There's time for just one last review. It's one
non-trade oriented review that I've been delaying for far too
ZED is a self-published (Gagne International Press)
bi-monthly black and white series about a smart little alien
whose brilliant invention is set to save the galaxy an
enormous amount of wasted energy. When it instead blows up a
planet full of dignitaries, Zed finds himself alone in a
galaxy filled with rising tensions and the unstoppable
prospect of war.
Author/artist Michel Gagne is best known for his books of
wild animal designs, such as INSANELY TWISTED RABBITS and
FRENZIED FAUNA FROM A TO Z. It should come as no surprise,
then, that ZED is most remarkable for its sense of design and
imagination. The first issue is plotted at a very slow pace to
allow Gagne to fit in a wide array of alien life forms. You'll
find yourself lingering over pages to take in the oddball
creatures and to see everything that's there. It's not
necessarily a densely populated artistic style like Geoff
Darrow's. It's rather spartan and cartoony, as a matter of
fact. But there's a wonderful mix of things to please the eye.
In the second issue, the story moves to outer space and allows
Gagne to give us a look at his warped spaceship ideas. These
are not flying buckets of bolts. These are strange concepts
and designs that you'd expect to see at an Olympic Opening
Ceremonies or a (theoretical) Frank Lloyd Wright science
fiction gallery showing.
The black and white series is now three issues old,
with a fourth on the way in the next couple of months. The
story so far is just starting to ramp up to the point where
you feel more than just pity or sorrow for the lead character.
It's just about to the point where you can start hoping for
Zed's exoneration. After all, something went wrong with his
invention, but there's no reason it should have. Is there some
other malevolent force at work?
ZED is an oddly whimsical series that's not an all ages
book, despite its initial look. There's the matter of some
language used in the book that would prevent me from
recommending it to the little kiddies. This book is more for
"mature readers" who are more interested in stylistic art. The
story is simple and easy to follow, but looks to be picking up
steam and complications.
It's not the most polished bit of writing I've ever read,
either. Gagne makes some rookie comic writing mistakes. Coming
from an animation background as he does, it's understandable
that he includes dialogue to explain everything that's going
on. That's what cartoons do. The animated often isn't
expressive enough to clearly show what's going on, so the
characters have to explain it to the viewers. That's not as
necessary in a comic book, where the reader is already paying
attention to the page in front of him or her.
The lettering could use a little help, too. I get the
feeling lettering is a new art to Gagne. The font isn't so
bad. It's better than Whizbang, at least. It's just that its
size varies wildly sometimes, and the layout isn't always
Overall, though, ZED is a book to keep an eye on. It's a
lot of fun to read, with a visual feast for the eyes.
For more information on all of Gagne's books, as well as
preview art from the three issues of ZED so far, click on over
to the Gagne
International Press web site and let your mouse do the
walking. The fourth issue is due out next month.
You can e-mail me your
comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see
and respond to over on the Pipeline
More than 350 columns are archived here at CBR and you can
get to them from the Pipeline
Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first
100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded
piece of HTML.