Monday, November 22, 2010

Teh Scott

Picture from Entertainment Earth

I finally finished reading the Scott Pilgrim series. It was pretty damn entertaining and addictive, though after the dust clears, it’s hard to find much to say about it except that it was fun to read.

You know the story: 23-year-old and nerdy Scott Pilgrim is slacking his way through life in Toronto, in a band, when he meets and falls for roller-skating, goggle-wearing “subspace delivery girl” Ramona Flowers. However, to have a clear field to date her, Scott must battle and defeat each member of Ramona’s League of Evil Exes, seven ex-boyfriends (well, one is a girl) who have joined together.

Scott bumbles his way into it, getting the job done in a world of magical realism, fourth-wall breaking, pop-up captions, and video game imagery. All this, and trying to deal with his own screwed-up past and present, and the people who live in it.

The “slacker guy gets the love of awesome girl just because” plot is pretty low on my totem pole of story ideas that I despite on sight, but it was still only seeing the opinions of trusted others which convinced me that Scott Pilgrim would be one of those series that transcended the icky nature of its premise.

It pretty much does—Scott isn’t particularly lionized, there is a reason why Ramona can’t defeat her Evil Exes by herself, and basically you forget about the cliché and just work with the characters. What is left is a very funny representation of slacker twentysomethings, the pitfalls of love, and “references to stuff the author obviously likes” that aren’t too grating.

I’m not a gamer, but I understood enough of the video game references to get by (so I hoped), accepted the odd nature of the comic’s world, and was at a lot of points on the edge of my seat. The over-the-top self-referential dialogue so liked by people my age is also out in full force, but that’s a good thing.

The series also gets points for allowing the world to see that explicitly Canadian works can be hilarious and eccentric too, and giving Canada some representation among the nerdy demographic, and not as the usual punching bag. (which I know is tongue-in-cheek, but come on, you guys!)

The books had some manga influence, but not in the aggravating, copycat way that you get when artists are trying only to copy some imagined “genre style”. Rather, the manga influence seems to be just an influence of many on the comic, whose art really looks more like American thick-line animation than anything else. However, while O’Malley tries to give distinctive features to his heavily stylized character designs, sometimes it is still hard to tell characters apart.

I’ll be sure to watch the movie version in the near future.

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