Scott Pilgrim is a Canadian series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The series is about Scott Pilgrim, a slacker and part-time musician who lives in Toronto, Ontario and plays bass guitar in a band. He falls in love with American delivery girl Ramona Flowers, but must defeat her seven evil exes in order to date her.
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 cover.
Art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
|Publisher||Oni Press (American version)|
|Format||Digest limited series|
|Publication date||August 18, 2004 – July 20, 2010|
|Main character(s)||(List of characters)|
|Written by||Bryan Lee O'Malley|
|Artist(s)||Bryan Lee O'Malley|
|Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life||ISBN 1-932664-08-4|
|Scott Pilgrim vs. The World||ISBN 1-932664-12-2|
|Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness||ISBN 1-932664-22-X|
|Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together||ISBN 1-932664-49-1|
|Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe||ISBN 1-934964-10-7|
|Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour||ISBN 1-934964-38-7|
The series consists of six digest size black-and-white volumes, released between August 2004 and July 2010, by Portland-based independent comic book publisher Oni Press. It was later republished by Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins. Full-colour hardback volumes, coloured by Nathan Fairbairn, were released from August 2012 to April 2014.
A film adaptation of the series titled Scott Pilgrim vs. the World starring actor Michael Cera in the title role was released in August 2010. A video game adaptation developed by Ubisoft for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade was released the same month.
Creator Bryan Lee O'Malley was inspired to create the series and eponymous character of Scott Pilgrim after listening to Canadian band Plumtree's 1998 single "Scott Pilgrim", a song then-Plumtree singer Carla Gillis describes as "positive, but...also bitter sweet." In particular, O'Malley was inspired by the lyric, "I’ve liked you for a thousand years."
O'Malley wanted to write a shōnen-style comic book series, although he had only read one such series at the time, Ranma 1/2; in the early 2000s, Japanese manga had not yet achieved significant popularity in North America. O'Malley gained inspiration from the book Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga by Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma. In 2002, O'Malley's roommate, who worked in a comic book store, brought the book to him while O'Malley was working on Lost at Sea and was planning Scott Pilgrim. Upon reading the book O'Malley realized that, despite the satirical tone, it could be an effective guide to how the Japanese comic book industry worked. O'Malley said that Ranma 1/2 was the strongest influence and Atsuko Nakajima, the character designer of the Ranma 1/2 anime and other anime, was an influence to a lesser extent. He added that the "exploded page layouts" of Koudelka, a work by Yuji Iwahara, directly influenced the "full-bleed layouts" of Scott Pilgrim. O'Malley said that Osamu Tezuka began influencing his work as he created Volumes 3 and 4. He said, "You can see his influence start to creep in here and there but he’s a larger inspirational figure to me than just his drawing style." In regards to the FLCL anime, O'Malley said that while it was an influence, it was "not as much of a direct influence on Scott Pilgrim as people seem to think."
O'Malley used black and white because it was less expensive than creating the series in color, and so O'Malley said that he "embraced the B&W manga aesthetic". When writing the series, O'Malley's first step was developing the direction of the story by creating notes in notebooks, sketchbooks, and computer text files. His second step was to create an outline. His third step was to write a script. His fourth step was to develop thumbnails. His final step was to develop the finished comic book page. To ink, O'Malley usually used brushes, including No. 2 and No. 3 brushes. He mostly used computers to build the screentone; he stated that he encountered difficulty finding screentone in North America. O'Malley himself created most of the Scott Pilgrim material. When production on Volume 6 had begun, O'Malley had hired two assistants. The backgrounds in Volume 6 are more detailed than backgrounds in the previous volumes. O'Malley said that "[m]ost fans don't seem to notice the change".
O'Malley stated that he wanted to create a "hybrid" work that received inspiration from American and Japanese comics, and that he "wanted to reach towards the japanese [sic] comics from my own starting point." When asked if he considers Scott Pilgrim to be a manga, O'Malley responded by saying "Um… No, I think I was just thinking about that today. I guess I was just thinking about the whole OEL thing. I think it’s influenced… I like the term 'manga-influenced comics,' but I only like it because no one else likes it."
