Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, vol. 1

The story: Scott Pilgrim is a "between jobs" 20-something with a band that just so happens to rock. Oh, and he's got a 17-year-old girlfriend named Knives Chau. So what's up with some rollerblading chick skating through his dreams? When Scott finds out it's the new girl in town, Ramona Flowers, he's determined to learn all about her. Too bad Scott's got to fight Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends if he wants to be with her!

Reaction: This is another one of those books I've wanted to check out for some time, especially with the movie coming out next year. Scott Pilgrim honestly reminds me of an old friend -- no job, check; plays guitar in a band, check; dating high school girls, check. Heck, I think my buddy had the same fake fur-lined winter coat, too! So, I enjoyed this on some levels and the humor is definitely "hipster cool" -- make of that what you will.

Deep thoughts: I thought it was fairly entertaining that Ramona worked for, or Amazon's Canadian site. It being the holiday season, Amazon is in a pricing war with Wal-Mart over movies, books, toys and electronics. While Ramona hand delivers products to Scott and others, Amazon just introduced same-day shipping in seven cities throughout the U.S. I wonder if they're employing Ramona-like rollerbladers to help deliver the goods?

Artwork: Bryan Lee O'Malley's artwork is balanced between broad strokes and what always seems to be the perfect amount of white space. His cartoon and manga influences are pretty evident, too; I found myself reminded of some gekiga artists I've recently become familiar with. Characters are designed with modern fashion in mind and, despite O'Malley's minimalist approach, show a fairly broad range of emotions. The changes in perspective are well integrated and the pacing of the panels gets increasingly more jagged as the reader moves through the more action-oriented scenes. Lastly, the ending battle with Ramona's first ex-boyfriend is one of the more entertaining "fights" I've ever seen in print.

The verdict: If only... While I mostly liked this graphic novel, it still skeeved me a little bit to see Scott Pilgrim with a high school girl. Otherwise, this is a fun little tome with an anti-hero if I ever saw one! Scott Pilgrim is available in the U.S. from Oni Press.

Note: While I've tagged this book as an original English-language (OEL) manga, as well as a graphic novel, it's actually a borderline case -- while O'Malley's work is definitely manga-inspired, it hasn't been marketed as OEL and many would argue that it's not OEL to begin with.

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