13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give me a swig of Blue Bingo Pop and a Zot! story, anyday...
Dudes, hearken back. The 1980s gave rise to a slew of classic independent comic books. And it's been slow going, but, in recent years, we're finally seeing their collected reprints come to light. Case in point, this: Before Scott McCloud authored the critically acclaimed Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, he created the terrific little comic book ZOT! ZOT! holds a...
Published on August 12, 2008 by H. Bala
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
I tried reading this. I couldn't really get into it. I'm not a fan of Manga though, so that's probably why. It leans heavily to the Manga side, not so much to the superhero side. I found the plot to be nonsensical or just plain stupid in alot of spots. It's basically a comic for children. Also too much romance, which you find in alot of Manga. To the guy who gave it 3...
Published 23 months ago by Shannon W. Daily
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give me a swig of Blue Bingo Pop and a Zot! story, anyday...,
Dudes, hearken back. The 1980s gave rise to a slew of classic independent comic books. And it's been slow going, but, in recent years, we're finally seeing their collected reprints come to light. Case in point, this: Before Scott McCloud authored the critically acclaimed Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, he created the terrific little comic book ZOT! ZOT! holds a special something something in my heart, even though this title's been so ridiculously hard to find, even during its initial run. But it was always worth hunting this down for McCloud's wonderfully offbeat storytelling and subtly simple yet evocative artwork. I am so stoked that ZOT! THE COMPLETE BLACK & WHITE COLLECTION is finally out!
So what exactly is ZOT!? Zot is Zachary T. Paleozogt, a cheerful teenaged superhero (or techno-hero) who hails from a utopian alternate Earth, gleaming and rife with futuristic technological marvels. He meets Jenny Weaver, a disillusioned 14-year-old, when he goes thru a dimensional portal and crosses over into her much darker (read: more real) Earth. Zot soars thru the skies on gravity boots, wields a laser pistol and tussles with a gallery of weird villains. But, really, what made the comic book so special was Zot's sweet, sensitive relationship with Jenny. Jenny peers at the world thru morbid eyes, and she yearns for the clean-cut simplicity of Zot's idealized Earth. Zot, time and again, attempts to counteract Jenny's pessimism with his unwavering enthusiasm and optimism. He happens to find Jenny's Earth unendingly fascinating.
This is a lighthearted yet character-driven take on the superhero, and graced with a breezy innocence and whimsy. Seemingly simple on the surface, ZOT!'s stories unfold in rich layers. The quirky tone is built on by the eccentric supporting cast: Zot's Uncle Max, a genial inventor who equips Zot with crimefighting gadgetry; the polite mechanical butler, Peabody; Butch, Jenny's obnoxious older brother, who transforms into a chimp whenever he visits Zot's world ("Aah!! I'm a monkey again!!"). Meanwhile, Jenny's down-to-earth friend, Terry, provides a grounding element.
As mentioned, there's an unusual mix of villains, the deadliest of whom are the soul-searching robot Zybox ("Season of Dreams") and Zot's archnemesis, the very frightening 9-Jack-9, who can jump into and control machinery and surf on electricity and radio waves ("The Ghost in the Machine"). On the opposite side of the spectrum, the De-evolutionaries are a silly bunch whose shtick is reverting humans into chimps.
Scott McCloud raises several thought-provoking themes, issues dealing with sexuality, young love (there's even a romantic triangle), of divorce and a search for identity and the desperate need to escape one's grim reality. McCloud focuses most on the stark contrasts between the two parallel Earths. Zot's world embodies optimism and dreams and our hopes for a bright future while Jenny's Earth is our Earth, bleak and mean and perhaps not as tolerant of frivolous aspirations.
For Zot, morality isn't ambiguous; he lives in unconflicted black and white. Zot conducts his derring-do with joyous abandon, firm in belief that the good guys will always thump the bad guys. Zot even invites Jenny to witness his battle against the evil Doctor Bellows. When Jenny arrives, Zot's other friends are already seated and snacking it up, treating Zot's mid-air scuffle like a cineplex movie. So conditioned are Zot and company to coming out on top that Uncle Max even finds time to nonchalantly rate the do-badders (he says of Doctor Bellows: "Splendid villain! Very exuberant!"). So what then when Zot's heroics fail him on Jenny's side of the portal?
ZOT! doesn't follow conventions of the genre. Oh, Zot still does his thing against supervillains but that almost takes a back seat to McCloud's delightfully idiosyncratic touches. I get a kick that supervillains get invited to Zot's parties and that it's always the year 1965 on Zot's Earth, a fact which eludes that world's inhabitants. And, of the many outstanding issues, three are particularly exceptional: "The Season of Dreams, Part 2" - in which Jenny is led to believe that Zot is a purely make-believe character; "Normal" - a sensitive look at Jenny's conflicted friend, Terry; and "The Conversation" - an all-talk issue as Jenny and Zot talk about having sex.
