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excellent writing
masterpiece art
historical bonus 2
total score 9
Suzie and Jonnie Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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The Laid-Back Adventures of Suzie and Jonnie
Only Printing / 1981 / 52 pages / Antonio Ghura
The Laid-Back Adventures of Suzie and Jonnie was Antonio Ghura's most ambitious attempt at a commercially successful alternative comic, as he printed 5,000 copies of the book despite having limited opportunities for distribution. Several pages include a title header at the top of the page, indicating that the comics may have been serialized in some other publication, but I'm unable to determine where (or if) that happened. 34 of the 48 interior pages are devoted to the saga of "The Morocco Run," which leads off the book.

"The Morocco Run" stars Suzie and Jonnie, a young couple in London who live a day-to-day existence that leaves plenty of time for casual drugs and serious sex. It only takes a couple pages before we've bonded with the couple and feel ready to follow them wherever the story may go. Suzie is a beautiful woman of Chinese descent who often thinks in her native language. Jonnie is a scruffy, bespectacled fellow of reasonable education but with no particular vocation. One gets the sense that they get by on odd jobs and small-time drug deals, but at this particular time they have fallen well behind on their rent.

Enter Chris, a drug dealer friend who offers Suzie and Jonnie an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco and a cut of the action if they'll score some hashish oil, a proposition that Suzie and Jonnie readily accept. So off they go to North Africa to visit Morocco, specifically the port city of Tetouan, where the drug trade is plentiful but still illegal. The story settles in to portray Suzie and Jonnie's many adventures as they seek to meet their drug connection, harvest and process the hash oil, and bring the stash back to London.

Like Rand Holmes' Harold Hedd in Hitler's Cocaine and "Wings Over Tijuana" (Harold Hedd #2), there are multiple side stories, brushes with danger, and barriers to overcome throughout the story. Ghura masterfully manages the long-form adventure with carefully composed panels and great balance of positive and negative space. His script is well paced with lots of funny lines and reactions. Ghura stated that some parts of the adventure are based on a trip he took to Morocco in 1976, when Spanish customs nicked him for having some pot in his glove compartment (they let him go, but kept the weed and smoked it themselves).

The remainder of the book includes a couple more one-pagers of Suzie and Jonnie that are separate from the "Morocco" story, a few other one-pagers that include a flasher named Harry and a blind guy named Jack, and an eight-page story called "Two Tone Love," which is about a heavyset woman who gets into a romance with a black guy. "Two Tone Love" is quite good, but it's tough to celebrate its glory after the triumph of "The Morocco Run."

The Laid Back Adventures of Suzie and Jonnie
doesn't have the graphic sex and violence that many of Ghura's other comic books have, and even when there are scenes of sex (only 3 of the 36 Suzie and Jonnie pages have them) they are generally toned down. The lack of graphic sex and violence was an intentional choice by Ghura as a way to potentially increase sales. In an interview with Headpress Magazine founder David Kerekes, Ghura said, "I thought that Suzie and Jonnie would sell. I packed a lot into it, and made it value for money, not too much sex in it. And it didn't." For some insanely stupid reason that I entirely blame on human beings, Ghura's comics never sold very well.

After the relative failue of Suzie and Jonnie, Ghura went back to doing smut comics like Truly Amazing Love Stories #2 and Bogey #2. Ghura passed away in 2011 after a long illness and his legacy is carried on by his nephew and youngest brother.
Antonio Ghura printed approximately 5,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted. Yes, this title was published in 1981, so this review will be moved to the Alternative Comics section once that section is built. But it may be a while.

Antonio Ghura - 1-52