Zotz: Serpent and Shield is written and drawn by California-based Latino artist Daniel Parada.
The comic is about Kaan and Pakal, two adolescents living in Central America in the year 1573, in a tranquil village with their father, who was once a famed warrior but now spends his days working the land and his nights regaling the villagers with stories around the campfire. The boys are close friends and fiercely competitive in this idyllic setting, which goes all topsy-turvy at the arrival of invaders.
Creator Daniel Parada lists Berserk author Kentaro Miura among his influences, and you can definitely sense a similar, sinister macabre build-up this comic is working towards. The way Parada appropriates Mesoamerican mythology is both unique and striking, as we live in an society that completely soundbites these rich cultures for the sake of shitty “the world is ending in 2012″ jokes. Parada takes back that richness and tweaks it for his own purposes in this story.
Though you can see the Miura influence in the story, what we get in terms of drawing technique is much closer to the earnestness of mangaka Hitoshi Iwaaki, who began his own historical fiction comic Historie with a loose sketchy style that’s been refined over the book’s almost ten year history. I would love to see Zotz continue along a similar fashion.
Parada prints his comic at magazine size, so while you can get absorbed in his more detailed splash pages, the rougher edges of his work and anatomy are also visible. The comic is mostly gray-scale, except for the first couple of pages which are full color and help establish the tone of the book (“shit’s about to go cray-cray.”)
While this first issue has its fair share of dramatic moments, the dragon-laced violence depicted on the cover will have to wait until at least the next installment, which should be coming out soon and totals an impressive one hundred-and-forty pages, opposed to the fifty-two here. I’m very much looking forward to getting another chunk of Mesoamerican dark fantasy comic. This is pretty dope stuff.
Zotz: Serpent and Shield can be previewed and purchased at zotzcomic.com.