Rumble Strip, the latest offering from acclaimed comic artist and writer Woodrow Phoenix is an illustrated narrative story highlighting the hazardous gambles that road users take – and pedestrians are confronted with – everyday. In Phoenix’s unique take on the comic book medium, there are no characters in the entire book; rather his sharp, densely inked graphics offer up a snaking ride via roads and motorways, through to a reimagining of his experience of a near fatal accident while driving on the M25 to Brighton…
“Sitting wrapped in your seatbelt with an airbag hidden in front of you, invisibly and silently waiting for the moment it may have to reply, you are more like a freshly laid egg in its specially contoured cardboard eggtray. What was the famous phrase they used to describe those mercury astronauts? Spam in a can,” writes Phoenix who is quick to back up his thoughts on the culture of driving with statistical evidence.
The astonishing fact that 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic accidents around the world each year is something Phoenix concentrates on; combing through personal experiences, research and observation to show how our increasing dependence on vehicles has led to a critical imbalance in power between drivers and pedestrians.
Phoenix deliberates over the idea that cars are merely a shell, providing us with far less protection than we often believe. The real problem, however, is the damage that cars and careless drivers can do to pedestrians. “If you want to get away with murder, buy a car” states the front cover of the book. A ruthless statement, but once you witness Rumble Strip’s portrayal of dangerous driving and the frequently devastating consequences, it seems more than legitimate.
After a gripping narrative (we have some pages from the opening of the book, below) the book concludes with statistics of pedestrian deaths and injuries, laws and regulations, pedestrian injury prevention effectiveness and so on. But Phoenix doesn’t drone on – he just presents the hard facts and they stay imprinted on your mind.
By 2020, for example, road traffic accidents could outstrip strokes and HIV as one of the main causes of preventable deaths.
If Rumble Strip has an aim, it’s to make us realise just how much power we wield in our cars.
Rumble Strip by Woodrow Phoenix is published by Myriad Editions on June 12; £12.99