Sunday, March 16, 2008

Scott Pilgrim makes life better

That is Scott Pilgrim. He is a character written and drawn by Bryan Lee O'Malley. His exploits are the substance of (to date) four digest-sized comics albums, and they are really some of the best work in any media being published today. I was working out this really extended metaphor where Chris Ware is analogous to Henry James, Ivan Brunetti to Kafka, and Joe Sacco to John Dos Passos (and all of these comparisons hold up when you think about it, sort of), but I couldn't come up with a comparison in the modernist pantheon for O'Malley. There just really isn't anyone like him. Substantially, Scott Pilgrim is feather-light. Video games, early 20s romance, rock and roll. In-jokes and goofy dialog. It's just something about the execution. O'Malley's brushwork makes his cartoony characters graceful and poignant, and he has a knack for including subtle differences that render his very simple faces instantly identifiable. His writing is dead-on, giving each of the cast members a depth and presence that extends beyond the page. And the jokes! It's just so perfectly pitched. I'd quote something to try to convey that, but the writing is so intricately bound up with the expressions of his characters, in the context of the ridiculous fight scenes and endless hanging out in bars and late-night taco joints. So really, what I'm saying is that I'm telling you that Scott Pilgrim is really, really good, but I can't tell you exactly why. It's just something magical. And when the next volume is released, like next year or whatever (I predict that I will reread the entire series at least twice in the interim) it will be like my birthday.

No comments: