Scott Pilgrim and Some Thanksgiving Papercraft

I'm going to talk about Scott Pilgrim – the comic book, not the movie – but first I have a little reminder about a terrific site for papercraft. The toymaker has a fantastic variety of free papercraft, much of it seasonal. Her Thanksgiving offerings run from simple napkin rings and leaves to color to an intricate paper version of the Mayflower. If you've got kids racing about wondering when dinner will be served some of these projects are just the thing to keep them occupied until the feast is ready. http://www.thetoymaker.com/Holidays/Thanksgiving/1Thanksgiving.html

I spent a few days trying to read Scott Pilgrim volume one but didn't get very far. Every time I tried to read it I ended up dizzy and sick. It wasn't because of the content, although the idea of a 23-year-old dating a high school girl does make me nervous, instead it was the format. The book is the same size and style as most of the manga I read but you read it the western way, front to back and left to right, instead of the Japanese way, which is back to front and right to left. I had to practically reprogram my brain to be able to read the book but in the end it was worth it.

As the story begins Scott is nearly immobilized, in fact so immobilized he doesn't seem to realize he has a problem at all. As far as I can tell he doesn't have a job - although he does play in a band that isn't yet successful, he dates a girl in high school that he met while riding on the bus and he sleeps in his roommate's bed because he can't afford his own bed. He drifts from day to day, not really examining his life or doing anything meaningful. Until a girl rollerblades into his dreams and catches his attention.

He is intrigued by this girl but that intrigue turns into something more when he runs into her in real life, at a party, where he makes a babbling fool out of himself. Her name is Ramona Flowers and she's new in town. Rumor has it that she's from New York and delivers for Amazon.ca, prompting Scott to ask his roommate if he knows the website for Amazon.ca.

Now Scott is in a real bind. He's dating a high school girl, who is nice and safe and doesn't take a lot of effort to be around, but is becoming obsessed (his word) with the girl literally of his dreams. But there is more coming.

I generally try to avoid spoilers in this column but if you've seen any of the previews for Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, the film based on the comics, you know that Scott fights Ramona Flower's evil exes. One of the funniest things about volume one is Scott's inability to realize he's being threatened by the first of these evil exes. The first communication is an email, which he seems to think is spam, and the second is a letter in which the evil ex is perturbed that there was no response to his email. Scott either can't concentrate long enough to read it or he gets so many threats he thinks it's just another piece of junk and discards it. So when the evil ex appears at one of Scott's gigs ready for a ferocious fight Scott is taken by surprise.

When I saw the first preview for the Scott Pilgrim movie I was confused. Is Ramona supposed to be someone we root for? Are we supposed to be pulling for Scott to hook up with her? If someone with seven evil exes was dating a friend of mine I would be concerned. Certainly we all may have dated a couple of evil people who want to beat up complete strangers, but seven of them when you're quite young? Maybe Ramona needs a therapist more than she needs a new boyfriend. If she's attracted to abusers some time spent figuring out why and how to make better choices would be time well spent. I asked my middle son about my impressions and his response was, "Yeah Mom, she's not that good of a person but it's okay because Scott is kind of a douche too." I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to reading comics about a bunch of unlikable characters. This is one reason I let the book sit around for a couple of weeks before I tried reading it. (I'm not the only one concerned about this. While I was writing this column John Scalzi, author of Old Man's War, tweeted about the film, saying "Scott Pilgrim,@BillCorbett? You mean, the tale of an alienated guy who tries to impress a girl by murdering her ex-lovers?" http://twitter.com/#!/scalzi/status/5313529989046272)

But then I got to thinking about unlikable characters and how much I like some of them, like Dexter, who kills people but is still someone I imagine I would feel pretty safe with and decided to give it a chance. Sure enough there is much to enjoy in the comic. It’s funny and the relationship between Scott and Knives, the high school girl, is about as creep free as a relationship between a teenage girl and a man in his twenties can be. There are surreal elements to the book which work very well, giving the book unexpected layers. I've got volumes two and three waiting to be read next.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Chad who wrote in to say, "Angry Birds is a fun puzzle game but don't start playing unless you have an afternoon you can waste." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.