Monday, 2 August 2010

Tpb Review: Scott Pilgrim - Precious Little Life

Scott Pilgrim volume 1: Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

It was with some trepidation that I sat down to read Bryan Lee O'Malley's critically acclaimed (and soon to be captured on film) series Scott Pilgrim. Over the last year it has become a series that I have heard and read so much praise for that I was afraid it might be difficult to look at it in an objective way. In addition to this, at first glance the books artwork looked...not to my tastes. I have the utmost respect for Manga but it is really not my sort of thing and at first glance I casually dismissed O'Malley's artwork as 'too manga', possibly in part due to the lack of colour. Thankfully a glowing recommendation from a member of staff at my LCS was all that was needed for me to take the plunge and give volume 1 a try.

While not exactly Manga, Scott Pilgrim is far from your typical comic book. Despite my initial dislike for it, O'Malley's artwork really grew on me over the course of the book. What his art lacks in detail it more than makes up for in kinetic, off the wall energy. O'Malley's often unconventional storytelling choices also suit the quirky tone of the book. Don't get me wrong, it isn't the sort of thing I would usually go for but in this instance is a perfect fit for the story.

Ah...the story. Even for a comic book the plot of Scott Pilgrim is often utterly ridiculous, yet still manages to be more rooted in the real world than most. The titular character of Scott Pilgrim is an average Canadian guy, currently between jobs whose main passion is playing in his (terrible) band. The story picks up as a year on from a seemingly painful breakup, the 23 year old Pilgrim acquiries a high school girlfriend before becoming obsessed with the enigmatic delivery girl Ramona Flowers. Pilgrim learns that to date Flowers he has to defeat her seven 'evil exes' in combat. Despite the bizarre premise O'Malley manages to make it work, mainly through his excellent dialogue and likeable, realistic characters. This runs as a sharp contrast to the ridiculous and brilliantly over the top fight scenes, where his dynamic artwork is allowed to really shine.

It's not perfect - at times the plot seems a little aimless and I have a feeling that there is a lot more to come from forthcoming volumes. Despite this O'Malley does a fantastic job of introducing the reader to Scott Pilgrim's crazy world and the characters that inhabit it. A nice surprise.