My copy of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke arrived yesterday! The book is just as awesome as it's author, who drew me a MooseBot on the title page:
Here's What I thought of it:
As I sat down to read Zita the Spacegirl, I was prepared for a whimsical allegory like so many of my favorite tales from Christian Authors (Gear and Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien to name a few).
I was expecting a tale full of symbols, sly nods, and shades of meaning. The thing is, some stories can't be disected in this way. If you attempt this, the story passes you by while you're busy trying to see what's not really there. Zita the Spacegirl is not a deep story like the Lord of the Rings, or a social commentary like Earthboy Jacobus, nor is it a direct allegory like the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Zita the Spacegirl is a good story. We need more good stories. Stories that don't necesarrily hold any political or moral commentary, that aren't pushy or preachy (although these can be important too). We need stories that, as Tolkien would put it, are not allegorical, but applicable, meaning anyone can relate to them.
I think we can all relate to Zita, who through her childishness, ends up putting her best friend in harm's way. She must rescue him by growing up, but also by preserving her good, childlike qualities.
One of my heroes is Hayo Miazaki. One of the things I like about his stories like Castle in the Sky, or Kiki's Delivery Service, is that they are set in a vauge time and place. This, in my opinion, makes them not less, but more realistic. Untouchable if you wish.
No matter where you're from, you can imagine yourself on the unnamed planet in Hatke's story, as we've all probably found ourselves in unusual surroundings. Like my favorite backstories, the alien world Zita finds herself in doesn't need much expaining.
It harnesses your imagination.
Ben Hatke is an amazing artist, the sort of artist I hope to be eventually. He presents the reader with an ideal blend of detail and simplicity, of action and tranquility. Unlike many other graphic novels, Zita the Spacegirl does not attempt to keep the reader's attention through constant explosions and flashes, wierd formatting changes and glaring colors; but through earthy colors, delightful charecter design, and most importantly, a good story.
You can watch an awesome preview for this book here, see Ben Hatke's website here and his blog here, and order a copy of the book on Amazon.com here.
(But let's face it though, you're going to want to order at least 10)