Canadian writer and artist Bryan Lee O'Malley's "Scott Pilgrim," one of the most beloved and buzzed about comics of the past decade, hits theaters near you Aug. 13. Fueled by fan hype and years of anticipation, comic readers of all stripes have already bought their tickets, but what does the casual movie-goer need to know about the franchise to enjoy the experience as fully as those already in the loop?
Launched by indie publisher Oni Press in 2004, the series finally concluded only a few weeks ago with the release of the sixth and final volume. So the entire story is limited to just six black and white digest-sized paperbacks the dimensions of a typical Japanese manga, priced at $11.99 each. No sequels, prequels or spin-offs to speak of, "Scott Pilgrim" also happens to be as new-reader-friendly as any title on the shelf.
Not your typical comic book hero, Scott is 23 years old as the story begins. He's an unemployed bass player for a mediocre Toronto band, and a good-natured slacker with girl troubles, a horrible memory and an unfiltered, innocent brand of honesty that often gets him into trouble.
Soon, Scott falls in love with Ramona Flowers, a mysterious delivery girl with the ability to skip through other dimensions and a penchant for taking shortcuts through Scott's dreams.
After finding, quite literally, the girl of his dreams, Scott must put aside the feelings he's harbored for past girlfriends, including his obsessed high-school stalker, Knives Chau, and Envy Adams, the woman who broke his heart and subsequently became a rich rock star.
But Ramona has even more trouble with her exes, who all happen to be... well... evil, and sworn to destroy anyone who would dare date her. So for Scott to win the chance at true happiness, he must defeat each of Ramona's seven evil exes in ever more over-the-top battles.
Taking cues from comics both Japanese and American and tossing in a healthy dose of random video game violence, "Scott Pilgrim" has a tone uniquely its own. Many books claim to be multi-genre mash-ups that appeal to wide audiences, but few achieve the level of action, comedy, romance and the distinctive voice that these possess, without ever losing the charm of a story that, at its heart, is about the pain of growing up.
With fanboy favorite Edgar Wright, the genius behind "Shaun of the Dead" and the cult British sitcom Spaced directing the film version, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," the movie appears to remain remarkably faithful to the source material.
Michael Cera and a slew of the hippest indie actors around, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culken, Anna Kendrick and Jason Schwartzman star, and the early reviews have been top notch.
Sure to hit blockbuster status and win over an army of new fans, beat the rush and crack open Volume One of "Scott Pilgrim" today.
Jordan Lowe is the owner of Asylum Comics on Muskingum Drive in Marietta and the writer of the web comic "Short Pants Romance."