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What if I said there is a vision of a sci-fi dystopia where any­thing you want­ed could be got­ten at the touch of a but­ton? That a few com­mands sep­a­rate you from the great­est tro­ve of infor­ma­tion mankind has ever had access to, but you’re just going to seek mind­less enter­tain­ment and porn? That human beings would try to sep­a­rate from their species, to become some­thing new and alien, only to be oppressed by the stodgy old guard who want to keep them in line? That there was a world where politi­cians nev­er changed, but only became more and more brazen with their lies — which would be eat­en up by the fools that inhab­it this hypo­thet­i­cal land? What if I told you this wasn’t the view I have of modern-day America, but the vision of Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson, back in 1997?

TRANSMET01-WACHTERTruth is, it’s real­ly both. Ellis nailed it with Transmetropolitan. His view of a city that was a micro­cosm of America — some decade plus after the series fin­ished it’s mon­u­men­tal run –has become the real­i­ty. Spider Jerusalem has become an icon, a new-age Hunter S. Thompson, telling us the uncom­fort­able truth about the world we live in. The series has become an inspi­ra­tion to many, myself includ­ed. When I start­ed writ­ing, my goal was to be Spider. In real­i­ty, I wound up being his edi­tor and pub­lish­er, for a time. However, now I’m here to try my hand at putting to page the uncom­fort­able truths in which we igno­rant­ly live.

In Transmetropolitan, there’s a neat lit­tle inven­tion called a mak­er. By tak­ing a block of base mate­ri­als, a mak­er can make pret­ty much any­thing you want. Food, clothes, weapons, drugs and any­thing in between are only a vocal com­mand away. We have 3D print­ers already hard at work on mak­ing clothes, weapons, and oth­er sun­dries. They’re even talk­ing 3D print­ed food. Hell, we got 3D print­ers capa­ble of print­ing parts to make more 3D print­ers. A few bare steps shy of the Star Trek repli­ca­tors, able to make Earl Grey, hot, at any point in which we have an urge for it. I per­son­al­ly can­not wait for 3D print­ed drugs, nor for the day where my 3D print­er can be on 3D print­ed drugs with me.

Oh, and the drugs of the “future.” Lovely bas­tards, capa­ble of enhanc­ing our atten­tion spans, mak­ing us into vir­ile jug­ger­nauts of sex­u­al con­quest, or just mak­ing us able to chill out. Adderall, Cialis, Valium. Sure, a cou­ple of those were around back when Ellis was writ­ing this series, but they’ve become soci­etal crutch­es in the mean­time. Get your kids hooked young, so that they’ll nev­er be able to kick the habit. Big phar­ma needs the next gen­er­a­tion of drug-addled sponges, suck­ling at their chem­i­cal­ly enhanced teats. Now only if we had Transmetropolitan’s abil­i­ty to rewrite our genet­ic code, giv­ing our­selves immu­ni­ty to can­cer and the like. Well, rewrit­ing genet­ic code is some­thing we can do, just got­ta refine it down to pill form and we’re well on the way. Nanomachines, son.

376572The explo­sion of the inter­net is anoth­er real­ly big extrap­o­la­tion Ellis made. Back in 1997, the net exist­ed, for sure, but it wasn’t as much of a mono­lith as it is today. A touch­stone of human cul­ture, edu­ca­tion, big­otry, art, hatred, willpow­er and ugli­ness; the inter­net is every­thing it means to be human, and all the things that make us inhu­man beasts. With a few key­strokes you can access any piece of infor­ma­tion, with cita­tions, that you could ever want. View any piece of art from any artist through­out human his­to­ry. See sights you might nev­er see with your own two eyes. Or you can watch chil­dren be degrad­ed for per­vert­ed lust. Watch men and wom­en die for no rea­son. Anything you want, it’s there. You could learn a new trade, but odds are high­er you’re just going to binge-watch some­thing insipid on Netflix. Self-improvement rarely wins over mind­less enter­tain­ment. In Transmetropolitan there’s the idea of the “feeds,” raw news and enter­tain­ment, broad­cast to the indi­vid­u­al, live and in real-time. We have blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and all oth­er forms of social media. Roughly, the­se things are the same. Hell, you real­ly want to go far enough, you can watch your favorite adult celebri­ty stick their favorite things in their favorite ori­fices, in real-time, all for the low, low price of $9.99. Instant infor­ma­tion sad­ly becomes instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion and instant addic­tion to the screens.

The thing about Transmetropolitan that real­ly dri­ves its worth home to me is the sim­ple fact it is a sci-fi overblow of things that are time­less about human­i­ty. Hatred, degra­da­tion, con­sumerism, sex, drugs, and the Truth.  That T was not cap­i­tal­ized on acci­dent. I’m talk­ing the kind of Truth you feel in your bones, the kind that makes you trem­ble to your core or become erect and ready to drill any­thing with a hole. The kind of Truth that jus­ti­fies our exis­tence. The kind that jus­ti­fies thou­sands of years of human error, just to say “this is what it’s about.” We don’t get that kind of Truth any­more. People are too hap­py with bitch­ing about made up offens­es and over-complications.


You want the Truth, you got­ta bleed for it. The only sac­ri­fices Truth takes are blood, sweat, tears, and undy­ing ded­i­ca­tion. The old gonzo guard knew it. The Truth isn’t the details, it’s the sto­ry formed from the details. The sto­ry is between the facts and the lies, beyond the things we can iden­ti­fy with. The Truth sits right in front of us all, but slap­ping us in the face, beg­ging to be seen.

Go read Transmetropolitan. It isn’t often that we find our­selves — our rage and our pas­sions — in a comic book. It isn’t often our eyes are opened up to that capital-T Truth in a com­plete­ly fic­tion­al form. You’ll see a world that is famil­iar, yet so dif­fer­ent. An extrap­o­la­tion of the mess we’ve made, and how it’ll play out for our kids. Read the comic, and tell me you don’t want to fix things before we reach that point. GoldenComicsComics,TransmetropolitanWhat if I said there is a vision of a sci-fi dystopia where any­thing you want­ed could be got­ten at the touch of a but­ton? That a few com­mands sep­a­rate you from the great­est tro­ve of infor­ma­tion mankind has ever had access to, but you’re just going to seek mind­less…
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Jason Golden
I’m that crazy guy that writes things and hosts Back Issues.
Jason Golden

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