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Comics 420: Bluntman and Chronic, the heroes weed deserves

Bluntman and Chronic
Bluntman and Chronic TPB cover

Growing up in the 90’s meant Jay and Silent Bob were going to be around one way or another. As a kid who listened to grunge (mostly thanks to my brother), saw weird movies, and went to schools that were basically encased in giant clouds of marihuana smoke, Kevin Smith’s own Jersey stoners were a kind of guide through the ganja mists. They taught me not to demonize weed and not to judge those who partook in it, to ignore the exaggerated fears politicians manufactured for campaigning purposes. They taught me how to wade through the bullshit.

Alas, I never became a weed smoker nor a master roller of blunts (for reasons entirely my own) which might make me the wrong person to write about Jay and Silent Bob. Regardless, I do want to celebrate them this 4/20 for their contributions in making me be at ease around marihuana enthusiasts at a young age, for helping me to never discriminate against righteous stoners who freely exercised their right to get high. Weed’s dynamic duo would make sure I became lifelong friends with them and, for the most part, I can gladly say I still am. They also got me to enjoy the raunchiest of jokes, in any situation (no matter how sacrilegious).

In comes Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back movie tie-in comic, Bluntman and Chronic, a comic that can do for many what the movies did for me.

Published by Image Comics in 2001 (the same year Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back had its theatrical run), Bluntman and Chronic was written by Smith and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming with a backup story drawn by Michael Allred (who designed Jay and Silent Bob’s superhero costumes). Well, in reality they were written and illustrated by Banky Edwards and Holden McNeil, if you’re in the know (meaning you’ve seen the movies). Chasing Amy fans will know this to be correct, but that’s a debate for another time.

Bluntman and Chronic

The comic follows Jay and Silent Bob’s transformation into the titular superheroes and their subsequent encounter with the evil League of Shitters, composed of the duo’s rogues gallery. Among those villains is Cock-Knocker (played by Mark Hamill in Strike Back), the Joker to Jay and Silent Bob’s Batman and Robin.

Initially, Chronic (Jay) decides he can use his new vigilante status to steal industrial amounts of Viagra and limited edition copies of valuable comics to sell on Ebay while Bluntman (Silent Bob) tags along in disbelief and confusion. The rogues find their origin stories here, in these acts of “vigilantism.” Their supervillain identities are owed to accidental brushes with the duo in which conveniently placed vats of acid change their bodies and give them some kind of penis power or an annoying internet blogger-related appendage to enact their dark and horny intentions. Dickhead, for instance, is a villain that got his head turned into a dick after falling into one such vat. He can get too excited and erupt, like any god-fearing penis is supposed to.

I can go on forever picking apart all the details behind this while enjoying every minute of it, but I won’t. You’re probably on your fourth, fifth, sixth (and beyond) blunt by now and the munchies must be hitting hard. I’ll get to the point.

Bluntman

In issue #1 of the comic, Jay and Silent Bob are put through a gauntlet of potential origin stories that are taken straight out of Marvel and DC Comics. They range from Jay ignoring the ring of a dead Green Lantern to Jay killing a radioactive spider that was on its way to give Silent Bob powers that required some kind of responsibility, or whatever. After going through a few of them, they land on a drug trial for the creation of super soldiers. Here’s where stuff gets interesting.

Jay and Silent Bob, eager to get all of $10 for their participation in the trials, realize the drug comes only in the form of an injection. In other words, it can’t be smoked. That’s not good. The serum doesn’t really mesh with their preferred form of bliss and, on top of that, you can’t roll it into a joint.

It is at this moment that Jay makes one of the most important statements in comic book history, perhaps in all of fiction. “We’re stoners. We get lit. We don’t shoot shit. Losers are users, and users are losers. We’re just saying ‘no,’ yo. Later for you, ya fucking dope fiends.”

Simple but oh so fucking powerful. Weed’s not bad, and it’s definitely not worse than shooting up poison into your veins. There’s a line to be drawn in the enjoyment of highness and dope is where the buck stops. The answers lie in the smoke, in the puff that comes from within after taking a hit from a freshly rolled blunt. It that moment, Jay and Silent Bob became Bluntman and Chronic. The rest is up in smoke, off to the land of myths and legends.

In a sense, Jay and Silent Bob have always represented the infinite powers of weed, their mind-altering abilities. Not unlike Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agammoto, a source of mystical power capable of making stoners into wizards of the real and the unreal. Or just something that turns a regular hangout into a funnier one. And isn’t that enough?

Bluntman

Because of scenes like these in the comics and in the movies, Jay and Silent Bob turned something potentially scary into something mystical to be either enjoyed directly or peripherally (in my case). They do the opposite of demonization. Instead, they open the door to acceptance, to embracing the gift of nature’s own version of ambrosia for mortals. Do not fear the blunt. Become the blunt. Or at the very least, support it.

Review: The Secret History of The War on Weed

The Secret History of The War on Weed

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s an actual legal requirement to be high when writing a story about weed, be it fiction or nonfiction. The creative team behind Image Comics´ The Secret History of The War on Weed seemed to be well in compliance with this when they put this comic together, and it’s all the better for it. It at least explains why lizard people and horny presidents are part of this hilarious, ridiculous, smart, and even heartfelt comic about the war on ganja and how backwards it is.

Writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn along with illustrator Scott Koblish set their alternate history in 1980’s America. The President is a cross between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that sees in marijuana a poll-raising opportunity to get the country behind her administration. To wage this war, she sends the story’s unlikely hero, Scotch McTiernan (an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type commando that’s all of the 80’s action movies rolled into one) to jumpstart the conflict.

