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Committed: The Drug User’s Comic Reading List

Haven’t you ever wondered which comic books will enhance your life-threatening drug use? Apparently, some of my friends tell me that they read specific comic books only when they are drunk or high, deeming the content to be appropriate for consumption exclusively in an altered state. It occurs to me that, (from a purely theoretical point of view), there might be comic books which could work better when the mind is chemically altered in some way. To that end, I’ve compiled a (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) guide to which comic books to combine with which mind-altering substances. Enjoy and please, don’t try this at home!

Alcohol:
Since alcohol is meant to depress certain inhibitions, it is possible that this kind of a high might be conducive to the appreciation of something that might ordinarily be too out there. As my friends suggested to me after my abortive attempt to get into it, Deadpool MAX works very well for this, but Peter Bagge’s HATE! might work even better. Funny, bitter, sarcastic, and filled with broad humor and recognizably ridiculous characters. Even if the subtleties are lost to a drunken haze, there is still a ton to enjoy. Besides all of that, the cautionary tales of people who drink just a little too much and party themselves out of a home could be a good influence.

Ritalin:
Apparently this is a drug which gives people the illusion that they are more focused and alert. This would enable a person to concentrate on something far more detailed than the average comic book. Perhaps a little bit of Chris Ware’s antiseptic meanderings are in order here, as a dose of his early Acme Novelty Library would definitely consume attention. The oversized volume (apparently it is “number 15, volume 7, part two”) certainly fits the bill as this mixed bag of strange little, depressing stories fascinates in a decidedly detached way. The despondent Tales of Tomorrow or cranky Quimby The Mouse stories create the perfect focus for a ritalin-induced intensity.

Marijuana:
Slowing things down somewhat, this is supposed to be the drug conducive to a mellowing out and slowing people down to the point of total inaction. There are myriad comic books infamously created specifically for stoners like Zap by Robert Crumb or The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. From a slightly more recent selection, something with a lot of detail and a little humor would be extremely entertaining, so a natural choice would be the crazy classic by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow; Hard Boiled, (the rampage of a man adrift in his own environment and society.) Getting away from the urban and into the desert realm of a more spiritually adventurous seeker is the excellent Shaolin Cowboy, also by Geof Darrow and currently ongoing. This current story depicts our hero on journey beset by his enemies, his world is ripe with wild fantasies and richly violent battles that could deeply appeal to a stoner.

Psilocybin mushroom:
People always talk about the enhanced interest in nature that the “magic” mushroom encourages and the Alice in Wonderland comparison cannot be discounted. With this in mind the best bet might be a few tomes of the excellent Fables, particularly the ones leading up to the dramatic conclusions of the war with Gepetto. It is possible that the story might become too complicated to follow, in which case a nice simple book of old James Jean cover art to simply stare at would probably do nicely. Taking the entire experience in a different direction, the use of strangely specific medical terminology lends Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack a wonderfully meaty feel, and the intricate biology in tandem with a funky ’70′s sort of story line might appeal to someone on a mushroom trip.

LSD:
A drug which can alter visual perception could make any artist’s work really sing, particularly a more psychedelic artist like the psychedelic work by Seth Fisher on Fantastic Four Big in Japan or Green Lantern – Willworld. Fisher’s flowing, repetitive multi-colored lines combines beautifully with the adventurous and playful use of scale and subject matter in these delightful stories. Unfortunately having a trip which makes comic book art more intense might be too much to deal with for a person on acid, in which case something more punk rock might work, like Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid. This energetically painted futuristic tale has hints of Philip K. Dick’s VALIS about it, in the story of people smuggling, selling and eventually deeply understanding the aforementioned Heavy Liquid.

Methamphetamines:
The media would have us believe that every working truck driver in the midwest is on this. Who knows… If they are, then the perfect read for any meth head would have to be Jason McNamara and Tony Talbert’s Continuity. In this darkly foreboding science fiction tale the main character finds that her reality is shaped entirely by her dreams. Each time she sleeps she radically changes her world in unpleasant and unintentional ways until she is deathly afraid to sleep. Keeping herself awake in the increasingly nightmarish reality involves dependency on a series of speedy and caffeine-related drugs. The fervor and vibrancy of a methamphetamine high could only add to the ragged urgency of this bleak comic book.

