By Sheldon Smith
Don’t call it a comeback: The first cannabis superhero – yes, you read that right – is making his triumphant return to the comic book scene.
A cannabis superhero? The first cannabis superhero? “To the best of my knowledge,” Captain Cannabis creator Verne Andru told Canadian Evergreen.
“My first Captain Cannabis drawing was in 1975 and I’ve not heard of anything earlier. My government-issued copyright-certificate for the first Captain Cannabis comic-book is dated 4/20, 1977, making it the earliest documented linkage of cannabis to superheroes, comic-books and 4/20.
“I consider it Captain Cannabis’s birth certificate.”
During the 1960s and 1970s – which brought psychedelic rock, Vietnam, Watergate and Nixon’s impeachment – Captain Cannabis is a by-product of time and place.
“Canadians like me living along the U.S. border were profoundly shaped by southern events.”
The ‘60s also brought Robert Crumb’s “Zap” which was the first of the underground comics genre. As a kid, Andru never got into the mainstream superhero comics, finding the stories thin and glorifying violence.
“My take on comics changed when I spotted a stack of undergrounds in the local head-shops in the early ‘70s,” Andru said, discovering a world of unique and interesting stories that had him hooked.
Those headshops were sprouting everywhere and were looked upon as the cultural epicenter for counterculture.
This counterculture helped push the Canadian government into revisiting drug prohibition through a senate committee, and in 1972 released the Le Dain Commission report recommending the decriminalization of cannabis – sparking Andru’s inspiration behind Captain Cannabis.
Come 1975 and excitement was buzzing around legalization. It was around then that Andru’s affinity to underground comics and professional mentoring resulted in the first drawing of the superhero, which became the cover of Captain Cannabis No. 1.
“With legalization pending I felt the storyline had to be set in a post-prohibition world. That meant the traditional cannabis-centric antagonists – narcotic agents and/or police, which made me dig deep to find the right elements to make a sensi-superman stand the test of time, the result being what the Captain Cannabis series is all about,” he said.
The storyline is anout how intergalactic weed transforms a love-struck freeloader into a superhero to save the world from itself.
As for what a cannabis-inspired superhero actually does? He stops people from being mean to one another, making him the first calm and relaxed superhero dedicated to peace, love and understanding.
“Captain Cannabis is anything but your typical Marvel or DC ‘superhero’ and is by design the antithesis of the glorified violence perpetuated as ‘entertainment’ by big studios,”Andru explained.
In the run up to Canada’s cannabis legalization in 2018, Andru restarted the story with the 40th anniversary releases of Captain Cannabis No. 1 and No. 2: Roll Me Another One and Roll Me Another One Just Like The Other One.
Heading into Cannada’s second canniversary, fans new and old will soon be reading a new adventure.
“I’m deep in the production on Captain Cannabis No. 3, which is a piece of the puzzle that starts bridging the original No. 1 and No. 2 with ‘420,’ which will be folded into the Captain Cannabis series making for one big story that spans time and space,” Andru said.
“There’s a surprise special feature this time around I think is over-the-top cool but that’s all I’m going to say about it.
“Captain Cannabis No. 3 is going to be a special release, but no spoilers.”