I bring to your attention a funny and thoughtful comic with a cannabis theme that I’m excited about. You can support the Kickstarter campaign running thru August 31st right here. The project’s creator, Jeremy Myers, has found a sweet spot for comics and cannabis fans alike with this mashup of humor, horror, and political commentary. Cannabis and comics do indeed mix, going at least as far back as the Sixties underground. Here is a new generation’s turn.
HENRY CHAMBERLAIN: “The Circus of Reefer Madness” is, as you say, a grungy stoner comic with elements of 1930s anti-marijuana propaganda. What inspired you guys to pursue this project?
JEREMY MYERS: The idea of scary clowns terrorizing stoners as a metaphor for the drug war had been stewing in my head for a while. That’s really what inspired me most, the primitive state of drug laws. It’s so backwards that it is offensive. I used Reefer Madness in the title because of the old propaganda film, plus arresting people for smoking is true madness.
Once I finished writing the short story, I decided it needed to be a comic, so I adapted it to a manuscript and began the search for an artist. Ray had the right style, and I got a good vibe from him as far as his passion for comics. You never know if people will be cool with weed stuff, but I sent him the pitch anyway. He was stoked and responded right away. That was when the project really began.
What do you hope your readers will get out of your comic book?
I want people to be immersed in the story. To have a good time and root for Tyler, and see what I am actually trying to say in regards to his whole experience with the circus. When I wrote the panels out, I tried to communicate some out there visuals for Ray and sneak in bits of political commentary. I’ve also given him free reign to be an artist, so I hope both things show through in the finished product.
What is your favorite cannabis themed work, whether book, movie, or whatever?
I have quite a few. Stoner culture produces a lot of good stuff. My favorite smoking song is “Acid Raindrops” by People Under the Stars. My favorite movie is “Half Baked.” There are so many great stoner comedians. I used to watch Katt Williams every day when I started the ganja journey.
“The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by Jack Herer is an eye opener, definitely a must read regarding Cannabis. I discovered Jack Herer in a book about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by Eddie Bravo. He summarized what Herer was saying, and professed his love for ganja. He explained how beneficial it had been in the development of his personal grappling style (which was revolutionary) as well as his creative endeavors. That was the first seed in my mind, where I started to wonder. I remember reading my DARE essay in front of all the parents in second grade. Suddenly I was asking myself, have I been lied to this entire time? Santa Claus, Part Two? Is this stuff bad or isn’t it?
Do you think there should be more comics with a cannabis theme?
Cannabis and comics do pair well together, I am surprised there isn’t a well developed stoner comic niche. Maybe there is and I’m missing out. It can be hard to theme an entire story around Cannabis, but it sure does a good job of accentuating things. Same with life, there is truth in fiction after all.
I don’t believe in shoulds, but why not? More cannabis comics!
What do you think the broad general public still gets wrong about cannabis? You know, folks out in Middle America who haven’t even tried it.
Hard to say really. The public favors the stuff, it’s policy that doesn’t line up. From what I actually encounter in person, there isn’t as much ignorance about it as I would think. People smoke weed or they don’t, but they’ve usually tried it, or think it should be legalized and see it as better than alcohol, pills, and cigarettes. Those are the points I always hear. I don’t recall meeting an actual person who is demonically anti-marijuana, despite having heard they exist.
Do you think you’ll live to see a world where cannabis becomes part of the mainstream culture–as much as beer is today? It seems to me that it’s a subculture. But corporations will be more than happy to push for it being fully mainstream.
The future is a black swan in this area. Legalization has momentum, but the feds will fight back. Follow the money, find the answer. The DEA, local police departments, private prisons, they all have skin in the game. Marijuana “offenders” are a part of their market, that simple. It’s why the stuff is still schedule one despite obvious medicinal benefits. Legal in the state, federally illegal. You can and will be raided while operating a legal business in those states. There are plenty of dispensary owners to corroborate this claim. It’s been ugly already, once is too many times when peacefully existing, entrepreneurial minded people are having their lives turned upside down so that the DEA has something to do. That is wrong, and that is corrupt.
