The line for Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Fans” panel Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego snaked back and forth down the hallway at the convention center six times, a fitting cap to a show where the cartoonist’s latest effort and the movie adaptation of his work were undeniably the buzz of the floor with fans. Of course, the former – Oni Press’ “Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour” – that took presedence on Saturday as a capacity room of readers lined up to pick O’Malley’s mind.
“I’m Bryan Lee O’Malley, and this is Michael Bacall. We’re both tired, and we have no idea what this panel is four,” the creator said while introducing the co-screenwriter of the new movie. “He’s helped me write the last few books,” said O’Malley, to which Bacall said, “My help has usually consisted of me going ‘It’s SO F-ING AWESOME!'” which O’Malley jokingly agreed with.
Asked which volume was his favorite, O’Malley said usually it’s the most current one, but in retrospect Volume 4 is the book that first came together in terms of him feeling like a writer. Bacall said that at the time said book was being written, O’Malley texted him saying he was in a theater watching “Grindhouse” while reading “Story” by Robert McKee to prepare.
“To me, it was always the story of scott and Ramona, and Kim was an accessory to that story because she’d been with him in the past. I don’t like the idea of going back. I like to think the books are about moving forward.” Spoilers for Volume 6 were decided fair game for the panel as O’Mally spoke on Kim’s choice to move to Norther Ontario at the end of the new book because she’d been there to help push Scott over the hump of his relationship problems.
A fan asked for a Wallace Wells spinoff, and O’Malley said, “Maybe Wallace should be in every book I do” before going “I like the idea of revisiting this in the future, but this is the present.” Some day, he may revisit the characters in a weird way, noting that in his anime fandom days, he loved for stories with the same characters to be retold in new circumstances, so maybe he’d do “Scott Pilgrim in space” later in life.
Asked for a more thorough explanation of Ramona’s subspace powers and head glowing, O’Malley admitted that his inclusion of that was the result of his being in his mid-20’s and just coming up with wild ideas, but that even with a lack of an explanation, he doesn’t consider those elements things that draw the series into the realm of science fiction.
According to O’Malley, the drummer for Clash At Demonhead “teleported back to Montreal?” before saying he felt bringing her back in the end wasn’t as important as Envy Adams.
In comparing Ramona and Knives’ separate arcs, O’Malley said he felt that Knives grew the most of any character in the series. “Knives is young and nerdy, and she’s never been exposed to pop culture, and by the end she becomes a fan, and it helps her,” he said, noting that he agreed with a recent review of the movie saying that Knives’ arc there was a bit more complete than it ends up being in the book.
The cartoonist decided to lay off the backstory of characters like Gideon and on his relationship with Ramona because it felt like it would largely drag the story down. “There’s a whole thread throughout the series of people growing and changing and maybe becoming ass holes, which everybody does eventually…Gideon is a guy who made something of himself and lost something in that process.”
Plans for a giant robot to appear in the movie that was a mecha-Gideon were scrapped for “straight martial arts” because the initial concept didn’t work as well. However, as for cutting room floor material, O’Malley said he has a sequence that he cut from Volume 6 that he’d like to draw some day, and fans called for an omnibus edition.
A fan asked if having specific bands playing the part of the fake bands like Sex Bob-Omb and Clash At Demonhead made it tougher to read the books without hearing those songs. “I think it does to some degree, but I’m not too sad about it.” he said. “The thing about the comic is that there’s no music. I can describe what the music sounds like, and it’s all in your mind.”
“Sex Bob-Omb was awesome in the movie, which we weren’t expecting,” said Bacall. “You’ve got to listen to the music when you’re shooting over and over and over and over again…and there were still big, beefy tough dude grips who were still nodding their heads on day 80 and digging the tunes.”
O’Malley admitted to a continuity error he caused himself in that in Volume 5 in that Ramona’s hair is short in a Volume 5 on a Wikipedia page about her relationship with Gideon, but in 6, she had long hair in the flashbacks.
Bacall and O’Malley wrote up “ten secrets from Ramona’s past” to give to actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead -Â stuff O’Malley’d been thinking about all series long but decided not to put in Volume 6. However, he declined to share that those ten things were with anyone except for the actress.
Someone wanted to know how the series connected to his real life, to which the artist replied, “When I was first making up the story, I was 23 and living in Toronto and just had a breakup and had two gay roommates…I didn’t share a bed with [one] but I had shared a bed with a guy the year earlier,” he explained noting that the final thing to push the book into creation was wanting to name something after a Plumtree song he liked. “And then I met another girl -Â fortunately for everyone -Â an American girl, and I started to think about other things.” He added that after making his first solo graphic novel for Oni -Â “Lost At Sea” -Â all of his friends told him they didn’t want to read another depressing story that came from his life, so he turned all those influences into something fun.
As for a neat “by-product” of making the movie, O’Malley joked that “we sold a lot of books” and that the production designer had used things in the set were made from his drawings, which kind of blew his mind. Bacall walked away from the film with a Lucas Lee skateboard, but as for O’Malley: “I didn’t get anything because I wasn’t there when we wrapped. I really wanted to steal all those musical instruments, but I didn’t get to.”
The artist really enjoys the video game of his book, having played it this weekend at Comic-Con, and he said that since he played an earlier version at E3, the developers added many more Easter Eggs from his books. He hopes the game will see release on multiple systems after its initial release on the PlayStation Network.
Asked if there was something that didn’t make it from book to movie, Bacall said that making Toronto’s Honest Ed’s didn’t work even though the entire store creeped him out and he would have loved to destroy it. O’Malley said that as the book’s went on, bits of dialogue for characters like Roxy and Gideon came from the screenplay drafts into the comics. The pair both said that Jason Schwartzman was their longtime pick to play Gideon and that through his involvement, the actor helped create the character too. “That was kind of amazing to be able to write for an actor who you were thinking of as a model for the character,” Bacall said, and O’Malley thought his version in the book didn’t compare all that well to Schwartzman’s performance.
“I’ve been drawing comics for six years doing the same thing and have seen so many people who started at the same time as me do one book and go, ‘Where’s my money? Where’s my movie?'” O’Malley said at the end to a fan who asked how to bring out a successful comic. Ultimately, he felt the reason the movie got made was largely influenced by Edgar Wright’s passion for the material but also because he continued to make comics. Each time a new volume of the series came out, the movie producers would get excited again to get the picture made, so dedication and finishing what you start were what carries him through and in his opinion can carry other creators through as well.