Zot introduces himself to Jenny in the first issue. Artist: Scott McCloud.

ZOT!

Medium: Comic books
Published by: Eclipse
First Appeared: 1984
Creator: Scott McCloud
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Jenny Weaver is a 13-year-old girl who can't stand her life, her family or, for that matter, the entire dull, unjust world she's had the misfortune to be born into — when …

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… all of a sudden, Zot enters her life. Zot (short for Zachary T. Paleozogt), the most exuberant superhero since Tom Terrific, is world-famous (at least in the alternate world he hails from) despite the fact that he is Jenny's age. She visits his world, where crime, war and disease have been banished, and life is just one great adventure after another.

If that sounds a little bit like The Wizard of Oz (only tenuously related), get this — Dekko, a major villain introduced in the second issue, started as an ordinary man, but his body parts were replaced, one by one, with machinery, until he lost the ability to love; and another villain, 9-Jack-9, was defeated by Jenny throwing water on him.

Zot! (the comic's title was spelled with an exclamation point) burst on the scene in 1984, the first major creation of cartoonist Scott McCloud, who is best known today as the author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. For ten full-color issues, Zot and Jenny battled such villains as Dekko (whose motive for destroying the universe was artistic expression), 9-Jack-9 (a creepy killer who could lurk in any electrical device), and a "back to the trees" movement that ran around turning people into chimpanzees. The series ended with its July, 1985 issue.

But it was too well-liked to stay down for long. It was back in 1987, this time in black and white. It lasted another 26 issues in that form, finally ending in 1991. During its time, it was nominated several times for Harvey and Eisner awards, and it remains a cult favorite among knowledgeable comics readers who enjoy a good all-ages adventure story.

Between the ten full-color issues and the 26 black-and-white ones came Zot! #10, which was written and drawn by Matt Feazell, using his own distinctive art style, and published as a mini-comic. In this issue, Feazell's character, Cynicalman, appeared as a guest star. Feazell continued to do his take on the character in the back pages of the regular comic, once it resumed publication, in a series titled "Zot! in Dimension 10". In 1987, Feazell did a full-length issue (Zot! #14), in which the hero met Feazell's Antisocialman.

Since Zot's regular comic ended, McCloud's work in it has been reprinted sporadically in album form, but these albums have been plagued with bad luck on the business end. Meanwhile, the character's fans just won't go away, and for years, McCloud has promised to bring him back in one form or another.

In July, 2000, he finally made good on those promises when he debuted Zot! Online — a brand-new story available only on the World Wide Web, in 16 weekly installments. McCloud has long been known as a booster of and experimenter in electronic comics, and for his first full-scale commercial venture on the Web, has gone back to the series that first brought him fame. Only time will tell where this exciting new direction will lead.

— DDM

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Text ©2000-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Scott McCloud.