At the opposite end of the comics spectrum from last week’s kid’s comics The Phoenix is this stoner-infused look at the early life of Buddha, which is definitely for adults only! From the wonderfully warped mind of 2000ad legend Alan Grant and fellow Dredd alum John Haward and Jamie Grant Tales of the Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened) gives us a gag and ganja-heavy account of the eastern mystic as he searchs for enlightenment. Each 1 or 2 page strip sees our portly hero travelling the world and across history, getting up to all sorts of un-pious mischief while meeting a host of famous faces along the way – from Hercules and the Argonauts to Elvis and more. Forget your historically accurate timelines sacred scriptures, and just revel in the smart jokes and brilliantly quirky artwork of this supremely smart and enjoyable creation.Stylistically it follows in the fuzzy footsteps of tripped out classics like The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers or the smuttier strips of British comix superstars like Hunt Emerson, and so is definitely not one for the kids – although big kids with a stupid sense of humour will love it! If a book full of smoking jokes and the odd bit of gratuitous nudity sounds like your perfect book then this is going to be right up your bong pipe, however if not, then don’t dismiss it immediately as there is actually a lot more wit and intelligence than you might presume. Grant’s clever mix of social and religious satire helps elevate it above being sub-Cheech and Chong goofiness and makes it a genuinely laugh out loud read, with plenty of digs at everything from the hypocrisies of organised religion to the ridiculousness of classical myths and legends. And of course there’s plenty of jokes about skinning up and and a generous dose of smut along the way as well, so don’t worry it’s not all high brow!
Making all these smart (and not so smart) jokes work on the page is Jon Haward’s artwork which is brilliantly detailed with some exquisite page designs that really make the book something above the norm. Haward’s Buddha is part cheeky chap and part stoned out marshmallow man, but the book is made even richer with a fantastically diverse supporting cast and the background settings which are expertly rendered and packed full of detail that make each page a work of art in it’s own right Additional credit for this should also go to Jamie Grant from some awesome colouring and lettering on the book.
Tales of Buddha is available via Renegade Arts Entertainment website as a PDF for $4.99 or as an eBook on iTunes for £2.99. You can read more adventures of the portly deity at their website and on Facebook.