Some of history’s most innovative comics have been inspired by drugs. You could make a similar argument for music, poetry, movies, and practically any other entertainment media you’d care to mention.
However, Captain Caned doesn’t count amongst these works, despite making a good crack at transferring a hallucinogenic experience onto paper.
Perhaps its biggest fault is that it takes what its stoner characters believe to be an epic quest – a trip to the pub – and tries to show the journey there and back again from the characters’ point of view. Unlike the quests undertaken by other great substance abusers – Withnail and I springs immediately to mind – nothing interesting or memorable happens.
Perhaps this is the point. Drug users tend to internalise, focus on the minutiae, fail to grasp what’s going on around them, and generally consider what’s happening to them as far more interesting and hilarious than it really is. This story captures that well, but it doesn’t really help it become any more entertaining.
The art is a mixed bag. The hallucinogenic style is, in places, very well executed, bringing trippy distortions and brain-melting visuals to the fore. Elsewhere, however, the art becomes incoherent and it’s difficult to follow what’s going on.
Very like a drug-fuelled trip, the book has its ups and downs, and perhaps believes itself to be a bit more interesting than it actually is. There are sparks of quality but it wasn’t enough to hold my attention throughout.
When it comes to the crunch, someone else’s journey to the pub just isn’t that gripping, even if they are tripping so hard they don’t really appreciate what’s going on.