O'Malley said that he expected Scott Pilgrim to sell around 1,000 copies. He did not expect the series to sell millions of copies and to produce a film adaptation. O'Malley cited the United States comics industry and how it differs from the Japanese comics industry; the United States comic book companies specialize in superhero comics and many newer concepts originate from underground comics. The United States also lacks weekly and monthly comic book magazines and American comic companies generally do not have the system of story editors and assistants that Japanese comic companies have.
O'Malley said that the most difficult portion of Scott Pilgrim to write was the ending. O'Malley deliberately did not consider constructing the ending until he began writing Volume 5. He intended for Volumes 5 and 6 to reflect one single story, with 5 being the "darkest hour" and 6 being "the redemption arc." O'Malley said "there was a lot of stuff to juggle, a lot of plot lines to tie up, and I just had to try and focus on the stuff that mattered most in the time I had." In addition, he wanted to create an ending that would "compete[...] a little" with the ending of the film version; he was aware of "how BIG the finale was". About the ending, O'Malley said, "I think the stuff with the girls and the relationships works pretty well and the stuff with Gideon and the glow is weaker. But hey, some people love it warts and all, and it’s not like I’m gonna go back and change it."
To illustrate his reasoning for eventually ending the Scott Pilgrim series, O'Malley used a quote from famed Belgian comics writer and artist Hergé, creator, writer, and illustrator of the well-regarded The Adventures of Tintin comic book series, from 1929 until his death in 1983. Hergé told his wife, "And right now, my work makes me sick. Tintin is no longer me. And I must make a terrible effort to invent (him)… If Tintin continues to live, it is through a sort of artificial respiration that I must constantly keep up and which is exhausting me." O'Malley said, "If I was still doing Scott Pilgrim in ten years, I would be dead inside." O'Malley said that he did conceive of a continuation centering on Scott and Ramona and involving the other major characters, except for Gideon and the other evil exes of Ramona. He said, "maybe in a few years I’d think about playing with Scott Pilgrim some more" and although "there doesn't need to be more Scott Pilgrim", he agreed that "more would be fun".
O'Malley used the font Swiss 721 Bold Condensed, which was also used in the film. In later books, the regular weight and italic versions of this font were also used. M04 FATAL FURY is the pixel font used in Book 4 and beyond.
Plot summary Edit
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Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Volume 1)Edit
The series begins by introducing Scott Pilgrim, a 23-year-old Canadian slacker living in Toronto with his roommate Wallace Wells. He is the bass player for a band called Sex Bob-omb, along with his friends Stephen Stills "The Talent" (guitar) and Kim Pine (drums). He has recently started dating a 17-year-old Chinese-Canadian high-schooler, Knives Chau. Though his friends consider this somewhat scandalous due to her age, Scott doesn't see a problem, as all they ever do is talk. One night, Scott begins dreaming about a girl on rollerblades whom he has never met before. He later glimpses her in real life and discovers that she is Ramona Flowers, a girl who has recently come to Toronto from New York after a rumored messy break-up with someone named Gideon Graves. It is revealed that she can travel through an alternate dimension called "subspace" and that the purse she carries at all times is a portal to subspace as well. After Scott attempts to meet with her again, he receives an ominous email from someone named Matthew Patel, but Scott pays it little heed. Sex Bob-omb is preparing for a concert when Matthew Patel descends upon the stage and reveals himself as the first of Ramona's evil exes, who has mystical powers allowing him to summon "demon hipster chicks." Scott defeats him in a musical video-game-style battle, his final attack obliterating Matthew and leaving behind a handful of coins. Scott and Ramona decide to become a couple, provided that Scott agrees to defeat her six other evil-exes. When Scott asks if Gideon is one of them, Ramona's head glows.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Volume 2)Edit
Scott Pilgrim vs the World opens with a flashback to 7 years before the series begins. Scott and his friend Lisa Miller, high school students in Northern Ontario, want to start a band, but they need a drummer. This problem appears to be solved when Scott notices his classmate Kim's ability to play drums. When Scott finds out that Kim has been kidnapped by students from a rival school, he defeats the kidnappers, including the leader, Simon Lee, by kicking him off the roof, and rescues her. Kim joins Scott and Lisa's band, and dates Scott until they break up when he moves to Toronto. In the present, Wallace tells Scott that actor and professional skateboarder Lucas Lee, Ramona's second evil ex-boyfriend, is filming a new movie in Toronto. Scott awkwardly breaks up with Knives after Wallace threatens to tell Ramona about her. Scott then meets Lucas at his filming location, where Lucas beats Scott up and tells him about the "League of Ramona's Evil Exes" who have organized themselves to come after Scott. Scott defeats Lucas by goading him into skateboarding down a dangerous set of rails, where he ends up going too fast and bursting into coins upon landing. Having discovered Ramona is dating Scott, a furious Knives gives herself a hipster makeover by dyeing her forelock and attacks Ramona at the library. Knives confirms that Scott was cheating on her and Ramona simultaneously, and takes off. Meanwhile, Scott gets a call from Envy Adams, another of his ex-girlfriends, who asks him to open for her band The Clash at Demonhead that weekend. Speaking with Envy reopens Scott's unresolved issues about their breakup. Nevertheless, Sex Bob-omb show up to see Envy's band. The book ends with an epic opening by The Clash at Demonhead, where Ramona identifies the band's bassist as her third evil ex-boyfriend, Todd Ingram.
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Volume 3)Edit
The Infinite Sadness continues the night that The Clash at Demonhead performs. After the venue clears out, Envy invites Scott and his friends backstage. During the conversation, Knives continues to interrupt, and Envy has her drummer punch the highlights out of her hair. Disgusted by Envy's new personality, Scott blames Todd for changing her and tries to attack him, but is stopped by Todd's psychic vegan powers. A flashback reveals that Envy, formerly known as Natalie V. Adams, was a mousy girl who gradually bloomed into a confident musical talent. She broke up with Scott once their band started to get noticed. A contest is set up by Envy, pitting Scott and Todd against each other in landmark discount store Honest Ed's. Todd's psychic powers end up destroying the store in a bout of existential dread. Scott and Ramona decide to blow off the next battle. Two days later, it's revealed Todd (who once punched a hole in the moon for Envy) is cheating on her with the band's drummer Lynette. When Envy discovers this, (and the fact that Todd had punched a hole in the moon for Ramona first) Todd strikes her with his powers, shocking everyone. Todd and Scott have a battle, which Todd almost wins until the Vegan Police show up and strip him of his powers for violating his vegan diet (by eating gelato and a chicken parmesan). Scott headbutts the powerless Todd, who is reduced to a pile of coins, and receives an extra life in the process. Envy goes solo and leaves town, showing some regret for her choices, but leaving her standing with Scott unresolved and him pining for some closure. Scott and Ramona look forward to the future.
