Comic Books and Cannabis Inspiration With Box Brown

He had been a direct victim of America’s long running campaign for weaponizing cannabis and using it as a tool of oppression for its own citizens. “It sucked, it was dreadful,” he says of the incident. “I had to go to court, I had to see a probation officer every week, and I had been criminalized. I believed, ‘this doesn’t seem right to me,’ as a child … It was clear to me as a non-adult this was bullshit. ”

“Pretty much, from what I’ve found, is that 90% of cartoonists get high, and 1% mention it.”

Decades later, Box Brown would go on to publish the New York Times Bestselling graphic novel, André the Giant: Life and Legend, for First Second Books in 2014. Three years prior, Brown had won a 2011 Xeric Grant for his comic book, Love is a Peculiar sort of Item , and kickstarted his own small publishing outfit, Retrofit Comics, that same year. The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, printed in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Today, Brown works full-time as a cartoonist, splitting work between writing and drawing his own extended graphic books, guest writing for comics of licensed properties like Adventure Time, Rugrats and WWE, and spending time raising a child alongside his wife. Not bad for a man who decided to pick up cartooning after graduating college, and–by all technicality–was once considered a juvenile delinquent.  

Cannabis, Legalization, and the Birth of a Graphic Novel

And certainly, for the best, the constant that became and has remained a source of inspiration for the cartoonist is the identical herb that gave Brown a new view of life as a teenager: cannabis.

It’s also the topic of his upcoming historical graphic novel, Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America, due out April 2, 2019. The comic book aims to provide essential context to understanding America’s interest in banning cannabis and demonizing its customers, touching on its historic cultivation in Mexico City by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, and shedding light on Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ campaign against cannabis use in America.

His comics are dense… But they are lively, engaging, innocent, drawn in a fashion that’s almost cute. To put it differently, Brown is a true cartoonist.

It’s a tale that Box Brown took deadly serious and spent painstakingly long hours exploring. He spoke on Nixon’s efforts and role in establishing a war on drugs, in addition to the effects of negative cannabis propaganda which still lasts years after its legalization in many states. At one point, Brown remembered a moment where his editor told him to lighten up over his book’s subject matter. Brown was caught up in the “reefer madness,” and enraged with its powerful history of lies.

“I probably worked on this book for 16 months or something like that, involving the study, the drawing of it, and editing that things,” Brown recalled. “But in a way, I’ve been working on it my entire life, almost the identical way I was working towards the Andre the Giant book since I was 10. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of information that was out there. It’s just insane. ”

Published at Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:22:41 +0000

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