Technically I should have written up this review, eeesh, in October but I elected to put up reviews of more Halloween-ish comics, honestly I checked out this book quite a while ago from the local library but the sheer size of the book took a while to get through. Honestly my first thought when I found the book was "Holy crap, a comic that rivals the size of A Drifting Life!" although it's actually a few hundred pages smaller. I'd seen Scott McCloud's books previously, namely his ones on making comics, but after reading too many god-awful "how to draw manga" books I shy away from all kinds of how-to books that involve art, no matter how well regarded they are. But this book seemed kinda interesting and I have been reading more superhero stories lately so I figured why not try it out?
Zot! by Scott McCloud
Summary: Jenny lives in contemporary, suburban America and her life feels even duller in comparison to her boyfriend Zot's who comes from an alternate Earth "in the far-flung future of 1965" where he is a superhero and lives in a seemingly perfect world. The first half of the story deals more with adventures in Zot's world and the second half deals with the more mundane journey of growing up in our/Jenny's world.
The Good: The second part of the book, while it feels very disconnected at times, also had a lot of great character development chapters. I think having a break from Jenny and Zot helped me (although I did like Zot more in these chapters than I did in the first half of the book) and I was surprised that McCloud decided to flesh out the side characters so much. Even more surprisingly my favorite two chapters had to deal with romance, I'm really not a big fan of romance, and I could see how one (maybe both of them) was nominated for an award.
The Bad: The introduction to the book promises that this is a reboot of the earlier Zot! comics and that readers don't need to have seen the originals but it neglected to cover a number of things which I suspect were in the original. Where did the running gag of Jenny's brother come from? How did Jenny and Zot meet, the story even shows that Zot's uncle is the only one to have figured out how to go from world to world so how did that come about? I feel like the comic was missing a good one to three chapters from the beginning, there's starting in medias res and then there's simply not telling part of the story. There were some other plot threads that also weren't followed up on (at one point there's a very intriguing idea that Zot's world may be a replica of ours, and idea that eventually leads to the second half of the series, yet it's never followed up on, why?!) and the ending, while it technically worked, felt so disconnected from the previous chapters that it seemed to come out of no where. I think that overall I disliked the first half of the story more since the characters and the setting came off as very flat and all the villains bugged me rather than they interested me.
The Art: It may have been the difference in sizes but I think it was the fact that this book was a hardcover that made it much easier for me to hold than A Drifting Life which was very nice. Onto the actual art, there's a mention on the back of the book that, even though the series started back in the 1980s (ie, before much manga was published in the US), McCloud was already interested in manga and I feel like I can feel a few influences on his style. The sound effects were still very much American comic style but the character designs felt a little more "anime"-esque. I thought the art worked well for the style but, while I would certainly recognize the style elsewhere, it isn't the kind of art that I'll think back on in a few months and think "yeah, that was really amazing art."
In the end, I just had a looooooot of issues with this story, enough to make me wonder both if McCloud really had an idea of where he wanted the story to go and why so many people apparently loved this story. All of which made me really sad, I really was excited to try this book out since it looked so good and in the end it just didn't work for me at all and it kinda makes me want to avoid his other works as well, oh well.