underground comix at comixjointarchiveswebcomixfeaturesmarketplaceforumsearchmickeybacktosection go to sample pagesgo to next comicblank sidebarblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickgo to head comix samplesgo to hear the sound of my feet walking  blankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickblankbrickgo to head comix samplesgo to hear the sound of my feet walking  blankbrickblankbrick review-ugheaderheaderblankrightheader spacerlink to abclink to d-efghijkllink to malpha nopqrstlink to u-v-wlink to x-y-zalpha blank right
gotoalternativetopgotosmallpressgotobooksmags
cover
 
solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 7
Neurocomics
_
 
If you like this comic,
you might also enjoy
changes 3
Changes #3
REVIEW SCORE 9
Only Printing / March, 1979 / 36 pages / Last Gasp Eco-Funnies
_
In the realm of underground comics, Neurocomics is considered by many as nothing but a blip on the radar, a $15 comic book with the name of psychedelic drug evangelist Timothy Leary emblazoned on the cover. For some collectors, the book seems to offer little more than a long-winded, confusing and obscure dissertation based on pseudo-science about the human brain. I can't entirely refute that perception, but I can contend that the doctrine and concepts presented in Neurocomics should not be dismissed so easily.

Of course, Timothy Leary is univerally regarded as one of the leaders of the 1960s drug culture, who coined the phrase "tune in, turn on and drop out" and influenced millions of people to take psychoactive drugs for the first time. But by 1979, when Neurocomics was published, he was no longer widely proselytizing the use of psychedelics for everyone. Instead, Leary was spreading the word about his eight-circuit model of consciousness, which proposes that the human brain and nervous system are comprised of eight circuits capable of producing eight distinct levels of consciousness, four of which are essential to the long-term survival of the human race (perhaps in another form of life).

The model is far too complex to completely explained here, but in essence Leary believed that there are eight circuits (or systems) of consciousness that are evenly divided between the two halves of the human brain. The lower-level circuits (the "Larval Circuits") are located in the left hemisphere and are commonly utilized by all adults. They are attuned to basic human functions like subsistence, communication, emotion, sexuality, politics, and morality. The upper-level circuits (the "Stellar Circuits") reside in the right hemisphere and are much more cerebral, focusing on aesthetics, euphoria, self-analysis, philosophy, spirituality, and oneness with the universe.

Leary believed that the Stellar Circuits remained essentially dormant in the human brain until the 20th century, when they began to be activated by our DNA, which "contains the blueprint design for billions of years of evolution." Leary believed that Stellar Circuits offered an expansion of consciousness that would lead to future scientific and social progress, including the migration of human life away from Earth and towards extraterrestial existence. Leary proposed that some people might activate their Stellar Circuits through spiritual endeavors and advanced technologies, including meditation, yoga, psychoactive drugs and other methods.

