“Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler.”
That’s how the award-winning Scott Pilgrim series begins- with that single, fantastically ridiculous line. A line that single-handedly began my favorite comic series, and spurred a costly, terrible obsession.
I first read a Scott Pilgrim story in 2006, when I picked up the short side story that was put out for Free Comic Book Day. I thought it was silly and quirky, and I loved the video game references. I kept it, treasured it even, as I do all comics. But I put it away and soon forgot about it.
YEARS PASS, and I one day happen upon Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life in a comic book store. Recognizing it as the comic I once picked up and enjoyed so, and having heard recently of it’s award-winning prowess, I gladly purchase it and take it home.
And I instantly fell in love.
Scott Pilgrim is the story of our generation. It is for the music loving, barely adult kids-at-heart who still think they’re going to make it with a B.A. in English. It’s about growing up after living the transition from Super Nintendo to Playstation. Scott Pilgrim is about being a loser, but being happier than any of the successful shmucks in suits.
Scott Pilgrim basically sums up what I want my life to be.
So then the question is: Really, what is Scott Pilgrim?
Scott Pilgrim is a series set for six volumes, five of which have been published (I’m still waiting for Amazon to deliver me my preordered volume five, with any luck it’ll be in my mailbox tomorrow and I can have a new excuse to be behind on my schoolwork.) It centers around the title character Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old loveable slacker living in Toronto with his mostly friend Wallace Wells. The series begins just as Scott has started sort-of dating high schooler Knives Chau, an adorable, if a bit obsessive, 17 year old Chinese girl. The series starts off rather normal, following Scott on visits to his girlfriend, adventures in his apartment, and rocking out with his band.
And then things get a little weird.
It begins with a girl (as it always does), who Scott seems to be seeing everywhere; the weird part being that he first met her in his dreams. He becomes obsessed with meeting her, and we learn her name is Ramona Flowers, an Amazon.ca delivery girl who uses subspace highways to make her delivery’s extra speedy, one of which conveniently goes right through Scott’s brain. Long story short, Scott realizes that, lovable as he is, it’s still a little creepy to be going out with a high schooler, and starts dating Ramona.
And then things get really weird.
You see, dating Ramona Flowers isn’t that easy. In fact, there is a whole League set up to prevent it. The League of Ramona’s Evil Exes. Because in order to officially date Ramona, one has to first defeat her seven evil ex boyfriends in battle.
Yeah, now it’s getting good.
Really, that’s all the background you need to know. Right now, you should be sold. In fact, you should stop reading this review, and go out and buy it. Right now. Go to your friendly neighborhood comic shop and pick it up (if they have any copies, they’re kind of hard to find sometimes). Seriously, I’ll wait.
Why are you still reading this? Is it because you’re not yet convinced? Fine.
Let me put this in perspective: In the first volume, we have lovable rock and roller and Canadian Scott Pilgrim. Scott Pilgrim is in love with Ramona Flowers, but has to defeat her seven evil ex boyfriends in battle in order to have some peace and quiet with her. Her first evil ex-boyfriend is an Indian kid who thinks pirates are in fashion and summons demon hipster chicks into battle for him. Yes, demon hipster chicks. Would you like to know how Scott defeats them? With the power of love and rock and roll.
Still not convinced?
Listen, you’re going to love Scott Pilgrim, and I’ll tell you why I love it.
The humor in these stories is fantastic. It is sharp, sudden, and hilarious in a totally serious way. Half of the humor comes from when the characters are being totally serious, like when an angry Scott is trapped on a bus as it rolls away, his ridiculous insults getting smaller and smaller as the bus moves further into the distance. (“You suck! Also, everything you like sucks!”).
The rest of the humor comes from the fact that the books do not take themselves seriously. One of my favorite jokes in the series isn’t made from one of the characters themselves, but from a caption box (in each volume, each character is introduced with a little caption box that contains their name and “stats”). I have seriously laughed out loud while reading this series more times than in any other book I’ve ever read, save perhaps Hitchhiker’s Guide. And that’s saying something.
As far as the overall story is concerned, I can do nothing but sing praises. It might just be that I’m a sucker for a big cast, but Scott Pilgrim lives in a huge world. There are so many characters, and each one is fully fleshed out and developed, with their own histories and agendas. The story is incredibly well put together, and contains all aspects that make a good story. I’ve mentioned how often it’s made me laugh, but there have also been parts that struck me, perhaps because they struck so personally, and were so sad that I had to put the book down and walk away until I could recollect myself emotionally. The story really is that powerful. You’ll laugh, and while you may not cry, you will be just as concerned about Scott and Ramona’s relationship as you would about any friend’s. (Possibly a slight exaggeration). Scott Pilgrim has just the right ratio of “Sick Nasty Fight Sequences” to “Mushy Relationship Drama” to keep any reader satisfied and thoroughly interested.
As far as art goes, Scott Pilgrim follows it’s own unique art style. The highly stylized characters, with their large eyes, small noses, and large hands, are incredibly expressive, which really pushes along the emotional attachment to the story. The characters really are nothing short of adorable, but that doesn’t stop the series from having some fantastically dynamic action shots. And it’s a mixture of detailed and stylized backgrounds and surroundings that moves the story from the real world, surreal in varying degrees, to what feels like an epic video game. The art is simpler than most action comics, but noticeably more detailed than O’Malley’s previous “Lost At Sea”. Nonetheless, nothing is lost by the art style; if anything, the art only exemplifies the emotions of the characters and the story itself.
If you’re not convinced by now that you should be reading Scott Pilgrim, you probably don’t have a soul. So take it from me and treat yourself to Scott Pilgrim. It’s like a soap opera on crack cocaine.