Utopiates Volume 1
Published By: 01 Publishing
Story By: Josh Finney
Art By: Josh Finney & Kat Rocha
Created By: Josh Finney & Kat Rocha
Hypothetically speaking, if I were to ever take illegal drugs (and, of course, I never would) Josh Finney & Kat Rocha’s Utopiates highlights the type of stuff I hope I would stay away from. It’s the “near future” and science has created a drug, utopiates (utopia + opiate), that injects another’s mental imprint (their “soul”) onto the user. Basically, utopiates change the personality of the user, temporarily, to match those of the donor. So, if someone were to inject themselves with the personality of, let’s say a mass murdering terrorist then, well, let’s just say that’s part of the fun.
Utopiates tells the tale of three individuals who are addicted to “injecting souls” into their systems and the one thing they all share, their dealer. Beneath the art, under the plot, and in between the dialogue, Utopiates is about what happens after rock bottom and brings to the front everything we try and deny about human behavior and our basic nature. I am not going to go too far into the actual plot of Utopiates because all of the stories are connected and I do not want to accidentally spoil one tale as I recant another, and, it really is difficult to explain the stories without taking the fun of reading it yourself away. What I will say is this, if, like me, you have never felt run down, desperate, depressed, lost, or hapless then Utopiates will bring you closer to understanding the overall apathy that comes with bottoming out.
Josh Finney’s writing is as real as it gets. Every character, from the main to the bit players, have fully developed personalities (even when someone else), back stories, and lives. Finney doesn’t waste time with the usual drug tale tropes we are all used to in media. These are not good people with flaws that the reader is supposed to like in spite of their actions but rather people whose decisions have real consequences. If you are looking for a book that glorifies drug use, one filled with “stoner humor,” or even something that preaches the freedom drug use can bring the mind then Utopiates is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a book that takes drug use along the same path as technology, and the dangers in both, then read Utopiates.
The art of Utopiates combines Finney’s own art and that of his co-creator, Kat Rocha, and ranges from dystopian futuristic to sterile (not a commentary on the art, the scene took place in a doctor’s office) and realistic. If I had one complaint about the art, and I have to stretch for this, it’s that the faces are too good. Surrounded Sean Murphy-ish scenery all of the faces in Utopiates jump out with how clear and detailed they are. It becomes difficult to think of them as characters in a book and not someone you could reach though the page and slap some sense into. The faces make Utopiates almost too real, and that is probably the point.
Utopiates Volume 1 is not the usual “drugs are ok” comic book we’ve grown accustomed too. Whereas the glorification and promotion of drugs used to be taboo, it’s now so commonplace that when a story comes along that refuses to paint the silver lining, it’s actually refreshing. Volume 1 ends with more to tell and Finney and Rocha better get to work soon on Volume 2 before I drink the memory cells away.