Neurocomics provides a detailed yet concise summary of Leary's model, which was first presented in its fully developed state in his book Exo-Psychology (1977). To this day, many advocates of this model believe it provides a stable framework for mapping the advancement of their life experiences. Several esteemed authors expounded on and refined the eight-circuit model, including Robert Anton Wilson in his landmark books Cosmic Trigger (1977), Prometheus Rising (1983), and Quantum Psychology (1990). Together, Leary and Wilson promoted the idea of the human race living in outer space and formed the anagram SMI²LE, which is presented (for the first time?) in Neurocomics. SMI²LE stands for space migration (SM), intelligence increase (I²) and life extension (LE).
_
Neurocomics was written by George DiCaprio based on Timothy Leary's extensive ruminations on the topic. Pete Von Sholly contributed the artwork, which ain't bad considering the vast majority of the book is comprised of the written word. Von Sholly is an accomplished illustrator who went on to produce storyboards for over 100 feature films, including Nightmare on Elm Street (III and IV), The Mask, The Green Mile, and The Shawshank Redemption. DiCaprio has written and produced a multitude of underground comics and entertained many counterculture celebrities while helping raise his son, Leonardo, in Los Angeles.
_
_
_
Von Sholly and Leary
_
Von Sholly and Leary, 1978
_
photo copyright Pete Von Sholly
_
Though a 32-page book cannot possibly convey the full complexity of an elaborate concept like the eight-circuit model of consciousness, Neurocomics provides a concise primer on the subject. In today's internet world, anyone who reads the book will certainly be prepared to pursue endless research on the topic of the human brain and the fascinating world of Timothy Leary.
_
keyline
_
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
Last Gasp printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
_
In addition to developing the eight-circuit model of consciousness, which provides a pathway for humans to live extraterrestially, Leary also wrote about colonizing outer space in Terra II: A Way Out (1974). His plan was to launch 5,000 physically fit and highly intelligent individuals on a space ship (Starseed 1) equipped with luxurious amenities. Needless to say, this never happened. In the 1980s, Leary began to embrace NASA scientist Gerard O'Neill's more realistic plans to construct and launch orbiting mini-Earths using existing technology and raw materials from the Moon. Hey, that sounds good to me! But no, that pipedream never made it into the federal budget, as the U.S. government needed to spend trillions on wars, weapons and anti-missile technology.
_
COMIC CREATORS:
Tim Kummero - 1, 2-34 (inks, lettering), 36
Timothy Leary - 2-34 (script inspiration)
Pete Von Sholly - 2-34 (art, script collaboration)
George DiCaprio - 2-34 (script collaboration)
_
keyline
_
The following summary of Timothy Leary is provided because he was one of the most intriguing historical figures of the 20th century and of great interest to scholars of the counterculture in the 1960s and '70s, which includes scholars of underground comics.
_
In the first 39 years of his life, Dr. Timothy Leary had become a very successful psychologist (earning his Ph.D. at the University of California in 1950) and a faculty member at Harvard University. In the summer of 1960, Leary traveled to Mexico and (after several shots of tequila) ingested psilocybin mushrooms for the first time. Years later, Leary stated that he "learned more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than... in the preceding fifteen years of studying and doing research in psychology."
_
Upon returning to Harvard in the fall of 1960, Leary and his associates began a research program known as the Harvard Psilocybin Project. The goal was to analyze the effects of psilocybin on human subjects using a synthesized version of the drug, which was legal at the time. The experiment began by treating alcoholism and reforming criminals at Concord Prison, but later included giving LSD to (according to Leary) 300 professors, graduate students, writers and philosophers. Leary reported that 75% of the test subjects reported the experience as one of the most educational and revealing experiences of their lives.
_
By 1962, Leary and Harvard associate Richard Alpert founded the International Foundation for Internal Freedom in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their foundation attracted many people who wanted to participate in the drug experiments conducted therein, but Leary could not accomodate everyone. In order to satisfy the curiosity of those who were turned away, a black market for psychedelic drugs developed near the Harvard campus. Not long after that, Harvard's administration realized what was going on and both Leary and Alpert were fired.
_
In 1964, Leary co-authored The Psychedelic Experience with Ralph Metzner, in which they wrote: "A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of space-time dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Most recently [such experiences] have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key - it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures."
_
Years later, Leary joked about the potential side effects from using LSD: "There are three side effects of acid: enhanced long-term memory, decreased short-term memory, and I forget the third."
_
In 1966 and '67, Leary toured college campuses around the country to present a multi-media performance called "the Death of the Mind," which artistically replicated the LSD experience. He also published Start Your Own Religion (1967), which encouraged people to establish their own cults with their own paradigms.
_
One of Leary's most notable appearances occurred in January, 1967 at the Human Be-In in San Francisco, where he advised a throng of 20,000+ hippies in Golden Gate Park to "turn on, tune in, drop out." The phrase, which Leary had coined the year before, became his most famous quote and one of the most recognized catchphrases for the entire hippie generation ("make love, not war" and "power to the people" being other ones). The Human Be-In featured bands like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, reknown beat poets, free food (courtesy of the Diggers) and free acid (thanks to Owsley Stanley). It led to similar events being held around the country and the world.
_
_
_
Leary and Ginsberg
_
Leary and Allen Ginsberg at the
Human Be-In event, 1967