A quick hit on the artwork. At the time influenced by Manga, McCloud incorporated that style into his artwork on ZOT! McCloud claims that he struggles as an artist at times, yet note his clear compositions, the attention to detail he pays to his background panels, and the expressiveness with which he renders his characters. Yeah, his early stuff had its moments of clumsiness. But the man can draw.
ZOT! had a run of 36 issues. From 1984 to 1985, Eclipse Comics published ten issues of ZOT! in color. In 1987, Scott McCloud resurrected the series, and this time in black & white. This second incarnation is what's collected in ZOT! THE COMPLETE BLACK & WHITE COLLECTION (1987-1991). This monster trade, at 575 pages, comprises of two parts, "Heroes & Villains" (#11-18 & 21-27) and "The Earth Stories" (issues #28-36). "Heroes & Villains" explores Zot's zany superheroics while "The Earth Stories" shifts the focus towards the supporting cast's ordinary lives, even as Zot is stranded on Jenny's world. The trade comes with very nice bonus material, mostly in the form of Scott McCloud's extensive commentary, peppered throughout. It would've been nice if the trade had also included issues #10 1/2 and 14 1/2, featuring Matt Feazell's terrific stick-figure renderings of Zot!, as well as Chuck Austen's finished art for "Getting to 99" (#19 & 20; which were simultaneously published fill-in issues, as McCloud was then off honeymooning). Hopefully, we'll see these in a future release. But reproduced here, although shrunken down, are McCloud's original rough layouts for "Getting to 99."
Someday I hope Scott McCloud begins producing new ZOT! stories, although I wouldn't hold my breath on that taking place any time soon. Meanwhile, to tide folks over, there's "Hearts and Minds" - a nifty online ZOT! story told in sixteen parts - on Scott McCloud's website. And, if you're interested, the first 10 issues can be found in Zot: Book 1 (Zot!) (Issues 1-10). Hope this helps a bit. It's hard overcoming ZOT! withdrawal.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zot!, superhero.,
If you've read Scott McCloud's theoretical books, you'd know that he is one smart, awesome, dedicated comic writer/illustrator. He's got a faith in the medium that seems to inspire all of his readers to explore the vastly underused medium and to explore all the wonders it contains.
Happily, we can now finally read the largest example of his own use of the medium. Despite his self-criticism at the beginning of the book, Zot! reads like some of the best that American comics has to offer. I highly suggest it to anyone interested in superhero books OR, more importantly, experimental works in the world of comics.
Also, check out his website, scottmccloud.com, for some very cool webcomics. I personally can't wait to see what this comic master's next masterpiece will be. I'm willing to bet that whatever he makes at this point in his career will take the entire industry by storm.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McCloud Understands Comics,
The old quip is that those who can't do, teach. It's a witty enough remark, but does it really hold true? The case I want to look at is Scott McCloud. He is best known for writing the classic Understanding Comics, which goes into the nuts and bolts of what makes comics work (along with the near classic Making Comics and the less memorable Reinventing Comics). But can he actually write comics? Zot! shows he can.
Zot! covers issues 11 to 36, all written and drawn by McCloud (an earlier ten issue run (in color) is not included, but #11 pretty much is a reboot in black-and-white). The principal characters are Jenny Weaver, a teenage girl in the "real" world and her friend (boyfriend?) from an idealized Earth, Zachary T. Paleozogt, also known as Zot. Zot, also a teenage, is a superhero in his world, but in a land where crime is minimal and the villains tend to be more silly than dangerous, Zot has developed into a pure idealist. Jenny, having to deal with family issues and the usual teenage pressures of school and peers, has a more jaded view of her own world.
The book is divided into two parts. In Part One - Heroes and Villains - we get somewhat standard superhero fare, with Zot contending with various bad guys. Some, as mentioned above, are silly, while others are far more dangerous. Part Two - The Earth Stories - take a radical turn. As these issues begin, Zot is stranded in Jenny's reality; it doesn't bother the eternally optimistic superhero, but it does shift the focus. Zot is almost pushed to the side as stories focus on Jenny and her friends as they deal with the mundane (but still significant) problems in their own lives. As Jenny is in the middle of a romantic triangle with Zot and her friend Woody, other characters must deal with issues such as poverty, gay-bashing and divorce. And though Zot may view things through rose-colored glasses, he is still savvy enough to provide an alternate, somewhat alien viewpoint to his friends.
For a comic to succeed, not only must the writing and the art be good on their own, they have to mesh perfectly together, and they do in this series. What makes McCloud stand out is not only good at writing comics, he is good at explaining how they work as well (and he provides a lot of commentary on his own work in this volume; in other works, not all who can do can teach, but McCloud can. But even if you've never read McCloud's more well-know nonfiction, this is still well-worth picking up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a complete reprint of the B/W Zot issues!,
(H. Bala gives a good detailed review, so won't repeat what he says).
