Search on SLJ.com ....
Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Good Comics For Kids
Inside Good Comics For Kids

Review: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection

Esther Keller

Normal
0

false
false
false

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-style-parent:”";
font-size:10.0pt;”Times New Roman”;}

Normal
0

false
false
false

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-style-parent:”";
font-size:10.0pt;”Times New Roman”;}

Back in August, the Brooklyn Public Library had an author program with Scott McCloud. I didn’t want to pass up the chance to meet the guru of comics, so I dragged my (very good-natured-who doesn’t quite get comics) husband along and trekked off to the Central Branch for the program.

Mr. McCloud looked nothing like his picture.

I expected to hear about his books Understanding Comics and Making Comics, or how McCloud became someone who had such a finger on the pulse of the comic world, but instead, I was surprised to learn that before McCloud became the guru who wrote about comics, he actually made them. I know, silly me.

 

Zot! The Complete Black and White Collectionzot Review: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection

By: Scott McCloud

Publisher: Harper Collins

Price $24.99 (PBK), 576 pp.

ISBN 978-0-06-153727-1

Age Rating: 15 +

 

And so back in August, I was introduced to Zot! The complete Black and White Collection.   It’s nearly November, and Zot!, Jennie, and their friends haven’t left me. My thoughts keep drifting back to them. I keep thinking that while the Zot! collection is very much geared to an adult audience, with nostalgic notes about how McCloud created the comic, what was going on in his life at the time, and a little about McCloud’s beginnings in comics, the stories are very much teen stories.

For those who’ve never heard of Zot! It’s about a young girl named Jenny who meets a young boy – Zachary T. Paleozogt (known as Zot!) who lives in a parallel universe that is a utopian version of the planet earth. There Zot fights crime. His friend theorizes that Zot is successful at fighting the unsavory (read – silly, bizarre, not all that intimidating) criminals who populate the [utopian] Earth, because he wants to win. 

Jenny lives a very ordinary life. She has an annoying older brother. She has parents who are struggling with their marriage. She lives in a nice home and has a best friend. We don’t actually learn how she met Zot, because that happened in the 16 colored issues that came before this book, but while I remained curious about how they met, it didn’t impede on the story in any way.

So, we follow Zot and Jenny when he comes to “our” Earth and he discovers that people can be brutal – rob and steal and stand around when someone else is hurt. We follow them when Jenny visits his world and watches him fight a guy who wants to do away with modern technology. 

There are 576 pages in this book and there are many stories. I won’t go into them it all. The stories are enhanced with McCloud’s mini essays that clue us into what was going on during those times, his influences (manga!) and other such things. The notes are what could potentially pull teen readers out of this book. Most weren’t born when McCloud wrote and drew these comics. But if I put this in my collection, I would tell them that its okay to skip over the essays, they won’t be missing from the story. Though if teens are interested, I think they’ll gain a lot of insight to the stories.

The stories and themes in the latter half of the collection grow heavy and are more appropriate for high school audience. While the stories start out fun, even silly (though there are plenty of meaningful themes), most of the stories are innocuous. But during the time that Zot! is trapped on ‘our’ Earth, he and Jenny contemplate sex, there’s a story about homophobia – which is poignant, but has some harsh language (even to McCloud’s own admission.) Jenny grapples with the ills of our planet and would like to relocate to Zot!’s Earth.

The black and white ink drawings are breathtaking. In one of his essays, McCloud explains how he was inspired by manga. How the Japanese comics concentrated on the mundane. The “Earth Stories,” as McCloud calls them, have detailed panels of the ordinary everyday which counter balances the science fiction feel of the earlier stories. The detailed pictures of suburban neighborhoods in autumn, and the long trek to school kept my eyes glued to the page.

I could go on and on. But I’d just be rambling. So check out Zot! Hand it to your nearest teen and ask them what they think.  And you too will discover that there was a reason Scott McCloud could write all those insightful books about understanding and creating comics. Yes, he did create them first.

share save 171 16 Review: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection
Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

Comments

  1. tangognat says:

    I read Zot! back in the day when I was a teenager and loved it. I hope the new collection finds an audience with teens today

Speak Your Mind

*