Comic Book / Zot!

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"Every night, I walk out here, just to wait... I know he's not up there... not exactly... it's just the only place to look... And I know it hasn't been that long... Still... it seems like I've waited forever... Y'see... there's this guy I know... like no one you've ever met... from a place... you would not believe."
Jenny Weaver

Zot! is about Zachary T. Paleozogt or "Zot," a superhero from the far-flung future of 1965. He goes about fighting villains and righting wrongs, stopping crimes, and generally being a decent human being.

It's also about Jenny Weaver, a thirteen-year-old girl whose parents are on the cusp of divorce, whose brother is generally nice when he's not drunk, and who has a philosophy that the Earth is "wrong" and filled with "broken people."

The comic is a study in the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, a love story, and a Slice of Life story about a group of teenagers trying to make their way in the world. It just so happens that one teenager comes from a very different world.

Written and drawn by Scott McCloud (of Understanding Comics fame) in 1984 and then from 1987-1991, (and as an online comic in 2000), Zot! was a mainstream comic that played around with superhero tropes and generally brought to the mainstream what had previously only been seen in manga or underground comics. There is now a giant, 500+ page omnibus edition with all the issues of the 1987-1991 black & white run in it.


Tropes:

  • A.I. is a Crapshoot: Zybox.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The "Earth Stories" focus more on Jenny's friends from school. Issues 30 through 34 all have a different viewpoint character: Jenny's mother, Ronnie, Brandy, Terry and Woody.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Butch tends to call Zot "Blondie." It starts as an insult, but soon becomes good-natured.
  • Battle Butler: Peabody, Zot's butler robot. Only after several modifications though. His default mode has no combat capabilities beyond ejecting unwanted dinner guests.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jenny is torn between Zot (Veronica) and Woody (Betty). Unusually, both acknowledge that it's Jenny's choice and they genuinely like each other. Also, Zot's blonde, while Woody's brown-haired.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Jenny sums up George this way; he's smarter than anyone but doesn't seem to bother to do well in school. In reality, he's actually working pretty hard to get straight Ds, because acing every subject would be too easy for him.
  • Butt Monkey: Butch — with the "monkey" part being quite literal for much of the series.
  • Character Development: Most of the characters show some growth during the course of the series, though none more than Butch. He starts the series as an obnoxious, immature Jerkass, but during the first story arc develops into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Over the course of the rest of the series, he matures greatly and becomes downright heroic in his own right... even if he still has a bit of an obnoxious edge.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Chekhov's Pie.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: the Blotch comes from a planet of these.
  • Cuckoo Nest
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Sirius IV in the future version seen through the Door At The Edge Of The Universe.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Dekko to a tee.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The acclaimed "Earth Stories" are a series of these for most of the Earth cast.
  • Digitized Hacker: 9-Jack-9.
  • Deconstructor Fleet
  • Demoted to Extra: Vic, who's a major character in the color series, and plays semi-major parts in the early black-and-white series, gets moved increasingly Out of Focus as the series goes on.
  • The Ditz: Brandy is introduced as one. The truth turns out to be... a little more complicated.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Jenny is barefoot frequently. The very first panel of the comic has her walking barefoot around her neighbourhood. Even after she travels to Zot's world, she doesn't put on shoes until several issues later when she changes her outfit entirely. In a later issue, a distraught Jenny runs out of her house barefoot during winter with snow on the ground. Her mom tells her to put on a coat but says nothing about shoes, evidently having come to accept that there's no point in trying to get her to wear any.note 
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm: Zot, He even directly names the trope in the penultimate issue.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Woody, who loves Jenny, even though he knows Jenny will probably choose Zot in the end.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Heck, even Butch is a monkey in Zot's world. Also, the De-evolutionaries or "Devoes." Revert!
  • Excited Show Title!
  • Five-Man Band (only during the stories in Zot's world):
  • Flanderization: Not within the comic itself, but Matt Feazel's parodic back-up stories, Zot in Dimension 10 1/2, features it in spades, with most of the characters becoming extreme caricatures of their normal selves.
  • Genre Shift: the first 11 issues are fun, superhero-y stuff. The next 16 issues mixes the superhero stuff with nice deconstruction and some interesting stories in Jenny's (our) world. The last 8 stories take place entirely in our world and are all narrated by different characters. They don't feature any superheroics (besides Zot himself), focusing instead on smaller, individual stories about the characters themselves.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Zot is blond, and pretty much the nicest guy in the universe.
  • Harmless Villain: Ignatius Rumboult Bellows, a steampunk-powered supervillain.
  • Hidden Depths: Just about every single character from the "Earth" stories.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Terry. An unusual variant in that she is a very normal girl and would like to stay that way, thank you very much... then, in the "Earth Stories" we discover that she is actually a closeted lesbian and her distaste for anything "too weird" was mostly her own denial and fear that she wasn't as normal as she felt she should be.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Zot's world is currently in "the far-flung future of 1965." Parodied, though, since the series was originally published in 1984.
  • Jerkass: Zot's friend Dick Digger, who according to a poll that ran for a while in the series, holds the unique position of being nobody's favorite character.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Butch. He's loud-mouthed, obnoxious, rude and occasionally plays Big Brother Bully to Jenny — but he does care about her, and over the course of the series he Tales Several Levels In Kindness and becomes a good friend to Zot.