The Infinite Sadness also features extras, such as guest comics from Josh Lesnick, Alex Ahad, Andy Helms, John Allison, and David McGuire, as well as a map of the major characters illustrating their relations to each other. The title is a reference to the album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (Volume 4)Edit
Stephen asks Kim's new roommate Joseph to help Sex Bob-omb record an album. Meanwhile, on Ramona's recommendation, Scott gets a job at the restaurant where Stephen works. Over the next few days, Scott is attacked by a samurai, who escapes via subspace portal, and a female "half-ninja", who is revealed to be Roxie Richter, Ramona's fourth evil ex (whom she claims to have dated during a "sexy phase"). Ramona tells Scott that he can move in with her temporarily. Things go downhill when Ramona suspects Scott might be attracted to Lisa and Wallace kicks him out. Scott goes to Lisa's house to spend the night. After waking up from a dream infiltrated by Roxie in an attempt to kill him, Scott cannot remember the previous night, but learns from Lisa that nothing happened between them and that he confessed that he loved Ramona. The samurai is revealed to be Knives's father, who was not keen on Knives dating a white boy. When he attacks Scott again, Scott escapes via another subspace portal and ends up in Ramona's mind, where she is a slave to a shadowy figure. Ramona kicks Scott out of her head, telling him to forget what he saw, but before he can explain his true feelings, he sees that Roxie spent the night at Ramona's and his head begins to glow. Walking away, Scott encounters his dark self (the "NegaScott") and rejects it, rushing back to Ramona to find her being attacked by Mr. Chau. Scott lures him away and gets him to fight against Roxie, because Scott himself is against fighting girls. When Scott realizes that he has been cowardly, he confesses his love for Ramona, earning the Power of Love sword. Scott uses this to defeat Roxie, who warns him about "the twins" before dying. Mr. Chau leaves, having earned respect for Scott. Scott finally moves in with Ramona.
Scott Pilgrim vs the Universe (Volume 5)Edit
The gang attends a party where Ramona spots her next two evil ex-boyfriends, the twins Kyle and Ken Katayanagi. Scott and Ramona's relationship continues to deteriorate, with Ramona starting to appear bored and Scott stumbling onto signs that she may still be interested in Gideon. Later, Sex Bob-omb prepares for a show despite having had no rehearsals due to Stephen's persistent but fruitless recording with Joseph. While Scott fights a robot created by the twins, Knives tells Ramona that Scott cheated on them at the same time. Scott arranges to "bump into" Kim and Ramona over coffee, during which Kim brings attention to Ramona's head glowing; Ramona herself was unaware of this. Ramona confronts Scott about cheating on Knives with her and tells him he is just another evil ex-boyfriend waiting to happen. Scott then receives word that Kim has been kidnapped by the twins. When Scott confronts them, the twins explain that Ramona cheated on both of them at the same time, and imply Scott is fighting for the wrong girl. As Scott begins to lose the fight, Kim lies and says that Ramona text messaged her, giving Scott the encouragement to defeat the twins simultaneously. However, when Scott returns to Ramona, she tells Scott that she is a bad person and that she "had a good time." Her head begins to glow brighter and brighter until she disappears. A short time later, Scott receives a phone call from Gideon, asking if he has "time to die".
The end of Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe features a section called "Creating Scott Pilgrim for fun and profit." The section includes drawings and comments from Bryan Lee O'Malley detailing the development of the series, including a playlist for the fifth book.
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (Volume 6)Edit
Four months after Ramona's disappearance, Scott has been wasting his life playing video games. In order to reinvigorate Scott to confront Gideon, Wallace sends him on a "wilderness sabbatical" to Kim's home up north. While walking in the woods, Kim tells Scott of the errors in his repressed memory surrounding their breakup; he never saved her from a kidnapping. Upon this revelation, Scott's head starts to glow and NegaScott emerges. Scott becomes determined to defeat him so he can forget his relationship with Ramona and move on, but Kim reminds him he cannot keep running away from his mistakes. Scott remembers Ramona and merges with NegaScott, fully remembering and accepting responsibility for his poor actions in his previous relationships. Scott heads back to Toronto to earn Ramona back.
Scott arrives at the newly-opened club, the Chaos Theatre, owned by Gideon, where Envy is making her solo debut. As Envy starts her performance, Gideon attacks Scott. When Scott refuses to join the League of Evil Exes, Gideon steals his Power of Love sword and kills him with it. Scott awakens in a desert, where he encounters Ramona and they reconcile. Scott returns to life thanks to the extra life he obtained from Todd Ingram. Ramona bursts out of his chest to confront Gideon. Gideon explains that the glow is an emotional weapon which seals people inside their own heads, consumed by self-loathing and personal demons. Scott jumps into Ramona's subspace bag and arrives in her head, where he confronts Gideon. Scott's actions encourage Ramona to fully overcome Gideon's influence and oust him from her head. Ramona retrieves the Power of Love sword. When Scott sees Gideon snap at Envy, he comes to understand that he has been no better than Gideon in terms of his past relationships. This realization earns him the Power of Understanding sword. When Gideon tries to turn Scott and Ramona against one another, they defeat him, causing him to explode into C$ 7,777,777 in coins, which rain painfully on the watching crowd.
