Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jon Cormier and The Introduction to Scott Pilgrim

With the $20.00 I won for my triumph over the world, on the Risk game board, I picked up the second Scott Pilgrim book. I love these books. I FINALLY get what everyone was saying.

These books simply ooze with charm. I was a bit confused by a few of the characters because there are so many of them but that’s also what adds to the charm of the book. It’s more about being a part of the community that is Toronto than it is about anything else. The laid back artwork supports the idea that these characters are doing what they want and it’s great in the punk ethos DIY manner. Is the artwork great, yes and no. It’s great to me because it allows Bryan Lee O’Malley to express what he needs to. The simple look of the characters allows them to be way more expressive than something like photoreferenced artwork. If you have little tolerance for anything with indy-manga linework, you may be put off but give it a chance - I read New Avengers for a while so you owe me.

I want to call the book a punk rock book because it reminds me so much of it. It is intentionally trying to not look exceptionally beautiful in order to really strengthen its core. Like the indy band you love that isn’t the most talented but they have the core of rock ‘n roll down which makes them stand out to the dregs or pop music. This comic stands out in today’s comic atmosphere the same way something like the Sex Pistols or The Ramones did to the bloated prog-rock of the seventies disco era and the whole grunge movement did to the early nineties pop scene. Wait, this sounds like I don't like the art. That's the wrong message because I absolutely love the artwork here. I love the look, I love the feel, and I love the flowing changes and transitions. It is kinetic and expressive which is just how I want my pop-art to look.

As I said before, what struck me most by this book isn’t so much one character or another but the feeling that they were all a part of some community that I wanted to find myself in. It reminded me of my heyday going to indy-rock and punk shows in between video games, parties and other entertainments. It’s like Pilgrim through the lens of O’Malley remembers all the stuff I once cared about and is filtering it back to me in comic form. I was constantly hanging out in the Halifax/Moncton scene on the east coast when Sloan and Eric’s Trip were starting up. Reading Scott Pilgrim reminded me a bit too much of all those floating relationships that were involved with taking part in a small scene. There were all those people you’d see at shows or parties and were sort of friends for a night and although neither of you disliked one another you wouldn’t really see them again until the next show or party.

These comics reminded me of all the enjoyment that I got from the drama of finding your place in the world along with everyone else of that age group. But I moved to London when I graduated from University (the first time) so I left my scene far behind, what with the ocean and all. I can related to the horrible poverty of that time when you’re trying so hard to find your place – you’re fighting against your own past as well as getting over the fact that the people you’ll end up with have a past as well. As you grow, you start to accept and refocus and simply start to enjoy your life instead of trying to change it.

What I liked the most about these books is that they are extremely hopeful. There is a big undercurrent of sadness to them but they’re just so damned fun that you know it’ll be alright. The look is simple to hide the fact that these characters are not going through simple changes even if they act like they are. They find enjoyment in a lot of simple things, in a lot of things that I find enjoyment in, which makes these characters appear real. You don’t know them by their costumes but how they act with each other. They have personality, which I’ve discovered is exactly what I wanted out of a comic.

I will be in line for volume three.

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