The tide may be turning in favor of legalization, but I fear the resistance from these heavily armed and funded entities. The ones who stand to lose out big time if marijuana is no longer illegal. It’ll be interesting. I’m a big popcorn guy, I like to have mine ready while watching the spectacle unfold. Without legalization, I don’t see Cannabis becoming fully integrated into mainstream culture.
Mainstream cannabis culture would be a double edged sword. The idea of corporate marijuana makes my stomach turn, but that’s how it will go if stoners get our way in the legalization department. Instead of a drug, it will become a product. I wonder which fast food or retail giant will be the first marijuana friendly corporation? We are already seeing the first bits of this commercialization where the plant is legal, the recognition that this industry can be massive has people flooding to it.
A part of me likes contributing to this black market subculture, and although I really went it legalized, I also don’t wanna pay some corporation for it and don’t plan to. I’d prefer if I could grow my own stuff or buy from organic growers. I’ve seen first hand the love that growers put into cultivation, and it is truly amazing.
What was your first time getting high like? Did you think then that you’d want to keep using cannabis?
The first time was overwhelming. Sitting on a porch overlooking a pool in the dark, we smoked out of a little glass pipe. My lungs were on fire, and I was severely outclassed by some veteran tokers. I wasn’t able to enjoy it fully at first, but it also didn’t put me off. I was lucid but way out of it at the same time. Pretty funny experience, I couldn’t keep up with conversations and the perception knob cranked itself up. Ended up baking cookies and turning slap happy. It was the second and third times when I relaxed into it enough to really be mind fucked by it. I knew right away this was some magical concoction from the Gods, a great tool.
It was Jack Herer who made a point of only using the term “cannabis.” Do you think that’s important?
Language is power. As a writer who studies propaganda(public relations), and marketing, I understand this. Marijuana, weed, these words have connotations. They give people a feeling when they hear them that overrides the actual meaning of the word. Cannabis is technical, scientific. It is the genus. This word choice adds an air of professionalism. A doctor from another era with a handle bar mustache would use this word, so should you.
Do you have any favorite strains of cannabis? Is there anything about cannabis use you would recommend to readers?
I buy from the homies! Sometimes they will give you a strain name, but you never know how strict their source is with genetics. All of it is strong these days, but you never know the truth unless you get it from the grower. Even the seed banks use re branding tactics. AK47 becomes AK, things like that. Talk to your budtender would be my best advice.
As far as recommendations? I would say try stretching and listening to music while under the influence. Try dancing alone. Go for a stoned walk. Don’t reinforce stereotypes, make cannabis work for you. Mother Earth knew, listen to her wisdom and use her medicine to empower yourself. Go deeper with marijuana.
Someday I will go to a dispensary, and learn what I like officially. I do prefer Sativa, that side of the high is why I fell in love. Not to say I don’t enjoy the sleep, munchies, or body high of an Indica on occasion. Everything is a hybrids now too. The Indica buds are so much more dense and heavy, it makes sense. I have had good experiences with Headband, Blue Dream, and OG Kush, but I can’t confirm or deny it was actually them.
What’s your favorite activity while using cannabis?
All activities become my favorite while using cannabis. Music is a big one, listening or messing around with the guitar. Writing, any type of creation. It is priceless for getting my mind into that state where I can tune in and take myself out of the equation, zero in on a craft. I used to compete in martial arts and I still like to practice, more shadow boxing these days than gloving up. Stoned shadow boxing is a great hobby, like a combat based form of Tai Chi.
What are your plans once your comic book is out and available to the public?
The funding is the plan right now. Gotta make sure it becomes available to the public. If I am blessed enough to make that happen, my project vision will shift over to sharing. Who needs it, wants it, will read it? Chromic Con is on my radar, as is any conference dealing with the drug war or marijuana legalization. I suspect I will be shopping this thing around for a while. Making money is not a concern for this one, so if you want it you can have it. Let me know.
Any plans ahead–beyond this project?
They’re kinda secret though.
Couple of stories I wanna pitch to comic publishers. Another romance novel. A collection of poems. Maybe I will sell hats.
This whole campaign process has been interesting, something different for sure. The highlights have included meeting new people, new creators, like you Henry. I get an awesome vibe from you and appreciate you helping me out with this.
Thank you, Jeremy!
Be sure to follow The Circus of Reefer Madness at its website right here.