Zine Review: Tobacco

ZINES_tobaccoComic, Ben O’Neil, imbenoneil.tumblr.com, $7

I’m trying to quit smoking and this com­ic helped. The lack of nicotine is driving me crazy and making me lazy, but it is teaching me an important lesson: life is not so easy and a drug—even a legal over-the-counter remedy like cigarettes — can’t mend your problems. While they may be psychologically helpful, the haz­ardous health effects just aren’t worth it — and that is what this comic taught me.

I had to take a break from writing just now to coughing up some phlegm. It re­minded me a lot of the main character of this comic—a walking ball of tobacco-produced hork. I’m thankful that my cells are not so mutated as to bestow sentient life onto my bodily products, but if I keep up the habit, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if that happened. In this comic it is a logical consequence of tobacco use that a phlegm-ball would grow legs and walk away once spat up. And if a nico­tine-obsessed thug should capture him, tie him up and torture him, flay his flank, roll up and smoke pieces of his skin, that would appear to me a natural side-effect of cigarette psychosis.

This comic is a surreal take on tobac­co, it reads like the dream life of a pack-a-day smoker. It is weird and violent and gross and death-obsessed, but also funny and illustrated in a charming cartoon style. I wasn’t kidding when I said it helped to scare me straight: if it weren’t for this comic I’d still be hacking darts. This zine is more powerful than the patch. (Neal Armstrong)