A new cartoon superhero: Zoom Rockman is writing his own success story

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

His first editions are already collectors' items, he has been declared the future of comic books… and he's only 11. Tim Walker meets Zoom Rockman.

Zoom Rockman, writer, illustrator and publisher of his own award-winning comic The Zoom!, says he's been drawing ever since he can remember. Which might sound like a long time, if not for the fact that Londoner Zoom is only 11 years old. In March 2009, when he was eight, he started to collect vintage, pre-2000 back issues of The Beano. He now has hundreds, he says; his favourite characters are Dennis the Menace and Roger the Dodger.

Zoom comes from creative stock – his parents, Kate and Mark, are furniture designers – and, not long after he began his Beano collection, he was inspired to emulate the historic title with a strip of his own. His first character was Crasher, a naughty boy with a penchant for vandalism. "He's based on Dennis the Menace," Zoom explains. "I made him really stupid, and I wanted him to get worse with every issue: naughtier and naughtier. So in The Zoom! issue five he goes looting in the London riots, and ends up stealing some nappies." Zoom is proud of having included such topical subject-matter. "It seems more professional," he says.

And Zoom is nothing if not professional. A few months after inventing Crasher, he realised that he had more than enough material for a whole issue of his own comic. The Zoom!'s first edition was launched in November 2009, when he was nine. Nowadays he plans his stories after school, and then draws them on Saturdays and Sundays, producing one strip per week, and printing a new issue of The Zoom! every six months. Detailed, witty, exuberant and packed with larger-than-life characters, it will soon reach its seventh edition.

The Zoom! is stocked at Rajco, the newsagent below Zoom's flat in north London; at the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green, where he hosted the first issue's launch party; at the Artwords bookshop in Shoreditch; at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury, and at Gosh! Comics in Soho, one of the capital's top comic shops, and where I meet Zoom one evening. He is quietly spoken, nattily dressed. Which is worse, I ask, as the photographer makes him pose with a copy of issue six: being interviewed, or having your photo taken? "Probably having my photo taken," he replies. "My nan always takes loads of photos of me. So does my mum."

Zoom ought to be accustomed to all the attention by now. He's already been interviewed by the BBC, and photographed by Nick Knight for i-D magazine. He received a letter of encouragement from his local MP, Lynne Featherstone, and a letter of thanks from one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, written after he dedicated The Zoom! issue six to the Diamond Jubilee. He has mingled with his Beano heroes at comics events, and been tweeted about by leading comics artist and illustrator Luke Pearson: "I've discovered the future of comics," Pearson wrote. "It's name is Zoom Rockman and we don't stand a chance."

In August 2011, after its organisers spotted an article about him in The Hampstead & Highgate Express, Zoom was invited to represent Britain in the children's competition at the Bucheon International Comics Festival in South Korea, where he won an International Kids Cartoonist award – and an invitation to the 2012 festival, which he's taking up this month. He met other young enthusiasts, swapped comics, and learnt a little about Korean comics culture: "The Asian children draw all their comics on a computer," he says. "I was the only European last year, but I think they've invited a few more of us now."

Earlier this year, at the Band Dessinée & Comics Passion Festival at London's Institut Français, he won the Best Story prize for a spoof strip from issue five: 'Planet of the Ace', a re-telling of Planet of the Apes, featuring his eight-year-old brother, Ace. Zoom was presented with £100-worth of drawing materials, which he now uses to draw The Zoom!. As the issues progress and Zoom gets older, it's clear that he's developing his technique: refining the characters and storylines, enriching the artwork.

Early issues of The Zoom! are now collectors' items. Zoom prints 250 copies of each edition, paid for by his dad, Mark, who gets a 40 per cent cut of any profits. And they aren't available solely at stockists like Gosh!; Zoom also sells them direct to his friends at school. Recently, for issues five and six, he has raised The Zoom!'s cover price from 99p to £1.99. "I put more colour on the front and made it bigger," he says, by way of explanation. Previously A5, the past two issues have been A4. "Also," he adds shrewdly, "I wasn't making that much money."

His commercial instincts are sharp. Each issue of The Zoom! contains advertisements, with artwork by Zoom. There's always a nod to Rajco Food & Wine, for example – to keep his leading stockist sweet. And he's drawn a series of arresting ads for George's Fish and Chips, a takeaway on his street. Often, they include a cut-out voucher – for free salt with your chips, for instance, or a free extra chip.

A lot of the characters are based on people Zoom knows. He's particularly pleased with Grumpa Grouch, a curmudgeonly pensioner inspired by one of his mother's friend's grandfather. The Nutters, a class of mischievious schoolchildren who owe a lot to The Beano's Bash Street Kids, might also, he admits reluctantly, owe something to his schoolfriends. A handful of strips feature dogs, most of whom share traits with Zoom's own Yorkshire terrier, Rocky Rockman.

Zoom's little brother, Ace, first appeared as a character in issue three, demanding new toys. "My first drawing of Ace was meant as an insult, because I drew him with a massive mouth. But I sort of changed my mind after a while. He wasn't that happy about it at first, but now he's accepted that it's quite good that he's appeared."

Watching films is Zoom's other main hobby, and when he grows up, he says, he'd like to be a film director. But he's already inspiring other, younger children to be comics artists when they grow up. He has taught cartoon workshops, and in June he appeared at the children's Pop-Up Festival of Stories in London.

Meanwhile, at school, Ace and his class were recently asked to draw pictures of their heroes. Kate, Ace and Zoom's mum, keeps a photo saved on her cameraphone of the picture that Ace handed in. It's a portrait of Zoom. "My hero is my brother, Zoom Rockman," reads the caption, "because he inspires me to draw."


Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower