Cover to Doctor Sleepless #6
|Schedule||Irregular (On hiatus since August 2009)|
|Publication date||July 2007 – present|
|Number of issues||13 (as of March 2014)|
|Engines of Desire (hardcover)||ISBN 1-59291-055-6|
Doktor Sleepless is a monthly comic book series written by Warren Ellis with art by Ivan Rodriguez that is published by Avatar Press, launched in July 2007. The comic draws from a wide range of ideas – from futurism and transhumanism to corporatism and counter-culture.
According to series writer Warren Ellis, Doktor Sleepless may be a man named John Reinhardt, a trust-fund baby and boy genius who is shunned by the counter-culture he helped found. After disappearing from the city of Heavenside three years ago, he suddenly returns having undergone some changes during the interim. Upon his return, he's transformed himself from a relatively mundane man into what he describes as a "cartoon mad scientist," calling himself "Doktor Sleepless."
Due to a series of computer difficulties the series (along with other titles Ellis worked on at the time) was placed on hiatus. Release of new material was planned for early 2012 after which time the book would go on another hiatus, later announced as pushed back to late 2012 and further annoted as "getting bumped by a year". As of early 2014, no such publication took place.
Set in the near future, this series follows the exploits of John Reinhardt, an enigmatic "mad scientist" whose motivations for returning to Heavenside are shady at best. Since his mysterious disappearance, he has reinvented himself as "Doktor Sleepless" and, to the dismay and utter confusion of the authorities, seemingly rules the airwaves (through his mastery of all things technological) with his thought-provoking, radical rhetoric. He addresses the disenfranchised citizens of Heavenside, acknowledging their disappointment in the "future" they live in. With the resources, knowledge and ambition that John Reinhardt possesses, everyone is listening and watching closely as he represents the one shard of hope everyone is looking for.
It is initially unclear if he works at inciting a truly positive revolution or has much darker, harmful plans for the people of Heavenside, until the sixth issue where he states outright his plans to bring about the apocalypse, using Heavenside as a testing ground. His stated reason is that this is "not the future we were promised... if we can't have that, then we shouldn't have anything at all". It is revealed he is deliberately instigating violence by the grinder counter-culture and is providing them with the means to do so, as well as releasing a bioweapon — "St Theresa's Eyes" — that causes people to "see angels" (actually winged, mechanical constructs which may or may not be hallucinations).
By the eighth issue, he has claimed that the world is merely a source of food for a race of tenth-dimensional animals (based on the Cthulhu Mythos stories) that feed on souls and live in a realm similar to Heaven; he claims these creatures killed his parents and that while he originally wanted to organise people against these creatures, he now just wants to kill the whole world to spite the monsters by starving them.
While Doktor Sleepless gives the impression of being in full control, it is unknown how true this is. He is unaware his companion ("Nurse") murdered an old colleague of his that he intended to contact; directly after outlining his grand scheme, he is shocked when he sees one of the angel constructs himself.
From issue nine on, the series focuses less on the Doktor himself and more on how Heavenside has changed in his wake. It is also revealed that his former caretaker plans not only to kill him but anyone who could spread his ideas. Preston Stoker, the police commissioner, agrees to turn a blind eye to this.
Issues and format
- (Future Science Jesus)
- (Tesla Boy Gangster)
- (Bastard of Tomorrow)
- (Don't worry ma'am, we're from the internet)
- (Your Imaginary Friend)
- (The Mortician of Love)
- (Marg Bar Amrika)
- (Superconnected Superinsane)
- (Engineer of Your Future Doom)
- (Immanentising the Eschaton)
- (Butterfly on a Wheel)
- (Salvage Messiah)
- (Diabolus Ex Machina)
- (Borderland Security)
- (Infernal Champion)
- (Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy)
At the end of each issue, writer Warren Ellis provides background information on the fictional devices, organisations, technological advancements, etc., used in the narrative, as well as the occasional piece of Flash fiction.
All of these things can be recalled and researched in a special "Doktor Sleepless" Mediawiki site.
As with other Avatar titles, each issue comes with a number of variant covers; the majority are by Rodriguez including a variant displaying an unusual warning sign (warning against things such as "psychoactive air" and "Wavy lines ov deth") and Raulo Cáceres produces a wrap-around cover designed to evoke an earlier era, as Ellis said: "Raulo was tasked with producing covers that looked like woodcuts that recalled the late 19th century through to the days of Tesla and James Whale movies."
The series is being collected into volumes:
- Engines of Desire (216 pages, October 2008, softcover, ISBN 1-59291-054-8, hardcover, ISBN 1-59291-055-6)
- "Ellis on Doktor Sleepless". Newsarama. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
- "Sleepless in Southend: Ellis Talks Doktor Sleepless". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
- Warren's Work FAQ (Revised Apr 2011)
- Warren Ellis >> FAQ(dated January 3, 2012, revised at unspecified date between Jan 2 2013 and May 2, 2013)
- Doktor Sleepless
- Comic Title – Doktor Sleepless
- Main Page – doktorsleepless
- GRAVEL artist Raulo Caceres talks about Ellis, Wolfer, and their upcoming series with Avatar
- Doktor Sleepless wiki
- AVATAR (publisher) site
- Review of issue #1 and #3, Comics Bulletin