There is, apparently, a very fine line that separates genius and insanity and if that really is that case, then Philp K. Dick spent his entire life balancing precariously on that barrier. Rightfully celebrated as one of the few authors who redefined Science Fiction, Dick was almost as famous for his copious drug abuse and unorthodox ideas about life, the universe and the minutia in between as he was for his works of fiction. Often portrayed as either being deeply unsatisfied with his lack of mainstream success and his inability to be taken seriously as a writer of non-genre fiction and as an affable and amiable raconteur who could at times charm the birds from the trees and be the life and soul of any party he was invited to, Dick’s seeming mental instability, in modern society, would almost doubtless have seen him being diagnosed as suffering from a variation of bi-polar disorder. Unfortunately, he passed away in nineteen eighty two after succumbing to the effects of a number of devastating strokes, before the doyens of conventional literature finally realised what devotees of science fiction had known for three decades. That is, that Philp K. Dick was a visionary whose published work transformed the face of literature forever.
Told in series of flashbacks as Dick recounts and remembers the most important moments in his life while on his death bed, Laurent Queyssi’s biography of the author is a powerful testament to a strange and at times both wonderful and heart breaking life. While Queyssi celebrates the relationships, friendships and work that defined Dick’s life, he isn’t reticent about pulling back the curtain to expose the darker side of Dick’s existence, one he was continually battling up the moment he passed away. There’s an air of melancholy and sadness to Dick’s story as told by Queyssi, as he continually tried and failed to understand people and never quite managed to successfully communicate his sometimes fascinating and often bizarre ideas with those closest to him, while searching for that one special someone to share his life with, often to the detriment of one of his five wives. Plagued by his demons, fallibility and a “weakness” for narcotics and brunettes, Dick was as difficult as he was talented. Queyssi manages to capture who his subject was in a recounting of his life that’s beautifully illustrated by the pulp-centric, period art of Marchesi that subtly shifts and changes to reflect the changing mood of both the writer and the times in which he lived. A journey through a troubled, but brilliant mind and the life he lived, A Comics Biography is the touching and thoroughly satisfying story of a man who changed the world. Tim Cundle