Task 40: A Graphic Novel – Zita the Spacegirl
It’s been a while since I read a graphic novel. I used to read Manga all the time (Naruto was my guilty pleasure) but other than that it’s been several years. Picking it up again, even if briefly, I found it to be just as fun as I’d remembered. While looking for a graphic novel that I would interest me, I scanned through several and found some to be intriguing while others were… lacking in something. Either the illustrations were strange, odd, or just plain bad or the story was weak. This one… well, let’s just say I thought it was fun and leave it at that for the moment.
Zita is a normal human girl living a normal human life when her and her best friend go to investigate a meteorite that struck near their homes. The meteorite turns out to be a small device with a red button. A device that takes Zita and her friend to a far distant part of the galaxy where Zita’s friend is kidnapped by an ancient alien race who plans to use him as a sacrifice to save the planet from destruction. Zita, with the help of a giant mouse, an out of date security robot, and a mysterious con man, may be able to save her friend, and possibly the planet if there’s time to spare.
I began reading this graphic novel when I would visit a local bookstore in St. Johnsbury, Vermont called Boxcar and Caboose. I would go in, order an iced Ghirardelli extra chocolate frappe without the coffee, then pick up this graphic novel and read while I waited for my order. It was rather relaxing. I was looking for a no hassle, light book to relax my brain for a couple minutes and escape from the stress that pervades my life on a daily basis and this book gave me that.
In my opinion, quirkiness always makes a good graphic novel. There are some things that are caught better with pictures and quirkiness is one of them. Skilled authors can do it justice with their words; they know what needs extra description and what needs to be left to the reader’s imagination. Zita, her adventures, and the many different creatures she meets along the way are benefited by the illustrations provided.
The illustrations themselves, as you can see from the cover, are cartoon illustrations with a great deal of color, dark lines, and light shading. The appearance is rather two dimensional and young, but that fits well with the story and the writing style, and results in a good partnership of word and picture. This cannot be overstated in regards to graphic novels; the best way to ruin a graphic novel is to have the illustrations conflict with the writing. It’s like when you read a novel with an adult theme but written in a young adult style. The result is jarring and, speaking for myself, prevents me from getting absorbed into the book easily.
The story wasn’t all that exciting, but it was creative, well constructed, and entertaining. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a lot of substance. Reading a graphic novel like Maus or Persepolis brings the reader into awareness with a much deeper significance. In the case of these two the novel discusses historical events that have had a profound effect upon the world. However, Zita the Spacegirl is aimed at middle school children and therefore it was somewhat lacking in depth.
Is it my favorite graphic novel? No. Is it good? Yes. Would I recommend it to someone else? Depends on their interests and their age, but not necessarily both. If you like graphic novels leaning towards the children’s side of the spectrum then this should be added to your reading list. If nothing else it’s a good way to pass the time in a bookstore if you’re waiting for a friend, a ride, or an iced chocolate beverage.