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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I don't care about Scott Pilgrim

This started out as a continuation of my long-delayed overview of Free Comic Book Day comics, but then kind of got sidetracked. I blame Scott Pilgrim.

Free Scott Pilgrim is my, and presumably many other people's first taste of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim. At first sight it comes across as a typical cartoony amerimanga; a few superficial generic manga stylistic devices like big eyes and speed lines, but without any of the hard to draw stuff or depth of the source material.

The stand out point for me is when we hit page 3 and there is a large panel that uses a photo for the background, which works fine. Except that there's this little caption that says
"a note from the artist I don't think I'm getting paid for this comic and this background seemed pretty hard to draw so please enjoy the stock photo"
Bryan, honey, you may not be getting a check for this comic but it's your big promotional tool. Someone has stumped up a lot of cash to get copies of your work into the hands of many, many people who would not normally see it, and what they are reading is "I can't be bothered to do this properly because the idea that it might prompt people to buy lots of my other books and make me lots of cash indirectly is way too theoretical for me to handle."

Sadly, the rest of the comic does not interest me enough to distract me from this sour note. After a gag about buying drinks, Scott and friends head off to a movie theater but never arrive because several copies of the same girl jump out of a movie poster and attack him for no reason that makes any sense*. Scott stands around for a few pages whining about how he can't hit a girl, even though she is beating the crap out of him, and then his friends discuss the whole situation for a few more pages, and then Scott's girlfriend makes him hit the girls and they go poof and turn into beverage coupons, which enables us to revisit the gag about drinks, which is no funnier the second time around.

I don't know if this is supposed to be some kind of bizarre stream of consciousness thing. Maybe it makes sense if you've read Scott Pilgrim before, except, wait a second, isn't this supposed to be aimed at people who have never read it before? If not, why bother?

And the whole sexism of it pisses me off no end. The attitude of "No, I cannot hit a girl" is reasonable in some situations, but when eight of them are kicking your head in is not one of them. In this context the implicit idea is that it would be unfair to hit a girl even when she is hitting you because obviously she is only a girl and she couldn't actually hurt you whereas you are a guy and you might damage her with your manly strength.

So what with one thing and another I am not moved to seek out any more of the works of Bryan Lee O'Malley, but it did get me thinking about things that are self defeating. Like TV adverts that put you off buying the product rather than encourage you, or ones that are okay but get repeated so often that you end up being so annoyed by them that you will cross the street to avoid the product. Or like the Scifi Channel which I will no longer watch casually because I am so annoyed by their intrusive and excessive self advertising which can sometimes mean that there are 3 different graphics promoting different programs on screen at the same time, obscuring the current program I'm trying to watch, and every 15 minutes we are subjected to the same adverts for the same shows, not to mention mangling the end credits to promote the same or different shows. This was only recently outdone by Sky One's overhype of Ricky Gervais's Simpsons episode, where they spent a week rerunning the same clip of Gervais talking about it every ad break day and night. At the start of the week I was quite interested. By Thursday I wanted to hit the smug git with a pickaxe every time his stupid face appeared. And it wasn't even a very good episode.

What I don't understand is how the people who are paid vast sums of money to create advertising cannot see that their work is having the opposite effect of that which they were paid all that money to achieve. I realise most of the cash goes into making those glossy 15 second movies, but you'd think some of the expertise might be devoted toward having a clue whether it's going to make people like the product more or less.


*I don't care if Scott's girlfriend's ex might have been a ninja, that does not explain movie posters coming to life and turning into coupons.

2 Comments:

Blogger Chance said...

I agree wholeheartedly on Scott P, and for much the same reasons. I found that free issue to be confusing, sexist and off-putting.

7:31 am  
Anonymous Vasu said...

Well, it's meant to be fairly silly and ridiculous, up to and including O'Malley occasionally making meta-commentary on his own ridiculousness.

And the whole sexism of it pisses me off no end. The attitude of "No, I cannot hit a girl" is reasonable in some situations, but when eight of them are kicking your head in is not one of them.

Again, that's exactly the point - Scott is being an idiot by refusing to hit a girl and summarily gets his head kicked in as a result.

*I don't care if Scott's girlfriend's ex might have been a ninja, that does not explain movie posters coming to life and turning into coupons.

Ah, I thought the whole "shopping for power-ups" scene was enough to establish that Scott's world operates by video game rules.

This isn't meant to be an attack of any kind. I can see how the book wouldn't be everyone's thing, but it might be more enjoyable if it's actually read in the spirit in which it's intended.

6:07 am  

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