Beauty and the Best

Bryan Lee O'Malley

"Seconds" by Bryan Lee O'Malley

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From the author that brought us Scott Pilgrim, Seconds is Bryan Lee O’Malley’s reset story, in the vain of Groundhog Day and Live Die Repeat. In a reset story there is typically a deus ex machine device that allows the protagonist to reset the day and relive the experience, always with the goal of perfecting it. The problems usually arise when the time space continuum is befouled by such shenanigans, and that’s no different here.

Seconds tells the story of Katie, the executive chef at the restaurant of the same name, and her group of friends. Despite her outward success, at 29 Katie has no ownership in Seconds so she is trying to start a new restaurant that she owns (Lucknow). She’s also trying to get over a relationship and deal with some supernatural going-ons at her residence (which happens to be the upstairs of Seconds).

While things are hectic, they don’t really go bad until an accident occurs one day at Seconds that burns one of the waitresses, the lovely Hazel. Katie is so remorseful about this situation – she partially caused it by fooling around with Andrew, her protégée – that she makes a deal with the devil of sorts. That night when she goes to sleep, she has a strange dream where she finds a red mushroom, a pad and a pen. There’re some instructions which tell Katie to write out her wrong, eat the mushroom, and go to sleep. She does this and the next day when she awakens she is able to play out the same scenario, but without causing the accident.

But other problems crop up. There is a house spirit at Seconds that is rather covetous of the red mushrooms and does not want Katie eating anymore (and for good reason). Also, with each iteration the world becomes more bizarre and uncontrollable for Katie.

The artwork in Seconds is far better than Scott Pilgrim. Katie’s cantankerous personality is humorously conveyed through O’Malley’s drawings, reminiscent of Charles Shultz at times. The colors jump off the page. It is truly a visual delight.

The story itself is likable enough. I get the feeling the movie Coraline had some impact on O’Malley, as you can feel the influence of that movie on this story. But Seconds stands on its own and it’s a real page-turner once it gets going. It also has some nice touches of reality, which are usually missing from O’Malley’s work. For instance, Katie drools when she sleeps. There’s also a great sequence where she meets her ex and gets a case of the runs due to eating a bad hamburger.

I’d give Seconds a strong recommend. It’s an enjoyable story with improved artwork over Scott Pilgrim.

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Scott Pilgrim Vol 1 Review

Scott Pilgrim Color
You've probably heard of the movie but have you ever read the original graphic novels for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? If not then I think you should and now's the perfect time to pick them up, better than ever. Oni Press started printing a new colorized edition in August 2012 with future volumes scheduled for release every six months. And since I haven't read it either or have any plans coming up for the next three years, I figured that I might as well start picking them up too.
Hey don't judge me. At least the writer/artist Bryan Lee O'Malley understands. Plans, commitments, pursuits, that stuff's complicated and I don't even like to buy bananas when they're still green. Neither does Scott Pilgrim. He's just your average twenty-something slacker who's drifting through life on a few bucks, playing in a garage band and splitting his friend's futon mattress. Really what more do any of us need other than a slice of pizza, some tunes and a place to crash?
Sex, you say? Companionship? Enter Ramona Flowers.
But her affections are not easily won. Not only does Scott have to convince Ramona to date him (even though he's already dating a sweet catholic school girl whom he hasn't quite gotten around to dumping), but he also has to fight Ramona's seven evil exes in order to keep dating her. So it's a good thing that aside from being your average twenty-something slacker, he also happens to be the greatest fighter in Ontario Canada.
Sex-Bob-Omb Jamming
Scott Pilgrim quickly moves into surreal territory, drawing upon themes and cues from the cartoons, movies, video games and comics people of Scott's age experienced while growing up. From the name of his band "Sex Bob-Omb" to the X-Men patch on his jacket, it is all a love letter from O'Malley to an entire subculture.
Even Scott's having to fight seven evil exes is a reference to shonen style manga like Dragon Ball. But that's not what it's about, even if O’Malley drops many references to things from his time growing up. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is about becoming an adult and fighting for things in life, because just skirting by can hurt the people around you and leave you really alone whether or not you've realized it yet.
This edition is also hardbound and comes with bonus material from the creator, discussing the origins of the characters and conception of the series. So for the many of us who missed out on this critically acclaimed graphic novel the first time, this volume entitled "Scott Pilgrim''s Precious Little Life" is a great place to start on a journey of our own.

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