The comments to the recent Bourne post became about Scott Pilgrim, and obviously we need a place to talk about it. Here is the thing though. I have read the whole thing now and I feel very muddy about it. I thought it was really cute, and liked it, but it is so fluffy it barely stays in my head long enough to get a real opinion on it, except that I seemed to like it while I was reading it. Partly this is reading it to fast, and partly this is the fact that the art can be confusing, and partly it is the time between the other volumes I read a while back and the most recent one. But whatever the excuse I for some reason cannot quite plug in. Like when I read this smart little thing on Young Neil, I could barely remember who he was. Neil keeps saying bad things about it, and I think he might not be wrong, but I also have no idea how to respond. I do really want the Scott Pilgrim movie to be my favorite movie of all time. Anyway -- I have reproduced the comment thread below, and make a comment at the end. Here ya go -- talk about Scott Pilgrim to your heart's content. Geoff Klock
Geoff: I like this format of blog post. More, please!
Also, can we expect Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 and/or movie review next month?
I would probably be willing to do a back-and-forth with someone in response to Scott Pilgrim. I've had some pretty strong (largely negative) responses to the last couple books - I'll probably post some thoughts on my blog in the next few days. So someone could riff off those, or provide their own starting point to which I can react.
Unless no one wants to. In which case my feelings will be hurt.
@neilshyminsky - Such a discussion of Scott Pilgrim 6 sounds entertaining to me. Count me in a as a vote in favor of it. I too haven't liked the later volumes as much as the first volume. I loved the subtle magical realism in the first volume that seems to have lost its subtelty. -Dan S.
Dan wrote: "I loved the subtle magical realism in the first volume that seems to have lost its subtelty."
Absolutely. This is absolutely the biggest problem. It was cute when the magic popped up in such a way that it enhanced scene - it wasn't technically necessary, plot-wise, but it added some emotional or thematic heft. But in the last couple books, it often feels, variously, as if the magic either substitutes entirely for the plot or else it disrupts the scene or emotion and sends it veering in another direction.
A lot of the magic realism in the first book was either happening in dreams or was made to feel dream-like - very ethereal stuff, in any case, and it worked very well. (Even with something like the Save Point at Lee's Palace - haven't we all wished we could 'save' before having to have an awkward conversation, so that we could try it again?)
And when it wasn't particularly subtle or dreamy - and the notable exception in the first book is the battle - the more absurd stuff was contained and, so, made to seem appropriate to a particular kind of scene or moment: I'm perfectly okay with the big fights being completely over-the-top, especially because, early on, it looked like O'Malley was established that as a pattern. But it's just sort of ALL become absurd.
I'm wondering, actually, whether O'Malley found his early stuff (including Lost At Sea) a little too precious. How else to understand his incessant need to assert ironic distance from the material? I've only just started the new book, but it's filled with narrative self-reflexivity that undercuts all of the most emotionally resonant moments - Scott's kiss with Knives, his snarking at Envy, etc. And it's kind of annoying - it as if he's making fun of me for wanting to be invested in the characters and their feelings.
But I should probably save all this complaining until I finish the book. Maybe it'll surprise me.
Just finished the book. I was surprised, but not the good kind of surprised.
Wow. It was really, really bad.
Ha! I'd be up for doing a counterpoint with Neil, depending on how my reading of book 6 goes. I love Scott Pilgrim (and I love Neil[!!!]), but my only worry at the moment is that I wouldn't have much to counter-say about the series other than "I like it".
Though I thought your main problem with the series as it progressed was Scott being such a massive toolbox, so your comments here are interesting. (Man my book hasn't even dispatched yet c'mon.)
Though Geoff reads Scott Pilgrim, so maybe[!!!!] he'd be better. Maybe we'll all just hate it!
@James - Please do write something in favor of the series. Explain to me why I shouldn't be disappointed by how the series has played out. The first volume was so good, but the later volumes were so angsty (and not in a good way).
@Neil - That's disappointing. I haven't even got a copy yet. Maybe I'll wait until a library copy becomes available instead of buying...
This blog sure is the place to be :) -Dan S.
James: It's hard for me to say whether the too-much, too-reflexive magic realism or Scott's douchebaggery is the biggest disappointment of the series. I think, on my blog, I've previously argued that it was the latter. But I don't think that they're disconnected - in the new book, there's a recurring device where Scott's memory is rendered like an 8-bit video game. And it's in moments like these that Scott's being an insensitive dick combines with the absurdity of the scene's presentation to take it to a whole other level.
But you're right. I was getting carried away by saying that the magic was the biggest problem. Because Scott is still the biggest problem. (Spoiler(?): There's a scene at the end where O'Malley seems to realize that the can't effectively recuperate Scott, so he takes Ramona down a notch instead. Ugh.)
The series works best, I think, when the the magic is at its most precious and unnecessary and when Scott is adorably naive; and it fails when the magic is nasty-ironic and fundamental to the story, and when Scott's naivete bleeds into willful ignorance and self-obsessed jerk territory. (The character bit also being my problem with a lot of the Frat Pack movies, like 'Knocked Up' - there's an epidemic of successful media about jerky losers.) And, unfortunately, the final book consists almost entirely of the latter stuff.
Dan: But if you wait too long, you'll miss out on the exchange! Timeliness matters!
GEOFF KLOCK SAYS
Neil I would love to read your take on the whole thing in detail. You guys are making a very good point about the Magical Realism taking over almost completely -- it will be interesting to see if the movie corrects this, as the director has said he is going his own way after like book 3 or something. I didn't even notice it till you guys pointed it out but that seems right.
But Neil -- why is taking Ramona down a peg so bad. If he is just this lame guy it is hard to get behind -- and your comparison to the Judd Apatow characters seems on point -- isn't there something wrong with her being positioned as this perfect dream girl. Shouldn't they both be flawed? Isn't that more human? Scott may be a lame, self obsessed jerk, but he is easy to sympathize with cause, come on, I am totally like that and I think a lot of us are, or were. I liked when he remembered all these past things he had ignored -- I feel like I do that too. I think his growing up needs to be shown -- the book more points toward a hope that he simply will, but I feel like I can live with that. His heart is in the right place and surely he will start changing as the book ends -- I know I did when I got the girl. You are right that that is not the most satisfying thing, because I am having to imagine the ending rather than being shown it, but somehow I still mostly like it, while also agreeing with what you are saying. Say more stuff, and also, if you, any of you guys, want to review Scott Pilgrim for the blog, send me the review.