Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rabid Rachel #1

The absolute worst book in the Crapbox!

I am so tempted to post every panel from this undersized comic. By undersized, I mean that it is printed on stock that’s not quite as tall or wide as a standard book. Looks like it was made on a copy machine or something. In terms of art, Rabid Rachel makes Radical Dreamer and Of Myths and Men look like understated masterpieces of depth and passion. Various pages make me think the artist of this book would have failed those “Draw Skippy” ads in the back of the TV Guide. Even if he was tracing it. The story throws in hamfisted clich├ęs on one page and then takes itself so seriously on the next that it devolves into unfunny self-parody. It is, without a doubt, the worst comic I’ve ever read.

The scary part really hit me when I noticed who published this mess. Rabid Rachel is a product of Miller Publishing Co. My first thought was that maybe it was a extension of Miller Brewery, and drunken brewery owners seemed likely to produce a work such as this. A second glance provided me with the writer’s name and I fell out of my chair. I was holding in my hand a story written by Bill W. Miller. The Miller in Miller Publishing had the exact same name as the guy that did all of THIS.

Now this could be just a coincidence, but I’m betting not.

Regardless of who the author might be, our artist/inker is Robert Zailo. I’m really hoping he used a pseudonym, because I would hate to have Rabid Rachel hanging over my head the rest of my life. How bad is the art you may ask. You’ll see in a minute.

First I want to totally dispense with the story because I don’t want anything getting in the way of the commentary. Rachel works for a shady animal research lab. They hired P.I. Kilburgh to capture a werewolf for them. Rachel forms a psychic bond with the creature and frees it. She then comes down with a strange form of rabies and must take experimental drugs the research lab gives her to keep it under control. Also the bond still exists and she can see what the werewolf sees and occasionally gives in to its will. The first time this happens she acquires a goofy wolf costume and becomes hunted by P.I. Kilburgh and a local drug dealer/pimp. The costume becomes her link to the were-creature and she uses it when she blows up the pimp at his place of business. Unfortunately she is then taken captive and used in a mind control experiment by her own company. In an unbelievable hackneyed sequence, the CEO’s niece is used as a guinea pig and takes on Rachel’s personality, which leads to the niece’s death. The P.I. uncovers the origin of the werewolf and then discovers Rachel’s imprisonment. He rushes to save her and ends up capping the evil CEO. As Rachel decides to chase after the werewolf, the ending credits roll.

I make that sound pretty good. It’s not an Oscar-caliber tale by any means, but it has a story arc with characters who have understandable motivations. Maybe I’m making this out to be worse than it really is. Let’s take a look at page one.

No, I’m spot on with how bad this book is. Where do I begin? I guess with the art. I remember stating that the art in Red Fox looked like something a middle school child would draw on his book cover. At least the art in Red Fox was drawn by a talented middle schooler. This artist clearly believes that proportion is something for other people to worry about. Also, shadow can come from anywhere and whole buildings can glow with their own eerie light. Also if you squint down near the bottom, you'll note that this book has a colorist. I’m pretty sure that’s a first for a black and white comic.

By about page two something about the lettering started nagging at me. I so rarely notice lettering that I knew immediately something must be up. Each page’s lettering was all the same Times New Roman script that was too straight, too perfectly horizontal when compared to the word balloons on the same page. Then it hit me: the lettering was done on a typewriter! Can you imagine the pain of rolling pages of pre-drawn art into an old Smith-Corona and lining up each panel to create the lettering? Far-fetched? Take a look at few more panels and then respond to this post if you think I’m right or wrong.

Anyway, let’s move on from Mr. Freaky black blob face and his mismatched eyes. Page two has our title character doing needless thought balloon exposition while impersonating a hunchback.

Meet our title character, Rachel. This scene is leading up to a big flashback. Rachel examines herself in the mirror. If you woke up next to her after a night of drunken sex, you’d be forced to commit suicide. I mean, just look at this:

"Those eyes!" Her eyes!?! Screw her eyes, what about MY EYES!! Good gravy, what is wrong with this guy and drawing facial characteristics. It's like she's getting punched off screen between each panel.

Now he’s given her a black eye for no apparent reason. I was serious when I said this guy couldn’t trace “skippy”. Now a quick flashback to her releasing the werewolf.

