Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Checks His Baggage

The other day a comic known as the Scott Pilgrim series caught my eye. After reading a friend's copy of the first of five books, I was immediately hooked and finished the other four before the evening was over. The sixth and final installment actually comes out today, so I might even go out and buy it.

 The art seems to be influenced by the Japanese style, and has a pretty simple, clean aesthetic. It all revolves around Scott Pilgrim, a 23-year-old Canadian slacker, who is dating the girl of his dreams on a provisional basis until he is able to best seven of her former boyfriends in combat.

Meanwhile Scott has some baggage of his own to deal with, as his past love interests are still sticking around to cause him trouble or otherwise complicate the interactions of the characters (see right; click to expand).

The cast is big enough to be a bit confusing at first, but most of the characters are well fleshed out and breathe some life into the world. Scott himself is a great protagonist, likeable and well-meaning but naive and a little dumb at times.

The story does a good job of capturing both the mundane sort of stuff people our age deal with (finding a place to live, going to parties, holding a job) as well as some heavier themes: when is it time to grow up? Or move on? What do you do when your past catches up with you?

The storyline starts out fairly simple and upbeat, but gets a little nuanced and stormy as the "defeating ex-boyfriends" plot takes a backseat to Scott's efforts to keep his personal life intact as his world becomes increasingly unglued.

In spite of all that the series retains a good sense of humor, poking fun at 20-something hipsters in bands or having fun with Scott's blockheadedness at every opportunity.

Overall the series is an entertaining, quick read and I hope to get my hands on the last book soon. Apparently they're making a movie for it with Michael Cera and the folks who did Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead.

I'm not sure how well it'll translate to the big screen, but I'll probably end up seeing it when it comes out next month. I'm glad I just discovered this comic now, so that I can appreciate it all at once instead of waiting a year or two between books!


Update 7/21: Well, I caved and bought the final book at Borders, and it was great! It provided some much-needed relief from the bleakness of the fifth volume, tied up the many loose ends and question marks of the series in a satisfying way without coming off as contrived, and it addressed the "heavier themes" I mentioned above directly and with finality. O'Malley did a really good job making this story work.

1 comment:

  1. I can't say I'm the biggest post-AD Michael Cera fan, but that movie looks amazing. I wonder if I can find a way to read the comics before the movie comes out...