Saturday, May 9, 2009

Scott Pilgrim Must Buy

By LeKeith * Other LeKeith Posts

Before the release of The Watchmen Film, I noticed an increased number of copies of The Watchmen Book visible on the railways. I am including myself; not only did I borrow a copy but I then loaned out my borrowed copy to someone else. In an effort to make it up to the original loaner, I bought a copy to replace the borrowed copy. At one point, I had claim to 2 copies of the book but neither was technically mine. I know mental, right?

DC Comics has gone into overdrive trying to capitalize on the movie's one week of success. They've launched a site to point people towards some of their other works by established artists. I’ve read some of these titles and will willingly recommended All Star Superman or The Killing Joke, without hesitation. I wouldn’t recommend every title however.

DC isn’t alone in this; Marvel, to coincide with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has released additional comics centering on all aspects Wolverine. Wolverine is already a heavily favored and read character but the additional series focus on or relate to his origin stories. However, much like The Watchmen, there is a lot of story to condense for cinema, which can result in confusion for both the comic readers and the movie goers. I have a different suggestion that is more needed: Read the Scott Pilgrim series.

This is Scott. His surname is Pilgrim, hence the title of the series. Scott is an aimless twenty-three year old living in Toronto, Canada. He fills his days with his band, made up of his friends; they're, admittedly, not very good. He shares a tiny one bed, one-bedroom with his gay friend / roommate Wallace. By ‘shares,’ I mean mooches off of. He meets a girl - Ramona Flowers – and fancies her, setting off a chain of events revolved around a single principle:

In order to date Ramona, he must defeat her 7 evil exes.

Bryan Lee O'Malley is the creator of this series. From the first few pages in Volume 1, you can tell that O’Malley showcases his influences. The art of the series shows influences of Manga, which is a Japanese comic art style. The books are even Manga sized, which is about the size of a Reader’s Digest, around 5’’ x 7.5’.’ American comic books are generally .6.625’’ x 10.25’’. The art within the pages are in black and white; however, many of the panels not only reference color but self-referentially acknowledge that the book is printed in black and white. In terms of content, O’Malley is not one to limit himself, making anything and everything a possible reference within the series. In a quick gloss, you will potentially discover tabs for a song, a recipe for Vegan Shepard’s Pie, or – my personal favorite – classic videogame references.

Scott Pilgrim is an enjoyable and accessible read. The Watchmen and similar titles being recommended by DC are weighted, focusing on darker themes like death, corruption, moral deviations and other apocalyptic goodness. I have no problem with this type of reading material but sometimes I need a break. And I don't know you but you need a break too. With the summer approaching, this seems about as good as a time as any to revel in something more comedic. I’m not implying that Scott Pilgrim is without heft, that’s certainly not the case. Without going into too much detail, there is both major and minor character development that affects the series’ driving premise. The Watchmen and Watchmen-esque works are fairly dense; they require a more detailed understanding of comic books either in terms of character history or comic book themes. Scott Pilgrim operates on less of these principles than others do. It's a good comic for non-comic readers also.

I, too, am late to the Pilgrim party. I didn’t read the first book until I picked it up at the San Diego Comic Con 2008. I did so in bass-ackwards fashion: I bought one the day after O’Malley was there, signing books and selling original artwork, which my friend purchased. With months to stew over my errs, I picked up a copy of Volume 5 – mostly for the limited addition sleeve – first thing on Day 1 of the New York Comic Con 2009. I also picked up Volume 2 that day. That night, I read Volume 2, returned to the NYCC for Day 2 and bought Volumes 3 and 4. I read those the same night and completed 5 by the time the NYCC weekend was over. That weekend, the Scott Pilgrim books were my crack but the good kind of crack. They were like Madeleines. I came, I saw, I bought the limited edition t-shirt.

I want to be the one to take you through the looking glass. Trust me, on the other side, you will not be alone. It’s warm and comforting, like fresh madeleines straight from the oven. There is a large fanbase for this series that has yet to get mainstream attention.While the books have been reviewed by the likes of the New York Times, its fans have gone under reported. To be fair, articles about fans only happen when they reach BoSox or Potter like levels of 'dedication.' So it’s fine that Gawker doesn’t have any articles about us. But there is an official Myspace page, unofficial Facebook pages, and a Ning page. I know; I hadn’t heard of Ning either, not until SP.

We can get to all of that. Let me be your Sherpa, and we’ll take in a little bit of Pilgrim at a time. We’ll eventually reach levels of release parties like the one Rocketship had for Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe. For Volume 6, We’ll throw BBQ’s, Theme Parties, whatever you like. First we have to start with Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, which you can pick up at Bergen Street Comics. You should pick up Volume 2: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World while you're there. Take a look around the shop. It'd be a nice place for a release party, in my opinion.

They've already making a movie based on the series. O'Malley is working closely with Edgar Wright., the Writer / Director of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. You love those movies! It's starring Michael Cera. You love Michael Cera! Admit it: He's second only to Paul Rudd, if that. You hate that your parents stole Cera from you because they liked Juno. Your tween sister (and her friends) co-opted him through Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (That soundtrack was clearly intended for you, not them). They still haven’t watched Arrested Development, probably not until that movie comes out. C’mon! We’re taking him back. If we read the books now, we can reverse the trend. Mark your pop-cultural territory, figuratively, not literally.


  1. 1) You're wrong. I don't like Michael Cera. In fact, that might be the reason why I will skip the movie.You're right about Paul Rudd though.
    2) The issue with the wolverine movie is not so much having to condense alot of source material into a feature length movie, but instead having multiple incongruent stories about the character. There are so many different accounts on the history of Wolverine. While I haven't seen the movie, I'm guessing that they opted to go with the 'ultimate' version of wolverine.
    3) Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3 has the best cover art.

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  3. Actually, there is a definitive origin for Wolverine in the 616 Marvel Universe and that's the one used in the film. Granted, things get a bit fuzzy between his youth as James Howlett and his (forced?) entry into the Weapon X Program and subsequent association with the X-Men, but his origin is firmly established.

  4. From what I understand the source material used for the movie was the ORIGIN series that came out in 2001. Is this part of marvel 616? I don't think they ever actually mentioned that. In fact, they don't actually like to refer to it as Marvel or Earth 616.

  5. Yes, ORIGIN is in-continuity and takes place in "our" Marvel universe (ne Earth 616). And regardless of the current editorial dislike for the term, it's been long used in Marvel comics to designate stories that take place in the Marvel universe as we know it.

    After the events of House of M, Wolverine now knows about the history depicted in ORIGIN and that's what lead to the unfortunate and boring WOLVERINE: ORIGINS series.

  6. multiple universes are confusing. Have you seen the new Star Trek? They pretty much gave themselves carte blanche to come up with new stories that don't necessarily relate to the ST chronology.

  7. Yup, and they did it in an elegant manner that's pretty respectful of the existing Star Trek stories.