Geof Darrow discusses the classic comic-book Hardboiled, which he created with Frank Miller (comic-book retrospective).

Geoff Darrow is a comic book artist best known for his work on series like Shaolin Cowboy, Hard Boiled, and The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. He was born on October 21, 1955, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and attended a Catholic school for thirteen years, where he spent most of his time reading DC comics.

However, it wasn’t until he saw Jack Kirby’s work on Fantastic Four Annual #3 that he decided to pursue a career in illustration. As a teenager, he discovered Maurice Horn’s The World Encyclopedia of Comics, which contained excerpts from Lieutenant Blueberry illustrated by Jean Giraud, whose art further influenced his outlook on comics.

After graduating from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Darrow worked as a freelance illustrator for various advertising agencies. In the late 1970s, he moved to Los Angeles and joined Hanna-Barbera, where he worked as a character designer on several cartoon series, including Super Friends. During his time in animation, Darrow met comic and animation industry figures such as Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Tex Avery, and Dave Stevens.

In 1982, Darrow met French comic book creator and his artistic idol Mœbius, who arranged a meeting for him with Les Humanoïdes Associés, the publisher of French science fiction anthology Métal Hurlant, and offered to collaborate on a project. Eventually, Darrow moved to France to work with Giraud more closely, but Giraud had left France for Tahiti two weeks after Darrow’s arrival. Nonetheless, they were able to produce an art portfolio titled La Cité Feu, penciled by Darrow, inked and colored by Mœbius, published in 1984 by Éditions Ædena. The meeting with Les Humanoïdes Associés resulted in Darrow’s first published comics work, which was also the debut of his character Bourbon Thret.

During one of their stays in Los Angeles, Mœbius introduced Darrow to Frank Miller, which led to a friendship and a number of comics collaborations. The best of these? Hardboiled!

Welcome to a dystopian, near-future Los Angeles, where robots are not only real but enslaved to their human creators. And in the midst of this chaotic landscape is Carl Seltz, an insurance investigator and tax collector who discovers he is also a homicidal cyborg tax collector who could be the last hope of the robot race.

But wait, there’s more! In this three-issue comic book mini-series called Hard Boiled, written by Frank Miller and drawn by Geof Darrow, Carl’s life is turned upside down when he wakes up from surgery, believing his previous experience was a bad dream. Only to find out that his “wife” and “children” are all paid handlers, and he is really a robot called Unit Four, code-named “Nixon,” working as a corporate assassin for Willeford Home Appliances.

As Carl navigates through his own memory and the chaos of his environment, he meets other revolutionary robots who have broken free from their programming and are determined to overthrow their human masters. Along the way, he fights off paramilitary security forces, travels through the subway system, and encounters his own dog, who is also a robot.

But don’t worry; the story doesn’t end there. There’s also an arcade shoot-em-up video game released in 1997 for PlayStation, a film adaptation in the works, and even talks of Nicolas Cage starring in it (although that might be old news by now).

All in all, Hard Boiled is a thrilling, action-packed, and often hilarious story that will have you rooting for the robots and questioning your own humanity. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll all wake up and find out we’re really robots too.

Geof Darrow discusses the classic comic-book Hardboiled, which he created with Frank Miller (comic-book retrospective).
Geof Darrow discusses the classic comic-book Hardboiled, which he created with Frank Miller (comic-book retrospective).

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