Ecstasy:
Often used as a dance-happy drug, ecstasy is also a drug responsible for putting people in a stupidly friendly good mood. Unfortunately this runs the risk of creating some drastically undiscerning comic book appreciation, which makes choosing a great book that much more important. Something with a big, cosmic storyline which hints at changing the world or creating some kind of universal collective would work, like Joe Casey and Tom Scioli’s Godland. Looking a hell of a lot like one of those wild science fiction Stan Lee and Jack Kirby books from the early days of Marvel, but with a strong contemporary infusion, the wild narrative and ambitious characters of this story would definitely add to any ecstasy experience, even if none of it made any sense in the morning. Another good romp of a book is Mike Alred’s cheery retrospective of great music Red Rocket 7. The fabulous party atmosphere of this walk through time would definitely appeal to the musically attuned on E (if they could focus long enough to read it.)

Cocaine:
The quintessential me drug, cocaine creates a euphoric energy boost that turns people in to narcissists. Since the after-effects include practically debilitating depression and physical malaise, a seriously upbeat comic book is required. I’d recommend Alex Ross’ over-sized series here, particularly his Superman volume written by Paul Dini Superman Peace on Earth. This important book is worthy of any cokehead and the subject matter is that largest of larger-than-life superheroes, Superman, in all his gorgeous, epic glory. Unfortunately, cocaine also causes paranoia, so for good measure and balance, another good read might be the Killing Joke, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s painstakingly crafted story of the Joker inflicting his own “One bad day” school of sanity on to his enemies. This way the cocaine user can feel a sense of solidarity and understanding of his plight, knowing that he’s not the only one who everyone is out to get.

Heroin:
An opiate, this is the feel-good drug that will completely destroy a user’s life as they turn into an emaciated, drooling bore. With that in mind it is going to be essential to avoid any long-running comic books, and stick with one-shots, short comic books without too many plot twists. Grant Morrison’s early, tragi-comic tales of the ill-fated Doom Patrol would be an interesting sort of vacation from reality for a smack head. Simultaneously beautiful and ugly, just smart enough to appeal to the poetic soul, yet obvious and blatant enough to get through even the haziest of drug-addled fogs. Another comic book which might appeal to the dead inside is the bleak Transit by Ted McKeever. The odd humor redeems the nasty characters and the quirky art creates a seriously atmospheric environment for our poor protagonist; Spud.

Valium:
Not the most lively bunch, valium was once called “the housewife’s friend” because it made all of those 1950′s wifely duties a lot more enjoyable. Assuming that it would make someone more content we want to find a comic book in keeping with that floaty mood. The ideal candidate might be Daredevil Love and War, a tragic domestic tale giving a rare glimpse into the heart of the desperately lovelorn Kingpin. Witnessing Matt Murdoch’s reluctantly erotic interactions with the Kingpin’s damsel’s in distress are the closest Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz will ever come to creating the comic book version of a Lifetime movie and they do it absolutely beautifully. To this day I cannot see a woman in a white dress without thinking that she’d look better if Daredevil swept her up in his arms.

Dextromethorphan:
Robotripping while reading comic books might be possible, if the halucinogenic qualities aren’t too distracting it could theoretically be enjoyable. The natural accompaniment to this ridiculous drug abuse would have to be the the speedy and dissociative Unlovable, by Esther Pearl Watson. The author found this cliched ’80′s style diary of a teenage girl in the bathroom of a highway diner and created this cringeworthy comic out of it. Shrill and caustic, this hysterical read would elicit laughter from any reader, let alone a teen tripping on cough medicine.

Big disclaimer: This article neither condones nor suggests drug or alcohol abuse (whether in conjunction with comic book reading or not) and this entire article is intended merely for entertainment purposes only.

22 Comments

I’ve always thought Shrooms would go well with a lot of Silver Age comics. Particularly Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.

The only one I could imagine a person could read while intoxicated on would be MJ. Everything else you’re either tripping, speeding (can’ t sit still) or seeing double!

