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Rogan Gosh: Star of the East
by Brendan McCarthy and Peter Milligan
Vertigo/DC Comics 
Book Reviews
Reviewed by David Bey, 9/12/2013

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream… into the sitar-fantastic surrealist wonderland of Rogan Gosh, where multi-cephalic Hindu gods, karma-surfing superheroes and long-dead Orientalist writers crash headlong into the bleak drizzle of London suburbia.

Rogan Gosh, written by UK comic book bad-boy Peter Milligan, is either the story of the eponymous “Karmanaut” in his struggle to free himself from the illusionary machinations of the villainous Soma Swami—or—it’s what happens to curry-house waiter Raju and boorish lout Dean after the goddess Kali rips their heads off—or—it’s the opium dream of a disgraced Rudyard Kipling—or—it’s the dying thoughts of an unnamed post-punk, post-gender existentialist youth on a suicide trip. Milligan’s writing is amazing if occasionally absurd. Much of it reads like Tim Leary trapped in the semantic universe of an Indian restaurant menu.

Once again, it’s the interaction between the writing and the illustration that provides such a lush and unique means of expressing the psychedelic experience. To bring the world of Rogan Gosh to life, artist Brendan McCarthy mined his own childhood obsession with the Amar Chitra Katha tradition of Indian comic books—cross-wiring that with the electric offspring of punk-rock pop art to produce a lurching, spiral play of hyper-color lotuses, sitar-rayguns, corridors of endless uncertainty, ashrams of the absolute, and the dead-end sprawl of South London.

A psychedelic classic from the early 1990s which deserves to be better known, Rogan Gosh combines a tryptamine-style romp through transpersonal existentialism with the neon-cartoon fireworks of a night out on high-quality phenethylamines—a bizarro cultural mash-up pulled off with wit and weirdness.

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

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