Oh Scott Pilgrim, what kind of trouble are you in? After receiving Volume 6 of the Scott Pilgrim series, I can say, “plenty”.
Bryan Lee O’Malley is a talented author and artist. He’s a nice guy. He’s Canadian. He’s got a movie coming out based on one of his properties. But I can’t feel but let down by the end of Scott Pilgrim and the “resolution” to the series of mangas.
Scott Pilgrim is a loser/slacker/Gen X type of character living in Canada and dealing with his lack of love, money, and talent as his band tries to fight through local gigs. He falls in lust/love with Ramona Flowers and ends up fighting his way through her evil ex-boyfriends to win her. The series falls through a few flaws:
Schedule: The six issues spanned a few years of inconsistent publication dates. No longer a concern since the entire series is now in print.
Art: O’Malley is a manga artist, but also a good illustrator. I first discovered him while following Adrian Tomine, who is worthy of his own post in the future. The characters drawn by O’Malley though suffer in the manga style, as some of them are only distinguishable by a hat or t-shirt, and some of the montage and group passages are hard to follow. His friends who might appear every 30 pages get lost due to simple personalities or isolated interactions. I was reading volume 6 and found most of the characters were so forgettable that I had to skim back through 5 volumes to figure out who they were.
Plot: Winding down a story arc is very difficult; how many unfinished novels are simply waiting for a final chapter to emerge? Scott Pilgrim is the same. Waiting for Scott to dole out an ass-kicking seems like a simple concept, but the loose threads feel like sloppy knots as O’Malley ties up the loose the ends.
In other words, Scott Pilgrim tries to take on the world, but maybe he should have settled for Canada or maybe just Toronto.
O’Malley is capable of incredible storytelling. If you want to see the potential and why O’Malley is still going to be a major player for years to come, check out Lost at Sea.
Again, I found Lost at Sea while searching for Tomine’s works and this kept popping up in my Amazon.com cart.
Briefly, it’s the story of a teenage girl who is dealing with the common teenage feeling of isolation from a lack of friends, disconnection from family, and thrown on top of the moody settings and spartan illustrations of cookie cutter California and bleak Vancouver. You can check out some of the online Lost at Sea strips HERE, but they don’t do justice to the full story arc by O’Malley. It’s the closest I’ve come to Craig Thompson’s Blankets, but that’s a post for another day…