Scott and Envy reach closure, and Ramona reveals that her disappearance was merely an unsuccessful wilderness sabbatical. She decides to give her relationship with Scott another shot. In the closing pages, Scott is working with Stephen as co-chef, Stephen reveals that he is gay and in a relationship with Joseph, Scott and Kim start an awful new band, and Knives heads off to college. The last pages show Scott meeting up with Ramona as they affirm their desire to face the challenges of a relationship and walk hand in hand into a subspace door together.
On June 3, 2010, O'Malley announced that he had hidden the word "hipster" on Ramona's t-shirt in one panel to mark the day he finished drawing the series. This panel is on page 161 in a flashback involving Ramona and Gideon.
The main graphic novel series is:
|1||Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life||ISBN 978-1-932664-08-9
ISBN 978-1-62010-000-4 (Color Hardcover)
|August 18, 2004
August 8, 2012 (Color Hardcover)
|2||Scott Pilgrim vs. The World||ISBN 978-1-932664-12-6
ISBN 978-1-62010-001-1 (Color Hardcover)
|June 15, 2005
November 7, 2012 (Color Hardcover)
|3||Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness||ISBN 978-1-932664-22-5
ISBN 978-1-62010-002-8 (Color Hardcover)
|May 24, 2006
May 22, 2013 (Color Hardcover)
|4||Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together||ISBN 978-1-932664-49-2
ISBN 978-1-620100-03-5 (Color Hardcover)
|November 14, 2007
November 13, 2013 (Color Hardcover)
|The format of the series' spine art is changed (original Oni Press print).|
|5||Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe||ISBN 978-1-934964-10-1
ISBN 978-1-620100-04-2 (Color Hardcover)
|February 4, 2009
August 13, 2014 (Color Hardcover)
|The first printing of Volume 5 features a shiny cover.|
|6||Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour||ISBN 978-1-934964-38-5
ISBN 978-1-620100-05-9 (Color Hardcover)
|July 20, 2010
May 5, 2015 (Color Hardcover)
- Comics Festival (40-page anthology including a one-page Scott Pilgrim comic; released on Free Comic Book Day 2005)
- PENG (72-page one-shot comic book by Corey Lewis where Scott Pilgrim appears in one panel; released in 2005)
- Free Scott Pilgrim No. 1 FCBD 2006 Edition (32-page comic book featuring a 17-page original Scott Pilgrim story; released on Free Comic Book Day 2006) This story is available for free online at the Scott Pilgrim Website
- Comics Festival 2007! (40-page anthology including a half-page Scott Pilgrim comic and a 4-page Wonderful World of Kim Pine comic; released on Free Comic Book Day 2007)
- Scott Pilgrim: Full Colour Odds & Ends 2008 (collects Free Scott Pilgrim #1 – newly coloured by Dean Trippe, Wonderful World of Kim Pine four-page story, Now Magazine Best of Toronto two-page strip in black-and-white, the Comics Fest 07 sushi strip, and various watercolours, pin-ups, and advertisements)
All of these ancillary stories are available to read on the Scott Pilgrim Website. A collector's box containing all six volumes and a fold-in poster was released in North America on November 3, 2010.
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life was re-released in color in August 2012, with the others being released on an irregular schedule, the last in May 2015. The hardcover color editions contain bonus content such as original sketches and creator notes.
Critical reception Edit
In 2007, O'Malley was interviewed by The A.V. Club for the fourth volume. Written by Jason Heller, the article states that Gets It Together is "his best to date." The article goes on to praise O'Malley's consistent bold stylistic choices, saying that he "has raised the bar, art-wise: His deceptively basic style is suddenly deeper, richer, and more mature, while his eye for dynamics and graphic economy has gotten even keener." In 2011 Scott Pilgrim was ranked 69th in IGN's list of the top 100 comic book heroes.
