Back when I was seventeen, I arguably spent far too many afternoons curling up with the latest underground titles from Birmingham's Ar:Zak Press and their counterparts across the Big Pond, such as Gilbert Shelton's Furry Freak Brothers and Marvel's short-lived Comix Book. Whilst much of the material touched upon elements of the so-called Drug Culture, its creators used them merely as one colour on their palette, rather than an end in itself.
If the majority of those involved with the stoner-oriented Northern Lightz are aware of this rich heritage, they appear to have forgotten it amidst a haze of skunk smoke. Across page after page, we get a one-note symphony: guy rolls a joint, guy gets his brain fried, all's well with the world. It's like being bludgeoned to death with a throw cushion, and thrice as tedious.
There are exceptions: Dave Alexander's three-pager "A Game of Two Halves" has echoes of Shelton, early Steve Bell and even a little Bryan Talbot in his Chester Hackenbush days; better still, there's a rudimentary plot, a handful of mildly amusing panels and the residual thought that you wouldn't mind seeing his three weed-fused protagonists on another occasion. Similarly, Paul Van Linden's Chronic the Barbarian can scarcely be considered innovative, but the two-pager "White Widow" is at least colourful and fairly stylish, something you couldn't say about the slew of monotone mediocrity and increasingly desperate wordplay ("Ganja Fest Auto", "Squint Eatsweed", "Buck Roachers in the Plenty Spliff Century") which makes up the bulk of this mostly tiresome anthology.
Much as I hate to quote a certain former First Lady: just say no.
Summer 2003 issue (dated August 2003)
Northern Lights Publishing; 34pp; £3.75
Address: PO Box 25285, Glasgow, G2 6WE