Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hipsterism, or, A Few Words About Scott Pilgrim

Yes, ultimately this will be another sour grapes post about comics.

So I read the Torontoist blog every couple of days just to keep up on what a group of a dozen bespectacled clickety clackers think I should find interesting in this city. And apparently, I should find the announcement of the Scott Pilgrim film terribly exciting.

Based on the as-yet-incomplete graphic novel series by Canadian comic artist Bryan Lee O'Malley, the comic follows the exploits of one Scott Pilgrim, bassist for indie band Sex Bob-omb, and his quest to defeat the seven evil ex-boyfriends of his dreamgirl Ramona Flowers, so she'll be his girlfriend. A mashup of kung-fu, hipster satire and video games, the book's become a sort of 'gateway indie comic', due in no small part for the brilliant decision by O'Malley and his publisher Oni Press to print the book in the small, 'tankubon' format used by North American manga publishers. Trust me, it gets a lot more traffic in the manga section than it would in graphic novels.

The film will be directed by Edgar Wright [Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz] and star everyone's new favourite lump of awkwardness Michael Cera. The latest announcement came last week that Mary Elizabeth Winstead(?) will be playing Ramona.

And this is the point where you're expecting me to hate. Meh, not really. It's a given that Wright+Cera will be magical, it's more the source material I have a hard time warming up to.

I read the first two volumes of the series, and have spent a sizable chunk of time with the third to know what happens. I feel O'Malley's artwork has improved in leaps in bounds, since he first horrified me doing interiors on the second Hopeless Savages mini. Not his fault, though, his style was just so different from Christine Norrie [<3] and Chynna Clugston [TLA], it was a pretty drastic shift.

But overall, [welcome back to this recurring theme] I just don't think Scott Pilgrim is worthy of the hype and fanaticism it seems to generate in people. The influences it so clearly wears on its sleeves are such a grab bag [who besides the most anal 8-bit fanboy even knows what the band's name is a riff on?], but I think mostly, as a blue collar W/Essex hick, I can't get next to anything that's such a blatant Toronto lovefest without a healthy level of skepticism. Like, OMG, they're going for food at Sneaky Dee's! They're having a battle to the death at the Toronto Reference Library/Honest Ed's/Horseshoe Tavern! Hogtowners get to look for their house, and Americans get to gaze in awe at the wonder of Shoppers Drug Mart.

None of this is to say the book is bad, it's actually pretty good, and Pilgrim's a likable protagonist, even if I find his devotion to Ramona shallow and mind-boggling. I just don't think it deserves to be held up as some classic piece of high art that the Toronto artsy crowd wants me to. But with three more volumes to go, who knows?

I suppose this means I have to turn in my hipster card? All right, you can have it. Hmm....I can't seem to find it. I mean, I had one in the first place, right? Guys...?


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