Kat’s Music and Comics Corner Vol. 2 Issue #8
Humans suck. They’re selfish, they’re cruel, they’re lazy, they’re ignorant– they’re a perfect example of imperfection. And there is no exception for the characters in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book (whose books are shaped like traditional manga volumes), Scott Pilgrim. These characters embody the deadly sins and they mess up a lot and sometimes can be downright mean. I was talking to my friend who lent me the series about how it’s hard to choose a favorite character, not because I was all “OH MY GOSH, they’re all so great! How could I ever choose one?” but rather I was feeling like “Oh my gosh, they’re all so flawed and kinda sucky, I don’t have a favorite character. I think I see myself in them.” Yeah, I totally had a small identity crisis when I was reading Scott Pilgrim. I had that epiphany moment where I realized how all the characters are not the best people, but then reflected on myself and thought, “Who am I to judge when I am just as flawed as them?”
I think that’s the mastery of O’Malley’s character writing. He knows how to make them real. Really real and complex. This is not hard to do. I notice in a lot of the comics I read, sometimes even in books I like, the characters can be unrealistically nice or awesome. Think Ned Flanders from the Simpsons pure and holy. These characters seem to be untouchable and infallible, but this is not how life is. Life is filled with bruises and bad people who aren’t all that bad. O’Malley acknowledges this with his characters and I feel like he knows that his readers might pick apart these characters he makes, in their own attempt to salvage the good parts of them, but ultimately, if you want to choose a favorite character, you got to do that thing that people do when they go for the long haul in committed relationships. You’ve got to accept them as they are. Warts and all.
I’m not surprised that the character I most identified with was Knives Chau, the sole Asian girl character who, of course, is in high school who is definitely a warts and all character. *SPOILERS AHEAD* She falls in love with our protagonist, Scott, or thinks she does, and then gets her heart broken leading her to seek vengeance on the one who stole her beloved from her. She cuts and dyes her hair hoping to be noticed, hoping for a change. I’ve totally done that before when I was feeling like I wanted a big change in my life; my hair has been blonde and different shades of pink, as well as pixie-cut short overnight. Beyond the unplanned urges and physical appearance, I feel Knives in a more spiritual sense. I’ve discovered that I am capable of feeling an ugly, uncontrollable jealousy just the same way as Knives and when I realized, it sucked. I didn’t want to be that jealous girl, but I was. In that moment I came to the self-actualization of being human.
Recently, I did a stupid thing, not regrettable, but just selfish, careless, and stupid. Not going to say what it was because it’s super embarrassing and worth about a thousand facepalms, but you could say I’d fit right into a Scott Pilgrim storyline. My story would probably be an off-book storyline really briefly referenced with me in a panel looking at someone I was involved with after they mentioned something that happened in the past that wasn’t… the smartest of moments, then I have a flashback to that particular stupid moment. He would quietly mouth “Sorry” for bringing it up and my face would be brimming with chagrin. The story writes itself. Scott Pilgrim has much more to offer than characters who “suck” (but also kinda rule). It has fist fights, beautiful manga-inspired art, and a pretty rad storyline. So, if you like any of those things, it’s definitely worth a trip into O’Malley’s world of Scott Pilgrim.
– Kathryn “Kat” Fornier