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Comic Book / Doktor Sleepless

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"Someone stole your future. Don't you ever wonder who?"

About ten years from now, the American city of Heavenside is home to the "grinder" subculture: teenagers and young adults using extreme body modification - not decorative so much as functional, actually building computers into themselves - as a new way of life. Grinding began with the pioneering work of, among other people, the young genius and futurist John Reinhardt, who disappeared years ago.

One day, John Reinhardt comes back. In his time away, he has reinvented himself, and Heavenside comes to know him as the slightly insane pirate radio disc jockey Doktor Sleepless. As the Doktor, Reinhardt is practically a cartoon character, who deliberately affects the demeanor of a mad scientist, complete with a surly, scantily clad "nurse" as his sidekick. The authorities are helpless to stop him as he takes control of the airwaves, rapidly developing a massive following among the disenfranchised lower class in Heavenside.

Publically, the Doktor is a harmless crank, even going so far as to open free clinics for the poor and homeless in the city.

It's all part of a much larger plan. Soon his followers are taking part in wholesale gang violence that has Heavenside looking and sounding like a war zone, shielded from the security patrols by bizarre "anonymizer" masks that just happen to look exactly like the Doktor. Soon a growing number of people in the city have become afflicted with a bizarre disease called "St. Theresa's Eyes," which seems to make them see angels.

Doktor Sleepless has come back to Heavenside to destroy it. The only person who has any idea what might be going on is Sing Watson, who used to date Reinhardt years ago, and it's already too late for her to stop it.

Doktor Sleepless is a comic book series from Avatar Press, written by Warren Ellis with art by Ivan Rodriguez. It originally lasted for 13 issues, from July, 2007 to July, 2009. It was one of the works that was brought to an untimely end by Ellis's infamous hard drive crash, and went on an extended hiatus after issue #13.

It has an extensive wiki of its own here.

Not to be confused with Doctor Sleep.


  • Author Appeal: It's like Warren Ellis distilled what he likes to talk about and injected the pure stuff into your eyes.
  • Author Tract: Doktor Sleepless's long rants often come off a bit like this.
  • Ax-Crazy: Reinhardt's former caretaker is now lurking in alleyways with jet-black teeth and a rusty knife. "Nurse Igor" is a former hired killer with a penchant for knives.
  • Canon Welding: Another Ellis Avatar comic, Captain Swing And The Pirates Of Cindery Island, features characters who appear to be ancestors of John Reinhardt and William Gravel.
  • Character Blog: Sarah Berlin, a freelance blogger, comes to Heavenside in issue #11 to document the turmoil in the city. Through her blog entries, we see just how fast the city's devolving.
  • Collective Identity: A device is mysteriously delivered to several grinder hotspots throughout the city. When turned on, it fabricates a thin mask of a smiling Doktor Sleepless that, when worn, completely anonymizes the wearer from any electronic methods of gaining their identity. Soon, anonymous gangs all wearing Doktor Sleepless masks are terrorizing Heavenside.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: According to Reinhardt, it is, and he uses it to justify to Sing everything he does. However, we only really have his word on anything supernatural happening. Sure, the dual Reinhardts mystery is weird, but still open to interpretation.
  • Black And Hyperblack Morality: The Doktor's ultimate plan may be to destroy the world just to deny the Cosmic Horrors the pleasure of destroying it themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, our protagonist.
  • Cut Short: After issue #13, Doktor Sleepless went on hiatus, and has not been continued. Having the notes be utterly destroyed will do that.
  • Doppelgänger: There are two John Reinhardts in Heavenside. One is a crazy pirate radio disc jockey who dresses like a cartoon character and who deliberately says he's not real. The other is being held inside a high-security jail cell and is frantically typing out a lengthy manuscript.
  • Evil Plan: Before he left, Reinhardt invented a number of things that are now in widespread use throughout Heavenside, like Clatter (an instant messenger system that's built into a soft contact lens), "tags" (a small injectable microchip that collects and stores medical data), and most of the "grinder" subculture. There's an entire feature of the city, H-Plates, that only he knows how to use. John Reinhardt built their entire culture, then went away for a few years and came back so he could more efficiently turn it against itself.
  • I Want My Jetpack: The book starts off as being expressly about this. Then it gets weird.
  • Internal Deconstruction: This comic turns out to be taking the typical Warren Ellis protagonist, but in particular a hybrid of Spider Jerusalem and Elijah Snow, and making him an Omnicidal Maniac Villain Protagonist.
  • My Parents Are Dead: John's parents disappeared when he was a young child, and there's more to the incident than we've yet been shown. Whatever happened did so in their mansion's library.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Darkening Sky, by Henrik Boemer, was a short-run paperback that conflated fatalist philosophy, H.P. Lovecraft's Elder Gods, and a cyclical vision of history. When John's parents disappeared, The Darkening Sky was the only book out of the hundreds in their mansion's library that was at all disturbed, and John went on to read that copy of the book to pieces over the following years. One of the first things John Reinhardt does upon returning to Heavenside is print and distribute a new run of the book, which flies off of the shelves due to the Doktor's newfound popularity, and people who've read it immediately start acting just a little bit more creepy...
  • Tulpa: There are two versions of Dr. John Reinhardt in Heavenside. One is the underground radio personality Doktor Sleepless, and the other is a prisoner at the City Jail. The imprisoned Reinhardt claims that one of them is a tulpa, and mockingly states that it could be either one.
  • Villain Protagonist: The only major characters in the series who aren't murderous or deranged are Sing and Sarah.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Heavenside is a "Northwestern port city," founded by good Christian folk.