written by Scott McCloud
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.