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Get It Together! The Scott Pilgrim Chronicles - Part 1

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Welcome to the first installment of Get A Life! This is a special series chronicling the story of Scott Pilgrim and his journey thus far. In anticipation for this summer's film adaptation we thought it'd be fun to introduce newcomers to the wild, whimsical and treacherous world of Scott Pilgrim. Let's start at the beginning...

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

The first volume in a six-part series, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life introduces us to the misadventures of a twenty-something, slacker Canadian. The basic premise of the story is that our hero must defeat the seven evil exes of his current girlfriend in order to attain her love. When reading the first volume cold, this isn't apparent until the final pages. That pleasant surprise at the end is instantly spoiled for those picking it up by now, but the package is complete enough to enjoy every aspect of this setup.

If you wish to remain absolutely spoiler free from this point on, then I'll save you time and give you the simple version.

It's very, very good.

Moving on…

Scott Pilgrim is a lazy, selfish, video game addicted, sub-par bass guitar player with no ambition other than his next meal, gig or female infatuation. He’s an unassuming and childish 23-year-old who just started a relationship with a 17-year-old-girl. Any armchair psychologist would have a field day with his special brand of arrested development. Why then, would the average reader be enthralled by his day to day life?

Scott shares a one-room/one-bed efficiency with his gay friend, Wallace Wells. Wallace is a smooth, suave man that's in every way the opposite of Scott, making their friendship one of the funniest aspects of this series. After an evening at band practice with his aptly titled band, Sex Bob-omb (anyone familiar with Super Mario Bros. lore will get a kick out of that one), Scott meets the girl of his dreams… in his dreams, literally. She is a courier for Amazon.ca and uses his subconscious mind as a shortcut through sub-space in order to get the packages delivered on time. Oh, yeah. Re-read that last sentence… calling this story eccentric is an understatement.

Scott is able to woo this Dream Girl, Ramona Flowers, by sheer curiosity on her part, and we see the subtly clueless but charming side to Scott’s childish nature. It's through interactions like this with Ramona and the rest of his friends where we come to appreciate Scott. You learn more about him through the supporting cast, which speaks volumes to the level of storytelling on display.

Most of the best pieces of fiction start in the middle, but make you think it’s the beginning. We enter his adventures already in progress, but at the start of this part in his life. The characters are lived in and because of this, stay true and believable through all the far-fetched, physics and logic defying plot devices.

Pilgrim lives freely of any real genre specification, but at the heart, it’s a relationship book. This is the classic story of boy meets girl. Except in this case, the hows and whys of this encounter are truly original in all the most wonderfully familiar ways.

Precious Little Life makes an abrupt change in pace towards the end, setting up the video-game style action that becomes a major thrust throughout the rest of the volumes. The change is definitely earned through visual gags and set pieces established early on. This book is a shining example of quirkiness being used to support a plot. So much so, it becomes a driving point in the story, elevating sight gags and pop references beyond simple novelty. Surprisingly too, the tone doesn't date the whole affair. Too often, when relying on a reader's familiarity of popular culture or something like video games or music, you can alienate half the audience. O'Malley's subtle and comforting style welcomes all-comers, almost making them fans of the unknown.

All the word of mouth and celebration over this property is well earned and contains everything necessary to breach mass appeal. If you secretly like a good romantic comedy and openly love the early days of video game culture, give this a shot. It'll pay off in spades. Besides, you can say you read it all back when, before the movie inevitably reaches cult classic status.

Come on, read it. Be one of the cool kids. After that, you can follow along with us next time as we dive into volume two, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, all in preparation for the August 13th movie release.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life is published by Oni Press priced $11.99.

 

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Comments

  • BLEACHEDMAN

    BLEACHEDMAN Aug 4, 2010 at 12:31am

    Hope the movie lives up to the books.

  • Jason Wilkins

    Jason Wilkins Aug 4, 2010 at 2:21am

    Great article Noel! I've never had the opportunity to read Scott Pilgrim but I'm definitely going to check it out now.

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