Scott Pilgrim Comics VS The Movie: Review of the Original Material

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Those who caught the shorts for the film Scott Pilgrim VS The World may know it is based off a 6 part, critically acclaimed comic book series. It was drawn and written by the multi-talented Bryan Lee O’Malley, whom incidentally, is a huge manga fan. It was released between 2004 and 2010 by an independent company: Onipress. The phenomenon is about 23 year old Scott Pilgrim, your typical share house inmate and lazy cook whom becomes obsessed with a strange girl, Ramona Flowers when she keeps showing up in his dreams. Chaos, heartbreak and hilarity ensues. The movie was released in 2010, with a video game adaption made shortly after.

Character of Ramna 1/2
Character of Ramna 1/2

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s artwork was inspired dominantly by the 80’s manga hit Ramna 1/2. Many parallels with manga formatting are present in Scott Pilgrim: a variety of different sized panels are used, backgrounds are not always present, and the comics are printed in black and white with toners (don’t tell anyone, but this was done to save money). Some incorrectly describe the character designs as “anime style”. However, besides the big googly eyes there isn’t much similarity between them and your typical manga character. Body proportions are drawn small, rounded, and therefore clearly organize themselves into the “US cartoon” category.

This wall-breaking approach is an interesting ploy decorating the other positives of Bryan’s artwork. All characters are drawn distinctly with a variety of facial features and stylish outfits. Everyone is recognizable in a flash. There is no need to identify who is whom by looking at their hair. O’Malley has a great grasp on what real people look like – there is no limit on the range of faces and bodies here. Anorexic or overly beautiful characters do not overpopulate its pages like the mainstream media likes to highlight. He gives us a healthy dose of reality, from the ethnic distinction of Matthew Patel, to the tall scrawniness of Gideon. The artwork on the front covers match the eccentric, energetic tone of his writing – bright, sunny colors will make you spot a Scott Pilgrim book from a mile away, if the spine isn’t creased, that is!

The artwork is not the only thing that sets Scott Pilgrim apart from other young adult books. The story is creative, brilliant and original – it combines everything teens like to see into a delicious pizza of awesomeness. Between a mixture of movie and video game references that will make nerds squeal in delight and a comedic narrative style – where O’Malley likes to point out the flaws, qualities and stupidity of his characters, the saga incorporates science fiction, comedy, romance, action and drama, which will have readers begging for more. The dialogue is populated with (almost) every word and joke conjured up on the Internet, which will make most of Generation Y feel right at home in the Scott Pilgrim universe.

Scott Pilgrim’s world is so bizarre and overblown yet it somehow manages to become its own perfect being. If you forget the down to earth scenes such as Scott job-hunting, trying to enjoy boring parties, failing at being tactful in romance and the day-to-day perks of living in a crappy, run down apartment – the comics may come across as something nonsensical and unreadable. The strings that hold all these genres together is the realism of the characters. You could not for the life of you categorize any of them into your usual romantic-comedy troupes: while Wallace Wells is gay, he is perverted, sarcastic and anything but you’re flamboyant, stereotypical insult to the homosexual community. Ramona Flowers could be the mysterious, quiet type if she wasn’t so forward and down to earth – let’s not forget Scott Pilgrim himself whom… well, he’s a bit confused but still trying to be cool in the process. The astronomical number of characters is only matched by how interesting and different they all are. It feels like you could meet any one of them down the street, except perhaps Lucas Lee.

For those whom are only familiar with the movie will need to read the comics more than once to grasp the extra detail encapsulated inside. Science fiction jargon such as “subspace highways” make an overbearing presence in the comics, and can take a little while to comprehend. So many details from the movie have been switched around, changed, and generally mutated that the two mediums could be seen as completely separate beasts. Despite the disorientating changes, the fans of the movie will be pleasantly taken by the characters. Envy, Kim and Ramona in particular become a lot more sympathetic as their softer sides take the stage.

The Scott Pilgrim Comic Book series is at first, an action-packed romance interluded by comedy. The more volumes you read, the glue slowly shifts towards fantasy and drama. While the climactic battle in the last volume does not disappoint, the overarching story doesn’t present anything meaningful. It finishes on a touching note of two vulnerable people taking a chance towards a better future. It is a hugely entertaining, fun series which is a must read for anyone wanting a little kick start to their day, besides coffee. It reminds you of the greater things in life, like striving for happy fun times no matter what crappy situation, or apartment, you’re in.

Rating:

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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8 Comments

  1. I didn’t know that Bryan was this much influenced by manga art. I’m a huge addict of the Scott Pilgrim comics, do you think I will like reading manga? This is something that I have not done yet. And which manga shoudl I read?

    • Jordan

      It depends what sort of genres you like as to which manga you should read. What would you say is your favorite genres? 🙂

  2. David Tatlow

    As far as I’m concerned, Scott Pilgrom is one of the greatest things ever written. It’s kinetic, weird and absolutely hilarious. Great work Wynter!

    • Jordan

      Thanks David 😀 I saw the movie first, then my boyfriend bought me the comic box set…. I am reading it for a 3rd time now!

  3. An article of yours I can actually comment because I know the material, yay^^

    you’re flamboyant
    your.

    That was my one minute as a grammar nazi^^. Now, the actual article. I love how you make us want to read the book without telling us anything about the story (as in plot) itself. Still, you give precise and compelling reasons to make us try it out.
    I agree that Scott Pilgrim is genius because the hero is your typical awkward nice guy that nevertheless has his quirks (and moments where he’s indescribably thick).

    I disagree that Kim’s softer side was shown in the movie (sure she’s almost nice at the end but she seems much more bitter than in the books) but I agree that the movie was a great adaptation. It also made Knive’s character more real and sympathetic, which added depth.

    Nice article, very clear and decent length. I’ll keep browsing^^.

    • Jordan

      Oh, I thought I wrote that Kim’s softer side is more in the comics??? 😛 Sorry if there was an awful typo there 😮 Thanks for reading the article though!

  4. You’ve used the word ‘whom’ wrong in every place you’ve used it in this writeup. 🙁

  5. I definitely need to spend time to read up on Scott Pilgrim, and I’m glad I read this article beforehand because I only know the movie.

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