The Truth Behind “The Truth Behind Blood And Drugs”

It’s not every day that a long-form comics project (or, if you like, a “graphic novel”) gets its own separately-published postscript, much less one that takes the form of an eight-page mini comic presented in full color whereas the book it refers back to is in black and white — but we live in unusual times, as evidenced by the fact that I’m even reviewing an eight-page mini in the first place.

That being said, fellow Twin Cities resident Lance Ward has lived through much stranger times than these during his periods of addiction and subsequent recovery, and some of those are chronicled in The Truth Behind Blood And Drugs, the rather quickly-issued “epilogue” of sorts to last year’s celebrated Blood And Drugs that comes our way courtesy of the same publisher, J.T. Yost’s Birdcage Bottom Books. And while I’m not prepared to go so far as to call it an essential item to read and/or own, it’s nevertheless a fascinating and even rather harrowing one that fleshes out the “real life” stories and scenarios that formed the backbone of its metaphorical “mothership” — and seeing as how that was precisely its remit, you’ve gotta congratulate Ward on a job well done. Or, more accurately, another job well done.

I went into Blood And Drugs figuring it was a work of memoir at the very least, maybe even outright autobio, and came out of it feeling that assumption to be justified — but, as already mentioned, I’m from Ward’s neck of the woods myself, so I recognized most of the haunts in St. Paul’s admirably sketchy (though it’s depressingly and quickly becoming gentrified thanks to the presence of a new sports stadium) Midway neighborhood that were thinly-disguised to protect the, uhhhmmm, entirely innocent? A reader from somewhere — hell, anywhere — else could, and probably would, be left wondering how much of the story was “real” and how much was “made up” to a far greater degree than I was, though, hence this comic. But a funny thing happened as I perused its assemblage of rapid-fire, watercolored single-page strips — I found out that certain of my assumptions made an ass of me, at the very least, while “u” remained unscathed. So much, then, for that old adage.

I guess what I’m easing my ego into accepting is that I sort of “got it wrong” in my initial review of Ward’s equally-initial comic. Not in any highly-appreciable way that would either reverse or outright negate my conclusions about it, but I do feel kind of bad for presenting it as entirely a work of non-fiction when this addendum makes clear that while the general character and tone of the book were real enough, many more of the specific details were tinkered with at the margins than I presumed them to be.

What it also does, though, is elucidate Ward’s reasoning for this, and the end result hatches something of a paradox — you understand why he fictionalized certain things, but end up with an even greater appreciation for the book’s authenticity as a result. I’m still puzzled as to how those two things could occur simultaneously, but what the hell — I’m not gonna argue with it, because anything that makes a damn good work of art seem even better is worth being grateful for, is it not?

And trust me when I say that I am grateful for this mini and for the added layers of understanding it affords readers of both it and, especially, its progenitor. You can — and will — be mightily impressed by Blood And Drugs without reading this, but you’re guaranteed to be even more impressed with it if you do.

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The Truth Behind Blood And Drugs is available for $2.00 (or just $1.00 if you buy the book itself) from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/products/the-truth-behind-blood-and-drugs

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

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