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Ziggy releases comic ahead of 'Wild and Free' album - 'Marijuanaman'

Published:Sunday | May 1, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

There are many sides to singer, musician, activist, environmentalist and family man, Ziggy Marley.

Last month, he showed the world a new side of himself and his creativity with the release of his comic book Marijuanaman.

Jim Mahfood is the illustrator, Joe Casey the writer, while the concept was developed by Marley, who went further to oversee the project.

The comic was released by Image Comics, one of the largest comic-book publishers in North America, on April 20.

Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner via telephone recently, Marley confessed to being a big comic fan all his life.

Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Spiderman make up some of his favourite superheroes.

With the use of a vivid imagination, Marley combined his love for comics with his need to educate the world on the many uses of marijuana, to form Marijuanaman.

"I kinda started learning more about the marijuana plant, and it's basically used for more than smoking. It strikes me as to why society is not utilising it as a natural resource, for its industrial uses, to make clothes, for nutrition among an array of other uses. All we see is the smoking aspect. I'm trying to find a way to expose the idea of its many uses in a way that's not preachy, but in an entertaining way," explained Marley.

According to the United Nations, cannabis "is the most widely used illicit substance in the world".

With Marijuanaman, Marley makes the attempt to subvert society's negative view of the plant, making it the superhero and not the villain.

Exposing truth

"It's about exposing the truth, so that people will stop demonising it and see it for its medical, industrial, energy and other purposes," Marley said.

The plot for Marijuanaman surrounds the main figure or hero who comes from a planet which is severely environmentally damaged, similar, Marley says, to our own reality. "Marijuanaman's people send him out to try find a solution to their problem, and he lands on this other planet in a marijuana field and feels an immediate connection to the plant," Marley explains.

Adopted by the community on that planet, Marijuanaman soon finds himself in conflict with a pharmaceutical company that wants to destroy all the Marijuana. He has to fight the pharmaceutical company while still trying to save his home planet.

Geared towards an adult audience, Marley says the comic has a strong message and beautiful artwork. Since its release, he says the response from persons has been good.

Though Marley is a firm supporter of the call to legalise marijuana in places like Jamaica, the singer's comic doesn't aim at telling people to smoke 'herb'.

This might not be Marley's last foray into comics either.

"I think it's just another avenue for creativity. I have plenty ideas all the time, so you never know where they might go. I'm going to do a few more of these Marijuanaman comic books, try to establish him as a real superhero."

In fact, Marley has already found another 'avenue' for his creativity to flourish.

Other projects

Marley is currently involved in the making of the latest Bob Marley documentary. Titled Marley, the documentary is expected for release in the fall, and is directed by Kevin MacDonald.

The documentary is produced by Tuff Gong Pictures and Shangri-La Entertainment.

MacDonald won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature with his 2000 film One Day in September, and was also behind 2009's State of Play and The Last King of Scotland (2006).

"I was involved in it deeply, which is the first I've been involved in one of the documentaries like dis. It's trying to show him (Bob Marley) in a different light, from the people who knew him best," said Marley.

While Marley has been delving into other exploits like his comic book and the documentary, his love for music hasn't diminished.

In 2009, he released a children's album Family Time, featuring Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Judah Marley, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Toots Hibbert, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell and others. The album won a Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children. Now the singer is gearing up for his next album, Wild And Free, which is scheduled for release on June 14.

"This (Wild And Free) is a reggae album, I like spiritual music, not just dance music, so it will be more spiritual this time," he explained.

The album will feature guest appearances from rapper Heavy D. Marley's 20-year-old son Daniel Marley on one track, and actor Woody Harrelson on the title track, Wild And Free.