Roadkill Zoo

Monte Williams

There are certain expectations a reader brings to a comic book with a title like Roadkill Zoo.

Roadkill Zoo

Publisher: Novaris Entertainment
Contributors: Pencils: Budi "Buddy" Setiawan, Inks: Derek Fridolfs, Colors: Julio Iglesias Lopez
Price: $2.50
Writer: Nicole Jones
Length: 24
Formats: Single Issue
US publication date: 2006-07

There are certain expectations a reader brings to a comic book with a title like Roadkill Zoo. One assumes there will be a fair amount of gore involved, and that the story will probably not take itself seriously. And here, for good or ill, Roadkill Zoo surprises us already, for it is in fact utterly straight-faced. A plot summary, courtesy writer/creator Nicole Jones: "The spirit of an evil voodoo priest haunts the back roads of southern Louisiana, resurrecting roadkill and turning them into blood-thirsty zombies."

Permit me, dear reader, a moment's repetition: Roadkill Zoo, concerning vengeful zombie roadkill, is earnest.

This surprisingly sober approach required a considerable adjustment on my part, after which I still had to navigate the cluttered and uninviting artwork. And here it should be noted that, having finished reading my black and white copy of Roadkill Zoo, I then discovered finished images at the Roadkill Zoo website, and so I am now uniquely qualified to attest to the fact that Roadkill Zoo's most valuable contributor is unquestionably its colorist, one Julio Iglesias Lopez. Budi "Buddy" Setiawan's pencil work, samples of which also appear at the Roadkill Zoo website, has a warm and intriguing quality. Alas, it is so overwhelmed by Derek Fridolfs' inking that it becomes difficult to decipher the narrative in a black and white format; shadows look contrived and artificial when they should appear organic, and characters have a distracting and frustrating tendency to blend into the background. My skills as a reader of comic books are clearly still limited, for I took this to mean that Setiawan and Fridolfs were incompetent illustrators. Thanks to Lopez' coloring, I now see just how mistaken I was; it is only in its inked-but-not-yet-colored state that the artwork in Roadkill Zoo is off-putting. I can only assume, then, as a layman, that there are separate approaches to inking, one for work which will remain black and white, another for work which will be colored.

With the art issue resolved, you are left to decide whether a competently illustrated tale of voodoo priests and dead raccoons is worthy of your time or money. Personally, I found Roadkill Zoo's unintended inking/coloring lesson far more fascinating than its story, but while the Zoo contributes nothing new or particularly noteworthy to the horror genre (or the extremely en vogue zombie sub-genre), and while its characters are mostly interchangeable (the closest the dialogue comes to being memorable is when someone says "We are lost in the middle of B.F.E." or "My bladder's about ready to explode"), I have no doubt that a Roadkill Zoo movie would find an enthusiastic audience among the horror faithful. More interesting by far, however, would be a documentary detailing the comic's arduous creation. From the Roadkill Zoo press release: "The project was first announced at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2004... the wait has been a bit longer than expected, as all of the original artwork was lost during the terrible tsunami that devastated Indonesia in December 2004."

What must it have been like for Budi "Buddy" Setiawan to find himself starting at page one all over again? Had his talent increased since the original production, making the work come easier the second time? Or was he so disheartened at the loss that the second attempt was merely painful and difficult? More importantly, how can Roadkill Zoo hope to find success when none of the questions its narrative raises are anywhere near this compelling?

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.