photo & text by nacrowe
MYCELIUM WASONII (ANTHOLOGY EDITIONS, 2021) by BRIAN BLOMERTH is one of the more UNIQUE graphic novels i have come across in recent years. its narrative centers around VALENTINA WASSON, the pediatrician wife of R GORDON WASSON, and her influence on her husband's PIONEERING investigative work related to PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOMS. being RUSSIAN, she was raised with knowledge related to which FUNGI was edible and which was not and turned her husband on to the topic. this led them both to research the history of, including corresponding with ENGLISH writer ROBERT GRAVES, and popularize the traditional applications of MUSHROOMS in world cultures, including INTENSE PSYCHOACTIVE experiences. such revolutionary research during the first half of the 20th century even landed VALENTINA on the cover of LIFE magazine before her death in 1958 from CANCER. the WASSON name was proposed as the name of a new species, but such was overruled.
in a sense, MYCELIUM WASONII is a cultural correction to the historical record that seeks to give credit to the influence of VALENTINA in the field of scientific research related to PSYCHEDELIC FUNGI, which is still very much a MODERN concern given advancements in the PALLIATIVE application of such. as is the case with other NATURAL PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES, much MISINFORMATION and CULTURAL FABRICATION is rampant. in terms of the actual narrative at hand in MYCELIUM WASONII, the message transmitted is a SOBER and ANALYTICAL as a couple that connected over the topic sought to present investigative data for the public to utilize and scrutinize.
in artistic terms, BLOMERTH presents ANTHROPOMORPHIC hound-like creatures in a plainly drawn but vividly colored FANTASY world. the panels are very much IMPRESSIVE in how BIZARRE and PHANTASMAGORICAL the visions of the couple were under the influence of MAGIC MUSHROOMS. some panels are WARPED, DISSOLVED or turned over and the use of color is both STRIKING and BEAUTIFUL. BLOMERTH does such an bold job of showcasing multiple HALLUCINOGENIC VISIONS that it almost overshadows the narrative. what grounds everything is the sense that such trips are done under the guise of a local guide and that they showcase the INTENSE INTERCONNECTEDNESS of us to each other and the NATURAL ORDER. rather than aiding us to escape reality, MYCELIUM WASONII seems to espouse that said visions are a portal to a deeper understanding of the one we are all already bounded by. its an INTRIGUING story of historical value that is expertly executed and quite the visual / literary achievement. definitely worth checking out, even if you are a square like me relative to the topic of PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES write large.
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