Zita the Spacegirl
began in 2004 as a Web Comic
by Ben Hatke, comprising a series of apparently unconnected online strips featuring the eponymous human girl and her humorous adventures with aliens and robots in outer space. A few of the original strips can still be viewed online here
. Others may still be viewable via the Internet Archive.
Hatke later published a short Zita story, "Wishing Socks", in the graphic anthology Flight Explorer
(2008). This was followed by two kid-friendly graphic novels which place the characters in context. Zita the Spacegirl
appeared in 2010, followed by Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
in 2012. A third volume is projected which will wrap up the current storyline, though Hatke has said that won't be the end of Zita's appearances.
In the first book, Zita,
a young Earth girl, along with her friend Joseph, sees a strange device fall from the sky. When Zita messes around with it, it opens a portal that takes the two kids to another planet. Joseph gets captured by a Screed, who brings him a cult that believes he is the key to stopping a meteorite from destroying the planet.
Zita goes on a journey to rescue Joseph and return herself and him back to Earth before the meteor hits the planet, on the way she encounters Gentle Giant
named Strong-Strong, a con-man named Piper, a Proud Warrior Race
guy named One, and a klutzy robot named Randy, all who join her in her journey to rescue Joseph and hopefully return home.
Hopefully it's not too much of a spoiler to reveal that Zita doesn't get home straight away, otherwise there wouldn't be a book 2... in which Zita is hailed as the planet's savior, but soon discovers that being a hero is far more complicated than she'd expected.
The Web Comics and graphic novels contain examples of:
- Action Girl: Guess who. Also Madrigal and Robot Zita in Legends.
- Aliens Speaking English: Although there are a few that don't.
- Art Shift: This will only be evident if you've seen the early online strips in which Zita had a rounder face and lighter-colored hair. A couple of the early strips were redrawn to match the new style.
- Badass Adorable: Zita, of course.
- Badass Cape: Zita and her robot wannabe.
- Berserk Button: Well, more of an extreme annoyance button, but Piper really doesn't like it when Strong-Strong calls him "Whistle Man", and he's even more annoyed when, later, Robot One picks up on the name.
- Big "NO!": Piper, when the Screeds show up to capture him.
- Cliff Hanger: The end of Legends sees Zita about to be arrested for crimes she didn't commit. Mostly.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: The space police are called the Doom Squad.
- Guile Hero: Zita frequently utilizes this trope.
- Heart Symbol: Comically subverted. In this web strip Zita meets a small creature that seems to be saying it loves her. In fact it's trying to warn her about a deadly heart-shaped monster that's just sneaked up on her (a Star Heart - a species that also plays a key role in the second graphic novel).
- Played straight with some of the notes Mouse uses to communicate with Zita.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The giant mecha defending a planet against the Star Hearts will merge with its pilot irreversibly. Robot Zita chooses to sacrifice herself by piloting it in Zita's place. Previously the mecha had rejected the robot because she was just a hero wannabe, leaving Zita as the only other alternative. It is only when the robot chooses to sacrifice her identity to save Zita's that she qualifies as a true hero and the mecha accepts her instead of Zita.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: In Legends, Zita was forced to hijack someone's spaceship to try to reunite with her friends, word of the deed, however, did spread quickly and Zita wound up having police robots frequently chase after her for her theft of spacecraft.
- Hot Gypsy Woman: G-rated version. Lady Madrigal, traveling space circus owner-performer, and (it turns out) Piper's estranged girlfriend.
- Humongous Mecha: In Legends Zita and the robot that's imitating her gets to drive one in defence of planet Lumponia. The Lumpies also use smaller steam-powered mecha on the planet's surface.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Guess what they call it when a Star Heart attacks a planet. Go on, you'll never guess.
- Involuntary Dance / Mind Control Music: Piper's flute-playing can make listeners dance until they drop, or just fall unconscious on the spot.
- Living Ship: Madrigal gives Zita a small one in Legends.
- Me's a Crowd: This web strip. Also Doppelganger in Legends, a diminutive circus performer who can make multiple copies of himself, distinguished by different-colored outfits.
- Name's the Same: Zita is also the name of a minor background character from Invader Zim.
- Also one of Hatke's Real Life daughters, though which came first...
- Prophecy Twist: The prophecy is a picture that accurately depicts a scene that does come to pass... but from a perspective that's grossly misleading about what's actually going on in the picture.
- Shrink Ray - Doom Squad have a robot (or cyborg) called Shrinkey, whose right arm is a shrink ray. Amongst those who get shrunk is Glissando the cat, who goes from being bigger than a lion to the size of a house cat. After a while he seems to get used to the idea.
- Stealth Pun: In Legends, the Star Hearts have a hive-like society with a queen, though nobody actually calls her The Queen of Hearts.
- Steam Punk: See Humongous Mecha above.
- Theme Naming: Madrigal and her cat Glissando and mouse Pizzicato.
- Wanted Poster: The cover◊ of Legends of Zita the Spacegirl shows a couple of personal appearance posters for Zita, with large "Wanted" banners pasted over them.