I don't know what took me so long, but I finally got around to reading Bryan Lee O'Malley's inspired, hilarious, snarky, delicious graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim (though I know how I got around to reading them finally: I ran into Scott McCloud at the Toronto Comic Arts Fest and he said, "You have to read 'Scott Pilgrim,' it's about a guy who can only date the love of his life after he defeats her seven evil ex-boyfriends!").
I sent away for a review set of the first five volumes — I'm not sure, but I think there'll be six in all — but they were promptly stolen by my wife, who wouldn't give them back, so I had to buy another set at Forbidden Planet in London and then drop pretty much everything to read them, at speed, howling with laughter and turning down corners on pages I wanted to save for posterity.
The premise is pretty much as McCloud described it: Scott Pilgrim is a 23-year-old Toronto slacker who falls in love with an Amazon delivery woman who's just moved from America, but in order to date her, he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends, who have a variety of super powers (my favorite is the vegan, who has the vegan power of moving things with his mind). On the way, we find out about Scott's friends — slackers, successes, screw-ups, beauty queens, lovelorn ninjas, a whole charming host of them — and his history and run through a series of genuinely touching, ha-ha-only-serious flashbacks about Scott's life.
The setting is crack for me, since it's the Toronto of my young adulthood — they have one epic battle at Casa Loma, the weird castle where I got married; they spend their nights drinking bad beer and eating terrible food at Sneaky Dees, where I practically lived for several years, especially when they were a 24-hour joint on Bloor Street; and there's a brilliant fight-scene at the magnificently kitschy monster five-and-dime Honest Eds — rendered with sweet affection and a good eye.
But the best part are the little tossed-up popcult fillips, like the 8-bit "PEE" status-bar that slowly scrolls to empty over a couple panels as Scott stands at a urinal, or the One-Up face that pings into existence when Scott earns an extra life.
Reading this reminds me of the first time I read Generation X and discovered a creator who was funny, touching, smart and plugged into many of the same things that my life revolved around. The Globe and Mail called it "Canada's Tank Girl," and I think that's as good a strapline as any. I can't recommend it highly enough — and hey, there's a pretty decent-looking film-adaptation in the works, too!