The “spooky guy in pinstripes” was 9-Jack-9, I have more to say about him in a later post.

§ February 24th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 5 Comments

So Zot! is a solidly satisfying read from beginning to end, not leaving you hanging at the end of issue #36 (or even really at the end of the webcomic), but there is one huge dangling thread left unaddressed. SPOILERS ahead for Zot! #27 (1990):

It’s New Year’s Eve on Zot’s Earth, and Jenny, her brother Butch (who is a monkey in Zot’s world, long story) and their pal Woody are visiting from “our” Earth to enjoy the celebrations. Everyone (or at least everyone with this particular view of the moon) watches the countdown, though just prior to this there is a discussion between Zot and Jenny as to when they actually met. Jenny believes it’s 1966 on Zot’s world, as the two met “a year and a half ago” when it was 1965. Zot says no, that was 1964, it’s 1965 now, and it’s about to turn 1966. And then….

It quickly becomes clear that everyone from “our” Earth saw the year “change” from 1965 to 1965, whereas everyone from Zot’s Earth saw something different:

Later, Zot’s Uncle Max hypothesizes about what happened, addressing it in such a way that it makes it seem like there was something wrong with Jenny and the rest’s perceptions:

…which I always liked as a storytelling choice. From our presumably objection observation as “reader,” the information we’re given by the story is that the year did in fact fail to change. It’s possible we’re seeing it through Jenny’s subjective point of view, but I don’t believe there’s any evidence in-story to indicate what we’re seeing is “wrong.”

Max continues:

…which probably seems at least somewhat plausible to the characters in the narrative, since Zot’s Earth is a sci-fi wonderland and Jenny’s Earth still has crime and pollution and grape-flavored Gatorade and other serious problems.

It’s bit of a frustrating set-up, in that we’re left in the position of knowing there’s some kind of mystery here, and the assumption made by the characters contradicts the reader’s observations. And that’s where this particular plot element stops, as we’re off to the concluding run of “Earth Stories,” where Zot and Jenny are cut off from Zot’s world.

I was trying to find the particular citation, which I thought was either in the story itself, a reply in a later letter column, or in an interview with Scott McCloud, where it was said this revelation may point to an “artificiality” about Zot’s Earth, but I couldn’t find it in time for what passes for a deadline around here. But if what’s left of my brain is remembering that correctly, that may be our one clue as to what’s going on. The hows and whys and whats as to what would have made that other Earth (in opposition to Max’s idea) a copy of “our” Earth…who can say?

Well, Scott can say, but I don’t know if he ever intends to return to that particular milieu. (I have an idea how to bring it back, but unless I am somehow gifted the keys to that castle, I’ll have to save it for my extensive line of Zot! fanfic, where they all meet and hang out with their new best friend, the incredibly talented and handsome Spike Merling.)

Thus, fair warning to anyone coming to Zot! for the first time…well, one, you shouldn’t have read this, I warned you at the start, and two, you’ll end up thinking about this bit of business for the next 33 years, like a certain unnamed comics blogger/retailer might have done.

I did come across another potential future story idea addressed by Scott in the Zot! letter columns that didn’t (or not yet, he said optimistically) appear in a comic, but I’ll save that for next week! Tune in next time, same Zot! channel!

5 Responses to “The “spooky guy in pinstripes” was 9-Jack-9, I have more to say about him in a later post.”

  • Chris K says:

    Woody points out in the story that Zot’s world includes pop culture from our world, including WW II and Vietnam War movies, when those wars didn’t occur in Zot’s world. He says something to the effect of “somebody brought over things from our world whether they made sense or not.” (Adding even further to the mystery by implying there might be an intelligent force behind the inconsistencies)

    I remember hoping that the online Zot revival at CBR would get back to this plotline and being a little disappointed that it didn’t (but was very happy with what we did get!)

  • To be honest, I’m kind of glad this particular plot point never went any further. The idea that Zot’s world was just some big put-on would’ve been incredibly sad. “Everything you know is wrong” stories were all the rage at the time, and I don’t know that we needed yet another one.

    Maybe I’m wrong and this was something McCloud had planned all along, but it feels like a case where he was getting disenchanted with the utopian sci-fi aspects of the series, and just wanted to tell down-to-earth stories about regular people. The “Earth Stories” arc achieved that very well, and I don’t think it was necessary to completely torpedo the original concept to get there.

  • Snark Shark says:

    twitter: “dudes already working up a series of Dilbert strips about mean ol’ newspapers, or at least scripting some around submitted reader ideas he’s using for free”

    Well, he’s run out of his OWN ideas, so… I guess that’s all that’s left!

  • Pal Cully says:

    I’m finally reading your Zot posts. I’m so happy to see you showcase your knowledge of the ZOT series and address some of these dangling threads. Nicely done, my friend.

  • Patrick Gaffney says:

    Catching up on the blogs, and I made this comment a few moments ago on the first of your ZOT post. Not sure how far you look back so I thought I would share it again. Feel free to delete if you wish:

    I don’t know if you know this- but there are two variants of the ZOT! 10 1/2 mini-comic. There was the one eclipse put out before the black-and-white relaunch of the book, which sold for $25 cents. There is also a “First printing” without the 25 Cents on the cover, which is signed McCloud and Feazell inside the front cover and is numbered from ### out of 700. I had been watching for a cheap copy of the book for some time on eBay, and when I finally jumped on one, I was surprised when I got and saw the signatures and noticed the price missing from the cover (which for some reason was clearly in my mind).

    I found a couple of links to the covers:
    The Eclipse 25-cent version:

    The signed and limited to 700: