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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.