Writer and Artist: Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud has made his biggest splash in the comic book industry with his non-fiction works, all previously reviewed here at The Squid: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics. However, he earned his cred in the trenches. Zot! was his best-known fiction comic. The series ran for 36 issues total, the first ten in color, the final 26 in black and white. The collection I just finished includes the black and white issues only, originally published 1987-91. Issue #11 was essentially a reboot so this volume encompasses a more or less continuous story.
Zot is a teenage superhero from an alternate Earth. Jenny is his contact in our world. Their relationship is complicated. Naturally, that's half the fun of the series.
But there's more - a lot more - to this seemingly simple premise. The series begins as a reasonably straight-forward, light-hearted exploration of the comparisons between Jenny's and Zot's dimensions. However, things get a lot more interesting when Zot gets stranded on Jenny's (our own) Earth for a year. Comic book convention is chucked out the window as McCloud digs into the complicated lives of Jenny's friends. Their problems are very real, and a few of them still difficult to talk about in some circles two decades later: alcoholic and verbally abusive parents, divorce, confronting racism and homophobia, etc. For all of the fantastical elements on offer with Zot!, it's these brutally human stories which ultimately make for a memorable, compelling series.
The artwork throughout is outstanding. McCloud drew inspiration from the Japanese manga aesthetic, especially the work of Osamu Tezuka. McCloud is a master of the black and white medium, creating lush, detailed panels in a variety of artistic styles. A worthy example:
Notes from the Playground