Japanese comics author Kentaro Takekuma said in an interview that the structure and style of Scott Pilgrim initially did not match the structure and style of Japanese comics, but when he read the battle scenes "it feels very much like a Japanese manga, especially in how you structured the panels. It develops into a very strange, neither American nor Japanese atmosphere." Comics author Koji Aihara added that "I did feel the inspiration from Japanese manga, but it did not strike me as a ripoff of manga style, but a very unique way of expression, I found it a very interesting work. I appreciated you using your own style of expression. Also, I thought your use of solid blacks was very skilled and attractive."
In 2005, O'Malley won the Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent for the first volume of Scott Pilgrim and was nominated for three Harvey Awards (Best New Talent, Best Cartoonist and Best Graphic Album of Original Work).
O'Malley was nominated for a 2006 Eisner Award in the category Best Writer/Artist—Humor, for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but lost to Kyle Baker. O'Malley and Scott Pilgrim were also nominated for two 2006 Eagle Awards, and nominated for a second Wright Award (for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World).
In other mediaEdit
The film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released on August 13, 2010. It is based on all six volumes of the graphic novel series, despite the different ending due to the sixth volume having been released after the film finished shooting. The film is directed by Edgar Wright and stars Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Scott and Ramona, respectively.
The film was a critical success, but did not fare well commercially in theaters. However, its commercial fortunes improved after being released on Blu-ray and DVD. The DVD includes extras including bloopers, outtakes, deleted scenes, storyboards (which include the ending provided by the comics), and trailers. The 2-disc edition includes soundtracks, animation (when Scott dates Kim), and a making-of.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The AnimationEdit
At the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, Alison Pill (who plays Kim Pine in the movie), revealed that her character's past relationship with Scott will be explored in other media. "There will be a little something-something that will air on Adult Swim," she said. Creator Bryan Lee O'Malley elaborated by stating "It's gonna be like a series of short animations (to promote the movie). One of them will be the Volume 2 high school stuff with Kim and Lisa Miller. I don't know how long it will be but the rough they showed me was like 5 minutes. The stars of the movie will do the voices for the cartoons." Michael Cera and Alison Pill reprise their roles of Scott Pilgrim and Kim Pine from the movie, whilst Mae Whitman and Jason Schwartzman, who play Roxanne Richter and Gideon Graves in the movie, provide voices for Lisa Miller and Simon Lee respectively. The animated short, entitled Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation, was produced by Titmouse Inc. and aired on Adult Swim on August 12, 2010, later being released on their website. The short is based on the flashback from the second graphic novel, elaborating on Scott's adventures in high school. The animation features the songs "Post Acid" and "Beach Demon" by Wavves, though it is replaced with the film's soundtrack in the version included on the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film.
A video game based on the series, also titled Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, was announced during San Diego Comic-Con 2009 and was developed by Ubisoft Montreal, released alongside the film. The game is a four-player side-scroller influenced by 8-bit and 16-bit video games, with players able to play as Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine and Stephen Stills (Knives Chau and Wallace Wells were added later as downloadable characters; in the base game, they are respectively an assist character and a shopkeeper). After the player completes the game with Scott, Ramona, Stephen Stills, and Kim, they unlock NegaScott. Mr. Chau (Knives Chau's father), is also an unlockable assist character. The game features music by chiptune punk band Anamanaguchi and art direction by Paul Robertson.
On December 30, 2014, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game was delisted from the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. This follows the earlier delistings of the video games Uno and Marvel vs. Capcom Origins. The game was delisted due to the licenses running out. The developer, however, continues to attempt to re-release the game.
A mobile adaptation of the comic book was produced by HarperCollins and Robot Comics. The app uses movement, sound and vibration to create an original reading experience and includes extra material hidden in the scenes of the comic. It is available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android.
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