There comes a point when you realize that something has gone from being popular to whatever that next level is. That point may be when you end up having multiple conversations with strangers about Scott Pilgrim for no immediately apparent reason other than the fact that they’re excited about either the movie or the final book.
Okay, admittedly, one of those conversations was with someone who worked in my local comic book store, but only one! Imagine my surprise when, as a socially-awkward sub-hermit type, random people that I am buying cupcakes from or whatever recognize my t-shirt and ask if I’m a fan of the books and then go on to share that they’re big fans of Kim Pine, for example (although that really happened, which still kind of blows my mind). I mean, if it was Batman, then that’d be something else; he’s one of the most immediately recognizable pop-culture icons of the last hundred years, after all. But it was Scott Pilgrim. I feel like this is some kind of breakthrough that I can’t quite wrap my head around.
(There are, of course, two “but”s to be included. Firstly, I’m in Portland, OR, which is pretty much as close to any definition of Comicsopolis, USA, as you can get without actually moving to a town called Comicsopolis, USA – There’s a comics culture here that’s only helped by having Dark Horse, Oni and Top Shelf headquartered in the area, as well as a ridiculously well-stocked population of creators including but by no means limited to Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin, Jeff Parker, Steve Lieber, Erica Moen, Meredith Gran – A complete aside to say that I finally got around to reading Gran’s Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars In Brooklyn collection the other week and you should all do the same, if you haven’t already, because it’s really, really great – Aaron Diaz and many others who I’m forgetting right now (Oh! Chris Samnee! Chris Samnee’s just moved here. Him as well). So, yeah; Portland may be somewhat skewed in a more comic-friendly direction than many other places. And secondly, there’s that whole Scott Pilgrim Versus The World movie coming out next month that probably doesn’t hurt public consciousness recognition… but, again, these people are talking to me about the books themselves.)
Now, maybe I’m just more attuned to Pilgrim-related weirdness right now than usual – I spent an afternoon last week at Oni’s offices, reading the final book, after all (I won’t give spoilers, but I will say that I enjoyed it more than I expected to, in large part because it very much wasn’t what I was either expecting or hoping for) – but this was happening before then; Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series has (deservedly) crossed over from hit comic to cultural thing, and somehow bypassed any “It’s a comic” snobbery that infected, say, Iron Man or even Watchmen. People just… accept it as what it is, and there’s something kind of great about that.
Of course, I’m hoping this weird optimism and “Scott Pilgrim is comics for everyone that everyone loves” feeling lasts through the inevitable hipster backlash currently scheduled for those three weeks between the release of the final book and the opening of the movie.
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