Jun 25 2012 1:00pm

Blade Runner Debuted 30 Years Ago Today. What Would PKD Have Thought?

John Bonner

Today, June 25th, marks 30 years since Blade Runner debuted in theaters. This film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is now considered a staple of science fiction film, so for the anniversary comic artist John Bonner visualizes what PKD might have thought about Blade Runner had he gotten the chance to see it.

Every so often, comic artist John Bonner reviews books, audio, and more, then turns his reactions into a comic strip. You can check out many more of them at Bonner’s site and more of them here on


Josh Kidd
1. joshkidd
While it is amusing to see PKD ask "Where's the freakin' kibble?" Shouldn't that be "kipple" instead?
Eugene R.
2. Eugene R.
What is equally heartbreaking is the biggest fan of the "pre-colonial" fiction ("Stories written before space travel, but about space travel") in the novel is the android Pris, who loves to read about "really successful colonization" and "What Mars ought to be. Canals." I think Dick was heartbroken already, no waiting needed.
Fred Kiesche
3. FredKiesche
Can't get any picture to load...endless spinning dots for 15+ minutes now. On fast corporate connection, so speed not issue.
Eugene R.
4. Tehanu
Philip K. Dick was such a great writer that Ridley Scott was able to make a great movie out of his book while totally missing its theme. The whole point of Androids is that the answer to the question is "No, androids don't dream of electric sheep." They don't have emotions, they aren't human, and it's not a good idea to create things that look human but aren't. The movie is about how all sentient creatures, including androids, are really good and have feelings and shouldn't be exploited. If you take the androids as metaphors for exploited human minorities, that's a good, humane message -- but if you take them the way Dick intended, as a comment on the stupidity of trying to manufacture a super-race, not so much.
Kevin Marks
5. KevinMarks
Dick did see some of it, in a TV preview, and wrote this letter to the producers, which said "My life and creative work are justified and completed by Blade Runner. Thank you..."
Eugene R.
6. SF
From an interview with PKD reprinted on the same site as the letter that @5 KevinMarks linked to:

"I saw a segment of Douglas Trumbull's special effects for Blade Runner on the KNBC-TV news. I recognized it immediately. It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly."

"They gave me the updated screenplay. I read it without knowing they had brought somebody else in. I couldn't believe what I was reading! It was simply sensational -- still Hampton Francher's screenplay, but miraculously transfigured, as it were. The whole thing had simply been rejuvenated in a very fundamental way.

After I finished reading the screenplay, I got the novel out and looked through it. The two reinforce each other, so that someone who started with the novel would enjoy the movie and someone who started with the movie would enjoy the novel. I was amazed that Peoples could get some of those scenes to work. It taught me things about writing that I didn't know."

"You read the screenplay and then you go to the novel, and it's like they're two halves to one meta-artwork, one meta-artifact. It's just exciting.
Eugene R.
7. SF
@4 Tehanu - I think the film is doing a bit more than "Sentient beings are good, oppression of them is bad."

What I personally find so striking about Blade Runner, apart from the visuals, the music and sound design, the performances, its vision of the future, the role of corporations in that future, etc., is how the film works with the idea of identity, how others construct us, how we construct ourselves, what are the effects of imposed identities, what are the possibilities and limitations of self-constructed or self-acquired identities. Those kinds of things.

Haven't read the original novel so I have no idea if those elements are there, but I'm very glad that they're in the film.
Eugene R.
8. a1ay
5 and 6 are funny. I look forward to the next one in the series, "What Would Arthur C. Clarke Have Thought Of 2001: A Space Odyssey?"
Eugene R.
9. SF
@8 a1ay - Actually, it's a well-designed comic. Particularly the progression of the three panels in the third tier, the way they work with the close-up in the second tier, the way they lead to Mars in the fourth tier, and that sudden shift from cool to warm colors with the shot of Mars.
Melissa Shumake
10. cherie_2137
strangely enough, i watched blade runner for the very first time last night, not realizing it was the 30th anniversary. and i was pretty disappointed. i had heard so much good stuff about the movie and book and went into it knowing the basic premise, and then harrison ford couldn't even save the movie for me. i had to convince myself not to turn it off halfway through... going to read the novel and hope it's better...
Eugene R.
11. Kaleidoscopio
cherie_2137, what did you not like in the movie?
I've been a fan of Blade Runner since the 80's when I first saw it and it's still one of my favourite movies.
The visuals are still valid nowadays (contrary to some other movies) and the technology, life styles (air cuts, clothes, food, etc) are still acceptable 30 years hence.
How many 30 years old movies can you watch nowadays and say, "hey was this shot this year?"
There are so many movies, games and series that borrowed from the movie style I can't even start to enumerate them.

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