Acclaimed comics artist and theoretician Scott McCloud will see his classic comics series, Zot!, republished by HarperCollins as an original trade paperback edition in July 2008. One of McCloud’s earliest extended works of fiction, Zot! is a seminal work that reflects the influence of both manga and the emerging alternative comics scene on McCloud’s comics. The book was also instrumental to the creation of Understanding Comics, his groundbreaking theoretical work on the comics medium. The HC book deal was negotiated by the Judith Hansen Literary Agency.

Hope Innelli, associate publisher of Harper Paperbacks, said the new 576-page edition of Zot! will collect the entire black & white series in one volume. While early issues of the series, which was originally published by Eclipse Comics, ran in color, the new edition will include only the black & white material. “That’s a creative decision by Scott,” said Innelli, explaining that McCloud believes the series really came together when he focused on working in black and white.

The new edition will have a trim size of 6”x9” with French flaps and will be priced at $22.95. The book will include extensive commentary by McCloud on its creation, as well as much never-before-seen material. The book will also include “the Earth Stories,’ the last nine stories in the series, which have never been reprinted. “Zot! is the origin of Scott’s comics,” said Innelli. “It’s where he defined his style. We’re so used to Scott explaining comics, but now we get a chance to experience his comics.”

The book will be launched at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International, followed by a national media campaign that will include NPR, a national book tour, national print advertising, lecture tie-ins and a six-copy counter display for retailers. The book will also be featured at the New York Comic-Con in April.

Zot! is the story of an idealistic blue-eyed teenager from the future—where peace, prosperity and justice prevail—who visits our less-than-perfect world and falls in love with a disillusioned Jenny Weaver. “The book is about the collision of two worlds,” said McCloud in a phone interview from L.A. “It’s about the meeting of hope and disillusionment.” But he also emphasized that the book is also about “how comics work. Even while I worked on it, I was trying to figure out what makes comics tick. After I finished Zot!, I started to work on Understanding Comics.”

McCloud said the series began in 1987 and reflects the influence of American superhero comics as well as the beginnings of the alternative comics movement of the 1990s (including Los Bros. Hernandez’s seminal Love & Rockets series) and the influence of Japanese comics artists such as Osamu Tezuka. “I was reading European comics, R. Crumb’s anthology Weirdo; Art Speigelman’s RAW,” said McCloud. “I couldn’t read the language, but I was reading endless pages of manga—really reading the visual language. Zot! was my chance to express my love for manga.”

Manga is one reason the new edition of Zot! will be in black and white, said McCloud.. “When I switched to black and white, the series really got up to speed,” he said, “I was exploring character, and I thought I could do more with black and white; with tone and chiaroscuro. Black and white is so much more like picture-writing.”

McCloud will be in New York in October to accept the 2007 Quill Award for graphic novels for his latest work, Making Comics. He said the publication of Zot! will return him to his roots as a comics creator, rather than his present role as a comics theoretician. “Zot! was as much about everyday life stories as it was about ray guns and battles. I was trying to incorporate all the stuff I was reading—alternative, superhero, manga—and create a neo-mainstream comic from all the ideas that were running through my head.”