The Horror Honeys: A Horror Comic Review - Z’Isle Vol 1. - Tabula Rasa

A Horror Comic Review - Z’Isle Vol 1. - Tabula Rasa

A Comics Honey Review by Shannon

Z’Isle Vol 1. - Tabula Rasa

"Every Empire was built on a pile of bones. This is the first time in history the bones are fighting back.”

Written by: Lateef Martin and Isabelle Duguay
Artwork and Lettering by: Lateef Martin
Publisher: Miscellaneum Studios
Publishing Date: June 2014
Page Count: 28 pages

Artwork: 4
Layout: 5
Writing 3
Characters 5
Re-readability 3

ComicHoney Score: 4 out of 5 skulls.

Z’Isle is a Post-Apocalypse Zombie comic from Montreal’s artist collective known as Miscellaneum Studios. I found out about this series when they were crowdfunding this comic through IndieGoGo in 2013. A few weeks ago they just released their first issue and I received my PDF copy as one of the incentives of their crowdfunding campaign.
According to their website, Z’isle is “A comic book series set in Montreal seven years after an undead infestation. Bike-forged weapons & roof-bound communities have kept people safe. But for how long?

Trust, Trade & Hope, that's all Z'Islanders have left. They have restructured their neighbourhoods into fortresses against the onslaught of the undead and formed alliances with complimentary communities. Those who can make things are kings and those who get too comfortable...die.”

Unlike most zombie comics taking place before/during the apocalyptic slaughter, Z’isle takes the concept further by depicting seven years afterwards and how human civilization rebuilds and adapts to the new environment.


First thing that really stands out is the artwork. Instead of going for typical red, blues and greens you often see in Horror comics. Comic artist, Lateef Martin, opts for Sepia tones, traditional inks and graphite rendering with minimal digital additions of lettering, captions and highlights . 

Even the addition of tape, water stains and paper creases really sell the idea of aged artwork, in a time where there is no paper to be manufactured. I love it when artists use art direction to reflect the world of their comic, instead of going with standard ideas for the genre.

The only bit I could subtract from the artwork is the lettering. It reads just fine on a computer screen but in a smaller format, like a tablet or even a printed book, the letter are very thin and might be hard for some people to read. The change of font or even using the bold feature can easily solve this issue.


Other than the lettering, I find that the layout of Z’isle was done very well as I had no problem reading panels, following the action and even the pacing of the story was well crafted through the design of the comic pages.


The first volume, Tabula Rasa, introduces the world of Z’isle within the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Also a good thing to note is that the comic is translated for Francophone and Anglophone audiences.

Montreal has been recovering from the collapse of society 7 years ago, they have since adapted by living in skyscrapers, away from hordes below (hence the title- as the portmanteau of Zombie and the french word for Island) and their primary source of transportation is bicycling, which the items have also been refitted into weapons like cross-bows. This is nice to see especially with my nitpicking of some zombie films and comics in which writers tend to forget that bullets and gasoline would be very scarce.

In this volume, the comic is primarily building up the world in which the characters live in and how they survive from not only the zombies themselves but from scavengers and post-world hierarchy. This book is a bit of a slow build up with not much going on until the end where it will be continued in volume two, so its fair to say that this series is a graphic novel in progress.

Through "Tabula Rasa," we are told stories through several characters. One of them a child on his birthday with none of his friends around (or alive), a group of carpenters building greenhouses, an Apothecary and her apprentice, an ex-soldier with regret and a explorer searching the outlands for other lost souls.

In the IndieGoGo campaign, creators Lateef Martin and Isabelle Duguay strived to create a diverse cast which has been depicted in characters with different ages, gender, and ethnicities. One of the incentives was to have the IndieGogo Backers depicted as characters in the world of the comic. By doing this, we have less “cookie cutter” character design that you see in a lot of mainstream comics.


Like I was saying, the volume is one of three for the series so "Tabula Rasa" by itself would not be a book to re-read over but since it is a part of a longer plotline, its a good build-up for the action and main plot to come along.


A crowdsourced comic that is delivering on their premise with great artwork and setting, Z’isle: Tabula Rasa looks to be the beginning of an intelligent entry into the Post-Apocalypse Zombie genre, which is good because zombie comics tend to be very much lacking in ...brains.

Editors Note: Z'isle Tabula Rasa: Volume 1 is made with issues #1 through 6 and this review was based on the first issue. We apologize for any confusion.

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