Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Great Scott

Whatcha Reading: The latest installment...

Okay, this one's serious old news to a lot of comic readers, but I've just gotten around to it..."It" being Bryan O' Malley's SCOTT PILGRIM comic.

For the uninitiated: the comic's titular hero is a scruffy Toronto resident who's the bass player for the band "Sex Bob-omb". At the outset of the series Scott (Who's 23) is having a rather chaste boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with the seventeen year old Chinese-Canadian high school girl Knives Chau. Scott's fairly satisfied with this slightly jail bait-ish romance...until American ex-pat delivery girl Ramona Victoria Flowers rollerblades into his dreams and then his life. Scott wants to date Ramona, but to truly secure her love he must defeat her Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends in bizarre combat rituals.

If that last part seems a bit weird,it seems a lot more normal in the comic itself where slice of life romantic comedy brushes up against a surreal sensibility that's part video game and part manga. It's not unusual for characters to have bizarre super powers or generally subvert the laws of physics or common sense. Yet it all works somehow, or it least I think so.

These books are generally shelved with manga and there's certainly a strong influence evident, but O'Malley keeps the approach fresh and avoids the kind of paint by the numbers slavishness that bogs down so many Japanese influenced Western comics. His chops have grown impressively over the course of the series. The linework is lively and the images practically jump into your lap. And it's funny! O'Malley uses everything from dialogue to labeling to keep your face smiling while you read.

So consider me a convert. I'm already chomping at the bit for volume 5 where Scott must confront THE TWINS. (Eek!)

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