Zero #15 | Ales Kot, Ian Bertram, Jordie Bellaire | Image
I shouldn't write about this comic book because I've already given Ales Kot enough space in this column, but I'm a creature of habit, returning, always, to the same few points of interest, like it's some relationship I must maintain. And Kot makes the cut. It has something to do with his proximity and sudden (at least, from my perspective - I'm sure it wasn't exactly) rise from being some guy on the internet to an interview-slinging, young gun comics talent a certain pool of readers cannot get enough of. His persona and speak make compelling propaganda, but it's the intimacy that keeps me around, reading his comics unlike the way I read those from the bigger brands of Brubaker or Ellis. With them, there's an understood distance implied by their status, but with Kot (because of my context of him) it's like reading comics by some guy you went to school with. You don't exactly know him, but you've been in a few of the same rooms, maybe at the same time.
Granted, I do know Kot a tiny bit, so maybe that's the simple reason for my experience, but I'm not exactly sure. I do believe, at times, he's more personal than the others, inviting us into his life without being completely whiny, cute or boring about it, and I'm sure there's something owed to his seemingly open communication with the comics press and critics. He's fairly willing to be on your level, I think. Maybe it's all some self-righteous act, living with the common man, but he commits to it. Or has. I can attest.
Zero #15 comes after two issues of, though brutal, well-drawn fight scenes, repetitive design, which was a break from the mostly varied visual leaps between issues, and had a purpose. Both issues worked together to depict one point in the overall story, and have the reader feel two months worth of time to emphasize the pain and destruction shown in those issues. To really fuse the two together, two individual artists utilize the same two-panel page layout, sequencing two comic books together. Two. It's a cool moment in the series because it reverses Zero's own pop hook, but while cool to think about (and that elevator fight was great), I was anxious to just get past the shit and move on. Which is how I'm generally feeling about this book. I realize now, 15 months in, that beyond the performance art of Zero's ever changing makeup, I'm not entirely sold on the actual story. Although, it has its moments.
This issue gets away from the plot to basically confess something, and it shouldn't work, and I'm not even sure it does, but I like it nonetheless for its earnestness. Kot stops to insert William S. Burroughs into his narrative, suggesting that he has some responsibility in writing Zero, and while that opens all sort of doors to discuss one writer channeling another, and stories out of sequence (comic books are all about sequence), I like it because, to me, someone referencing someone like William S. Burroughs (or Dylan, or Hunter S. Thompson) is very similar to a high schooler name checking The Ramones. It's someone innocent thinking that they're stripping it away by asserting their knowledge of something supposedly cool and obscure (trust me, I've done this), yet, if said someone ever went out into the world, they'd know The Ramones weren't all so secret, and that this reference sounds sort of desperate. It's not a circumstance of these artistic figures being shit (very much the opposite). It's that they're so important we've made them laughable cliches in order to somehow understand them. Burroughs is the cut-ups guy. Everybody knows that.
Still, Kot feels some love for this writer, and dedicates an entire script to him. Maybe to understand him and his pain a little more. And I believe in that. That is isn't someone name checking for approval, and for Kot to take a figure like Burroughs and bring his appreciation back around from cultural lingo to grounds of care, I was kind of moved. I mean, sure, many works involve an artist's interest or inspiration by another greater artist, but Zero #15 handles it in such an almost goofy way (almost like Hickman's Manhattan Projects) that it manages to not feel entirely self-important, but more like fiction for those who read on Wednesdays.
Internet Comics #2 | Mare Odomo | Sacred Prism