Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Valentine pin-up as a reflection of the week in comics news

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As we end this week which has been obsessed with copyright, IP and the intersection of licensing and art—you should have heard the talk at FMB’s b-day bash on Wednesday: wall to wall Gary Friedrich—we’ll be the 2,649th person to link to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Valentine’s Day treat, a pinup of Ramona Flowers, Kim PIne, Lisa Miller and Wallace Wells, which, while quite notable on its own, is also a reminder of many things. For instance, as much as SCOTT PILGRIM has become a cult unto itself, and as joyful as it is to see new art with these characters, and it would be the easiest thing in the world for O’Malley to exploit the desire for more Pilgrim, instead he’s been concentrating on his NEW project, Seconds, and only throws us a bone once in a while.

Will SCOTT PILGRIM be O’Malley’s greatest work ever? Maybe. Maybe NOT. He’s young. Let’s see what else is out there instead of always sticking with past success. There’s a message there for all of us, and I hope a lot more people hear it.

Comments

  1. Reminds me a li’l bit of this – http://www.comics.org/issue/288888/cover/2/

  2. I love the pic and O’Malley’s stuff, but … what does it have to do with the Friedrich news and what’s the “message” for “all of us” about? I don’t get it.

  3. jacob lyon goddard says:

    The message is “make sure you own the stuff you make”

  4. >>The message is “make sure you own the stuff you make”

    … which wasn’t really an option working in mainstream comics in the 70s for most creators.

    Also, I don’t get how O’Malley doing a new drawing of these characters posits that message at all. Is he selling prints of it at conventions? Is that the deal?

  5. Mikael says:

    I also have to ask how this isn’t an exploitation or wank fodder for fans. If those girls up there were Black Canary, Wonder Woman and Storm the Beat would be gnashing teeth and quoting Laura Hudson.

  6. >> … which wasn’t really an option working in mainstream comics in the 70s for most creators.>>

    She doesn’t say that it is. You seem to be assuming the message is criticizing Gary, which she also doesn’t say.

    All this recent news about IP, licensing and art has also been about WATCHMEN, and I’d say she’s also alluding to the fact that Bryan isn’t squeezing sequels/prequels out of SCOTT PILGRIM in a hunt to drain all possible money out of a success — but not trying to shout back in time to the 1980s and tell Alan and Dave to do things differently.

    There are other kinds of messages than “That guy in the past should have made use of options not available at the time,” after all. One that says, “Look, what Bryan’s doing with his success is an interesting and possibly instructional alternative to the problems of company ownership/control” can be something to think about even if what Bryan’s doing today wasn’t possible in the past.

    After all, we’re here in today. We have more options than Gary, Alan or Dave had. They’re probably worth considering.

    kdb

  7. @Mikael I completely agree, Kim would never wear that lingerie

  8. >> I also have to ask how this isn’t an exploitation or wank fodder for fans.>>

    SCOTT PILGRIM fans must be stranger than I thought.

    >> If those girls up there were Black Canary, Wonder Woman and Storm the Beat would be gnashing teeth and quoting Laura Hudson.>>

    If Wolverine was out front showing off his package and manly bare chest? Maybe not.

    kdb

  9. Mikael: “I also have to ask how this isn’t an exploitation or wank fodder for fans.”

    Yeah, even for Scott Pilgrim it’s a bit over the top, but Wallace is up front showing his package. So it’s exploitative for both men & women. :-P

    Yeah, I think the lesson is more for new talent to hold onto their creations.

    Also 2013 is a very long ways away to find out what O’Malley’s new graphic novel is like.

  10. Kurt, the quote of mine you responded to was a direct response (and I quoted) to Jacob, not Heidi – I figured that’d be pretty clear, but then you say “she doesn’t sat it is,” so I am guessing you are referring to Heidi? Unless Jacob is a she and I didn’t know?

    Anyhow, yes, I like some of your interpretations, but I don’t think they were at all clear from the article. As a fellow writer and former journalist myself, I think it could have been made clearer in the article what this pic has to do with the IP situation.

  11. Sigh … that should read “she doesn’t *say* it is.”

  12. … and, no, I wasn’t assuming her message, or even Jacob’s, was criticizing Gary … was just wondering about the connection of the image and/or O’Malley to the situations referenced by Heidi.

  13. Charles Knight says:

    “The message is “make sure you own the stuff you make”

    And you get your artist or co-writer to sign a shitty contract that gives you all the control!

  14. Another Nate says:

    To add to KB’s point about exploitation, even without Wallace up front there’s be a difference. As broadly drawn as it is, O’Malley’s take on female sexuality is more nuanced and much smarter than what you generally see in mainstream superhero comics. This makes it easier to give O’Malley the critical benefit of the doubt. Is this a double standard? yes and no. The double standard is write basically smart, more or less sensitive portrayals of women and people will be less likely to jump you when you throw some sexy on top. Throw sexy on top of already objectified characters and you set yourself up for criticism. But this isn’t really a double standard. To compare O’Malley’s characters to a bra and cape superhero is a false equivalent. That is to say, there’s no “standard” to double up on. But hey, I understand. You wanted to take a shot at Laura Hudson. Mission accomplished I guess.

  15. Jackie Haas says:

    I doubt Bryan will ever reach the heights of success he had with “Scott Pilgrem” with any of his other projects.

    Whether he wants to or not, he’ll probably be forced to go back to the “Scott Pilgrem” well for years and years to come to pay the bills.

  16. Jackie Haas says:

    And I mis-spelled “Pilgrim,” whatever.

