From "Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour" (vol. 6); color by Dylan McCrae
On October 4, 2008, I had the pleasure of conducting a live q&a session with Bryan Lee O’Malley as part of the programming slate for the 2008 Small Press Expo. O’Malley is the creator of the popular Scott Pilgrim series of bookshelf-format comics, soon to see its sixth and final volume released on July 20, 2010, along with a motion picture adaptation directed by Edgar Wright, set to premiere in North America on August 13, 2010.
Moreover, O’Malley is perhaps the most visible face of a young comics-making generation liable to draw considerable influence from international comics art, and pursue means of distribution outside of the classical comic book format – his background is in webcomics, and his print-format career, est. 2001, traces the meteoric growth of manga as a presence in English-language North American comics reading. Even if we set visual qualities aside, it is striking that so many of O’Malley’s cited influences are comics and animation material targeted at women and girls; just one reading generation prior, this would have been almost unthinkable, as American comics had by and large abandoned that demographic as insignificant.
Yet O’Malley also keenly distinguishes between manga traditions — boys’ comics, girls’ comics, ’70s Golden Age traits, anime-adapted tropes — and applies them to a grander, evolutionary metaphor in Scott Pilgrim, a romance comic (and so much more!) about leveling yourself up by understanding your lover’s (possibly storied) romantic history, and confronting the negative traits “evil” ex-boyfriends might represent. Gaming action hangs over everything as a looser, atmospheric metaphor for personal myth-making; video games don’t function as ‘literature,’ not like books, but they are eminently applicable in their social role-playing capacity.
What follows is a record of our live q&a, transcribed by me, and edited to remove ums and ahs and hanging sentences. Keep in mind, this was 2008, so the currently most-recent book of the series, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, had not yet been released. Many thanks to Chris Mautner, aka “Audience #8,” for recording the panel (his own thoughts on Scott Pilgrim are hereby commended to your attention), and Bill Kartalopoulos, for shepherding the event into reality.