The series is about Scott Pilgrim, who is dating a high schooler! That is, until Ramona Flowers, American ninja Amazon.ca delivery girl, comes into his life. In order to date her, however, he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in mortal combat. Yes, you read that right.
The thing about the series is that it treats life like a video game. The rules of the world are never quite defined, which basically means that anything goes and very little is considered "out of the ordinary." Any person who's played a lot of video games will find the references hysterical, and anyone who's never played a video game may be a little mystified but should still be able to grasp the humor. I hesitate to explain in more detail because part of the hilarity for me was never knowing what the hell O'Malley was going to do next. He integrates a lot of gaming terms and concepts into the story, not just for the jokes but also to carry more emotional scenes.
There's also a lot of metahumor, which makes it one of the most entertaining graphic novel reading experiences there is. The chyrons always cracked me up, as so many of them were things like "ANYWAY" and "Something like 48 hours later." The captions are also hilarious; I somehow never got tired of "Knives Chau (17 Years Old)." Sometimes there are little arrows identifying things. There is the occasional breaking of the fourth wall. I can't even describe it, you guys. It's like Bryan Lee O'Malley figured out all the funny things you could do in the graphic novel medium, and then he invented new ones for good measure.
I'm not making any sense here. Okay, so Scott Pilgrim is a critically acclaimed, award-winning series of six graphic novels, five of which have been released (the fifth just last month). Each book is divided into chapters, and the numbering of the chapters does not reset from book to book, which reinforces that the books comprise one long story that's split into six books (and the series gets better with each book). Each book is manga-sized, and the series is clearly manga-influenced, from the mystical elements to to the art style, which, unfortunately, sometimes makes it hard to distinguish characters at a glance.
Scott Pilgrim, our hero, is generally likable but is often a doofus and/or an oblivious jerk. Kim Pine is the dry, sarcastic one. Stephen Stills is Stephen Stills. Together, THEY ARE SEX BOB-OMB! A crappy punk band. Wallace Wells is Scott's totally gay roommate, and Young Neil is Stephen Stills' roommate/Sex Bob-omb's #1 fan. At least until Knives Chau (17 Years Old) shows up and begins obsessing over Scott. I thought she would be annoying, but she's actually pretty adorable. And her name is Knives. Finally, there is the mysterious Ramona Flowers, who becomes more and more interesting and sympathetic over the course of the series as she and her relationship with Scott get fleshed out.
I've already mentioned the video game references, but what's really great about the dialogue is that THEY TALK LIKE ME. In one book, Kim says, "Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face." I TALK ABOUT PUNCHING THINGS IN THE FACE ALL THE TIME.
Sorry, I'm still laughing at that line.
Okay, now back to the post. Because, yeah, sometimes I can't stop laughing at stuff in these books. Reading the dialogue is like listening to my friends. All of you would like it! We share a sense of humor, you know?!
Although the books are funny as hell, O'Malley still hits the right emotional notes as he examines dating in your early to mid-twenties. And life in general. It's complicated stuff! You're trying to be all independent and grown-up, but you still want to have fun. There are some very evocative panels.
I'm still not making any sense here. Scott Pilgrim is awesome, you guys! It's superfun and hilarious and I love it. It makes me happy.
If my endorsement is not enough for you, know this! A movie version is being filmed right now, helmed by Edgar Wright (director of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz) and starring Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, which is about as perfect casting as we're likely to get. Scott is more hyper than Michael Cera usually plays, but otherwise he's pretty Cera-esque. As a bonus, Mae Whitman co-stars. The book takes so much advantage of the medium that it seems like a film adaptation would lose a lot of what makes the series special, but given what Edgar Wright did with Spaced, I'm confident he'll find a way to use film techniques to create a similar experience.
Scott Pilgrim is something special. Be cool and read it!