But this wasn't the second coming of the boy wizard. It was the launch party for 'Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour' -- the sixth and final volume in the anime- and arcade game-inspired 'Scott Pilgrim' graphic novels. Scott is a 24-year-old slacker and garage band singer who, in order to win the girl of his dreams, must fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends, 'Dragon Ball Z' style. Canadian creator Bryan Lee O'Malley came up to Toronto (where the movie was shot) to end it where it all began.
Just around the corner from the launch party was Honest Ed's, the infamous giant discount store where Scott had his showdown with Todd -- the vegan boyfriend with psychic powers -- in Volume 3. Next to Ed's was Suspect Video, the real-life counterpart to No Account Video, so-named because the store's management would not allow O'Malley to take reference photos for the series. In charge of the launch was The Beguiling comic shop, operated by Chris Butcher. He is O'Malley's former roommate and the inspiration behind Scott's roommate Wallace. More than that, he is the one who passed on O'Malley's work to Oni Press editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones -- and the rest, as they say, is history.
The comic was launched on this small Toronto side street. Then, O'Malley literally had to beg his friends to attend, and now it ends with hundreds of people clamoring for his autograph, and with a movie/video game based on his characters about to be released. In anticipation of the release of 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,' Moviefone caught up with the artist, a few hours before the release of 'Finest Hour,' to talk about ending his most recognized and critically acclaimed book at the zenith of its success.
Scott Pilgrim chronicles that awkward transition from slacker twentysomething to responsible adult, so where were you in your life when the series began?
I grew up in London, Ontario, and moved to Toronto when I was 22 or 23. I was living with Chris Butcher and I had just come off a breakup, so I was really bummed out. That's when I started writing this story that was really depressing. That girl kind of became the Envy Adams character, but then I met another girl and it started becoming this more hopeful story. I really like the song 'Scott Pilgrim' by Plumtree and at the time I was thinking about the name of the character and what it could be. Then it just kind of grew and developed into this fun, crazy, video game world.
Are you still into video games and anime now?
Yeah, well, I was more so in high school than after high school. In general, I was trying to grow out of it a bit, trying to be less nerdy and a little more "whatever." I had just moved to Toronto, so I was trying to be cool and I was kind of channeling all the nerdy stuff into the book.
How do you feel about ending the series at the peak of its popularity with the movie and video game coming out?
I feel great about that. I feel like that's a nice place to end. You always want to go out on a high note. I never planned to do more than six books, so it's really cool and gratifying that I even got to this point and everything is working out so well. I'm really lucky that way.
Do you think the anime influence seen in Scott Pilgrim will carry over to your next work, or will you change styles to give the new stuff a separate look like 'Lost at Sea'?
I'm still drawn to the same influences. I really like the look of old '70s and '80s Japanese comics, so I think that style is something I will continue to draw.
Was the movie always part of the plan, or did that just kind of happen?
Well, they did express interest early on, but I was never sure if they would actually make a movie until they actually started making the movie. Yeah, it's not like we worked together that hard to get the movie and the book out at the same time. I just really wanted to make sure the book was out first, so I just worked extra hard on the last book.
I know you and [director] Edgar Wright talked about ideas, so what sort of things did he have in mind?
It was a process of so many years that it's hard to say exactly what we talked about, but he really understood the book and he got it right away. I expected him to go off in a totally different direction, but they ended up being really faithful to it.
This is one of the few movies out there where Toronto largely plays itself. Do you think 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' will do for Toronto what 'When Harry Met Sally' or 'Annie Hall' did for New York?
I hope so. I'm going to tell you right now that in the opening title, right after the Universal logo, it says Toronto and people are probably going to cheer for that, especially in the city. It would be really interesting to watch it with a Toronto crowd.
Do you think fans will pilgrimage to Toronto to seek out Scott Pilgrim landmarks like Honest Ed's, Sneaky Dees, Casa Loma and Lee's Palace?
That's already started to happen. I've already seen a lot more of it this year since the trailer has been released, so I definitely think we will see more of that.
