The Zoo Act
Staff: Myron Macklin
An excellently written comic with adult themes, good visuals, and competent writing.
Starting off, there are some really adult themes in this comic. They are handled well but it’s got blood, tits, drugs, kinky sex in bunny masks, death, dogfighting, more drugs, splattered brains, murder, etc. If your a kid, put this down and go watch some Spongebob.
The art is very stylized in this comic. I love the way they utilize black, white, and light blue to augment the emotional aspect of the visuals. The style kind of reminds me of Frank Miller’s art in Dark Knight Returns vaguely. This does suffer a few mishaps when the black is used for multiple similar aspects of the picture but ultimately these are far and few between. They do a great job using the environment to show motion, something a lot of artist could better utilize (the trail of snow off a foot kicking for example). The art on the whole shows some real talent. The artist had a keen understanding of dynamic posing and that stops the stylized look of the comic from becoming distorted. I liked all the little nods to pop culture they slipped in the background (is that a certain King of Monsters I see in the protagonist’s apartment?).
I need to mention that special attention was given to the character designs in this book. Everyone FELT like they were unique and that the designs were able to inform me of something about the character. Like when they show a senator’s son he had a american flag pin, a overlarge collar, scruffy facial hair, and a black and white (or at least some color pinstripe) tie. That educates me a lot as to who he is. Why is his suit collar large? Does he not like suits? Does he not know how to wear/pick a suit? Is he just so use to suits that this is just a little well worn? It gives him personality and I can really dig it.
From a lettering perspective there were a few times when letter spacing with the font they chose gave me a little problem (example: There is an instance where it looks like the word is “he ad” rather than “head”) but ultimately it is readable. I think they were looking to have the font match the art style and it certainly does. The onomatopoeia are well done and indicative of the sound visually so that’s a plus. It’s untraditional for a comic to use hyphens to break words across lines and it does do this on occasion. If it feels like I an nit-picking, I really am. It’s just little things. Ultimately you can read it so what else really matters right? 🙂
The dialogue is well written. It has a bitter, almost satirical, edge, and isn’t always PG-13 (again, nothing too offensive). We have some slang tossed in there. Having multiple conversations going on at the same time does get confusing at time As an example, at one point a TV is dropping some background exposition while the protagonist is having a phone call. It wouldn’t have been an issue but then we have a few full screen panels of the TV conversation and it breaks the flow of the phone call, which I had to go back and re-read to pick it up again when they jump back to it. On the flip side there is some beautiful imagery that goes with the visuals, acting in tandem rather than at odds with it. For example we have a beat to hell guy walking and the narration is, “But my legs only mimic walking”. Goddam bloody gorgeous. The story often flips from vulgar dialogue and slang to a more artistic inner monologue and it works.
One thing I’ll say is that this is a long comic (117 pages) and hell if it isn’t good… but after a while the pacing started to slow down. I would really have broken this up into two, three, or even four issues. It’s not like the story wasn’t good but I think it could have benefited from a break, like how a run-on sentence could benefit from a coma (or a period).
Overall this is a fantastic, if not adult, comic. It’s got an interesting art style, compelling story, and competent writing. The premise seems like it’s been done at least in part before (no spoilers) but it’s a welcome premise with a lot of room to grow. I would really recommend this only for adults (18+) but it’s a hell of a good read. The point of this site is to find indies that push the envelope and in that regard- I’m glad I reviewed this one. Check it out.