Reefer Madness Review: A History Lesson

One of the biggest hot-button issues today is marijuana. There are people who want it legalized, others want to keep it illegal. This isn’t anything new; this issue has been around for decades. One of the weirder times that tackled this issue was the 40s/50s. What better way of showing the anti-marijuana movement than with comics. “Reefer Madness Comics” collects various comics that all say the same thing: drugs are bad.

There really isn’t much to say here. All of these comics have some kind of anti-drug, especially anti-marijuana message but told in the most extreme ways possible. There are gangsters selling tobacco shop owners marijuana as cigarettes, shootouts, car crashes the work. It’s all just a mess that’s not meant to tell a coherent story but to send a message.

The only story that has any kind of substance is “Trapped!” Bill Jones is a teenager who first smokes marijuana and then his life goes crazy. This is a bit more realistic but still has some crazy anti-drug themes in it. The ending also makes sense.

The artwork is a product of its time. Since many of these are supposed to be about cops and detectives it looks like “Dick Tracy.” The problem here is that many of them look so horrid. 40/50s comics did have some great looking and even iconic artwork, but this is just taking them and putting in a blender. Some are just downright insulting to the medium to the point where it’s obvious this was meant as a PSA and quality wasn’t a concern. Not even legendary artist Jack Kirby can make these comics look great.

As a piece of historical comic book lore, “Reefer Madness Comics” does a fine job of collecting anti-drug comics from that era for a new generation to read. Just don’t expect great storytelling or art because those things take the backseat to the over the top anti-drug message.

About Rocco Sansone 697 Articles
Rocco Sansone is a “man of many interests.” These include anime/manga, video games, tabletop RPGs, YA literature, 19th century literature, the New York Rangers, and history. Among the things and places he would like to see before he dies are Japan, half of Europe, and the New York Rangers win another Stanley Cup.

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