I just finished reading The Complete Zot, going as slow as I could. Each of the stories is followed by a commentary page by Scott McCloud, in which he would explain some of his motivations, give a bit of historical perspective to his work ( being very modest about his genius and all) and that would make me go reread the issue again just to take in the story from a fresh perspective. I never thought I would enjoy the series the way I did – in my mind, I had filed the book as ‘out-of-print curiousity’ rather than a work to be enjoyed. But once you get beyond the awkward figure-drawing and somewhat clunky dialogues, McCloud’s stories and characters radiate an old-wordly charm that is hard to explain. It is a beautiful mixture of fun superheroics and a melancholy coming-of-age story. The early issues are almost all set in Zot’s world, and the emphasis is more towards tweaking familiar superhero idioms – alas, if I had a rupee for every post-80’s series that tries to do this, I would own a Frank Miller Daredevil page by now. There are flashes of brilliance in these stories – the De-Evolutionary “Revert!” vaudevillian romp had me in stitches; it is hard to believe that a character like Arthur Dekko (and his completely-twisted worldview) could exist in a pre-Morrison Doom Patrol world; and the chilling 9Jack9 moment, where the character does the unexpected, leading to one of the most downbeat superhero endings I’ve ever read. But it is with the Earth stories, the ones in which Zot is stranded on Jenny’s (i.e our) world is where McCloud really cuts loose. It’s no longer a superhero story from then on, as individual issues are told from points of views of different characters, with Zot himself becoming little more than a presence in most of the stories. Every one of the earth stories deal with real-world themes – about adulthood, sex, same-sex relationships, responsibilities, to name a few. The book ends on a very open-ended note, possibly the best possible conclusion a series like this can have.
Oddly enough, similar themes as Zot can be seen in the TV series Freaks and Geeks. Saw all 18 episodes last weekend, based on recommendations from my friend Pablo. It was only when the credits ran at the beginning of the first episode that I realised this was a Judd Apatow production. And it had Apatow familiars Jason Segel and Seth Rogen in it. Set in a Michigan high school in 1980, and dealing primarily with the tribulations of the Weir siblings – Lindsay and Sam, the series is as much about their social universe as it is a delightfully retro look at life in the eighties. While primarily a comedy, F&G has just the right moments of drama to balance out the goofiness from time to time. The casting is note-perfect.The soundtrack is a delight, featuring bands like Joan Jett ( the title song ‘Bad Reputation’ is by her), Billy Joel, Gloria Gaynor, The Grateful Dead, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Cream, The Who – well, nearly every notable band of the time period.
Right now, I am blazing through The Big Bang Theory, and enjoying it tremendously.
A not-so-funny parody of Scott McCloud’s Google Chrome comic.
A neat feature comparison chart of the major music players on Windows – Winamp, iTunes, Windows Media Player and the somewhat lesser-known Media Monkey, which pips the others. Not too surprising for me, I’ve been using MM for nearly a year and a half now, after an eight-year relationship with Winamp, and I can vouch for its solid featureset and overall user-friendliness.