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Feedback | Archives Friday February 15, 2002


[Zed #1]There's time for just one last review. It's one non-trade oriented review that I've been delaying for far too long.

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.

[Zed #2]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.

[Zed #3]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 optimized.

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 Message Board.

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.

Augie De Blieck Jr.
Staff Writer, CBR
Pipeline Archives

comicbookresources.com | 2.15.02

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