The Wassons are widely acknowledged as popularising the use of psychedelic mushrooms in the US. They not only brought them back to the country from Mexico, where the couple were researching their use by the indigenous Mazatec people, but also wrote about their experience in a Life magazine story.
Speech bubbles are kept to a minimum, with Blomerth relying largely on his own kaleidoscopic style to get the point across – which feels fitting, considering the subject matter. His illustrations of fungi are based on watercolour paintings made by Roger Heim, a botanist that accompanied the Wassons on their Mexico trips and documented several hallucinogenic species.
Blomerth – an artist and musician based in Brooklyn, who previously released a graphic novel exploring the history of LSD – retells the Wassons’ experiences, from their times gathering wild mushrooms in the Catskills, to their participation in a ritual in Mexico. It also touches on the CIA’s secret funding of their research. In his introduction to the book, author and mycologist Paul Stamets recounts the couple’s life story – including Robert’s conversion from ‘mycophobe’ to ‘mycophile’ by Valentina, and their enthusiasm for the mushroom lore of various cultures around the world.
Titled Mycelium Wassonii, the book charts, in psychedelic style, psilocybin pioneers Valentina and R Gordon Wasson’s lifelong study of ‘ethnomycology’ – the culture and history of mushroom lore from around the world