Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tales of The Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened)

Are you looking for something irreverent, humorous, and for good measure, sure to offend someone! If so then you need to read Tales of The Buddha (Before He Got Enlightened) written by Alan Grant, art by Jon Haward, published by Renegade, 80 pgs. This book collects all the Buddha stories originally run in Wasted!, a magazine/webzine focusing on alternative music and culture.

Do you remember your youth before you became an adult? Do you remember those heady days of endless parties, illicit substances, girls, boys, and making bad decision after bad decision before you (hopefully) grew up? Well, it turns out Buddha, before he became the significant religious icon we all know him as today, was a young man too doing all the things that we did (still do). He just did it with other famous religious, mythical people, and pop icons like Jesus, Hercules, Merlin, and Elvis. These are some of the stories of Buddha’s youth as he sowed his wild oats, smoked some fine substances, and tried to find the wildest, easiest ladies he could.

When I say this collection is irreverent, I mean it is irreverent. Alan Grant pulls no punches making fun of major religions, mythical figures, and our pop star obsessed culture. Even with that, Grant is never aiming to offend, just entertain, and he does so in grand fashion. It’s hard not to laugh when Buddha loses a bet with Plato and has to clean out the Augean Stables for Hercules or when he introduces Cleopatra and the Pharaoh to some fine coca. The stories are all 1-2 pages in length so the jokes come fast and furious. If Bill and Ted had an excellent adventure with Buddha instead of Lincoln this would be their story.

Haward’s art is playful and fun throughout the book. Because the original stories were published over a period of time, you can see Haward’s art get looser and his composition skilled get better over time. The art is cartoony in a Mad Magazine sort of way so that it’s silly but not ridiculous. Even with the limited page count for each story, Haward does a great job of setting up panels and pages so it’s fun to look at and read. To his credit, Haward doesn’t repeat panel/page layouts which keeps everything fresh too.

Tales of The Buddha (Before he got enlightened) is fun loving, flippant look at religion, fame, and the mythology of old. It is mocking and crude but never offensive (unless you’re sensitive) and a great way to pass an hour. If you want a book that harkens back to the original comix of long ago or you just want a book that makes fun of everything everyone else thinks is sacred then this is the book for you.

You can read the first story here and visit Jon Haward at the same time!

The book does come with a warning so I should pass it along: This book is intended for open minded ADULTS ONLY and is not recommended for anyone easily offended by strong language, sex, cartoon violence, drug related imagery and references, or anyone who takes their religious beliefs very seriously. This is a humour strip and pokes fun at everyone and everything along the way. If you think you may be offended do not buy this book.


  1. A warning that's very helpful who seek their own offense so they can complain about it.

  2. Left out "to those" after helpful.