In 2008, before Abby was born, I decided I wanted to write a comic book. It would be a science fiction story, starring a young Abigail set adrift in a world beyond her kin. Foes that seemed so much bigger, and unstoppable(er) than her would be ranged against her. It would allow me to highlight noble traits like compassion, courage, kindness, cleverness and inner-strength while providing a strong (female) role-model for my young daughter. With his new graphic novel "Zita the Spacegirl," Ben Hatke has done all the work for me. All I need to do now is get a piece of masking tape to cover his name on the front and a sharpie to replace it with mine. Done. Ha-ha-ha!
In all seriousness, though, when I first saw the previews for "Zita the Spacegirl" it promised all these things, and it delivered from the first page to the last. Much like a modern day "Wizard of Oz," the protagonist, Zita, along with her friend, Joseph, is drawn through a portal into an alien world with larger than life problems. The crowded alien street where Zita lands is where we catch the first glimpses of her real character, and where we not only begin to like her, but also to care about what happens to her.
The drawings are very well thought out and composed, yet still simple enough to add to the charm of the young hero. Often a panel would be startlingly poignant and cause me to pause and reflect on Zita and her situation.
At the beginning of the story (don't worry, this is not a spoiler), Joseph is captured by an alien being. Zita shows both great courage and loyalty, vowing to rescue him and also risking never being able to return home in order to complete that task. As the story continues, she meets a number of creatures and robots who through her kindness and compassion, cleverness and courage she befriends. The group becomes a sort of family of misfits that love and trust each other... mostly. I love how upon close inspection, I can feel out some of the universal stories of our culture, but that they have been presented in such a fresh and enjoyable way. The book will be available on February 1st from First Second books, and you can pick it up on Amazon, and I think also at the Borders or Barnes and Noble. Definitely worth checking out.
Zita the Spacegirl: Trailer from Ben Hatke on Vimeo.
Okay, that's it for now. Until next time, take care and be good!