Scott Pilgrim mania enters the “eye of the hurricane”

So it’s tough to ignore Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series this month as we are currently caught in the “eye of the hurricane” between the release of the 6th volume of the popular series (Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour) and the release of the Edgar Wright directed movie (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) on August 13th.

So far a select few have had a chance to advance screen the film and the word is exceptionally positive – a fine translation of the series but also a creature unto itself with the distinctive directing style of Wright who has a huge cult following with films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Then it’s more craziness with videogames (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game), and there’s even a cartoon that’s going to be airing on the Cartoon Network in the US on August 12/13.

The Beguiling’s Scott Pilgrim release party was a huge affair (they report over 2,000 people attended), clogging Markham Street until the wee hours of the morning of June 20th. Our own Jason Truong was there checking it out.

Ellen Wong (who plays Knives Chau) and Jason at the Scott Pilgrim release party.

I happened to be on the same flight the next day with the rather exhausted looking Chris Butcher and James Lucas Jones (of Oni Press), as well as the man himself, Bryan Lee O’Malley… who looked calm, cool and collected as always.

In San Diego, one of the first thing you would see coming in was the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World window display on the side of the new Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.

Photo: Jennifer Kester

Word is that Oni sold a boatload of copies at San Diego and at comic stores – so many, in fact, that the first 100,000 copy print run has sold out, and they are rushing another 50,000 copies out there to meet demand in time for the release of the movie. 150,000 copies! Look out Siege and Blackest Night! You’ve had your asses severely trounced by what is essentially an indie comics phenomenon. My friend Brett said that in his opinion, “Bryan Lee O’Malley owned Comic-Con this year”, and from a certain comics perspective I don’t think he was wrong about that. Everyone seemed to share in the exuberance of seeing the Scott Pilgrim phenomenon in full force at Comic-Con, and a lot of that joy seemed to be centered around the fact that it was a creator-owned property that was the source of the interest, and not just another corporate character making the jump to the big screen. Of course, the Scott Pilgrim phenomenon was the right fit this year as it was carefully balanced between comics and movies… a new comics release generating buzz and interest complimented by an upcoming movie release with all of Hollywood’s bells and whistles promotions out to make sure you didn’t forget their part of the equation.

Of course, anyone with a half a brain who has been following the series would have seen this coming, but what is amazing to me about this summer’s Scott Pilgrim mania is how much fun it has been for the fans of the series. The dressing up, having parties, chatting it up… gee, you would think that people actually thought that comics were fun again! I’ll admit that my own personal experiences with Scott Pilgrim are limited — I’ve only read volumes 1-3 so far, although I do own some originals. So at some point I need to finish the series. My girlfriend Debra loves the series and is dying to watch the film. Since her brother is getting married on the 13th (congrats Greg and Laura!) we’ll have to wait until Saturday the 14th to see it. It will be an interesting weekend at the box office as the testosterone-packed action movie The Expendables (starring every action star EVER) is also scheduled for an August 13th release.

In 2006, O'Malley was chosen as the Outstanding Cartoonist (of 2005) for Volume 2.

As for the comics, volume 2 was the book that won O’Malley the Outstanding Cartoonist Award (back when it was a popular vote thing) back in 2006, and he’s been nominated every year since for volumes 3-5 and I have no doubts about Volume Six earning him his 6th consecutive Joe Shuster Award Outstanding Cartoonist Nomination.

Over at Sequential, David Hains gathered a group of fellow 20-somethings together for a round table discussion on the Scott Pilgrim phenomenon.

Our friends over at Guelph’s the Dragon had a “Pilgrim Cast” podcast a couple of weeks ago and looked at the entire series.