By Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)
Is it just me, or is all the really cool, really fun and really fresh comic stuff coming out of the alternative/Small Press/creator owned/ self-published sector of the comic industry? Like so many others my age I grew up in a time with very few strip publishers, and though I love ‘em dearly still, I’m acutely aware of just how limited a range those mainstream creators were allowed to work within.
I’m simply appalled that in an era of specialist retailers, comic conventions and all the computer age paraphernalia that should keep editors and publishers totally clued in to the appetites of their customer base, the same old stuff is perpetually retooled and recycled whilst everybody and his aunt bemoans the unstoppable decline in comics sales and the inevitable death of the medium.
I have some maxims that might solve this conundrum. Produce work for your audience, not yourselves. Variety is the spice of life. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Think about the work first, and the Subsidiary Merchandising Rights last. This is an entertainment medium: Your goal should be to make entertainment.
Having got that off my voluminous chest, I can whole-heartedly recommend the work of Bryan Lee O’Malley. His Manga-esque tales of an adorable boy-idol slacker, shambling his way through a contemporary, if somewhat surreal, life is a gentle stroll through a world that manages to feel warmly nostalgic no matter what age you are or where you grew up. Scott Pilgrim is young, lazy and gorgeous, shares a flat with his cool, gay best mate, plays in a band and has girlfriend hassles. He lives his life from moment to moment and manages to keep a firm grip on both angst and hormones.
Although ostensibly targeting the modern counter-culture of the troubled teen, skate-boarding, new punk generation, there is a wonderfully accessible universality to his problematic existence and his perpetually stop-gap solutions. In terms of content alone this should be considered a mass-market item. And should enough people see this work to make Scott Pilgrim a “bankable” commodity pray that the author keeps some form of creative control, because this is that rarest of comic books. The stories and characters are unbelievably good but the sometimes crude and often over-exuberant drawing is absolutely perfect for this material. Nothing and nobody else could possibly do it justice – and that includes any dream cast any Hollywood producer could possibly drool over.
This is a great comic book. Go buy it now.
™ & © 2004 Bryan Lee O’Malley. All Rights Reserved.