Things you can learn from Rabid Rachel: 1.) blood will spray from a wound in straight, well defined lines, like the hair does in the Playdoh barbershop, 2.) many people’s heads are either too big for the rest of their body (see guard, bottom left) or have faces that are as flat as a plate (see CEO in inset circle), 
3.) spit will also spray forth in nice orderly lines, 4.) watching a werewolf tear apart your partner may give you a stiffy in your pants.

Note the guy in the far right panel. He’s not really pointing the way the werewolf went. He’s trying to tell you to escape the comic while you still can. It’s too late for him, with his “shadow that occurs from no visible light source”, but there may be a chance that you can still get out. Run! Run!

I love the guy in the foreground’s expression as he picks up that monkey. Looks kinda pissed at the little fella. I bet someone’s not getting a full ration of bananas tonight. Back to Rachel in the present.

Notice that the glass is suppose to be full in one panel and then empty in the next because of the refraction of the clock image changes from one panel to the other. Yet in neither panel is any actual LIQUID shown being in the glass. There’s nary a mark on the inside of the glass to show where the wet ends and the dry begins. Also watch as Rachel has some kind of epileptic fit because she’s BEEN SITTING IN THE SAME CHAIR FOR 12 HOURS. You can tell by the AM – PM indicator on the clock. In the space of one panel change she has drank one glass of magical liquid and spent 12 hours sitting in one place. She’s not possessed, she’s just a very bored moron.

She leaps out a window, runs to the seedy strip side of town and, at the direction of the mental commands of the werewolf, locates a crate left in an alley. Using a burst of superhuman strength, she rips it open.

It looks to me like she is also using a burst of superhuman contortion on her lower body. Note the placement of her feet in respect to her legs being behind the corner of the crate and at a very awkward angle with her upper body. Ack, I’m not asking for photo-realism here, just try to make the humans look human, please! What’s in the crate? Drugs that the cops planted there to catch some crooks, a stick of dynamite (I don’t know why that’s there, it’s needed in the plot later) and …

…an ugly ass wolf costume. Which Rachel proceeds to put on while running away from the cops. Note that she doesn’t just put it on over her clothes, but actually strips naked in the space of these few panels, David Copperfield’s her real clothes and still manages to evade her pursuers. Her rationale? She needs to strip and put on a funky costume so the cops won’t catch her. Because wolf costumes automatically cause you to blend in with the crowd. Think about that for a minute and if it makes sense then you get back with me.

Our P.I. picks up Rachel’s apartment key which has both here building and apartment number written on it. Sure hope she isn’t staying in the Slattenhasenborguer Building, Apartment 2044B or else he ain’t going to be able to fit it in his pocket. Why he doesn’t just follow the chick in the wolf costume is beyond me. Rachel meanwhile is out strutting the strip.

I have to say that the costume makes her very inconspicuous. Too late though, because blending in that well is sure to attract the local pimp/drug dealer.

Look at all those lines! You’d think that would indicate a mortal blow or something. In story terms he is barely even scratched and has one his underlings follow her. Rachel awakes the next morning looking like a potato and tries the costume on so she can reconnect with the werewolf.

Look at how dark the lines surrounding her head and hand are. Why would anyone draw like that? The P.I. takes this opportunity to use the key he found.

Look at how screwed up his upper body is drawn in that first panel. It’s like he’s twisted all up. And see how the lettering in the middle panel is “angled” to fit, yet still all the text is lined up straight and neat, even if it’s cockeyed across the panel. Totally proves my point about the typewriter. A real letterer would have broken that stuff up better and stuck it in at the bottom of the panel.

Rachel jumps him as he comes in, but he backhands her across the room. Then two of the pimp's thugs show up only to be knocked off by Kilburgh as he executes one of the most stunning moves I’ve ever seen.

At least the most stunning move I’ve seen in this particular comic. I think that move is actually within the range of human motion. Good job, Robert Zailo. One panel out of the book looks like an actual human being. And then the next is all over the place again.

In the next page and a half of pictures, Kilburgh can’t seem to close his mouth. Every panel he’s making his “oh face”, like he’s doing here. That stick in Rachel’s hand is suppose to be a pipebomb of some kind that was wedged into the costume she’s wearing when she found it. You know, in the crate with the planted drugs. Does any of that make sense? She’s off to use it to blow up the drug dealer/pimp guy.

