Wonder Drug

Wonder Drug

LSD in the Land of Living Skies

By Hugh D.A. Goldring, Illustrated by nicole marie burton, Afterword by Dr. Erika Dyck


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  • Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medalist, Graphic Novel/Drawn Book, 2022 (Winner)

Could it be that the most remote frontiers of twenty-first-century exploration lie inside the human mind? Illustrated in kaleidoscopic full colour, Wonder Drug is the graphic history of a controversial and little-known medical research project carried out in the Canadian prairies—one that championed LSD as a way to model schizophrenia and cure ailments from alcoholism to depression.

Spanning the decades from the 1950s to present day, this captivating story follows Anglo-Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond down the rabbit hole of psychedelic research, conducted both in the lab and in his living room. Lurching from dazzling imagery to fanged delusions, and studded with a cast of radical personalities such as Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and Kay Parley, Wonder Drug is a trip like no other.

As Osmond and his colleagues grapple with professional isolation, a growing moral panic, and the burgeoning War on Drugs, their growing body of findings are maligned and misunderstood—but the promise of pharmapolitical revolution is still on the horizon, and the radical research in Weyburn, Saskatchewan may yet be realized.

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“This wonderfully illustrated graphic novel brings an already colourful story to life in an accessible and provocative account of Canada’s psychedelic history. Blending historical details with creative interpretations, this is a must read for anyone interested in psychedelics.”

– Bia Labate, PhD, executive director, Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines

Wonder Drug brings the origin story of psychedelic science to vivid life. The artwork’s classic ligne claire style is perfectly suited to portraying the shifts between the drab institutional world of 1950s psychiatry and the kaleidoscopic inner journeys that explode from it.”

– Mike Jay, author of Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic

“Wonder Drug represents a glimpse into the pioneering research of psychedelic therapy, and those who paved the way for the new generation who are now picking up the torch. My own journey with psychedelic-assisted therapy would never have been possible without historians who kept the knowledge alive, and I greatly appreciate their efforts in not allowing the positive aspects of this treatment to be lost. If you don’t know about Canada’s groundbreaking work in the field of psychedelic-assisted therapy, then this is a great opportunity to expand your horizons and appreciate the efforts of these pioneers. One day, their work may help you or someone you care about.”

– Thomas Hartle, one of Canada's first legal users of psilocybin

“Psychedelic drugs alter all human senses, turning the world into a colourful swirl, but until now the kaleidoscopic story of their discovery unfolded in long processions of black letters on white pages. Wonder Drug gives literally graphic expression to the headiest adventure in the history of modern science: a truly consciousness-expanding book.”

– Nicolas Langlitz, author of Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain

“Brilliant! The history of psychedelics in graphic essay form. I had a great time reading it, learned many things I did not know, and greatly enjoyed the written section. It is at once entertaining and deep. This is a very useful contribution that brings together the many intertwining threads of the psychedelic era (up to today).”

– Piero Ferrucci, psychotherapist and author

Wonder Drug is a delightful, informative story about the first round of psychedelic drug development. Carefully researched and beautifully presented, it concisely captures the history of this seminal period in a way that will bring a smile to any reader.”

– James W. Spisak, executive director of the Aldous and Laura Huxley Literary Trust

Wonder Drug is an important and fascinating tale charting the twentieth century rise of LSD research—with the help of North America’s first socialist government—as a possible aid in combating schizophrenia, depression, and alcoholism. nicole marie burton’s artwork is particularly stunning when depicting the psychedelic experiences of research volunteers.”

– David Lester, illustrator of the award-winning 1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike