Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life - A Well-Rounded Pounded

Today's "You Decide" is Scott Pilgrim's Precious Life, the first graphic novel in the series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley for Oni Press (pick courtesy of my blogmate, Brad Curran).

Scott Pilgrim, in short, is about a young 23-year-old "between jobs" who is in a band and is forced to fight (Street Fighter-style) against the ex-boyfriends of his new girlfriend (note that Scott also already HAS a girlfriend).

However, that describes the joys of Scott Pilgrim about as well as "This guy pines after this woman while he ends up marrying another woman" describes the joys of The Age of Innocence.

No, the joys of Scott Pilgrim come from two, very disparate, places:

1. The sheer insanity of the fact that this is a normal guy who also fights people Street Fighter-style


2. The sheer insanity of how well O'Malley captures the lives of the young men and women that he is writing about.

The first is a suprise joy, as it does not come across in the book until the first volume is almost over, but the second one is the main premise of the book - O'Malley writing about a group of young friends, and their trials and tribulations in Toronto (I mention Toronto because O'Malley makes sure that this is really SET IN Toronto, not one of those books that is set in some vague city that is called Toronto).

The comparison that I make in the title is to Brian Wood and Steve Rolston's series (also from Oni Press) Pounded, which I wrote about earlier on this blog here.

Both books are about musicians in Canada who are unemployed and have Asian high school girlfriends.

What's amusing, though, is that the lead from Pounded, Heavy Parker, is a really big jerk, but when all is said and done, I think he and Scott Pilgrim have very much the same attitude towards life, which is a sense of "the world revolves around me." The difference is, of course, that Heavy jerkily embraces this idea, while Scott is an easy-going guy who tries to avoid ever actually saying as much, as it is just implied. He lives off the kindness of his friends, he really does not think of what sleeping (SLEEPING) with another girl would do to his ACTUAL girlfriend, but he is forgiven for all of this - mainly because he is the best fighter in the area, but also because he is so nice. Where Heavy gets by on bluster, Scott gets by on friendliness.

In any event, as I was saying before, the way O'Malley handles the characterizations of all the young men and women of the book is very impressive. Scott is our slacker hero, but the rest of his band (Sex Bob-Omb), his sister, his high school girlfriend Knives, his gay roommate and Ramona Flowers, the young woman he has to fight the boyfriends over (which is the "setup" for the following volumes, in a nod to Manga conventions, which is that each first volume opens up with a goal that has to be met, whether it be collect all the pieces of some gem scattered across the world, save a relative, or whatever) are given very nice, defined, personalities.

O'Malley's Manga-inspired art adds to their personalities nicely, with the subtle touches in their reactions and facial expressions putting across a good deal of the information that we have about their personalities.

The relationship between Scott and Ramona (she is an Amazon.ca delivery girl, they have a "Meet Cute" when Scott orders from Amazon just to meet her) is rich, and believable. O'Malley has an ear for realistic dialogue, and the interactions between Scott and Knives (the high school girl) and Scott and Ramona are distinct entities, but both of them portray how Scott can be seen as apealing to both ladies.

The fighting scenes were quite humorous, and filled with nerdy references (there's a lot of that in the book, like Scott's X-Men jacket, for one), and the setup of plot and characters is so strong that Scott Pilgrim looks to be a franchise that will entertain us for many more months (or years, however long this takes) to come.

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Anonymous Gordon McAlpin said...

I just read vols. 1 & 2 of Scott Pilgrim not too long ago, and I have to say you nailed them. I've never read Pounded or whatever the book with Heavy Parker was that you mentioned, but you're right: this book is totally insane. Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends disappear (when defeated) in a pile of coins... Knives Chau (17 years old) is a total nutjob...

If it wasn't for the bits of fighting, though, this could be a totally down-to-earth, slice-of-life yarn -- and an effective one, at that. That's what makes me appreciate it as something more than a fun bit of kitsch.

Vol. 3 comes out in December, I think. Boo yah!

9/06/2005 09:51:00 PM  

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