Zot! #36 (1991)

Here’s something I wrote back in 1991…


This is the last issue of Zot! for while, and I couldn’t be happer to see the series at least temporarily end.


I’m glad to see Zot! end because times have changed. As McCloud says in his editoirial, "Comics is changing. Work that seemed bold and progressive in 1984 seems tame by today’s standards. Whole revolutions have come and gone since I started Zot! seven years ago, and… my chances for continued growth without some sort of change would have been virtually nil." Or, in other words, after seven years of Zot!, McCloud is ready to move on to new challenges.


I think this wish to explore new horizons really showed through when McCloud undertook "The Earth Stories", which put Zot on our Earth and which explored the daily emotional epheavels of some of the book’s supporting characters. McCloud produced some of his finest work in the Earth Stories, but Zot was only a minor character in most of them.


Zot! #36 serves as both a climax to "The Earth Stories" and a return to the books earlier super-hero milieu. The issue seems awkward to me. Zot tries to stop crime in a real-life city through use of his heroic powers, but gets shot by police for his trouble. McCloud poresents this confrontation off-screen, which is a nice touch, but then doesn’t follow through on Zot’s reactions to being hospitalized. Instead of having the character stay on our Earth, face his morality, and deal with our world, Zot is saved by a deus ex machina. His uncle Max comes to our Earth from his, takes Zot back to his own Earth, and cures him. Then Zot and all his friends go to Zot’s Earth and play.


This ending seems to me to be grafted on in an attempt to end the series on a positive note. It seems forced to me. McCloud gies to the trouble of developing realistic characters in a real world and instead of having them live with their problems as they do in real life, McCloud has them run away to paradise.


I’m only coming down hard on this issue because I expected more from McCloud. I can’t wait to see what new ideas and characters he comes up with in the future.


2005 again. As you may know, McCloud went on to create the definitive textbook on comics, Understanding Comics, and the much less well-received Reinventing Comics. I didn’t realize it till just now, but he has a blog where he mentions that Understanding and Reniventing Comics will soon be joined by a new book, Making Comics. I wish him all possible success with his new book. It’s about time we got some new McCloud!


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