January 4th, 2006

books

Books 2006: Scott Pilgrim vols. 1 and 2

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A few months ago, a huge debate erupted at the late, lamented Fanboy Rampage! over superhero comics vs. non-superhero comics, or more broadly over whether people who read superhero comics are no-good dumbo nothings in need of sound beatings or people who didn't read superhero comics are snobby elitists in danger of choking on their own pretentiousness. My feeling is that people should read what they want to read, but that people who read one genre to the exclusion of all others (or, for that matter, all genres save for the exclusion of a particular one) are missing a lot of good reading material, and that people who criticize others for not reading the same things they themselves are reading are, in fact, snobs, regardless of what side of the debate they come down on.

But I digress. One comic that was mentioned frequently in this debate was Scott Pilgrim, a non-superhero title I had never heard of. When I saw the first two Scott Pilgrim collections in a bookstore the other day, I remembered that a lot of people had spoken highly of them, so I plucked them off the shelf and settled myself into a comfy chair to read them.

Having now read them, I understand why Scott Pilgrim was mentioned so often during the aforementioned debate. For one thing, both collections were quite good. The premise is clever, the writing funny, and the characters interesting and quirky without being annoying. Moreover, while Scott Pilgrim is definitely not a superhero comic by any stretch of the imagination, it's fantastical enough to conceivably appeal to a fan of superhero comics and/or video games wanting to dip a toe into other genres. That said, the art is cartoonish and somewhat crude, and I think the typical superheroes-only comics reader would put it down unread after a single glance at the art, and that anyone who believes otherwise is fooling himself.

I, however, am not the typical superheroes-only comics reader, so I liked it. As I said above, it's very well written and funny, and the art is well suited to the story. I think I'm a little too removed from the characters, in age and sensibilities alike, to really connect with them or the comic in general, but both Scott Pilgrim volumes were fun reads, and I find myself looking forward to the release of the third volume later this month.