When fragile human bodies have to occupy the same spaces as big, heavy, complex machines that can travel at high speeds, the outcome is inevitable. Some people will die. So why do we identify with the driver in the car rather than the person they have killed? Would you still shrug and chalk it up to random bad luck if that dead person was someone you loved?
Using the comic book format, this book vehemently dispels the notion that traffic accidents are inevitable and/or acceptable on any level, insisting that drivers own their responsibility, and consider the consequences of careless and dangerous behavior. It is part thought experiment, part testimonial, and part indictment of a dysfunctional transit environment that puts convenience for drivers ahead of logic, natural resources, and even ahead of human life. Crash Course questions the decisions that shape all our lives. Why don't roads serve everyone who needs to use them? What makes some people not worth protecting? Where do we start in fixing a broken system that facilitates the use of vehicles as murder weapons in places like Charlottesville, VA?
“Phoenix rails against the arrogance of consumers, carmakers, and government leaders who protect drivers over pedestrians; the dangers of self-driving cars; and the inequity in risk to drivers, themselves, exposed in the deadly police shootings of African-Americans during traffic stops.” —Publishers Weekly.
“Crash Co“A singular, passionate, and imploring wake-up call that shines a long overdue spotlight on the most prolific killer of our time.” —Ezra Claytan Daniels, author of Upgrade Soul and Bttm Fdrs.
“Crash Course shows with stark, painful precision what we lost when we surrendered our streets to cars. Woodrow Phoenix is a street fighter, using a strong visual language to put our eyes back on the road.” —Janette Sadik-Khan, former NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner, and author of Street Fight.
“In a country devoted to its automobile dependence, where we’re taught that driving is an expression of our all-American independence, Woodrow Phoenix’s disassembly of our car culture is a powerful and necessary critique. He illustrates the central injustice of our cities: the relegation of people to edges, and the complete devotion of our streets to vehicles. Phoenix makes an important case that our cities must be built for people.” —Danny Harris, Director of Transportation Alternatives.
“A very important work. Essential even. The approach to the subject is woefully underrepresented in literature, and at this particular crossroads we need to audit these 20th century metanarratives about the automobile and how it relates to notions of freedom and self.” —Ronald Wimberly, author of Prince of Cats, the graphic novel soon to be a major motion picture directed by Spike Lee.
“In Crash Course the furiously multi-talented Phoenix has set himself quite a challenge: to create a 200-page graphic novel about the danger of cars without ever drawing a car. And he has succeeded: Phoenix’s starkly beautiful black, white, and grey artwork portrays a dreamlike, depopulated world filled with traffic signs, lane markers, and streetlights; a world of empty roads, parking lots, highways, and overpasses. The book’s pithy captions highlight the incredible and insane ways the American roads prioritize automobiles at the cost of fragile human lives. Via chilling anecdotes, true-life stories, and statistics, Phoenix takes on car culture in all its forms: urban planning, advertising, glamour, legislation, self-driving cars, the dilemma of Driving While Black — and even shares some inspiring tales of how pedestrian movements are pushing back. In this land where car is king, Crash Course dares to show that the emperor has no clothes.” —Josh Neufeld, writer/artist of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge.
“Woodrow Phoenix's gift is to use an unusual format, the comic, to transform our perspective. The car is the most normal thing in our landscape, isn't it? But Crash Course asks us to look at our world with new eyes. What if the car isn't normal? What if it's a barely-managed danger? It's a bracing book, and also a beautiful one.” —Jesse Thorn, owner of MaximumFun.org and host/producer of podcasts including Bullseye on National Public Radio.
“Crash Course is a beautiful and important book that illustrates starkly the tragedy of pedestrian auto fatalities in the US. Woodrow Phoenix’s sensitive mind and sharp pen should awaken urban planners, civic leaders and auto industry regulators and executives to their collective failure to adequately ensure the safety of citizens who don’t drive the sleek and powerful death traps that have taken the lives of so many.” —Charles Fleming, automobile and motorcycle writer at the L.A. Times, and author of the New York Times bestseller My Lobotomy.