Teen spirit

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - MICHAEL CHEANG

Scott Pil­grim is a slacker, plays bass gui­tar badly and wears his charm on his sleeve.

Mand it has gone from lit­tle-known in­de­pen­dent comic, to win­ning an Eis­ner Award for Best Hu­mour Pub­li­ca­tion ear­lier this year.

Af­ter a mere two vol­umes, the comic also cap­tured the eye of Bri­tish di­rec­tor Edgar Wright ( Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz); who turned it into a en­ter­tain­ing geek cul­ture mas­ter­piece star­ring Michael Cera, which bowled over fans when it pre­miered at the re­cent San Diego Comic Con. EET Scott Pil­grim. He’s 23, and lives in Toronto, Canada. He plays bass (ter­ri­bly) in a band called Sex BobOmb (they’re ter­ri­ble); lives with a gay friend (they sleep in the same bed); and dates a high-school girl named Knives. Oh, and he’s also the best fighter in the prov­ince, with a per­sonal best air-jug­gle of 64 hits.

Then, he meets this other girl, Ra­mona Flow­ers, who has mul­ti­coloured hair and skates through the sub­space high­way of Scott’s brain when he is dream­ing. They kiss, fall in love, and then he has to de­feat Ra­mona’s seven evil exes be­fore he can of­fi­cially date her.

With me so far? Well, that’s not all. There are also flam­ing swords, ve­gan psy­chics, skate­board­ing ac­tors, ninja babes, pi­rates with mys­ti­cal pow­ers, crappy in­die rock bands and a whole lot of other bril­liantly non­sen­si­cal ... you know, stuff.

Yup, that’s pretty much the gist of Bryan Lee O’Mal­ley’s Scott Pil­grim books. But wait, there’s more to this Cana­dian in­de­pen­dent comic. Span­ning six vol­umes (namely Scott Pil­grim’s Pre­cious Lit­tle Life, Scott Pil­grim Vs. The World, Scott Pil­grim And The In­fi­nite Sad­ness, Scott Pil­grim Gets It To­gether, Scott Pil­grim Vs. The Uni­verse, Scott Pil­grim’s Finest Hour),

Un­for­tu­nately, open­ing on the same week­end as The Ex­pend­ables proved to be an “ex” too far, and Scott Pil­grim Vs. The World was bat­tered to a pulp as a re­sult (the bad tak­ings in Amer­ica prob­a­bly caused its re­lease in Malaysia to be canned as well. As Scott Pil­grim him­self would say, “That sucks!”)

Pre­cious lit­tle life

It’s a shame that Amer­i­can movie-go­ers pre­ferred a bunch of age­ing, wrinkly ac­tion stars over Scott Pil­grim Vs. The World, as it was one of the most en­ter­tain­ing and geeky movies of the year, and is surely des­tined for cult movie sta­tus.

Like its movie, the comic book may not have the main­stream ap­peal of comics from DC or Mar­vel, but it is one of the best-loved in­de­pen­dent comics in re­cent years, thanks to its manga-styled art­work, smart and witty di­a­logue and, of course, the mad, chaotic ac­tion.

The idea for the comic came from sev­eral sources, ac­cord­ing to O’Mal­ley dur­ing an in­ter­view in Los An­ge­les re­cently.

Firstly, it is a love let­ter to his birth city of Toronto. “I left Toronto in 2005, so for the most part I’ve been look­ing back at Toronto in a very nostal­gic way while writ­ing the books,” said O’Mal­ley, who is cur­rently liv­ing in Los An­ge­les.

Se­condly, the name “Scott Pil­grim” was ac­tu­ally the ti­tle of a song by now de­funct Cana­dian in­die band Plumtree. “I loved the band back in my early 20s, and I just wanted to do some­thing that would re­flect my love for them.

“Now, 10 years later we have them on a movie sound­track that is go­ing around the world – so I feel like I’ve paid back my debt to them!” said O’Mal­ley.

“I was also partly in­spired by my girl­friend (now wife, fel­low comic artist Hope Lar­son), who told me that she had dated three men named Matt. I thought that was just hi­lar­i­ous! I just thought, maybe that should be a story, es­pe­cially if they were evil!”

Al­though he ad­mit­ted that Scott Pil­grim was a “con­scious ef­fort” to make it look like a manga comic, he stops short of ac­tu­ally call­ing it a “manga”.

“I grew up with Amer­i­can comics, but also dis­cov­ered Ja­panese comics in school and have loved them ever since,” he said, cit­ing Ranma 1½ as a big in­flu­ence. “I’ve seen some peo­ple mak­ing their own manga comic sets in Ja­pan ... this was my con­scious ef­fort to make it look like a manga comic book, but one that re­flects my own life and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence more.”

Scott Pil­grim is def­i­nitely a huge de­par­ture from his pre­vi­ous work, Lost At Sea, Some of the scenes in the movie were lifted di­rectly from the orig­i­nal graphic novel by Brian Lee O’Mal­ley; in­clud­ing the first meet­ing be­tween Scott Pil­grim and Ra­mona’s first evil ex, Matthew Pa­tel.


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