I first encountered Zot! back when it was published by Eclipse during its color phase and got all the color issues (was initially put off by the comic until I really checked it out and liked what I saw).
When it went into hiatus and came back in black & white, I got it. Great stuff.
Then Kitchen Sink started to collect the comic in trade paperbacks (I think Eclipse had gone under by then). I got all the trades: #1 (first 10 issues in color), then the 2nd and 3rd (all black and white). We were just missing the 4th collection (covering the 'Planet Earth' storyline) when Kitchen Sink went under!! Arggh. For many years, we Zot fans awaited this to come out from SOMEONE.
McCloud, mean while, moved on to other things, like "Understand Comics" and the follow ups to that. Pretty much the only new fiction stuff he's done was the 'new adventures of Lincoln' and a new Zot webcomic.
Now, finally, ALL the black and white issues (except for the 2 parter done with Austen and the 1/2 issues by Frezel) are collected. I'll still keep my old KSP collections, especially the one of the first 10 color issues. (McCloud really shouldn't put down those issues. While they might not be as good as the later b/w, they are still pretty good.)
Now, if only McCloud would come out with more Zot comics...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those who teach can also do,
Today Scott McCloud is best known as the author of Understanding Comics - an in depth analysis of how and why comics work. Understanding Comics and its sequels established McCloud as one of the premier comic book scholars. He really understands how sequential art (comic books, manga, comic strips etc) can work and can be made better.
But before all that, he was a struggling independent comic creator slaving away on Zot.
This is a love story between a fearless adventurer from a Flash Gordon-art deco world and an angst-filled teen from a small town in ours. The action moves from jet boots and laser beams to high school drama and both are very good.
This reprint collection is a bit odd because it skips the color issues of Zot, which set up the whole improbable situation and most of the characters. Yet it still works, thanks in part to McCloud's commentary after each issue.
So more than 20 years after it was first written Zot shows that McCloud is more than just a scholar but one of the premier comic creators of our time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blends the styles of multiple genres to create a delightful storyline,
Long before manga took the United States by storm, and anticipating the coming onslaught of black-and-white comics that would soon be everywhere, Zot!, a simply yet powerfully effective superhero series, debuted in 1987. This lovely volume collects the complete black-and-white run of Zot!, from 1987 to 1991.
It's a large, expansive collection, something worth getting lost in for a long, long time. And if it sounds like I'm waxing nostalgic...well, perhaps I am, but Zot! really embodies some of the best, most inventive comics work of the '80s. While Swamp Thing, X-Men, Watchmen, Dark Knight, Sandman, and Maus hold canonical places of honor in comics literature from this period--and deservedly so-- Zot! also deserves its home there. It too helped define what superhero comics could be and showed how deftly and superbly a talented writer can craft a story that works just as well for adults as it does for kids.
To give just a general overview of the book: Zot is a 15-year-old from a parallel earth. On his world, it's still 1965, and the entire planet is blissfully at peace. He's unprepared for life on this earth, which is violent and unpredictable. When he arrives in 1980s New York and is attacked, he can't comprehend why anyone would want to do him any harm. His touchstone on our world--and our touchstone to his--is 14-year-old Jenny Weaver.
Zot! was published in 10 color issues beginning in 1984, but those issues are not collected here (nor are they needed for any comprehension; McCloud starts the black-and-white series anew and gives you everything you need to enjoy--and flat-out love--his characters and his book. His artistic skills match his writing (surpass it, even). His use of shading is just gorgeous, and he pays more attention to background details in each panel than some artists pay to entire pages of their work.
Zot! is something any comics or manga fan will appreciate: a book that takes the elements we all love about graphic stories (passion, adventure, courage, love, and heart) and blends the styles of multiple genres to create a delightful storyline.
-- John Hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars A miraculous, little-known graphic novel landmark,
"Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991"
by Scott McCloud
(Harper Books, 2008)
Along with the first series of "Love & Rockets," Scott McCloud's "Zot!" was one of the few comic books that I bought new off the stands in the late 1980s... I was a recovering lifelong Marvel junkie, and a few books had brought me back into the fold -- DC's revamped "Swamp Thing," "Watchmen," stuff like that -- and there was a swirl of charming black-and-white, small-press "ground level" comics out there that rekindled the sense of fun and wonder that the superhero books once had, but had lost in the muscle-bound monotony of clones, alternate realities and anti-mutant pogroms, and gimmicky fake deaths. "Zot," however, was one of the few books that really enthralled me, and that I eagerly awaited when it came out on the stands.
