Rotten Roots, from Bad Kids Press is a murder mystery comic book that spans centuries. Initially set in the present day, it is billed as a neo-noir crime drama/historical fiction set on Cape Cod, in the fictional Osprey City. Detective Mark Robles is new to the Osprey City Police Department after a recent transfer from Chicago, and is assigned to investigate the death of one of the city’s leading residents, Harold Wood. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers the journal of a member of the Wood family, which stretches back to the founding of the town in the 1600’s, and tells the story of the town’s first murder.
Written by Paul Axel, the story starts off at a steady pace, effectively capturing the beginnings of a murder investigation, and the methodical way in which evidence is gathered, and leads followed up on – a stark difference to the same story when portrayed on television. Renée Majkut‘s artwork evokes a digital watercolor feel that effectively ties the two time periods together. Although at times it feels that some of the detail from some panels is lacking in others, Majkut‘s page composition is fantastic; there are some very interesting uses of perspective throughout the comic.
Rotten Roots is an indie comic with the first three issues available as deluxe digital editions here, or standard digital editions here. It will cost you a dollar for the standard digital edition of the comic or two for the deluxe digital version, which is less than the price of a bad cup of coffee. When you take the first three issues at those prices, whether the standard or deluxe editions, it’s very difficult not to recommend it to you. The extras you get for the extra dollar are worth the money, and provide an interesting insight into the production of the comic. They’re not require reading, but the extras are enjoyable nonetheless.
The duality of the century-spanning tale is certainly intriguing, and the first three issues get progressively better as you follow Mark Robles‘ investigation as he attempts to solve the present day murder while simultaneously peeling back the layers of a hundred-year-old mystery. The investigative aspect of the comic is at times slow, but Axel is allowing himself the freedom to more accurately follow what I can only assume to be a more realistic pace to a murder investigation. It’s a gripping story, both past and present, and a story in which the pacing never feels ponderous, instead, it allows the reader to enjoy the digital watercolors that Majkut provides brilliantly – and if it isn’t digitally water-coloured, that’s the most accurate way I have to describe it.
This is a solid story, and were you to compare it to other digital comics at upwards of two or three times the price, then perhaps you may overlook it, and that would be a genuine shame. Rotten Roots is worth spending the time to sit down and really enjoy. Take your time with the comics, because they’re better read if you’re not flying through them.
Which ever version you get is well worth the price of admission – if you only get the standard editions, you’re going to be reading a gripping crime story set in the fictional Osprey City. If you get the deluxe versions, then you can see just how much work the creative team have put into each issue, and there’s some fantastic insight into the making of the comics.
Story: Paul Axel Art: Renée Majkut
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy
Bad Kids Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy to review.