Author/Illustrator: Bryan Lee O' Malley
Published: Oni Press (2004)
I guess I can thank Hollywood for peaking my interest in graphic novels, because ever since they stopped pretending they had any ideas of their own and started turning every comic book under the sun into a movie, I've been interested in seeing what is so great about all this source material. After I saw the trailer for Scott Pilgrim, starring Michael Cera, I was dazzled and decided I had to read the book(s).
The premise sounds easy enough, as Scott Pilgrim falls for a girl and then discovers he's going to have to fight--make that defeat--her seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to do so. Ah, to be young and in love ... and skilled with wicked fighting techniques.
The book starts off very unassuming and off-beat. Scott's a poor Torontonian (that's a person who lives in Toronto, Ontario, in case you aren't into Geography) schlub mooching off his roommate, Wallace Wells, while he tries to meander his way through life. He's in a fledgling rock band and is dating a high schooler, Knives Chau. It's all great ammunition for his friends and little sister, Stacey. Then he meets the woman of his dreams. Literally.
After reading only the first volume of this series, I'm already a fan. I have three reasons to love this book: 1) It's a Canadian setting with characters that have that Canuck vibe without leaping off the page adorned in maple leafs and hockey skates; 2) the irreverent style and low-key humor make a perfect match to give Scott Pilgrim and company an instantly likable personae; 3) the illustrations have a manga quality that doesn't hit me over the head with how "awesome-o" it is--it's just a fun, cartoonish reflection of real life.
Oh, and the names of the characters are a treat all on their own. As soon as Knives Chau is introduced, I liked her, but when she went ape-crazy fangirl for Scott's garage band, I loved her. Honestly, the whole cast of characters is great and each strike their own chord despite the art style making them all look so damned similar--like Peanuts cartoons, but with body piercings and hipster t-shirts.
For the first three-quarters of the book, I was content with the rather contemporary plot of Scott trying to avoid confrontation with Knives, while at the same time pursuing a relationship with his dream girl, Ramona Flowers. Then, when her first ex-boyfriend enters the stage, the story goes right off into left field. Had I not been expecting the arcade-like climax, I might have been put off by its divergence from the rest of the book. But I knew what I was getting into and actually thought it was a slow burn to the ending scenes.
I'd say that if you go out to theaters and catch Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and enjoy it, you might want to consider checking out the graphic novels too. I'm already committed to the next couple of volumes.