The book is Miller's very loose interpretation of Philip K. Dick's The Electric Ant, but tinged with Miller's brand of satire and violence. The somewhat minimal plot revolves round a tax collector who discovers he is a robot and sets out to find answers. This story essentially provides a showcase for Darrow's incredibly intricate artwork. Miller's usual trademark of dark, emotionally complex characters in pathos is still slightly present but takes a back seat to the gory splash pages. One of the series' oddest aspects is that nearly all blood is inked in black, perhaps to reduce the shock of the violence.
Plans for a film adaptation starring Nicolas Cage were rumoured to be in the works, but this has yet to be confirmed. In The Matrix Revisited, the Wachowski brothers cite Hard Boiled as an influence on the development of their Matrix series of films.