Great article, Sonia! But in the Killing Joke shouldn’t it be Alan Moore and Brian Bolland?

The disclaimer made me chuckle. Would anybody take this seriously if it wasn’t there?

I’d add SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, both Ditko’s and Milligan’s. What drug, not sure.

Talk about a Freudian slip! It should be Heroin, not Heroine.

Usually if I’m reading when I’m high it’s either Grant Morrison’s Batman or anything by Alex Ross (I don’t do cocaine though). I wanted to see if Morrison’s Batman made more sense high. It really didn’t, but it did feel more…significant. And Alex Ross is just awesome cause he’s so realistic.

I like to read comics while high (on pot), and I tend to prefer things with bold, clear art. If it’s overly detailed, I just gloss over it. But stuff like Mike Allred, Stuart Immonen, or Frank Quitely? Oh yeah.

Each time a new issue of All-Star Superman came out, I’d set aside some time to puff and read. And man, was that a pleasure.

I don’t think I could read any comics while shrooming. Aside from being completely unable to follow a written narrative, I tend to get a little clumsy with my fingers. I could see myself ruining a comic that I didn’t even come close to finishing.

Typos fixed, thanks for the help!

It’s been many years since I last smoked pot. But I never enjoyed reading stuff while stoned. I’ve tried to read stuff while drunk, but it was not pleasant either.

I suppose I was never the kind of reader that enjoys turning off my higher reasoning and empathy for the characters, and just let the story carry me. That can sort of work for certain movies (and even that is debatable), but not for comics, at least in my case.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been enjoying a few smokes before reading and I’ve got to say it is great fun. The stuff I’ve been enjoying the most while under the influence is Lucifer and Planetary. Both trippy stories with great art! Perfect combos!

As someone who’s never indulged in any of the drugs listed, I can only imagine the “enhancing” effects.

But I think I would TOTALLY freak out reading anything by Seth Fisher in an altered state of consciousness. That stuff’s trippy enough as is.

I wonder, would, say, Rob Liefeld comics read better when high?

In my younger days I always found a stack of Superman comics (any decade, any era) were a good way to chill out after a long night of whatever.

back in the day, I loved herb and comics — two great tastes that go great togther. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve put down the pipe and I can’t say I’ve really missed it (and given how often I held it, that’s saying something). But I can’t ever ever ever imagine putting down the comics. And given I’ve been buying, reading, collecting for more than 30 years, that’s also saying something. So yeah, we’ve all got our sumpin’ sumpin’, mine just happens to come in panels with word balloons

funny article, nice work, it took me back (cough cough)

I’m just pleased I’m not the only one out there who read Continuity.

Man, Seth Fisher was awesome. That’s all I wanted to say really.

I’d imagine Brendan McCarhty comics and LSD would either result in the greatest trip ever or the worst.

As a former “smack head”, the heroin section annoyed the shit out of me. Heroin addicts I knew weren’t really a bore, just an incredibly depressed group of people who didn’t know what else to do with their lives. I know it’s a playful article but…eh too close to home I guess. Not that that is your fault. I don’t know what I’m saying.

For me heroin increased my appreciation of the arts like marijuana does, while being much more clear headed than weed allowed. Opiates lift the haze.

But anyways, as my second biggest habit at the time was comics I can definitely say Chris Ware’s brand of melancholy definitely fits in more with the opiate user than the speed-freak. Speed and meth would go best with anything fast and crazy with a lot of action. I do like the Doom Patrol suggestion though and Ted McKeever suggestion though And I would add Sandman to the opiate list as well, for obvious reasons.

Also one of the coolest acid trips I’ve had was from reading McCarthy’s Spiderman Fever and just staring at his covers for Shade. Look at issue one of Shade on acid and the amount of faces increases exponentially. The Haight Ashbury issues (8 and 9 I think) were great on acid too.

One of the coolest acid trips I’ve

An enjoyable, if quirky read. Thanks, Sonia. You’re articles have been consistently good.

Mike Loughlin-I swear, when I was reading the LSD segment, I kept thinking ‘Brendan McCarhty’ would own this!’

