A short film, Understanding Scott McCloud’s Zot! won GeekFest’s Best Documentary at Los Angeles Comic Con 2022 last month. Produced by Ben Lewis, it’s now officially available on YouTube.
Scott McCloud has been writing, drawing, and examining comics since 1984. Winner of the Eisner and Harvey awards, his works have been translated into more than sixteen languages. Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) called him “just about the smartest guy in comics.”
Understanding Scott McCloud’s Zot! takes viewers back to the 1980s, to the epicentre of the indie comics explosion, a tipping point in creator rights, and the first American Manga wave, to explore the stories before McCloud’s seminal work, Understanding Comics.
Back then, McCloud combined the best ideas from manga, alternative comics, and superheroes into Zot! – a frenetic and innovative exploration of comics’ potential that helped set the stage for McCloud’s later groundbreaking theoretical work.
Zachary T. Paleozogt lives in “the far-flung future of 1965,” a utopian Earth of world peace, robot butlers, and flying cars. Jenny Weaver lives in an imperfect world of disappointment and broken promises – the Earth we live in. Stepping across the portals to each other’s worlds, Zot and Jenny’s lives will never be the same again.
“We went to interview Scott McCloud with the idea that he would be a quick talking head in a feature documentary we were working on,” says Ben of his documentary project. “In an effort to ease him into the interview, we asked him about his 1980’s comic, Zot!.
“Later, when we watched the footage we realised Scott painted an intriguing portrait of himself, his relationship to comics, and a wonderful and overlooked time in comics history all through the lens of a mostly forgotten comic book. We wouldn’t be able to use any of that for the film we interviewed him for, so we used that footage to make this film.
“You don’t have to know anything about comics or comics history, but the more you do, the more layers you’ll find,” Ben suggests. “Like its subject, this film lies at the balance point of esoteric comic book subject matter, and universal human experiences.”
The comic itself was released as a collection back in 2008 and is still available. Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 includes very one of McCloud’s pages from the black and white series has been collected in this must-have commemorative edition for aficionados to treasure and new fans to discover.
Scott McCloud has been making comics professionally since 1984. He’s best known, perhaps, for his non-fiction books, particularly Understanding Comics (1993), a 215-page comic book about the comics medium translated into over 20 languages. Also Reinventing Comics (2000), a more controversial look at comics revolutions in art, culture and technology, and Making Comics (2006), an extensive exploration of comics storytelling techniques which also resulted in the Making Comics 50 State Tour, and the Google Chrome comic.
His invention, The 24 Hour Comic has become an international movement over the years, especially with the debut of 24-Hour Comics Day in 2004. Other inventions, like the The Big Triangle and Five Card Nancy can be found here.
Available to read for free on Scott McCloud’s website this is an original graphic novella, first released in 2000, totaling over 440 panels (roughly the equivalent of 70-80 standard comics pages) in 16 weekly installments. The story reunited the cast of Scott’s superhero series, the only place outside the original series that the characters have appeared.