Based on and adapted from the screenplay by Brandon Beckner and Scott Sampila
In San Francisco in 1971, Reporter Seymour Phillips stumbles upon some clues that a recent drug bust might not be all it seems. After an ill-fated trip to talk to the suspect in prison, Seymour’s life gets destroyed by a planted bag of marijuana that sends him to jail. He loses him his job and his girlfriend. A few years later, he meets Chase, a drug addict, potentially with some mental illnesses, who claims to have been part of a super top-secret CIA operation to develop compound LSD-25 into a tool for interrogation and mind control. Chase leads Seymour on a crazy ride that includes taking drugs, disguises, clandestine meetings, amongst other things, as they uncover an operation that included prostitutes and experimenting on Johns and the operatives themselves.
Since this graphic novel is adapted from a screenplay, it reads more like a story or a movie. I, personally, prefer narrative nonfiction to the more narrator-heavy text boxes often used in graphic nonfiction, but I know that this is not a preference shared by all. The storyline in this volume is a bit choppy and kind of all over the place, but it definitely fits the subject matter. There are a lot of psychedelic drawings and some really crazy panels that attempt to convey what a “trip” feels like. With the illustrations and the narrative non-congruence, reading this book is very much like a drug trip. These choices fit with the subject matter, as the project itself is something many Americans haven't yet wrapped their brains around. This defintiely isn't part of U.S. History that was included in any history class I took, and it's yet another of America's skeletons-in-the-closet that many would like to forget.
The illustrations, aside from the trippy-ness, are reminiscent of the cartooning style of Dr. Seuss, with a mix of the dark, bold lines and shading of Will Eisner. The style gives the story a little of an antique feel, similar to filmmakers using sepia filters on their cameras to imitate colors of old photographs of decades gone by.
Clover rates this as a mature title, and despite it being an important documentation of an historical moment, this definitely is for adults. There is nudity throughout -- in normal, everyday situations, but mostly during drug-trips -- and the details of experimentation with prostitutes and their Johns are not censored in any way.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Adult
Publisher: Clover Press
Publication Date: December 14th 2021
ISBN: 9781951038342 (Hardcover)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Adult, Graphic Nonfiction, History
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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