Scott Pilgrim
Credit: Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

[Editor’s note: Today is the 15th anniversary of the debut of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim: Scott’s Precious Little Life, and to honor the occasion we are re-publishing our unedited July 13, 2004 interview with the writer/artist by future Newsarama editor Chris Arrant.]

Credit: Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Coming this August is Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim: Scott’s Precious Little Life from Oni Press. In case you’re not already on the bandwagon after reading O’Malley’s previous book, the critically acclaimed Lost at Sea, or read the preview offered by Oni, now’s your chance to find out all the anticipation is about.

Minutes after finishing the final page and sending it off to the printers, Bryan Lee O’Malley took the time to talk with Newsarama about this book.

Newsarama: Scott Pilgrim seems like a very multi-faceted character. What inspired you in the creation of this character?

Bryan O’Malley: Scott is inspired by bits of many friends and bits of myself. He’s kind of an everyman for the 20-something dorks of my generation, I guess. There are things going on in his mind, and he has things in his past, most of which are only hinted at in the first volume. Anyway, he isn’t exactly as blank a slate as he might seem.

Nrama: Scott Pilgrim lives with a very interesting and peculiar roommate, Wallace. Can you tell us more about him?

O’Malley: Wallace is Scott’s gay roommate. I lived with a particular gay roommate for over two years, and his, shall we say, ‘antics’, very much inspired those of Wallace. Also, he basically co-thunk some of the ideas. Also, his name is Christopher Butcher (co-founder of PopImage and PreviewsReview).

Nrama: In the beginning of the OGN, Scott Pilgrim is waxing about a girl he met on the bus named Knives Chau. Can you tell us about her, and how she reacts when Ramona Flowers enters the scene?

O’Malley: Knives Chau is a nice, bubbly, 17-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who has secrets of her own, I guess, maybe. She doesn’t really find out who Ramona Flowers is until volume 2, but the shit will then hit the fan!

Credit: Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Nrama: Scott’s relationship with the much younger Knives Chau is the subject of much ribbing and chiding on the part of his friends and younger sister. Scott tries to be nonchalant about it, but he remains touchy about the situation. How do you think their age gap affects their budding romance, and what is each of them looking for in each other?

O’Malley: I think I’m trying to leave this as mostly subtext, because I realize I never really explain it in the book. Everyone can ask me again after they read it.

Nrama: In a telephone conversation with his younger sister, a previous relationship of Scott’s is brought up that seems like an uncomfortable subject. How has this previous relationship affected Scott?

O’Malley: We’ll find out more about that in volumes 2 and 3.

Nrama: Scott Pilgrim seems much different in tone than your last book, Lost at Sea. Can you tell us about your thought process in deciding to go in this direction after your last book?

O’Malley: I started writing Lost at Sea when I was 21, and I started writing Scott Pilgrim when I was 23. I guess I was just in a different place, emotionally, and in terms of what kind of stories I wanted to tell. I would say that Lost at Sea is fairly mopey and adolescent, and Scott Pilgrim has a bit more, uh, range.

Nrama: How long have you had the ideas for Scott Pilgrim in your head?

O’Malley: The first notes for it are dated March 21, 2002, so it’s been about two years.

Nrama: Oni Editor James Lucas Jones describes Scott Pilgrim as a “rock-n-roll-romantic-comedy-fight comic”. In a sentence or less, how would you describe it?

Credit: Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

O’Malley: Umm, James’ description is probably something he stole from me, so yeah, that.

Nrama: How has your experience as a musician affected Scott Pilgrim, and your artwork in general?

O’Malley: All my comics seem to be inspired directly by music, which is hard to explain. Scott Pilgrim is named after a song by one of my favorite obscure Canadian bands of the 90’s, Plumtree. I don’t think I’m generally qualified to answer that question, though.

Nrama: What kind of music do Scott’s band, Sex Bob-omb, play?

O’Malley: Crappy music.

Nrama: From the preview, it seems that Scott lives a rather lackadaisical life, seemingly going with the currents. When he’s confronted with the challenge of wooing the heart of Ramona Flowers, he’s really put to the test. What is it about Ramona that draws Scott to her?

O’Malley: That’s a mystery. I don’t know. Sometimes these things just happen.

Nrama: From the description, Scott’s quest to face each of Ramona’s seven ex-boyfriends to win her heart sounds similar in style to several recent mangas. If you could say, what books/movies/music specifically influences you in creating Scott Pilgrim?

O’Malley: I don’t know. One Piece, Nana, Ranma ½. I don’t think it was that specific, but I looked to those for inspiration at times. The music that Scott Pilgrim runs on is a lot of Canadian indie rock and a steady diet of country-rock. Examples: Plumtree, Joel Plaskett, Sloan, Gram Parsons, Wilco, the Old 97’s, Beachwood Sparks, Cuff the Duke, Big Star.

Credit: Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni Press)

Nrama: In addition to your comics work, you are also a musician. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

O’Malley: I’m finishing this CD that I’ve been working on for over a year with my friend Jacob Ferguson. It’s called Awkward Songz. We will have copies to sell at San Diego, we think. It has a bunch of songs. My music is influenced by the same bands as my comics, so there you go.

Nrama Now that Scott Pilgrim‘s first volume is finished, what do you have planned next on the comics front?

O’Malley: I’m talking to someone secret about something secret, and James Lucas Jones at Oni wants me to do something else secret, and I have a short story in this recently-announced upcoming Adhouse anthology, Project: Superior. Volume 2 of Scott Pilgrim should be out in February, and the third one will be around next summer.

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