Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Vol 1
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
2004 Oni Press
For this week, we were graciously permitted the option of reading a Young Adult novel, since our soon to be stepping down dean, Dr. Irwin is on point to guest lecture. So, being a fan of graphic novels, comic books and various cartoon desiderata, I thought it would be a good time to 'feed the beast' and pick up a volume that I've been thinking about reading for a few years now. Boy Howdy, that was the right move!
Scott Pilgrim could easily have been talking about me and my college aged 'dork rock and roll friends' - presuming we had access to wormholes, wicked martial arts and a penchant for vegetarian/vegan food (only the last thing was true at the time). By the term 'dork rock and roll' I of course mean the hipster alt-rock thing that has been growing and steadily developing for ages now across the land. It has even infected a small, un-named town in Canada somewhere in the proximity of Toronto where Scott Pilgrim and his buds live. When we meet Scott in this book, he's a 23 year old slacker dating a high school girl - Knives Chau. It's a very chaste relationship, as they haven't even held hands yet, but Scott likes it that way. He also is the bass guitarist in this band created by his friends Stephen Stills and Young Neil called Sex Bob-omb (try saying that five times fast.) Life is pretty good, until he starts seeing this roller skating chick racing through his mind. She shows up often enough, he starts to wonder if he's going crazy, until that is he meets her in person.
Ramona V. Flowers is a fascinating girl, new to town, she's a roller skate delivery girl for Amazon.com. She's constantly changing her hair color, and she has a thing for musicians and general slacker dudes. Once Scott determines she's the girl who's literally been in his mind, he hooks up with and instantly dumps Knives for this fantastically strange red haired (not an organic shade I might add) girl. After spending some quality time together, Ramona informs Scott that he may very well have to earn the right to date her, by defeating her seven evil ex-boyfriends. At first, he thinks she means fight, but no it's really defeat, as in destroy. Her former boyfriends have formed a "League of evil ex-boyfriends" and their determined to prevent anyone else from dating Ramona.
At this point, this cute, strange fascinating book goes into the 'wicked martial arts' referenced earlier. It's quite intentional that this black and white book is illustrated much the way some forms of cute manga is. In that way, the action scenes, often involving some superbly wicked martial arts does not entirely derail the artistic portion of the story's narrative.
To say I adore this book is an understatement. To say that I rushed out to the book store and grabbed the other four volumes currently in print is assured. This is one of the most stirring, magical and fantastic series of stories ever compiled. It's so good, that even before the final volume has been released, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is currently working like a busy beaver adapting the "epic of epic epicness" into a film. They are currently in post production, and prepared to release it in August, a month after the final vol (no. 6!) is released.
Here's the trailer, I dare you to tell me that is not the awesome:
I rather enjoyed this book, and its appeals are very clearly: 1) it's quirky, young characters, 2) the cute manga style of illustration, 3) and the excellent martial art visual sequence which comprise a solid chunk of each volume. There are more fascinating characters in this series than one could shake a stick at. I really would rather not discuss any in depth, but a few off the top of my head include: 1) Wallace Wells, who's Scott's gay roommate. Scott and him share a bed (probably due to the expense of beds when you're slackers) for the first few volumes. 2) Envy Adams: a former girlfriend of Scott Pilgrim, she's the leader of the band The Clash at Demonhead, which features on bass Todd Ingram, one of Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends. She is a very ego-driven girl and she has no problem savaging everyone, which would explain why she and Ramona have a slug fest at one point...
And the list goes on. I cannot recommend this series highly enough, go and check it out. It's probably the coolest things those darn kids are reading.