Budzilla surfs his own huge tail into Monster Island, but finds his lair (and his stash) of King Chronic’s ocupado and the many-headed lizard, Tetra-Hydra. What should a five-story green lizard do? A puff from Dino-Kush, of course, and he vaporizes King Chronic’s gorilla skin with laser vision.
Score one for the red-eyed dino.
Budzilla is one of the stars of Stoner Comix, a new four-part comic book series from the Bay Area, a Angry magazine-like spin on cannabis culture. The series is halfway through its four editions, fresh off the full series of its sister comic, Stories of the World Famous Drive Thru Bud, which was launched in 2013.
And however Angry star Alfred E. Neuman’s gap-toothed face doesn’t adorn Stoner Comix‘s pages, similar spoofs roam freely: Bong Wars, Smugglers Cove, Tales from the Danksyde, and Spyda-Mon! all infuse popular culture with a dose of the good greenery.
Writer and publisher Vince Dugar said: SF Evergreen that the art of San Francisco guided the spirit of Stoner Comix also.
“This is a complete tribute to Zap Comix‘ said Dugar of R. Crumb’s groundbreaking series. “It’s a legacy of the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m a 1960’s kid in San Francisco, and I remember sitting on my dad’s shoulders and hearing him say, ‘Hey son, this is Santana, he’s going to be famous one day!’”
But cannabis culture spans generations, Dugar says, and that inspired him to look for an artist with a new perspective. He and Nathan Gomez met at the local APE Comic Expo, and a partnership blossomed.
“They’re a bunch of gray beards. I’m the young buck,” Gomez said. However, he has quite a pedigree behind him, having worked on striperella with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.
Gomez says he lights up as he draws because, as many will attest, cannabis can be inspiring.
“Go back to your peaceful Narnia place,” he said.
The strips are black and white, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t variety. Gomez and Richard Becker, who ink the comics, swing wildly between the style of characters like Star Wars riff Lord Vapor, with its bold thick lines, and Budzilla’s clean manga style.
Becker said that working on some comics puts an artist in just one style, but because Stoner Comix is a grab bag for a variety show, “I can do so many different things, it flexes my artistic muscles.”
The variety show format was originally inspired by artist Pat Ryan and over three decades of his marijuana-themed art, mostly posters, featuring characters such as Super Skunk, Muy Blastido, Humboldt Honey, and more. Dugar and Ryan collaborated on the four-issue run of Stories of the World Famous Drive Thru Bud, but the two had so much fun that they then put their creativity into Stoner Comix.
Super Skunk was put on the back burner and the group brainstormed about new characters. Still, Ryan is the older statesman performer of the bunch, Dugar said, even mentoring Gomez and others.
The newer stories may be allegorical, as in Stories from the Danksyde. The Tales of the Crypt parody about a cannabis scientist who hopes to enslave local hippies to a genetically modified strain, until his creation comes back to haunt him.
Dugar said the allegory was intentional, a direct comment on today’s cannabis issues.
“With this rapidly growing cannabis industry, there are issues between what is biologically and chemically manufactured,” Dugar said. “I say yes, we love getting stoned, but if it’s made in a factory way, it’s as bad as anything.”
The artists are all scattered throughout the Bay Area, drawing influences from the Emerald Triangle and other local scenes in some of their work.
For now, Dugar said, the comics are all a labor of love, with the initial investment being paid out of pocket. But despite the comic’s homegrown nature, Dugar and Gomez feel like they’ve seen a lot of success.
“I think people resonate with it,” Dugar said. That’s probably because of the audience: enthusiasts at marijuana events.
“Thanks to stoners, because they support art and they support artists,” Dugar said. “At Emerald Cup and other places, stoners buy handicrafts, clothing, art and comics.”
“They appreciate the humor, intelligence and,” he added, “the pun.”