What do you think of the finished film?
I saw it two weeks ago. It's really, really cool. I haven't seen it with an audience yet, so I'm waiting to see what the fans think of it. It's difficult to look at my own books because it's a story that I know so well... after working on it for so long it's almost hard for me to understand what's going on on the screen. My brain just does not really want to comprehend it. It blows me away. Seeing all the special effects were awesome. But in terms of whether it worked as a story, I can't even assess it.
What did you think of the casting?
It's really good. I think that's one of Edgar's most powerful abilities. I don't really picture anyone when I'm drawing. They just become their own completed person with googly eyes. I was confident knowing that Edgar had done two movies with amazing casts. He'd been coming back and forth to America and he knew so many cool actors. He had really strong ideas right from the beginning. He knew he wanted Michael Cera, Brandon Routh and Chris Evans right away. The idea of Michael Cera, this scrawny, wimpy looking guy, fighting these famous, superhero guys, I always thought was just brilliant. Jason Schwartzman was actually the first person we ever talked about because I always saw Gideon as a Jason Schwartzman type.
What is your impression of this "world run by geeks" we seem to be living in as far as pop culture nowadays?
For Hollywood to make 'Spider-Man,' only to redo the movie a couple years later, just boggles the mind. To recast 'The Incredible Hulk' for a third time? I don't get it. 'Iron Man' was all CG. He looked like a giant condom. I wish they would stop. I don't like superhero movies that much. I think the origin story is kind of fun, but then as soon as they become the superhero, there's nothing there. Take 'Iron Man.' as soon as he puts on the suit, he's too fast to look real. 'Dark Knight' was good because he wasn't just a CG guy. Even in the first 'Spider-Man,' the first half was amazing, but the second half was 'Power Rangers.'
How did something as niche as 'Scott Pilgrim' get caught in the comic book film wave?
It's odd because we started talking about this movie right before those really faithful graphic novel adaptations started coming out. I think 'Sin City' was the first one. I never expected that, but that's kind of what they ended up doing. There's a lot of scenes in the movie that are exactly like panels in the book, or outfits look the exact same and even the sound effects are written the same way as they are in the books. I think it's pretty interesting and hopefully it will connect to a wider audience. I think younger people will get it, but it may be too kooky for some people to wrap their head around.
Beyond the kookiness though, it is an emotional and nuanced story. Does the movie take that into account?
[The story] does have its shadows and I think that comes across. By necessity, the movie does trade more on the fighting and the things that happen in the trailer, but the darker coloration is certainly there.
Were you able to sneak some Easter eggs from the sixth book into the movie?
Yeah, i sent them my notes for volume 6 during shooting. I had a vague idea how it was all going to end. I also got to take stuff from the movie and put it into the book. They're kind of like a synthesis of each other. They're like two alternate-universe versions of the same story.
Since the side-scroller arcade game aesthetic is such an important visual element in the story, was the real video game everything you expected?
Yeah, the first thing I said about the video game was, "I don't want to see a 3-D Michael Cera." I was very adamant about that. Fortunately, people listened to me and we made this cartoony, 16-bit, beat 'em up-style version that's kind of like the old 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' arcade game. It's really cool.
Now that the last 'Scott Pilgrim' volume is out, what's next for you?
I think I am going to take it easy for a while and let my brain recover. This summer is going to filled with promotion, movie screenings and traveling, so I won't be picking up a pencil for a bit. I've had five years to figure out other stuff while drawing this book. I have plenty of ideas, but they don't really make any sense yet. They're just sort of vague ideas, so I'm hoping to focus them more over the winter maybe. I have this one that's kind of like 'X-Men.' It's kind of superpower-y, but my own version of it. I'm also thinking about a time travel story that's kind of like a funny '12 Monkeys.'
Anything you want to tell fans about what to expect from Scott's final chapter?
No, I don't really want to talk about it. I'd rather people experience it for themselves.
'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' opens in theaters on August 13.