Woodrow Phoenix’s impassioned and beautifully drawn graphic novel questions our love affair with cars, and asks why, when you are in the driving seat, killing other people is not murder. Or even manslaughter. It’s… misfortune.
Over 1.2 million people are killed on the road each year. By 2020, road traffic accidents could outstrip stroke and HIV as one of the main causes of preventable deaths. Our increasing dependence on vehicles to ease our crowded lives has led to a critical imbalance in power between drivers and pedestrians – a situation where road deaths are viewed as acts of God, random events with no cause and no recourse, rather than as the result of human behaviour.
Woodrow Phoenix’s dry, sometimes painfully mordant wit, backed up by accident statistics, personal observations and case histories, offers a trenchant analysis of the problems of road users everywhere and the risks we all take every day.
Rumble Strip surprises, challenges, asks us questions that badly need answers and makes us think about things we may prefer to ignore. But sometimes we all need a wake-up call: Woodrow Phoenix personalises the experience of the commuter, the driver, the pedestrian, the accident victim – because any one of them could be you.
The Beautiful Room1 January 2012
I’ve just read Rumblestrip
by Woodrow Phoenix, a monochrome graphic book all about what happens when we get behind a steering wheel. And as you read, you feel as if you are in fact on a virtual car journey. The book provides alarming statistics about deaths caused by driving and is thought-provoking. I sometimes dream about driving a car, and when I drive at night, I sometimes wonder if I am dreaming. Woodrow Phoenix describes it perfectly:
'There is a dreamlike quality built into the experience of driving. A car windshield is a big window. And also a screen… locations unwind on the other side of this rectangular glass almost as they do on a movie screen… you sit cocooned in your cabin… everything outside your windows is contained, the rest of the world an arm’s length away… you glide through location after location as if they were erected just for you to drive past. Every journey is a narrative with you at the centre.'
I love that last line.
Every so often a book like this comes along, one which allows fresh vision, even a change of mindset. Brilliant... Rumble Strip is a crucial revelation.
Woodrow Phoenix’s message is all the more forceful for using a graphic novel format. He wants to warn of the damage and death that can result from car accidents. The author also rails against the injustice of the penalty system for deaths caused by cars, the arms race with people investing more and more in ridiculously huge SUV’s and the like. The damage all this does to people and the land goes unquestioned by the majority but Woodrow Phoenix articulates - and illustrates the devastating combination of human and machine on our roads.View source
Phoenix, who attained an MA in narrative illustration at the University of Brighton, show[s] the comic as the ultimate creation of narrative meaning.
Simply astounding... It’s important though to express how natural this book feels, how timely and how key to our ongoing national conversation... one of the most original, impressive and essential British comics of the last ten years.View source
Compulsory reading for people who carp on about rising fuel prices, lack of parking and how cyclists are the scum of the earth.
A unique addition to the transport policy debate.
Down the Tubes
This is a timely, well researched and fascinating novel and one which Jeremy Clarkson would probably hate. Surely yet another reason for getting out there and buying a copy.
Congratulations to Woodrow Phoenix for making such a difficult subject readable and entertaining in a thought provoking way. Once you start reading, you can't stop turning the pages... This is an emotional horror story told with a perfect symbiosis of text and image.
A gripping narrative – he just presents the hard facts and they stay imprinted on your mind.View source
A darkly dazzling graphic book... a disturbing indictment of the culture of the car presented in a simple, shocking and brilliant way.
The Late Show, BBC London
I love your book. I think it's a really interesting take on ‘the road’... wonderfully controversial... phenomenal and very original.
In thrall to the vivid iconography of the roadside – the signs, the arrows, the unfolding motorway landscape – and vividly sketches the ways cars can isolate us from each other.
One utterly original work of genius. It should be made mandatory reading for everyone, everywhere.
For a graphic work that doesn’t show a single human being, this is an extraordinarily human book. Its ideas and questions about how the car impacts on your life will echo in your mind long after you’ve finished reading it, whether you’re a driver, or a pedestrian, or both.
Brilliant. Angry, articulate, bewildered, and beautifully drawn; a visceral blast of truth-telling against the cult of the road. They should be giving it away with new driving licences.