_
At the age of 47, Leary had evolved into a notorious counterculture figure, which naturally made him a target of the U.S. government. In December of 1968, Leary was arrested for possessing two roaches of marijuana, which he claimed were planted by the arresting officer. In January of 1970, he was sentenced to ten years in prison (for two roaches). When Leary arrived in prison, he was given psychological tests that were used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed many of the tests himself (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Test"), Leary answered them in a way that made him appear to be a very conventional person with a great interest in forestry and gardening. As a result, Leary was assigned to work as a gardener in a low-security prison, California Men's Colony-West at San Luis Obispo. On a September night in 1970, Leary climbed a tree in the exercise yard, jumped onto the roof of the cellblock, shimmied along a telephone wire until he was over the barb-wire fence, and dropped to the highway below.
_
After escaping from prison, Leary and his wife Rosemary were smuggled out of the country and into Algeria by the radical activist organization The Weathermen (for a fee of $25,000). The couple briefly hooked up with Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panther party's embassy in Algeria, but Cleaver was so dominant that it felt like being back in prison. So the couple fled to Switzerland in 1971, but their situation didn't improve much, as their initial host was exiled French arms dealer Michel Hauchard, a ruthless bastard who stole much of Leary's $250,000 advance from Bantam for his book Confessions of a Hope Fiend (1973). After escaping Hauchard's clutches, Rosemary got fed up with all the melodrama (and the drugs, booze and Leary's philandering) and broke up with Leary in 1972.
_
Back in the states, President Nixon kept trying to bring Leary back to America to face justice, but Switzerland's government refused to extradite him. Leary's two years of fugitive life in Europe had many elements of glamour and excitement. He befriended English author Brian Barritt, who was no stranger to psychedelic drugs and legal trouble himself. Barritt flew to Switzerland on Leary's request to help Leary eradicate a bad case of writer's block. Together, they explored dark alleyways of mysticism and the occult and even experimented a little too much with heroin. They kicked the drug after about a month.
_
The German band Ash Ra Tempel heard about Leary being in Switzerland and wanted to collaborate with him on a musical project. Leary and Barritt had been working together on the Leary's model for circuits of consciousness (there were only seven at the time), and suggested to Ash Ra Tempel that they make an album about the different states of mind they had been experiencing. In August of 1972, with everyone tripping on acid, they recorded the kaleidoscopic, mercurial album Seven Up, which conveys musical interpretations of the Larval Circuits on side one and the Stellar Circuits on side two. (There are several trippy musical passages on the album, which you can hear via the link provided above.)
_
In 1972 Leary also met French-born socialite Joanna Harcourt-Smith, who he married at a hotel two weeks after they were introduced. In January of 1973, Leary and Joanna traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, where Leary thought he would be safe because Afghanistan did not have an extradition treaty with the United States. But Nixon, about to enter his second term, was tired of waiting for a legal opportunity to bring Leary back home and back to prison. Federal agents were waiting for Leary and Joanna at Kabul Airport, where they seized the couple and detained them for four days (in atrocious conditions) before flying them back to America. Returning to the United States after more than two years in exile, Leary was jailed and held on five million dollars bail, the highest in U.S. history to that point.
_
_
_
_
Tim and Joanna
_
Leary and Harcourt-Smith, 1973
_
Leary was placed in solitary confinement for ten days at Folsom Prison in California, next to the cell where serial killer Charles Manson was serving out his life sentence. The original sentence of ten years for possessing two joints in 1968 had now erupted into the threat of a 95-year sentence for drug possession, escaping prison, and conspiracy to distribute LSD on a global scale. The trumped-up conspiracy charges were eventually dropped, but Leary still faced 20-25 years in prison.