There was the first series, the color stories, that came out first (and which have been reprinted by Kitchen Sink Press... also worth tracking down) and those stories were lots of fun. After wrapping that series up, McCloud too a sabbatical, then returned with this second series, a more mature, more accomplished, and much more ambitious project that took comicbook storytelling to a very surprising place. Under the cover of a goofy, fun, fantastical reexamination of sci-fi/superhero genre, McCloud crafted an emotionally resonant coming-of-age epic.
This omnibus opens with the ebullient young Zot, a tirelessly optimistic teenage superhero from a futuristic alternate reality coming back to visit his Earth friend, Jenny Weaver, and stay with her in her world. He brings some of his hip, wise-cracking teenage future-world friends with him, and initially the series has the same giddy, adolescent tone as the first series. But over the course of the next couple dozen issues, the tone of the book changed -- the play-action violence became more real, the hero had to accept the kind of consequences that our real-world existence demanded, and Jenny slowly but surely emerged as the book's true hero. Also the cast widened, as did their emotional depth. Jenny's geeky high school friends -- D&D-ers, comicbook readers, nerds and sexual outcasts -- were all given their own space to emerge as three-dimensional characters, with one emerging as a romantic rival in a triangle between Jenny and Zot. Two issues stood out at the time, and still do now: In issue #30, we were treated to "Autumn," a poignant story that focussed on Jenny's mother, a recently divorced single parent who laments the loss of her own youth and innocence, while issue #35 ("The Conversation") in which Jenny and Zot debate the wisdom of having premarital, teenage sex, remains an intellectual highwater mark for the comicbook medium. In the next episode, the series ended, with a bittersweet finality, but a sense of purpose and grace that is rarely seen in canceled titles.
Author/illustrator Scott McCloud has since gone on to become an expert in explaining and advocating for the graphic novel medium, but he has never really tried to present a story on this scale again, and really, why should he? Few authors create genuine masterpieces, but here he has, and it's a marvelous legacy, beautifully gathered in this thick, compact omnibus volume. This is one of the best, most resonant comics I've ever read, and it is highly, highly recommended. (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)
5.0 out of 5 stars Revert!,
Everyone who has read this book already knows who Scott McCloud is and all about the contributions he has made to the comics medium. He set aside his fictional comic creating to first define, then redefine, then even redefine the way we look at the creation of Comics.
Now, on to Zot! This is the first Zot! work I have read by McCloud and I was impressed from the start. This is a tale of duality, opposite sides of the same coin, the Yin of our normal (yet far from mundane) and the Yang of Zot's utopian (yet far from perfect) homeworld.
The book is also set up in two parts, the first painting a vivid portait of Zot's futuristic homeworld. Reminiscent of those old World's Fair type of speculation of what people of the 40s and 50s must have thought the future would eventually look like.
The second part is a masterful portrait of Our world, or "Jenny's World." In it, the story really takes off, and the characters turn to show us they are in fact three dimensional (Even Zot!)
If you love super hero comics but think they have become obsessed with making every hero into a "dark" parody of itself, you will absolutely fall in love with Zot! His main super power (if you can call it that) is his unfailing optimism. He is filled with youthful exuberance that made me miss that part of myself, and envy him and his friends for having him. He is Upbeat at all times, but never naive. He is incredibly resourceful and intelligent. At the point in the story where he discovers that he is not, indeed undefeatable my heart nearly broke. Read it, love it, hug it! Zot's back in print and both our worlds are richer for it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure, romance, drama, fun!,
Obviously, Scott McCloud is more well known for "Understanding Comics" and its follow ups--but it was "Zot!" that first made me a huge fan of his work back in the 80s.
I ignored the series when the first color issues came out, but decided to give it a shot when the comic "re-started" at #11 in black and white--and boy was I glad I did.
On the one hand, "Zot!" is an adventure series about a boy hero who lives in a magical future-like place, and how he fights villains and saves Jenny--a girl from the "real" world.
But as the series progresses--especially during the already mentioned "Earth Stories", where Zot is stranded in Jenny's world--it became more of a coming of age story. About Zot and Jenny, but also Jenny's friends--one of whom, ironically, wishes he was a comic book character.
I loved these stories and am so glad that the entire black and white run is colleced in one manga-esque book. I can't recommned it enough!
5.0 out of 5 stars Something that doubtlessly will stand the test of time,
I remember watching Castaway many years ago. It was the scene where Tom Hanks, now a lank savage figure, argued with Wilson the volleyball and then tearfully found him floating on the beach. It was light-hearted and serious at the same time. Most importantly, it had DEPTH. I felt the stranded years that were skipped over in the film heavily in how desperately Hanks held on to his friend. Never again, Wilson. Never again.
Reading Zot! gives me such an experience. As other examples of great art, it takes us places we can't go physically. It helps us see the world we see everyday in a new light. Also like other great art, revisiting it gives us a deeper appreciation each time.
Buy this book.
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Zot! by Scott McCloud (Hardcover - 1996)
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