Monday, December 31, 2012

On the Coffee Table: Zot!

Title: Zot!
Writer and Artist: Scott McCloud
Image via Multiversity Comics

Scott McCloud has made his biggest splash in the comic book industry with his non-fiction works, all previously reviewed here at The SquidUnderstanding 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:
Image via Notes from the Playground


  1. Its fair to say these two fall for each other but maybe age or a temporal time directive forbids interference, LOL either way Zot sounds like a fascinating read.

    1. Well, they are hormonally-charged teenagers after all. There is a romance involved and McCloud does a pretty good job of making it more than merely cute. The story is at its best when all of the characters, Zot included, are the most human.

      Happy New Year, Spacerguy! Looking forward to the new Trek film?

  2. Replies
    1. I hope you'll check it out. Thanks for stopping by, Jerry!