Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: The Sad State of Affairs of Rooster Jack

The Sad State of Affairs of Rooster JackWritten by Adam Hansen; Illustrated by Ben ZmithSpace Race; $3.00

So your graphic novel’s not quite complete and convention season is coming up. What’s a creator to do? Maybe make some stickers? Put the completed pages together into a cheap ashcan to give away? I’ve seen those ideas work. But they didn’t work as well as what Adam Hansen and Ben Zmith did.

The mini-comic version of Rooster Jack is a 20-page comic, 11 of which are story pages. The others are activity pages and other special features, a lot of them in 3D. And yes, it comes with a pair of Rooster Jack 3D glasses.

The 3D works surprisingly well for a homemade book and all together it’s a nice package for $3. The real value though is in the humor. I knew I was going to dig it from the opening sentence on the first page: “It’s been a century since the Ever-Turning City stopped rotation.” There’s not nearly enough evidence here to go comparing Hansen to Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett just yet, but it’s obvious that they’ve influenced him. Whether or not he’s a funny as them is a moot point to me anyway. He’s just funny and really that’s all that matters.

Rooster Jack is a fantasy hero who happens to have a rooster claw for a hand. He travels with a group of other “heroes” on a vaguely defined quest. Maybe it has something to do with finding a particular gem; maybe it’s about returning Jack to normal (whatever that is for him). Whatever it is, he’s in for a hard road because his companions are frickin idiots.

Le’Dove is an incompetent swashbuckler who dresses like… well, like a dove. Skoogan is a barbarian whose arms are too short to do him any damn good in battle. Thinkster is a Professor X-like, bald telepath who can’t walk and has to be pushed around in a wheelbarrow. Razzle Dazzle is an incomprehensible wizard whose visions of the future reveal important information like the way everyone feels about Raymond. Pixel is a tiny, surly fairy. He’s also probably drunk.

Zmith’s scribbled artwork makes the book even funnier. It’s crude, but Zmith knows how to get the point of the scene across simply and effectively. He also has a talent for magnifying the zaniness in a situation by always knowing exactly the right visual cue needed to make a joke even funnier.

The only thing missing from the Rooster Jack mini-comic is a proper ending, but I’m anxiously looking forward to the Fall when that’s planned to be released. Especially since Hansen and Zmith promise flying whales and a clockwork city. Until then, you can buy the mini-comic at the Space Race website.

Four out of five stupid, feather-clad swordsmen.

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