It was around this time that many underground comic artists collaborated on El Perfecto Comics, which donated the proceeds of sales to the Timothy Leary Defense Fund. Those funds were sorely needed, but Leary also crafted a way to reduce his legal expenses and his time in prison. In 1974 he feigned cooperation with the FBI's investigation of the Weathermen and radical attorneys to reduce his sentence. He would later claim no one was ever prosecuted based on any information he gave to the FBI, a claim that was supported by the Weathermen in an open letter they sent to "The Friends of Timothy Leary": "The Weather Underground, the radical left organization responsible for his escape, was not impacted by his testimony."
_
While Leary's testimony did provide federal agencies with intelligence on radical organizations and drug scenes, very little of it was unknown to the government. However, Leary's stance with the feds became a controversial issue within the counterculture. Many of his oldest friends, including Ken Kesey, Paul Krassner, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Rubin, and Richard Alpert (now known as Ram Dass), were openly contemptuous of Harcourt-Smith, believing that she had "led him by his dick" (as Krassner put it) into serving as a traitor against the left wing. These feelings were emphasized at a rally denouncing Leary organized by Kesey at Stanford University.
_
Leary's testimony earned him a reduced sentence, but he still endured 22 federal, state prisons and rural jails over three and a half years. He was released from prison on April 21, 1976 by Governor Jerry Brown. With his wounding of the left wing still burning in the flesh of old associates, Leary contemplated a return to mainstream academia, but his applications were ignored by university administrators. For a while after his prison release, Leary wallowed in alcoholism and fought bitterly with Joanna. He divorced Joanna after she became pregnant with what may or may not have been his child (she claimed she'd fucked another man on the day of conception; Leary refused to take a paternity test). Leary gathered his meager possessions and moved to Laurel Canyon, where he began the final phase of his career as a lecturer and (in his words) "stand up philosopher."
_
In 1978, Leary married filmmaker Barbara Blum and helped raise her young son. In the early '80s, Leary renewed his relationship with former foe G. Gordon Liddy. Both men were near financial ruin, but they hatched a brilliant plan to change all that. In 1982 they toured the lecture circuit as ex-cons debating the soul of America. The tour generated great publicity and a lot of money for both men. Leary's individual personal appearances, a successful documentary that chronicled his tour and the release of his autobiography, Flashbacks, enabled Leary to reestablish his financial security.
_
Leary's ambition to make it really big in Hollywood was quashed by reticent studios and sponsors, but his constant touring helped him maintain a comfortable lifestyle throughout the '80s, while his colorful past also made him a desirable guest at A-list parties. He also attractd a more intellectual crowd which included Robert Anton Wilson, David Byrne, science fiction wunderkind William Gibson, and Norman Spinrad.
_
_
_
Leary and Liddy
_
G. Gordon Liddy with Leary, 1982
_
photo copyright N.Y. Times
_
In the mid '80s Leary had also begun to integrate computers, the Internet, and virtual reality into his aegis of thought. In spite of establishing one of the earliest sites on the World Wide Web and his oft-quoted insight that the Internet was "the LSD of the 1990s," Leary essentially remained computer illiterate and required assistance in checking his email. In 1989 Leary's eldest daughter, Susan, committed suicide after years of mental instability. Relations between the two had been tenuous for years, with the younger woman often casting her father as a negligent alcoholic and drug fiend responsible for her mother's death. Leary had not spoken to his son Jack on a regular basis since the early 1970s.
_
After divorcing Barbara Leary in 1992, Leary began to associate with a much younger, artistic, and tech-savy crowd that included his granddaughters, stepson, author Douglas Rushkoff, publisher Bob Guccione, Jr., and goddaughter Winona Ryder. He was frequently spotted at raves and alternative rock concerts, including a memorable mosh pit experience at an early Smashing Pumpkins concert. Attempting to maintain the pace of the average twentysomething in his early seventies, Leary began to develop poor eating habits and steadily abused cocaine and prescription medication. This culminated in a likely overdose in late 1993 that was misdiagnosed at the time as double pneumonia.
_
Aging perceptibly after his hospitalization, he nonetheless managed to fufill his unceasing schedule of public apperances in 1994 while continuing to frequent the LA club scene at a slightly decelerated pace. He drank heavily and seemed prone to bouts of senility for the first time in his life, but as one friend pointed out in Robert Greenfield's biography of Leary, "there were always three to four hours per day of the lucid Tim."
_
In early 1995, Leary discovered that he was terminally ill with inoperable prostate cancer. He subsequently authored an outline for a book called Design for Dying, which attempted to show people a new perspective of death and dying. "The most important thing you do in your life is to die" he claimed, welcoming death with the same energetic excitement he had welcomed most other challenges in his life. Besides Leary's extensive advice, Design for Dying includes a guide to death and dying resources, online tools, and further reading lists.
_
_
_
Leary 1989
_
Dr. Timothy Leary, 1989
_
In Leary's final months thousands of visitors, well wishers and old friends visited him in his California home. Until the final weeks of his illness, he gave many interviews discussing his new philosophy of embracing death. In one of them, Leary stated this:
_
"I love topics the establishment says are taboo. When I found out I was terminally ill I was thrilled. You've got to approach your dying the way you live your life - with curiosity, with hope, with fascination, with courage and with the help of your friends.... Death is life's greatest event."
_
Leary in the Sky