  17. >> Kurt, the quote of mine you responded to was a direct response (and I quoted) to Jacob, not Heidi – I figured that’d be pretty clear, but then you say “she doesn’t sat it is,” so I am guessing you are referring to Heidi? >>

    Yes. Since you’re discussing the message Heidi said the piece had, and whether its advice was applicable to Gary. Heidi made no claim that it was or should be.

    >> Anyhow, yes, I like some of your interpretations, but I don’t think they were at all clear from the article. As a fellow writer and former journalist myself, I think it could have been made clearer in the article what this pic has to do with the IP situation.>>

    It could have been, but I’m not sure it should have been. Heidi can certainly speak for herself, but I think she intended people to think it over, not to supply a Rule For Living. Different people may get different things from it, but it’s probably worth pointing out that Bryan’s not having any of the turmoil that’s been going on around other properties of late, and why that is and what can be learned from that is probably worth considering.

    If you want Heidi to work out a conclusion and present it to be argued over, rather than anyone working stuff out themselves, well, it could be done but I don’t think it was what she was going for.

  18. >> I doubt Bryan will ever reach the heights of success he had with “Scott Pilgrem” with any of his other projects.>>

    Could be. Or he could have even bigger success. Or he could have smaller successes that make for a very nice living.

    Playing the odds, betting against success is always the way to go. But then, playing the odds, SCOTT PILGRIM wasn’t likely to succeed either — until it did.

    >> Whether he wants to or not, he’ll probably be forced to go back to the “Scott Pilgrem” well for years and years to come to pay the bills.>>

    Here you seem to assume that not having the same success would somehow equate to being unable to pay his bills, as if SCOTT PILGRIM was a borderline success and anything less would be a financial sinkhole.

    I don’t think that follows. But it is the kind of thinking that leads publishers to keep a property going as long as possible — the bird in the hand syndrome. When you create birds for a living, though, the next bird you create will be in your hand, too.

    Whether you’ll hit the same heights each time out doesn’t mean you’re forced to squeeze the first bird you create to death out of fear that you can’t create any more. Imagine if Jack Kirby thought he could never do as well as he did with Captain America, or Alan Moore hung on to Marvelman because there’s no way Watchmen or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen could hit those heights.

  19. Nick Jones says:

    “I doubt Bryan will ever reach the heights of success he had with “Scott Pilgrem” with any of his other projects.”

    Why? We see people follow up a successful project with even more successful projects all the time.

    Personally, I hope O’Malley made enough money off of Scott Pilgrim that he can focus on work he finds creatively rewarding, whether the projects end up as commercial blockbusters or not.

  20. >> Kurt, the quote of mine you responded to was a direct response (and I quoted) to Jacob, not Heidi – I figured that’d be pretty clear, but then you say “she doesn’t sat it is,” so I am guessing you are referring to Heidi? >>

    >Yes. Since you’re discussing the message Heidi said the piece had, and whether its advice was applicable to Gary. Heidi made no claim that it was or should be.<

    Um, okay … she's the one who mentioned Friedrich … not sure how else that should have been taken, that and the part about the message for all of us, which would, I'd assume, include Gary, as he is part of "all of us."

    Whatever.

  21. >> Um, okay … she’s the one who mentioned Friedrich … not sure how else that should have been taken >>

    As noted earlier, there are other kinds of messages than “That guy in the past should have made use of options not available at the time,” after all. One that says, “Look, what Bryan’s doing with his success is an interesting and possibly instructional alternative to the problems of company ownership/control” can be something to think about even if what Bryan’s doing today wasn’t possible in the past.

    kdb

  22. Sigh … yes, Kurt, but as also noted earlier, the post I was actually responding to, and which I quoted, had that message:

    >jacob lyon goddard says:
    02/17/2012 at 8:05 pm

    The message is “make sure you own the stuff you make”<

    Hence, I was responding to Jacob's interpretation of Heidi's message, not hers directly, as I wasn't sure what hers was (which was why I asked in the first post and/or said I didn't get it, basically).

    Again, I already explained this. Not really sure why there's a sticking point here.

  23. Did you think Jacob was advocating that Gary Friedrich travel back in time and do things differently, then?

    I don’t think anyone was claiming Friedrich should learn from a piece published today that he should do things differently in the past.

    >> Again, I already explained this. Not really sure why there’s a sticking point here.>>

    You’re not sure how else the idea that there’s a message in it for all of us could be taken other than as advice about how to do things in the past. I don’t think anyone was saying anything that could or should be taken that way. Heidi mentioned there was a lot of talk about Friedrich – you assume that means the way to take the message is “what Friedrich should have done” rather than, say, “what the people discussing the Friedrich situation might do going forward.”

    Ultimately, it’s just conversation. But I think there are better ways to take that thought than to assume it’s aimed at telling Gary what he should have done differently in the past.

  24. Jackie Haas says:

    “Personally, I hope O’Malley made enough money off of Scott Pilgrim that he can focus on work he finds creatively rewarding, whether the projects end up as commercial blockbusters or not.”

    I would prefer he focused on work that I, the reader, found entertaining, rather than on work that he finds personally rewarding but no one else cares about.

  25. Okay, great … I give up … you win.

  26. I win! I win!

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    [okay, maybe that's a little over the top. nice chatting with you, nate.]

  27. Yep … I just thought I was clear on what I was saying, but every time I tried to clarify, I guess it made less sense.

    No sense in “throwing good money after bad” or whatever.

    Not really a big deal anyway … like the O’Malley artwork and characters, as I said.

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