My friend and neighbor Ziggy Marley isn’t just a son of a musical legend, or a 5-time Grammy winner himself. He’s also a real comic book fan. So when he decided to create his own comic book character, he enlisted the help of the talented team of Joe Casey and Jim Mahfood to write and draw his concept.
Here’s a good interview with Ziggy from 109:
At Wondercon, we had glimmers of hope for the Green Lantern movie — but there was another green superhero being unveiled. We were lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Ziggy Marley about his new superhero, Marijuanaman.
Regular humans’ genetic makeup is built out of DNA — but Marijuanaman’s genes are made out of THC. And he gets his power from one plant in particular. Can you guess what it is?
Spoilers and cannabis ahead…
Not surprisingly, Marijuanaman is being released by Image Comics on 4/20, featuring a script by Joe Casey and art by Jim Mahfood.
It’s the story of Sedona, an alien who travels to Earth from the planet Yelram. Sedona finds that he has a particular affinity with Earth’s biosphere, and then he makes a connection with one plant in particular. But he’s faced with an evil corporation that wants to sell a synthetic marijuana substitute called GanjaRex — and the corporation sends a deadly monster named Cash-Money to destroy Marijuanaman and his nature-loving friends.
We caught up with Ziggy Marley at Wondercon, and he told us more about how this epic superhero story came to be.
The idea of Marijuanaman came from learning more about cannabis, and the fact that this plant "has millions of uses beyond just smoking," says Marley. And he started to wonder why the world isn’t taking advantage of this versatile plant. "It’s beneficial to the environment and less destructive than some of the things we’re doing now," he adds — for example, you could use hemp-derived products in place of a lot of oil-based plastics and other stuff.
So I said, let me create a superhero. Let me create someone who can shed another light on the plant and put it in a different perspective.
And he says that Marijuanaman’s planet faces an ecological crisis because the THC that’s in the atmosphere is being depleted "similar to our own Ozone layer." So Marijuanaman is sent on a journey to Earth to find a solution, and when he arrives here, "he feels a connection to this plant." He joins a community of people who live in harmony with the environment and teach him more about the plant. And he gets power from marijuana — just like Popeye with his spinach.
It’s very important to Marley that Marijuanaman gets his power from marijuana without smoking it — he’s not a smoker. "His friend [Smokestack] smokes and he gets a contact high." Marley stresses: "Nobody can say he’s a bad influence because he smokes. He doesn’t smoke. But he still gets his power from marijuana anyway."
When Marijuanaman encounters the plant, it empowers him and "his connection with it is immediate." But even though he gets superpowers, he’s not violent — he has a philosophy of pacifism, "that sometimes is contrary to what we here would want him to be. We would want him to just beat the bad guy all the time."
Marley says there are a lot of industries out there that don’t want marijuana to be legal — including pharmaceutical companies like the one in his comic book that are trying to sell "fake marijuana" and synethetic cannabinoids.
Not to mention the alcohol and tobacco industries, which don’t want the competition. Marley is very passionate about the potential of cannabis to transform the environment and the economy, and replace oil-based byproducts.
"Hemp and other alternative energies could be used, but they don’t want to do that. They’re okay with the risk of… destroying the environment to have oil. They’re not okay with the risk of somebody smoking weed."
We asked Marley if he’d like to see more Marijuanaman stuff come out, like a television show or movies, or action figures. And he was definitely into the idea. "We want to use him to just shed a light for this world to see, for the common people to see. Somebody to speak the truth about the plant. Somebody who stands up for the plant. And still, he doesn’t smoke." Even though Marijanaman’s sidekick is named Smokestack, "He’s not promoting you smoking."
Adds Marley: "I want him to be a hero just like Superman, Batman, [or] any one of those guys. Everybody can love him. Kids can love him. Just because he’s called Marijuanaman doesn’t mean kids can’t love him."