Now we come to the part of Zep May I have been so excited about. Zeptoons! Done by fans, in loving homage to the band.
The one above depicts an incident from a real-life concert where live doves were released, one happening to fly right into Robert’s hand. But the artist turns it into more of an attack by live doves. Peter Grant runs away, spilling money, as a dove poops on his head. John Paul Jones seems a tad alarmed as well. Bonzo is amused, while Jimmy, who can’t see because of his hair, plays on, one dove playing air guitar in response. All caricatures, but funny. A little Icarus figure is even flying overhead. It’s a good-natured ribbing of the band.
I’m sure many fans started out scribbling crude cartoons like the one above, from Deviantart. I made stuff like this when I was around 12. Robert is vain, Bonzo drunk and angry. These are their fanon roles, even though anyone who’s read more than a few histories of the band realizes Jimmy was actually the vain one and the fashion plate. In this toon, John Paul Jones and Jimmy are the straight men.
In this one, it’s Jimmy drinking — the notorious bottle(s) of Jack Daniels — though Bonzo tries to steal them. Probably based on that famous photo of Jimmy chug-a-lugging an upended bottle of the stuff backstage. Although, in reality, John Paul Jones claimed it was his bottle Jimmy stole. Nevertheless, it was set in fandom as far back as the 1970s that Jack Daniels was “their” drink of choice, and therefore the drink of underage teen boys to look cool at parties. The bottle was scribbled on many an algebra notebook. I am tickled that the trope lasted this long.
Another one-off with a take on a classic song.
John Paul Jones’ role was mostly as the reactive one, the straight man. But this one makes fun of the hairdo he had in Led Zep’s 1970s concert movie The Song Remains the Same. Famously, the concert footage was so poorly filmed some parts had to be recreated on a soundstage to get the entire sequence of a song. JPJ had long cut his hair by then, so had to wear a bizarre pageboy wig to match the earlier footage. (In the beginning of the movie he’s seen wisecracking in that same silly wig.)
A punny take on Robert’s name.
The artist, Zielona Fabryka, is typical of the newer generation of Classic Rock fans, including not only LZ but other bands in her artwork, often mixing them, as in the toon below.
If you can’t tell that’s David Bowie and Mick Jagger having a conversation in the mid-1970s with a slashy affair implied between them. It’s funny, but you really need to have read a lot of rock star biographies to truly get it: circa 1976 Jimmy Page visited Bowie in his NYC apartment where he freaked Bowie out by continuously smiling at him, causing Bowie to freak out, accuse of him of black magic, and order him to leave. The incident was from an early bio of Bowie’s and cited later by Chris Salewicz in his 2019 biography of Jimmy Page, but who knows how true it was?
Now we get to the artist that inspired LZ May in the first place: Nicola Rivka! Like Zielona Fabryka, a Deviantart artist, and active during the same timeline. Rivka is even more prolific, boasting hundreds of Classic Rock cartoons, and sketches of many more claimed by her to be unscanned. Her LZ ones are hilarious takes on their fanon characters and she goes further to make fun of those tropes, as in below, with Peter Grant ordering them to get on the tour bus (or Starship jet):
It’s funny even if you don’t realize who these people are — it’s absurdist humor, in the style of Monty Python.
Rivka’s style is not polished, but there’s a lot of crazy energy in it, particularly with the members’ expressions, and her caricatures are spot-on. For example, it’s very hard to do John Paul Jones because he was so undistinctive with his habits, gestures, and dress; yet the artist managed to make him recognizable and distinctive in the toon below. For background, the toon extrapolates from the situation above where he’s eating from the same box of cereal.
A follower of the artist had asked “What was the toy inside the box?” In fanon Jimmy has his kinky side, so naturally the prize was a (ridiculously oversized) pair of handcuffs.
Unlike some artists Rivka’s toons are not overt slash, but they do make fun of the slash.
What sets the artist apart from the pack is the quality of the writing, and the energetic, idiosyncratic style of her lettering. Unfortunately, both her and Fabryka seem to have gone inactive after 2014, ten years ago; I can guess they’ve graduated from college and moved on to real-world careers and relationships, and who knows what else after these COVID years. But these magnificent reminders of their passions, and a small, active community, remain up to see.