Category Archives: Book review

[Book Review] The 420 Code

The first question to ask when writing a code is whether it is necessary to write one. One writes codes of conduct when decision paths are unclear, or outcomes are cloudy. Whether it’s Kant’s Categorical Imperative or the Golden Rule, the code of conduct applies to all equally.

You’re probably discussing this and more when someone breaks the bong.

Now what?
The 420 Code is a crowdsourced document published online, and is available in print. Branching off from the reddit weed forum, /r/trees, the code has been relatively popular among those stoners on reddit, that staple of internet conversation. A dollar from every sale goes to the rainforest (

It reads much like Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet or Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. An unnamed stoner enlightens others with edicts on the nature of weed. Hairy problems of the weed smoker, like talking to the police or dealing with broken glass in a circle of responsible parties, are resolved. The whole thing reads very simply, and some of the lines are memorable. My favorite was the principle of Fun, “for the worst things are done seriously”. Words to live by. The moderator, 5moker, is a very friendly guy and has created a forum dedicated to the book and things spawned from it, such as artwork.

The entire code is available for free on the website, or in printed form. The cover is a nice material, and the printed version includes some little games for the reader’s entertainment and original art.

Worth a bowl and a read!

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[Interview] Tyler Haas of Tumble Dry Comics

Happy to put up our interview with Tyler Haas of Tumble Dry Comics, which we reviewed here. His website, chock full of animated entertainment, is here:  He’s building an entertainment empire, and we’re glad to catch him on the upswing.
So without further discussion, here’s his answers to burning questions.

RWTWhat made you decide to start drawing stoner-related comics?

Bonus frames from “Change of Plans”

TH: It sort of came about as a natural combination of two hobbies. I started smoking weed a year into art school, as art school rules dictate. I was taking classes on comics and cartooning, and at the same time I was frequenting 420chan and other weed-related message boards. You’d see these MS-Paint drawn comics that were so charming and hilarious that you wanted to keep coming back to read them again, and eventually I wanted to try it myself.
RWT: You’ve got a talent for making mundane things about smoking funny. How does it help your art? Do you illustrate under the influence, or mix it up?

TH: One of the best things about making comics about smoking weed is that it lends itself so well to exaggeration and playfulness. Going on a snack run or losing your lighter aren’t particularly exciting in and of themselves, but when you’re there and you’re completely buttered, it feels like some great adventure. Mundane scenarios have so much more gravitas when you’re high and trying to illustrate the difference is what makes them fun. Most of my comic ideas are the product of falling down that rabbit hole of high thoughts; I usually work sober though, I get too distracted otherwise!

RWT: Who are your artistic influences?

TH: I’ve always liked John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren & Stimpy, and Alex Pardee. They both have this great ability to illustrate characters that are somehow both adorable and disturbing. You look at it and you think, “Wow! That’s kind of cute. Please get it away from me.” A lot of the humor in shows like Ren & Stimpy is visual gags, and I try to do the same in a lot of my comics; sometimes there isn’t a punchline so much as just a (hopefully) funny picture in the last frame (Ed: hyperlink is mine).

RWT: What’s it take to make it these days as an artist?

TH: That’s a good question, and I’d love to know the answer myself! Seriously though, I guess like every other art medium you just have to be dedicated. There’s a million ways to entertain yourself these days and trying to rise above a billion other creative people is rough going sometimes. Did you know they don’t just start mailing you checks as soon as you start a webcomic? But I like to think if you are really proud of what you make, it shows, and people can’t help but take notice of art that’s made with love.

RWT: From talking with your collaborators @ChronicComics, you’re moving into the big time. Can you give a little explanation of the new project? 

Continue reading

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Review: The Staples Slide Calculator

Web link:

My pipe sits by as I write this, combusted about halfway. I need to write about this infernal machine before I continue my well-deserved leisure.

As the reader might imagine, the calculator finds itself anachronistic in an age of pocket microprocessing. Calculators are the slide rule of my generation. My youth involved achingly beautiful spring days spent inside, listening to the arithmetic teacher prophesying situations where no calculator could be found: “Tuck, you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket!” These pedagogues were wrong. I have that and more! I can alienate my family in a few swift clicks!Staples Slide Calculator

Forced to ask a clerk where I could find one, I delved into a forgotten corner of the store. “Staples Slide Calculator,” the packaging said, boasting an alarm clock feature above and beyond its use as a calculating device. Cool, right? Sporting the lowest price among the five or six options  geared toward accountants and number-crunches, my choice cost me roughly four dollars. A bargain, I thought.

The adhesive on the package was weak, like the device sat on the shelf until the glue broke down to its component parts. How long? Years, likely. Pleasantly, the battery, of the sort powering watches, was still live.

At home, I reclined in my office chair, unfolding the directions. Wait, directions? Really? Most alarm clocks are fairly intuitive. Calculators are self explanatory. Yet as I fiddled with the device, I realized why the directions were necessary. I learned design from the best, and this device was badly designed.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Continue reading

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Interview: Mara K Eton, author of “The Hypocrites”

We’re very excited to have had a chance to talk to Mara K Eton. We reviewed her book and loved it. In the niche that is Pot Fiction, her contribution is one of the best we’ve encountered yet.

The interview was pretty dynamic, and Mara was willing to answer some “encore” questions after the fact. Hope you enjoy!

You can find her book wherever ebooks are sold and also on her website.

Pot Fiction, RW Tucker: Why did you decide to anchor the narrative in the rehab group?,204,203,200_.jpg

Mara K Eton: It was only after I finished writing Cracked Eggs [Ed. the short story that inspired the rest of the book] did I decide I’d like to explore the lives of other people involved with the meeting. I started the project with the intention of just writing a short story. I was thrilled to have finished a short story. It had been several years of unfinished stories and half-assed ideas that went nowhere. After a couple edits, I realized that Sean and her story would be a good starter for a collection of stories as other characters from the meeting potentially felt more dynamic to me.

RWT: Is there anything behind the name of the town the book is set in? Did Kansas have a hemp industry at one time?

ME: The name of the town, Hempstead, is definitely a kind of “wink, wink” to Kansas’ history of growing industrial hemp in the early 1900s. While there is no such town in Kansas named Hempstead, there is in New York.

Continue reading

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Comic Review: Tumble Dry Comics

Tumble Dry Comics, by Tyler Haas:

There’s a lot of webcomics out there, even some for stoners. I haven’t found one as dedicated to stoner-dom as Tumble Dry Comics. There’s some great stuff here if you’re a stoner, and even better stuff if you’re into gaming and Star Trek.

Leci n'est pas un bong

A play on “This is Not a Pipe” by surrealist Rene Margritte. Source: Tumble Dry Comics,

You get hilarious goofball comics, like “Free Range“, about the mysterious disappearing property of lighters.

Others are a little more thoughtful, like the “420 Easter“, which is tongue-in-cheek, but for the last frame that makes the experienced stoner cringe.

There’s also at least one multi-part series, like “The Quest“, which involves a lot of fun scrolling when you’re a little baked.

You can’t go wrong with this guy. The art is full of color, loud and in in-your-face, like one of my favorites, involving a bunch of screaming dinosaurs in “Extinction“. I’ve seen that one at least a half dozen times now, and the middle frames still make me laugh out loud. FAAAAAAAAAA…..!

If you mess around on reddit enough, you’re sure to run into Tyler Haas’ work, and it’s almost universally praised by the stoner community that’s encountered it.

My final verdict: for the price of admission, definitely worth a bowl and a scroll.

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Interview: R.D. Ronald, author of The Elephant Tree and The Zombie Room

This is the first interview we’ve done here on Pot Fiction, and it’s pretty damn exciting!

rdronaldR.D. Ronald, an up and coming crime novelist, is the author of The Elephant Tree and The Zombie Room. We reviewed The Elephant Tree here. It’s a great read. When RD Ronald suggested that we talk some more, Pot Fiction jumped at the opportunity!

You can find R.D. Ronald on Twitter @RDRonaldauthor, Goodreads, Facebook, and Google+.

RW Tucker, Pot Fiction: You’ve mentioned that your own personal experiences influenced your writing. Many people turn their back on their past lives. Within the bounds of what you are comfortable talking about, of course, what made you want to put those experiences to paper?

R.D. Ronald: When I first went to prison I found the expected assortment of horrible individuals that anyone would expect to be in there. What did surprise me, though, were the number of decent people that had been the victim of horrendous circumstances they either reacted to, or took the only option left open to them. While I was inside I read and read and read, as you would expect, but while working my way through numbers of crime thrillers I began to find the plots somewhat tedious and predictable, and in no way reflective of the people I was surrounded by who had, and still were, living out their very own crime thrillers. I decided to put some ideas down on paper, much of it fiction, some very altered experiences I had lived through or heard of, and let it begin to take shape. I wanted the criminality to be reflected in as open a way as I could without vilifying or glamorising the experience. I had no idea how the readers would eventually take this on board, but I was writing the type of book I wanted to read, not seeking out commercial success by trying to please everyone. Through social media rather than backing from a big publisher I have been able to connect with like-minded souls and luckily for me they seem to love it, which has enabled me to carry on exploring my passion for writing. Continue reading

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Mara Eton’s “The Hypocrites: A Novel in Short Stories”

Mara K Eton’s “The Hypocrites: A Novel in Short Stories”

Product link:

Full disclosure! Mara Eton commented on an early post here on Pot Fiction, which led me over to her book. This is her first novel.

Told through a handful of not-always-linear short stories, the timeline of Hypocrites encompasses  dramatic events, their background, and the messy fallout. Central to the story is a marijuana recovery support group full of habitual and unapologetic smokers, hence the title. Following from that is a dive into politics of the drug trade, so I’m fairly calling it “pot fiction”. But the human drama clings to you long after you put the book down. That’s why I write this blog: love of the herb forms a common interest, but the real beating heart of the story is personal.

I’m very glad that this novel crossed my desk. Characterization is at the forefront here. Every story gets its own voice, which as a writer, I appreciate as a technical achievement. Crisis reveals very real flaws and provokes misunderstandings.No character goes through the events of the story unscathed. I found myself annoyed with people long after their part of the story was done.

But none of the characters are entirely unsympathetic, either. With the perspective the reader gains from multiple POV’s, everyone’s actions are in context. Annoyance miraculously morphed into empathy. How neat is that? Through the peculiar style, Eton’s story teaches a lesson in humility and compassion. Weed acts as a salve for pain accrued as the lives and livelihoods of our characters are pulverized by the reckless actions of a few. You do get a firsthand seat when things go downhill. However, as exciting as the events in the perhaps-fictional Hempstead became, I also got a kick out of the far flung stories in the latter half of the book. Penn and Mya’s stories were the most enjoyable for me, but I think you’ll end up with your own favorite characters and story lines.

I’ve thought about the characters several times after reading, and I’ve cracked the book back open to cross reference. Hypocrites was that good. It’s a nice, easy read, not too short, not too long, and with enough characters to keep you interested. There’s a fun, mystical twist in there too, if you pay attention.

I’m giving this a bong hits to the brain, because it has stuck with me long after reading. Give it a try!

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