Especially Rogan Gosh, The Shade covers and his DC ‘Solo’ book.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 11, 2011 at 1:05 am

I like to read comics while high (on pot), and I tend to prefer things with bold, clear art. If it’s overly detailed, I just gloss over it. But stuff like Mike Allred, Stuart Immonen, or Frank Quitely? Oh yeah.

Allred is always good for it, though sometimes I like to be overwhelmed by superheroes, and find Perez and Jimenz to be great for that, and early Neal Adams is good for lovely art with ridiculous stories, but there’s one guy I’m surprised no one’s mentioned for weed yet…. Jack Kirby.

Be it early Marvel, or 70′s onwards stuff like Fourth World or Silver Star – it’s almost hard to believe he wasn’t making it specifically for stoners.
Just the bold, simple art – the dynamic poses, people speaking in statements, and every now and again a full page splash with a crazy perspective… you’ll find yourself just staring.

For more hilarious stuff to read, there’s a collection of the real early Superboy stuff – when he was eight – which cracks me up for the small scale adventures he’s involved in (robbers have hijacked our raft!), or even better is the recent Green Lantern Omnibus.
Honestly, it reads like an Adult Swim cartoon – just absurd situations (‘I hope no one minds if I take these super-secret plans in my pocket to lunch’), things coloured yellow for no given reason (who paints a missile yellow!), and damn near every story/issue ends with Hal Jordan crying that Carol doesn’t like him enough.
Have a smoke and you’ll feel like you’re watching Venture Bros.

It’s not comics, but the Essential Superman Encyclopedia will suck you in – reading some of the stupid plots recounted so seriously is tops.

But I think I would TOTALLY freak out reading anything by Seth Fisher in an altered state of consciousness. That stuff’s trippy enough as is.

I wonder, would, say, Rob Liefeld comics read better when high?

Fisher could be great – hmm, been meaning to dive into that GL: WillWorld GN sitting on my shelf…

Liefeld’s a yes and no.
It’s not ‘better’ in anyway, but it is more fun.

Either the absurdity of the art will absolutely crack you up, which is fun, or you’ll be able to appreciate the simplicity of the plots – sometimes you just wanna see one guy with a lot of pockets beat the shit out of another guy with a lot of pockets.

I’ve only tried with the $1 Youngblood #1 with script by Joe Casey, and the recent 100 Page Spectacular which reprinted his Teen Titans issues with Simone. It’s almost worth it just to see them work so hard to keep up – there’s some really long speech balloons trying to cram in explanations.

He was only a part of it, but X-Tinction Agenda was a fun read as well.
I find you get more sucked in to the ridiculous plots – you don’t stop to think about it -yet every now and again have a moment of clarity, which will send you into a giggling fit.

Waay back in the day, I used to love to read Coyote while stoned — it came out so infrequently that it was always a real treat, and some of the characters in the stories did various drugs too. More recently, I really enjoyed Morrison’s 3-D comic, Superman Beyond after a couple tokes. Also a collection of old Tank Girl strips was fun, Promethea was visually dazzling, and, uh.. what was I talking about again?

Sam Kieth-MAXX Baron/Rude-Nexus Dan Clowes-EightBall Junko Mizuno-Cinderalla Jack Kirby-Kamandi

sometimes you just wanna see one guy with a lot of pockets beat the shit out of another guy with a lot of pockets.

That’s an awesome sentence.

To get away from the drug stuff a second and on to the mocking of Liefeld, I will say that I think Nicieza deserves some credit/blame (depending on how you feel about the series) for X-Force being so bad. I recently read some of those issues (for Deadpool appearances, cuz I was getting around to reading Deadpoolmax), and it’s not like the series really got any BETTER when Liefeld left. And the New Mutants 87, first Cable appearance, shows that if Liefeld had a decent inker, like Bob Wiacek who did that issue, his art’s not THAT bad.

So back to the drug stuff, does that mean I’m high?

I would also think that Kirby and other ’60s Marvel would be intriguing stuff to read while high. It certainly happened, since the Marvel stuff was apparently very big on ’60s campuses.

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