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Zot!

Last month Kam was clearing out a bunch of her comics, and while going through the boxes, I came upon five later issues of Scott McCloud’s Zot! Seeing them reminded me that I had only the first three graphic novels (the only three Kitchen Sink Press published before they went down the sink), and had only read up through what I owned. Kam kindly gave me her copies (issues #31 through #35), and I set out to finish the fourth arc by searching eBay. Sure enough, I was able to complete my collection, at a pretty reasonable cost.

Cover of Zot! Book 1

Before I get too much ahead of myself, a summary: Jenny Weaver, a teen in the 1980s, is tired of her family’s frequent moves. She’s worn down, disillusioned and depressed. That changes when Zot, a teen boy from another, shinier dimension, literally flies into her. The changes don’t displace her dull existence (as much as she’d wish), they just complicate her life, although in fun and unexpected ways.

McCloud’s artwork reminds me of my childhood love of embroidery samplers and rainbows. No, no, don’t think of tacky crafts! Instead, picture beautifully arranged comprehensive decorations, motifs and hues. His illustration technique somehow manages to densely assemble a large variety of textures, patterns and colors, without dissolving into a style which would otherwise feel thinly spread or unfocused —or interfering with the story.

(Avast! The following might be construed as exposing minor spoilers.)

Zot seems to have superhero powers, but this isn’t your typical superhero comic. There are crazy inventions to witness, but this isn’t just some retro Golden Age science fiction adventure. Fantasy is a great escape, yet reality continues to persist, even heartbreakingly so. But at the same time, the forays into fantasy do make life bearable. Speaking of the reality, McCloud handles the (often) intimidating topic of teen sex bluntly but with good humor:

Jenny: Y’know Terry’s friend Judy—? She says she’s done it with four different guys already. And she’s just a sophomore.

Zot: She says she has…

Jenny: Do you think she’s lying?

Zot: Well, I wouldn’t want to say, but I know that Terry asked her if they use a condom…

Jenny: Yeah—?

Zot: And Judy said, “No, Ricky’s not into real estate.”

[From issue #35 of “Earth Stories,” Zot!]

So while waiting for the delivery, I thought “With my luck, the fourth collection will come out soon in print.” Sure enough, a few weeks ago I found the announcement via McCloud’s blog. Heh! I’ll purchase it; after all, graphic novels are usually easier and more durable to read. Besides, I realized there are still a couple issues I haven’t read: #19 and #20, “Getting to 99,” which were drawn by Chuck Austen rather than McCloud. Hope those will be in the 2008 edition. If not, maybe eBay will come to the rescue again. 😉

Moreover, there’s a fifth Zot! arc, “Hearts and Minds,” available for free online. It brings back one of Zot’s nemeses, Dekko, an artist who became a cyborg. The story literally shows, over a sixteen week period, how McCloud became more adept at using software and the web page medium to generate his comic.

References

  • Zot! graphic novels: As of this writing, you can find the first three at Amazon.com and eBay, or even better, perhaps from a local comic book store or independent used bookseller.
    1. “Key to the Door.” Issues #1 through #10 are the only ones in color, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading the rest!
    2. The second book collects issues #11 and #12 (“Planet Earth”), #13 – #15 (“The Season of Dreams”), and #17 and #18 (“the Eyes of Dekko”). Issues #19 and #20 (“Getting to 99”) weren’t reprinted during the Kitchen Sink run.
    3. The third book collects #16 (“Call of the Wild”), #21 and #22 (“Can’t Buy Me Love”), #23 – #25 (“”The Ghost in the Machine”), and #26 and #27 (“Ring in the New”).
    4. The fourth book will reprint all the black and white comics (#11 – #36), including Earth Stories, issues #28 through #36, with additional material in July 2008. However, I don’t think this book will include “Hearts and Minds.”
  • Scott McCloud’s website, including the online Zot! story “Hearts and Minds.” He also has a great FAQ about his work. He also has a blog.
  • Comic Book Resources has a thorough character guide and summary for Zot!
  • Wikipedia entry.

2 comments

  1. Zed wrote:

    Yay, Zot! I had Scott McCloud sign my Zot! Vol 1. at Comic Relief a few months ago, but haven’t reread it in ages.

    Tuesday, 25 March 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  2. sairuh wrote:

    Iirc, you and Jed introduced me to this comic, heh! (Sorry for the delay in displaying your comment. Blame filtering mumbo-jumbo.)

    Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

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