Nov 16, 2010

[Comics] Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Vol. 1)

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Vol. 1)Venturing outside the big name comic book brands is always quite an adventure. Sure, the likes of Marvel and DC Comics have done a stellar job of nurturing and developing (and even exploiting) some of the world's most beloved characters and they're a pretty good set of comic books to fall back on.

But the world of the independent comic book and all the other smaller brands out there is still a heck of a lot of fun too. There are a lot of wonderful and unique stories to be told out there and you can't just stick to the big boys in order to find them.

Of course adventuring into such territories can be a mixed bag at best. It means dealing with limited supply, sometimes rushed issues, poor print quality and a whole host of other problems. But I'm pretty sure I'm in the right when I say that it's definitely worth all the hassle, no matter what other people say. Because you're going to find some pretty awesome comics out there that no one else might have gotten a chance to because they stuck to the largely familiar.

I am the creator of this image and I approve i...Image via WikipediaScott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life is the first of a six volume comic book series created by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The digest-style comic follows the quirky life of Scott Pilgrim as set in Toronto, Canada.

Naturally, our story revolves around Scott and his less-than-ideal life. He's pretty much a bum living together with his gay roommate Wallace Wells and spends his days practicing with his band, Sex Bomb-omb. While he plays bass, his friend Stephen Stills plays lead guitar and Kim Pines handles the drums. They're not exactly successful at this point, buy they do get the occasional gig and they certainly enjoy the sound of their own music, for what it's worth. Scott has recently started dating the much younger Knives Chau, a 17 year old high school student. It seems a bit notorious for him but given how long it has been since his last relationship, the group somewhat tolerates things for now.

Things change when Scott starts to have dreams about a mysterious girl on rollerblades. He finds himself attracted to her for some reason and it all goes crazy when he bumps into her in person. And he keeps bumping into her in different locations under different circumstances, thus this tells him that he really needs to meet her formally. Thus he orders a CD from Amazon just so that she'll deliver it to his home, given it turns out this is his job. When the package finally arrives, Scott manages to ask her - Ramona Flowers - for a date. It's at this point that it becomes too late to turn back and the hilarious series of events that makes up the core story of this comic begin to unfold.

As much as I love color in my comic books, I certainly grew to appreciate the unique art style used in the book. There's something about black and white that lends credibility to any independent comic book effort. Plus it gives you more freedom to focus your attention on the little details rather than fall into the classic trap of just following along where the artist's color accents lead your eyes to.

The book (and pretty much the series) is amazingly full of various geek culture references, with a particular focus on the video game world. You get a variety of status displays appearing out of no where over the characters, lots of console-based quips and jokes and a number of other references as well. Plus it's all written in a manner that feels very real - sometimes people try throwing around geek terms without really understanding the context. This comic was truly written by a real geek with a healthy appreciation for how things should go.

The quirkiness of the characters helps drive a lot of the humor in the book, so if you miss the geek references, there's still something for you to enjoy. There's a certain saw of raw reality present in the writing that makes you feel that O'Malley obvious drew heavily from his own history, whether the experiences are his directly or are those of his friends and family. Still, it makes the story carry a bit more weight in this regard and thus things move forward quite effectively.

Oh, plus friends tell me that the story also makes sure to firmly situate itself in the Toronto, Canada scene. Thus you get a number of real-life locations used as venues for all the comical action in the story, which is definitely a nice touch.

And of course there's the core storyline just waiting around the corner. As popularized by the recent movie adaptation, Scott's efforts to date Ramona Flowers means that he first has to defeat her seven evil exes. Thus apart from the usual young adult angst of dating a high school girl or trying to make the band successful, we also get a series of video game style fight scenes and battles that give the comic a totally alternative feel to go along with things.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life is a crazy venture into the challenges of dating and is a great read for geek and gamer alike. It gets 3.5 magical demon hipster chicks out of a possible 5.


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