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Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 Paperback – July 22, 2008
Equal parts funny and melancholy. "Mooncop" is a graphic novel story of the past, present, and future, all in one. Learn more
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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.
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.
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.
He is a great artist with the gift of explaining his creative process( (See Understanding Comics). He has the courage to confront the real world and work it into his fantasy. He can be serious without being depressing or hopeless.
is worth a read and his art work is interesting never ordinary....Story line is weakest link
here but still interesting enough to read on....if you want to find out if scott mccloud the objective
comix guy can write and draw this is good one to check out....you might just get into Zot!!!!!!!!!!
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