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The Technopriests
by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Zoran Janjetov, and Fred Beltran
Publisher:
Humanoids/DC Comics 
Year:
2004/2011 
ISBN:
 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by David Bey, 9/12/2013

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a profoundly strange and intensely prolific individual, having put in solid time as a filmmaker, actor, spiritual teacher, ceremonial psycho-therapist, international expert on Tarot symbolism and, yes, comic book author. Probably best known for his films, including cult classics such as The Holy Mountain or acid Western epic weird-fest El Topo, Jodorowsky is also somewhat infamous for having tried and failed to make the first cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Considering that he planned on casting Salvador Dalí as Emperor of the Known Universe and wanted to commission Pink Floyd to do the film score, it’s little wonder the project went down in expensive flames. Jodorowsky had also almost completely rewritten the sci-fi classic, recasting it as his own epic of transhuman visionary mythology bearing slim resemblance to the original.

When the Dune project imploded, Jodorowsky recycled his voluminous additional material into a triptych of comic book epics, of which The Technopriests is one part. The story combines influences from Gnostic Christianity, technopaganism, and visionary shamanism fed through the wormhole of space-opera superhero comics. It follows the adventures and education of “the Albino”, a prophesied individual who must pass a variety of tests and penetrate various realms of existence in his quest for the power to lead humanity towards a society in which “healthy human relationships will be valued more highly than scientific advances”.

With illustrations by Janjetov and brain-melting color by Beltran, The Technopriests is an eye-popping visual feast. Jodorowsky has been quoted as saying, “I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs”. The same would seem to be true of his work in comics. Indeed, in collaboration with Janjetov and Beltran, he brings worlds to life that would be impossible to film, even with today’s CGI wizardry.

All the same, The Technopriests might best be appreciated as a predominantly visual experience. To call the dialogue “wooden” would be charitable, and there’s hardly a character in the series who is anything less than a cardboard cut-out of mythic caricature. Additionally, the writing is almost completely lacking in humor. As humor is often the best and sometimes the only guide to states of altered perception, it seems like a psychedelic super-myth that isn’t also funny is going to be lacking something. That said, The Technopriests is hands down one of the most gorgeous, mind-boggling examples of visionary narrative art available in any medium.

Originally Published In : Through the Four-Color Doors of Perception: Psychedelic Gems of the Comic Book Genre, Erowid Extracts #23.

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