    • Terry. She very seldom has a kind word to say to anyone, and can get directly verbally abusive towards the likes of Woody, but she isn't a bad person, and she always tries to look out for Jenny.
  • Kid Hero: At the beginning of the series, Zot is only fourteen.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: The end of Zot! Online.
  • Knight of Cerebus: 9-Jack-9, who is nasty enough to inflict Cerebus Syndrome on Zot's world. As per Word of God, his appearance was what led to the Earth Stories, since the other world was no longer innocent enough to serve as a proper contrast to Jenny's.
  • Large Ham: Bellows. Zot tells him that he makes a great villain because of all his hammy dialogue and flair for dramatic confrontations.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Zybox uses one, which leads to a disturbing story in which Jenny is in a reality where her memories with Zot are hallucinations based on a cartoon.
  • Mad Artist: Well, Dekko's completely off his rocker, and just happens to be an artist. His art became more popular as he became less human, though.
  • Mad Scientist: Uncle Max has a bit of this. He's also a Mad Musician.
  • Meaningful Name: Arthur "Art Dekko" Dekker, an artist who eventually became a cyborg whose head looks like the top of the Chrysler building, which has Art Deco-style architecture.
  • Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Jenny's having to choose between Zot and Woody.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Zot is the epitome of this trope, to the point of being a Wide-Eyed Idealist. He's cheerful, polite and friendly to a fault, always trying to help people out and wanting to see the good in everyone. He can get angry with people, but you really have to be a colossal douche to get that reaction from him.
    • Woody, though far more troubled and less of an idealist than Zot, is nevertheless a thoroughly decent guy who always tries to do the right thing.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Dekko, more than once, as well as Zybox. 9-Jack-9 however didn't survive - physically. Too bad his mind was already hooked up to a computer at the time.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Only Peabody calls Zot by his full name, Zachary. Most others just call him "Zot," though Max, Vic, Digger and Hacker tend to call him "Zach."
    • Butch's real name is "Horton," but nobody excepts his mother calls him that.
  • Parental Abandonment: Zot's parents disappeared when he was fairly young. It's not until later that he finds out they were killed by 9-Jack-9.
  • Parents as People: Over the course of the series, Butch and Jenny's parents don't always come across in the best light. They seem somewhat neglectful and do questionable things at times, but they do have their own problems and are ultimately portrayed as trying to do the right thing, just not having a clue what the "right thing" is. Jenny is more forgiving of them than Butch is.
  • The Professor: Uncle Max.
  • Psycho for Hire: 9-Jack-9.
  • Raygun Gothic: Zot's world is a textbook example, except textbooks aren't usually so much fun.
  • Retro Universe: Zot's universe has an intentional Zeerust feel to it.
  • Robotic Reveal: Zot discovers he'd been turned into a robot by Dekko after a grenade goes off in his hand.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Dekko's biggest weakness. Dr. Bellows' second biggest (right behind "not being able to shut up").
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Pam Singer and Terry
  • Serial Prostheses: Dekko, to the point that his entire body has been replaced except for his brain.
  • She's All Grown Up: Male example with Woody, who at first is short and kinda doofy-looking. Then, when he comes back after having been abroad for a few issues, he's hit a growth spurt and has become a tall, handsome hunk. Jenny is nearly speechless.
  • Shout-Out: To one of Scott McCloud's major influences, Astro Boy.
  • The '60s: Zot's Earth is perpetually stuck in 1965, but it's a completely different 1965. There was no Vietnam, no World War II (although there still was a Civil War and a World War I).
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • There are hints, early on that Zot may be one — though it's ultimately subverted. While he has a tendency to act happy in dire situation, it's just because he's a naturally upbeat and optimistic person. When life slaps him in the face, he more often gets dejected, sad or angry until he's worked through the issues.
    • Brandy, however, is a straight example. The worse her life sucks, the more cheerful and ditzy she acts. It's not until Ronnie does something really nice for her that she breaks down and cries.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Zachary Paleozogt became Zot. Arthur Dekker became (Art) Dekko.
  • Straight Gay: George. He's the calm, vaguely eccentric The Smart Guy in Woody's gang, but you wouldn't guess his sexuality before he comes out to Woody in the Earth Stories.
  • Technological Pacifist: The creator of Zybox didn't want it falling into the hands of the military, so he told it it could break the rules of its programming. Which was a very, very bad idea.
  • Their First Time: Zot and Jenny spend issue #35, The Conversation, the penultimate issue, talking about this. The end of the issue leaves it ambiguous whether they do end up having sex or not.
  • Very Special Episode: The issue where we find out that Terry is a lesbian. The commentary even notes how it feels very "after school special"; that said, it's a very visually well-executed despite its Anvilicious nature.
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: The result of traveling through the Door at the Edge of the Universe.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Dekko actually does, thanks in part to how disconnected he is from his humanity. Pathetically, it's the only thing he has going for him anymore. When he tries to make other people robots to turn them immortal, not a one of them accepts the change.
  • Word of Gay: A reader brought up the possibility that the dead Prince Drufus had been gay; McCloud liked the idea and said "sure".
  • Write Who You Know: Woody is based heavily on Scott McCloud. Pretty much Woody's entire circle of friends are based on McCloud's experiences, including a line he overheard on a bus and used on the comic.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In a slightly meta and ironic issue during the "Earth Stories." Ronnie, who's the viewpoint character for the issue, really wants to write superhero stories, but has problems getting anyone's interest. When his mother suggests he try to write something a little more familiar, and that his own life might be just as interesting as a superhero's, he responds by saying "who the hell would want to read about me?"
  • Zeerust: Intentionally.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Comicbook/Zot