Monday, May 12, 2014

Scott Pilgrim - 2004-2010

Some of you may have seen the awesome Edgar Wright film "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe," but didn't know it was based on a comic book. Some of you may not have even seen that film. In both cases, you should correct your mistake, because Scott Pilgrim is all sorts of crazy awesomeness.

Scott Pilgrim is a series of six graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley, which were originally done in black and white but are being colorized now (in addition to having a few extra scenes put back in). They detail the story of one Scott Pilgrim, a Canadian slacker and part-time bass player in the band Sex Bob-omb, who's trying to get his life together and win the heart of the beautiful American trans-dimensional delivery girl Ramona Flowers. To do so, however, he must defeat her seven exes, who have formed a league of sorts. (Because, y'know, bad guys tend to hang out together.) Oh, Scott's also sort of dating a high school girl when he meets Ramona, so there's that whole mess to figure out as well.

Scott Pilgrim is probably only targeted for people between the ages of 21-40, simply because a lot of the pop culture references will be lost on everyone else. That said, it's highly improbable than anyone will get all the references on their first time through, even someone as popped out as me. There's band references, comic book references, video game references (a LOT of videogame references), television references... it goes on and on. I mean, bad guys turn into coins when they're defeated. How can you go wrong with anything that has that in it?

O'Malley's art style is a blend of manga and traditional comic book art styles, and in what seems to be the default for the book, O'Malley just takes whatever works and folds it in, so you'll see things like screentones (which haven't been used in American comics for a long time now), exploding panels, full page spreads, caption jokes... it goes on and on.

Scott Pilgrim's greatest strength, however, is its characters, and not just Scott and Ramona. There's also Wallace Wells, Scott's "cool gay roommate," who often steals the scene in almost any scene he's in. (And props to actor Kieran Culkin for getting the role pitch perfect in the movie. And, y'know, also stealing the scenes he's in...) And there's Kim Pine, Scott's high school friend (and his first girlfriend), the band's drummer who's angrier than most people would believe. Also, Knives Chau, the high school girl who's referred to as "Scott's fake high school girlfriend" early on in the book. And plenty others. Not to mention the evil exes, who are wildly diverse and mostly insane.

There's something wonderfully stop-and-start about Scott Pilgrim as both a character and a book. When it's moving forward, it feels like forward motion is the only possible thing that could be happening right then and there. When it's dwelling on a moment, you almost want that moment to last forever. And Scott as a character is the exact same way - he doesn't seem to have any 1st gear, only neutral and 4th.

And, if you haven't seen the movie "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," you really should. It's from Edgar Wright, who's brought you such pop classics as "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," and who's directing "Ant-Man" for Marvel. (He also did a marvelous TV show called "Spaced," but I'll talk about that another day.) I've never understood why the film wasn't a monster hit, but maybe it was just too clever for its own good, a distinct possibility considering the film makes fun of hipsters more than a little bit...

The whole series is out in black and white now, and the first four volumes are in color, with the fifth one coming in June and the sixth one probably the end of this year or the beginning of next (although it could be next summer. Who the hell knows.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about this movie this week. (Also it's "World" not "Universe") good stuff.