Thursday, July 14, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: SCOTT PILGRIM by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Scott pilgrim covers 1 through 3
scott pilgrim covers 4 through 6

Here are a few things you should know about Scott Pilgrim:
  1. He is Canadian.
  2. He is 23 years old.
  3. He is "between jobs."
  4. He lives with his cool gay roommate, Wallace Wells.
  5. He is dating a high schooler (Knives Chau, 17 years old).
Or at least he was dating a high schooler, until he meets Ramona Flowers, a ninja American who rollerblades through his dreams. Somehow Scott convinces Ramona to date his loser awesome self, which is great. Unfortunately, he has to battle Ramona's Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends to keep dating her.

If God (or the devil) is in the details, then this series is full of both. O'Malley not only gives us a great story with fabulously fun characters and quirky humor, but he fills their world with tons of details that make it seem totally convincing. Some of them are fanciful--the baddy bads turning into coins or bunnies once they're defeated, for example--and some are delightfully practical, like a recipe for vegan shepard's pie or chord charts for songs by Scott's horrible band, Sex Bob-omb.

All the characters in this graphic series are great, but obviously the heart of soul of it is Scott Pilgrim. By all rights he should be total loser--he doesn't have a job, is a complete mooch, doesn't drink because he's too much of a pussy, and his band totally sucks. But he's so lovable it's impossible not to think he's the greatest guy ever! And his character has a lot more depth than you would think--for all his irresponsibility, there are reasons Scott behaves the way he does (not necessarily good reasons, mind you, but reasons). I love how something Scott will do to make you think, "Oh, ha ha, quirky Scott!" has an impact on the story later on.

scott pilgrim wins

As for the art, it's elegant and fab. This might be, visually speaking, one of the best manga-style comics I've ever come across. There's an easy flow to the pages that allows you to relax and enjoy the story, yet at the same time O'Malley really gets across all the characters' personalities and moods. Ramona and Envy (one of Scott's evil exes) are the two best-drawn in the whole series, with clothes and accessories that make them instantly recognizable and interesting--not to mention diametrical opposites of one another.

If you've seen the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, then you pretty much know how this series is going to go. In fact, the first volume of the manga matches the film almost scene-for-scene. But the manga is way better because you get to know a lot more about the secondary characters like Wallace and Kim, the whole Negascott thing makes sense, and the final battle is EPIC. Both the movie and the manga use the seemingly silly plot to show how everyone has baggage and you bring that to your relationships. But the manga is also about how people lie to themselves so they don't have to face things, and eventually all those lies catch up with you. Fortunately, Scott and Ramona get to face theirs together.


Basically... this graphic novel is the shit and you all should read it! The end.


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