The very first Beholder strip for Blueprint Magazine centered around the theme of “Death”. I chose to take an approach that asked the question: “Why do humans value death?”
My answer was to use a mad scientist transplanting the head of his beloved canine best friend onto a new human body so that it could live on with continued, unhindered, blissful happiness.
A series of images started cropping up in my Google Reader and I (unexplainably) scrolled past them to check out later. I assumed they were science journal designs to compliment the experiments of Vladimir Demihov in the 1950s, concerning his experiments with dog head transplants. Dr. Robert White would later conduct similar experiments with the monkey heads. Christiaan Barnard, who considered Demihov his teacher, would be the first to successfully transplant a heart from one person to another in 1967. And so, these historical facts were the basis of the concept behind my Beholder #1.
Artist Dmitry Izotov manufactured a series of images that pushed the history of “transplantology” forward in a “What if…” scenario. The images are quite fascinating and realistic. He starts the series off with the following blurb:
The end of the 1950s and the beginning of 1960s was a time of significant achievements in the sphere of scientific experiments worldwide and in the USSR. During those years, Soviet scientist started bold experiments on animals. A whole series of pioneering experiments was carried out at the University of Moscow and the Academy of Science. And as early as 1950 a Russian scientist Vladimir Demihov surprised the whole world when he transplanted the head of one dog onto another one. The two headed dog lived for a whole month.
At the beginning of the Cold War, all efforts of Soviet science were concentrated on creating a perfect weapon. A secret Soviet project to create a robot-cyborg was started in 1958. The scientific consultant was a Nobel Prize laureate V.Manuilov. As well as designers, medics and engineers also took part in the construction of the robot. Mice, rats and dogs were used in experiments to test if it was safe for humans. The use of monkeys was also considered, but dogs were chosen as they were easier to train and were calmer than monkeys. Consequently this project got the name “The Kollie” and existed for almost 10 years. Under orders from the Central Committee on 4th January 1969 project “The Kollie” was closed down, and all the information became classified.
In 1991 all information about project “The Kollie” became unclassified.
This places it into an area of historical relevance, expanding on the lifespan of “Kollie” to 10 years, whereas, Demihov’s two-headed dog lasted one month in a state deemed “alive” by science. I like how the statement claims that a dog was used instead of a monkey because dogs would be easier to train and were calmer. Here are the staged/manipulated images Dmitry Izotov then offers to support the well-constructed illusion:
Remarkable! What an elaborate piece of work! All this based on a wire model and great graphic design skills. The rest creates a wonderful, believable illusion of possibilities that are equally discomforting and fascinating!
The most rewarding part of all this is when you keep scrolling down his gallery of photos until you get to the placement of the Collie-Cyborg amongst people in real life. This has comic-making possibilities written all over it and it’s the type of thing you’d expect to one day see in a Mike Mignola “Hellboy” or “B.P.R.D.” book!