Rachel scratches her claws together to make a spark and lights the pipebomb with it. Which is a talent I’ve seen real wolves use to make campfires. Then she throws the oversized firecracker through the window of the diner where the pimp is hanging out. I’m assuming two things here: 1.) she doesn’t care how many innocents she kills doing this and 2.) This diner has the most immense tables I’ve ever seen. It looks like a conference room table from a law firm. The bomb kills many people which you can tell by the amount of straight blood lines that come flying out of the window in the bottom picture. Either that or there is a tremendous number of people spitting all at the same time. Somehow Rachel gets captured (the book doesn’t linger on the details) and her employer has Kilburgh searching for the werewolf. His finely honed detective skills notices that something is amiss.

Kilburgh should get a better shampoo and conditioner, his hair looks like brittle straw.

The Christ-on-the-cross imagery is not what I find most disturbing about this picture. I’m most disturbed by the fact that the spiky haired male scientist is holding a gun in a hand that, given the location and angle, can only be attached to an arm jutting up from either his chest or his crotch. From the look on his face, he seems as shocked and surprised by it as I am.

Professor Gerald is wrong about who they are going to perform the Zombie Proto-type test on. It’s not going to be a lab animal, but we’ll see who it is in the next panel. Other things that are wrong: Male guy’s eraserhead hair style, Female’s foot positions, Male still has a shirt hanger in is overcoat making his shoulders and arms ridged and Male is missing his left ear. Let’s get on with it. Bring on our test subject.

His niece! What a slime bucket. Also she’s just a kid. Not only that, she’s a human kid! Not like a…what?...goat kidd? This is just shocking. Wait, she gave her consent. Why would she do that?

So she had an abortion and you’re covering up for her so she can be a guinea pig. Seems fair. I’m not sure how an abortion can by both “orderly” and “very messy”, but I’ll take the docs word on it. But surely the other scientists will not go along with this. The sanctity of life and all that stuff. Plus she’s just a kid. A human kid!

Heh! She was asking for it. Let that be a lesson to you teenagers in the audience. If you have unprotected sex, get pregnant, and then have to get an orderly but very messy abortion, then you are just asking to be made a test subject for your uncle’s mind control experiments. I think they should do a PSA after this comic to reveal this hidden danger to today’s oversexed youths.

Marcia gets mind swapped, giving the werewolf complete control over her. She breaks free and attacks the scientists. The spike-hair man threatens her with a gun. Marcia knocks it out of his hand and it misfires, striking the woman in the leg.

The look on that woman’s face is priceless. Bullets don’t make that much blood, either. Notice the very small lines coming out of her knee. I’d insert a Brady Bunch joke here, but every time I look at the last panel I get caught on the guy’s facial expression. It causes short circuits in my brain pan and I find wit leaving me.

Despite the CEO’s best efforts…

…Marcia escapes, prompting him to rethink his options.

“Yeah, Dave? It’s Marty, your brother. Look, I’ve got some bad news. Marcia was at the lab, asking a lot of questions, pestering the workers. And you know that mind control experiment-thing I’m working on for the government. Well, the strangest thing happened. Completely on her own, with on one around, she hooked herself up the machine and it reverted her to a beast-like animal that can gut a man with its bare hands. Strangest thing, huh.”

Marcia is killed by the werewolf in front of Kilburgh. With her last dying gasp, she tells him Rachel is being held captive. Meanwhile Rachel comes to and goes after the CEO who is packing in a frenzy of contorted arms.

Rachel catches him and threatens his life. Also she should learn how to use a napkin. This artist has never met a perspective he couldn’t screw up.

Kilburgh arrives just in time to kill the bad CEO before Rachel can. Yay! As she trots off into the night, their budding romance is capped off by her telling him to “mind his own business”. *sigh*

I don’t know how many of these were made. None of my standard resources can pull up any info on the title, artist, author, publishing company or colorist. It’s like the book was so bad that the Earth open up and swallowed all of them whole. All of them except the copy I hold in my hand.

And I have to ask myself “Why?”

“Why couldn’t this one have been destroyed too?”


  1. ... ahem.

    This might just be the greatest thing I've ever seen.

  2. I have a similarly amateurish book on my list to review at some point. And part of me wants to give it a pass, as it clearly is done by an amateur. Except that it charged the price of a professional comic. And if that's the case, then I think a fair, honest critique is appropriate. Thanks for showing me the way!

  3. Would you be willing to sell me this comic?


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