It wasn’t so long ago that comic books were perceived as cult objects that only certain people dared or even wanted to read. But in the past fifteen years, possibly starting with the release of Sam Raimi's Spiderman film or due to word-of-mouth, they have taken over pop culture. The bookstore shelves, which used to be only frequented by die-hard fans, are now also filled with people who are curious to read the stories their favorite movies are based on, or who just want to find a new obsession.
With the recent release of Scott Derrikson’s Dr. Strange, there’s been a surging interest for trippy art that melds with bizarre storylines that make no sense unless you allow yourself to go with the wave. Some of these graphic novels are stand-alone stories, while some are versions or continuations of character journeys from way back. Many are children of an era, mainly the seventies, while others are brand new tales that prove psychedelic Sci-Fi never left the building.
Written by Matt Fraction with beautiful illustrations from Christian Ward, this retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey is set in space, in a universe almost devoid of men. The three main characters, Odyssia, Ene, and Gamem are warrior women trying to get home after the hundred-year-old battle of Troiiaa. But it seems the Gods, particularly Hera, are hell-bent on keeping them wandering the galaxy.
Originally published in 1972, by celebrated writer and artist Phillipe Druillet, Lone Sloane is a hero imbued with powers who roams through space and different dimensions. He encounters a host of bizarre characters such as intergalactic pirates, robots, strange dark deities, and other bizarre creatures. Druillet has often said his aesthetic is based on H.P. Lovecraft.
This DC and Vertigo character comes from the mind of one of the men who brought us Spiderman and Dr. Strange, Steve Ditko. The premise revolves around Rac Shade, a fugitive from another dimension trying to clear his name. In the nineties Peter Milligan and illustrator Chris Baccalo brought him into newer storylines. In this reimagining Shade has taken on several identities, including becoming a woman at one point.
Another psychedelic offering from Peter Milligan with his usual collaborator, artist Brendan McCarthy, this series is at times hard to follow due to several narratives, perspectives, and realities working at the same time. It begins at an Indian restaurant with an exchange between a regular man and a waiter, Raju Dhawan. Suddenly they are propelled into futuristic India. Featuring random appearances by Rudyard Kipling, a Karmanaut, the Goddess of death, and several other bizarre entities, this is sure to be the trippiest read you’ll find.
This trilogy by Brian Phillipson and Phil Phillipson, illustrated by Alex Niño, centers around a dyslexic boy and his dog who might just be God. Together the duo must try to save the world. Like the other titles in this list, instead of approaching these stories like you would a literary novel, think of it as a visual form of experimental poetry. Not everything might make sense, or need to, but if you come to it with an open mind, you can expect to be entertained and washed over with the psychedelics.
Time travel, meditation, violence, and psychic oppression, Grant Morrison’s story is about a team like no other. A counterculture assassin, a transgender shaman, a hooligan from Liverpool, a traveler from the future, and an NYPD cop must protect humanity from aliens who wish to enslave the planet.
Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the team that created Preacher, have also created this story set in a world where the CIA needs to monitor superheroes to avoid cataclysmic repercussions. This task force includes a veteran from the Falklands War and a Scottish conspiracy theorist who has unfinished business with supernatural beings.
This title by Fabian Rangel and Alexis Ziritt takes on a bizarre journey with Captain Peligro and his crew as they reach the unknown corners of space seeking revenge. This collection is sure to trip you out with eyeball popping graphics and colors.
Jeff Lemire’s story is like Wall-E but with the volume turned to 11. A robot boy and his friends desperately try to survive in a land where androids are outlawed and hunted down. This is a different take from the usual man vs. machine premise, where the narrative transforms into an interplanetary journey beautifully painted with watercolor art.
Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine deliver a trippy Sci-Fi set in the Cold War, sort of. The main character is a man of African heritage who grows up as an orphan in the USSR and is sent on a dangerous mission to unexplored space territory. Something happens along the way that grants him powers. He returns to Earth thirty years after to a world he no longer recognizes and is perceived as a deity by those he encounters.