flashing light blindness, scorched bodies, and police brutality, paint the beginning of a post apocalyptic future. At times the realism is difficult to watch. The film makes an important statement about children of war with a chilling question; When you get older, what do you want to be? The hollow, shattered children’s only response “when i grow up…..i don’t want to be nothing”. This film asks the question, “Would the survivors envy the dead?” I think some would, but i believe it is innate to all living things, wether it be animals or plants, to survive. Do we want this for our world? I sincerely hope not. I would highly recommenced this film to anyone interested in the topic or to anyone in need of a wake up call.
This is my first blog post ever and i know that the average blogger spends most of their time rambling about things they can’t stand and for those of you willing to listen, this post will be no different! For the last few months i have been teeming in anticipation for a certain post apocalyptic shooter by the name of RAGE. Fans of the genre and tons of ad campaigns have been running promoting the hell out of this game. It was even featured in an episode of one of my favorite shows, Breaking Bad. Being a massive fan of ID software’s pixelated blood splattered goodness, it was only natural that i was drawn to their new game. ID is responsible for such titles as DOOM (my childhood), Wolfenstein, and Quake, I (like many others), was extremely pleased to finally hear of this new release.
The story behind RAGE puts the player as a survivor of a project to save humanity after global destruction. Those lucky enough were launched into space and kept in stasis until finally their “Arks” crash landed back on earth to kick start civilization again only to find the world in disarray, and most of their people held captive or exterminated by “the authority”. No this isn’t True Blood. This game was apparently in development for about 6 years which is a lifetime in the video game world and to it’s credit does sport some of the most impressive graphics i have personally seen on the xbox360. The textures and sheer design of the world as well as the character models are fantastic. Sadly, the beauty of the game was the only thing keeping this sinking ship afloat. A lack of good story telling ability and at times obnoxious enemy AI really prevent this game from reaching greatness. The game does capture realistic combat, (except when shooting enemies in each limb they continue to run full speed at you) but overall gameplay never really evokes a positive response from the player, completion of missions also lack excitement and never really feel like you are accomplishing anything. The missions to me felt like tireless work with little reward for the player.
The creators also incorporated wasteland racing into the game, which was a little overbearing for me. In other post apocalyptic games you are forced to walk from town to town, but in Rage you drive everywhere, which can take away from the larger experience of the world around you. After experiencing this first hand in RAGE i am happy that games like Fallout have not incorporated this option into their style. Borderlands does incorporate driving into the game but leaves a lot more room for open world exploration on foot. Rage is NOT an open world game, in fact i’d consider DOOM more open worldly. The game does feature multi-player racing and co-op missions, but after beating the single player and being left with an abrupt/short lived,
3 minute ending, one finds them self robbed of time spent playing and cheated out of $60. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, maybe a year from now you can pick it up on gamefly. Or don’t.