Saturday, 21 February 2009

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

I've been meaning to read Scott Pilgrim for a very long time; recently, I don't know why, that feeling has been building up in me, a desire to find out what it's all about. I had an idea of the basic story - that a guy has to face the seven evil ex-boyfriends of the girl of his dreams - but had no idea of the specifics of it. I'm not sure I have ever read anything else by the creator of the series Bryan Lee O'Malley, but whenever I have come across a Scott Pilgrim illustration I have smiled at how cool it looks.

(I have seen various things recently about volume five being released, and had heard that Edgar Wright and Michael Cera were in the process of making a film based on the first few volumes; maybe that's why it has been sticking in my mind so much)

I've been economising recently, cutting down on what I do and where I go (credit crunch plus slow work period as a freelancer over the last few months) but last Thursday when I was in my local comic shop (Worlds Apart, near Lime Street Station in Liverpool) my regular order came to less than a fiver. A slow week for comics. And I thought, "Hmmm, maybe, maybe now is the time to see what Scott Pilgrim is like...?" I had a look around and finally (after asking) found volume one (it had been placed with manga due to the style of the artwork).

Normally, when I go to the comic shop I go immediately to the train station after that and get the train home, maybe read a few comics on the way, and read the rest after dinner. On Thursday I was going to meet my writing group, and then we went on for dinner. I read the two comics I had bought, and thought, "I'll read the first chapter of Scott Pilgrim before bed." (it is a graphic novel, broken down into chapters inside)


I couldn't put it down. The combination of artwork, story, technique, romance, humour - if I hadn't been lying back in bed, it would have floored me. This first volume was released back in 2004, so I'm playing catch up on the cool curve I guess; I had no idea just how absolutely brilliant it was. I like all kinds of comics and graphic novels, but apart from some of the webcomics I read I very rarely go for series that have a humourous focus. To say too much about where Scott Pilgrim gets its laughs from would spoil the surprise - the final twenty pages or so had me alternating between laughing out loud and literally gasping with delight. The dialogue, the story, the artwork - it combines to make a perfect entertainment.

I've looked over the last five paragraphs and realised that really this is a terrible review: aside from the one line synopsis, which is based on what I thought I knew about Scott Pilgrim before I read it, I have told you nothing about what happens or anything really. All I have done is gush about how I came to read it and how fantastic it is. Oh well.

(by the way, if anyone reading this has ever read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, it struck me that Bryan Lee O'Malley understands comics - the various things that he uses in it that McCloud talks about in the book just jumped out at me, and not in a distracting, obvious way, just the way that he framed things, used motion lines, drew characters and everything...)

I'm economising, but I am going to put pennies and pounds to one side over the coming weeks and months so that I can get the other four volumes that are currently available. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life is a fantastic slice of pure joy, a wonderful piece of sequential art and a bloody good story.

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