Zoe: Out of Time, part one of four of the series, is worth a read for three reasons 1. great art 2. cool female protagonist 3. it’s self-published. Zoe is a story about Zoe, a teenage girl from the future obsessed with 90’s rock star, Trent Darrow. Her scientist dad invents a time traveling machine, and soon Zoe finds herself on a journey that may uncover the truth of Darrow’s untimely death.
A time travel comic, especially one that incorporates flashbacks as well, seems to be setting itself up to be confusing. Zoe isn’t though, thanks to the artist, who uses color to delineate time period–blue for the future (the “now” of the story), sepia for memory flashbacks, and green/brown tones for the ’90s. Santacruz drew the comic in your typical superhero realistic style, but it’s a lot stronger than most mainstream work out there. Really, a lot stronger. The coloring is striking (props to Kramek for that) and the use of light and shadow, besides just looking awesome, suggest the emotions and personalities of the characters.
…and speaking of emotions, there are no voice over captions in the entire comic! Alleluia! Zoe’s feelings and thoughts are expressed through the art and dialog. I think of voice over captions in the same way I think of voice overs in a movie. Very, very few movies do voice overs well (Forrest Gump is the only one that comes to mind), so most use a vocal narrator to compensate for poor writing (Have you ever watched The Lucky One? Yeah, it’s that crappy Nicholas Sparks movie with Zac Effron. It’ll make you want to throw up.). Lagos and Michalski didn’t take the easy road. They wrote a comic with a clear protagonist driving the action without annoying caption boxes talking us through the scenes.
And I should probably mention that Zoe is great from a feminist perspective, too. Zoe isn’t oversexualized and her actions propel the plot forward. While her teenage obsession with 90’s rock legend Trend Darrow is a bit stereotypical, Lagos and Michalski redeem themselves with Zoe’s explosive personality and awesome moped (also, awesome haircut).
Zoe: Out of Time is proof that great comics don’t always come with a big-name publisher’s label stamped on their cover. Zoe is self-published by the creators, and is a testament to the rise (and success) of self-publishing, particularly in the comic book industry.
When I got to the final page, I literally said aloud, “Shoot, that’s the end?!”