Let me start by saying that I really loved “Tales of the Buddha Before He Got Enlightened“. Clearly Alan Grant & Jon Haward were always going to cross the line with a comic book in which Buddha swears, gets into fights, trips out on weed and basically ‘screws’ around, but I think they also took the very safe view that generally Buddhists don’t take hostages. In fact, when you think about it, Buddhists are probably the safest people to offend – over the years I’ve seen some hateful stuff written about them, especially in Christian bookstores – and never once have I heard a story of a devout Buddhist kicking off and laying into someone for religious intolerance.
Not that Buddha is the only religious icon lampooned in this book. Jesus is a hippy, constantly complaining that his Dad watches everything that he does, but still finding time to grab a guitar and sing “It’s Raining Men”. The Greek gods get a grilling (again, safe territory there). There are also guest appearances from Merlin (representing the pagans), and the Osmonds (high-five for the Mormons). Islam is oh, so safely skirted around – Buddha tries to put the ‘fun’ rather than the ‘mental’ into fundamentalism, but doesn’t mention or depict anyone by name – the writers are clearly crazy, but not stupid!
In essence, the book is a collection of 2-5 page stories chronicling the adventures of Buddha, as he travels through foreign lands and different times: drinking reindeer’s pee in Lapland to get the ultimate ‘high’, has sex with Cleopatra in a bath of milk, and even sings alongside Elvis.
I really liked it, and it made me laugh and smile in equal amounts. Do I think any less of anyone’s religion? Oh, course not. And I’ve got some really good Christian friend who would read this & laugh, and not be offended. Clearly, there are some parts of America where they will probably queue up to burn copies, but hey – those are probably the same people who think Jesus was white with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Take a deep breath, push the boat out, and give this a read…