The story takes a turn when Scotch McTiernan gets high himself and sees how unnecessary the war is and how damaging it can be to enforce the prohibition of something that has been proven not to be a major problem in its effects. In the process, Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish get the chance to comment on how America creates wars to keep the military industrial complex rolling, how misguided policies can create criminals that then have to suffer the system, and how politicians can spin narratives to create evils engineered for campaigning purposes.

There’s a lot packed into this one-shot comic, but Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish keep the action on the highest volume setting, preferring mayhem over quiet ruminations on the subject matter. It succeeds because of how sharp and funny the story is.

The Secret History of The War on Weed

Dialogue is a highlight, with puns and snappy punchlines driving the messages and metaphors home through laughs. This isn’t a mere parody of the 1980’s, though. It’s a smart critique of it and the policies it enacted, especially as they pertain to our current appreciation of weed consumption.

The War on Weed takes on the culture war that was waged against marijuana in the 80’s to explain how people formulated negative ideas about it and then how those same ideas could be traced back to certain special interests that wanted to antagonize the product for reasons that didn’t have the public’s interest at heart.

The Secret History of The War on Weed

Koblish’s art reinforces this argument by referencing so many pop culture elements per page, per panel even, that it becomes impossible to separate weed from the things people still look back on in a positive light. There was a lot of damage done in the 1980’s due to how irresponsible and prejudiced its war on drugs was, but it was also the decade a lot of people started smoking weed (where it grew outside the Counter-cultre/hippie identity it carried). Koblish accounts for this in different ways, being both visually indulgent and confrontational as the story develops. It’s always funny as well, so repeat readings are encouraged. This is a book you’ll want to comb through for hidden visual gags and references.

The Secret History of The War on Weed sees nothing wrong in laughing at serious things, especially if it’s in the service of getting a message across. The message here is one of fairness. By decriminalizing weed, America does better by those who could potentially go to jail for an offense that should never have been an offense in the first place. In a way, The War on Weed is a great companion book to Box Brown’s Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America (2019), which also uses humor to get its point across about the problems that haunt America’s politics on weed (albeit in a more measured manner).

Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish do more than enough to keep the conversation going on what is still a hotly debated topic. They condemn bad practices while making an honest plea to eliminate a problem that has no business being considered a crime in our times. For the benefit of all, they enlist lizard people, 80’s action heroes, and a weed version of Swamp Thing to lend a hand in fighting the good fight.

Story: Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn Art: Scott Koblish
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and read while high for added effect

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-order: comiXology/KindleZeus Comics

Advance Review: The Secret History of The War on Weed

The Secret History of The War on Weed

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s an actual legal requirement to be high when writing a story about weed, be it fiction or nonfiction. The creative team behind Image Comics´ The Secret History of The War on Weed seemed to be well in compliance with this when they put this comic together, and it’s all the better for it. It at least explains why lizard people and horny presidents are part of this hilarious, ridiculous, smart, and even heartfelt comic about the war on ganja and how backwards it is.

Writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn along with illustrator Scott Koblish set their alternate history in 1980’s America. The President is a cross between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that sees in marijuana a poll-raising opportunity to get the country behind her administration. To wage this war, she sends the story’s unlikely hero, Scotch McTiernan (an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type commando that’s all of the 80’s action movies rolled into one) to jumpstart the conflict.

The story takes a turn when Scotch McTiernan gets high himself and sees how unnecessary the war is and how damaging it can be to enforce the prohibition of something that has been proven not to be a major problem in its effects. In the process, Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish get the chance to comment on how America creates wars to keep the military industrial complex rolling, how misguided policies can create criminals that then have to suffer the system, and how politicians can spin narratives to create evils engineered for campaigning purposes.

There’s a lot packed into this one-shot comic, but Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish keep the action on the highest volume setting, preferring mayhem over quiet ruminations on the subject matter. It succeeds because of how sharp and funny the story is.

The Secret History of The War on Weed

Dialogue is a highlight, with puns and snappy punchlines driving the messages and metaphors home through laughs. This isn’t a mere parody of the 1980’s, though. It’s a smart critique of it and the policies it enacted, especially as they pertain to our current appreciation of weed consumption.

The War on Weed takes on the culture war that was waged against marijuana in the 80’s to explain how people formulated negative ideas about it and then how those same ideas could be traced back to certain special interests that wanted to antagonize the product for reasons that didn’t have the public’s interest at heart.

The Secret History of The War on Weed

Koblish’s art reinforces this argument by referencing so many pop culture elements per page, per panel even, that it becomes impossible to separate weed from the things people still look back on in a positive light. There was a lot of damage done in the 1980’s due to how irresponsible and prejudiced its war on drugs was, but it was also the decade a lot of people started smoking weed (where it grew outside the Counter-cultre/hippie identity it carried). Koblish accounts for this in different ways, being both visually indulgent and confrontational as the story develops. It’s always funny as well, so repeat readings are encouraged. This is a book you’ll want to comb through for hidden visual gags and references.

The Secret History of The War on Weed sees nothing wrong in laughing at serious things, especially if it’s in the service of getting a message across. The message here is one of fairness. By decriminalizing weed, America does better by those who could potentially go to jail for an offense that should never have been an offense in the first place. In a way, The War on Weed is a great companion book to Box Brown’s Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America (2019), which also uses humor to get its point across about the problems that haunt America’s politics on weed (albeit in a more measured manner).

Duggan, Posehn, and Koblish do more than enough to keep the conversation going on what is still a hotly debated topic. They condemn bad practices while making an honest plea to eliminate a problem that has no business being considered a crime in our times. For the benefit of all, they enlist lizard people, 80’s action heroes, and a weed version of Swamp Thing to lend a hand in fighting the good fight.

Story: Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn Art: Scott Koblish
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and read while high for added effect

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-order: comiXology/Kindle

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