SDCC ’14: Spotlight on Bryan Lee O’Malley Panel Recap

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By: Alexander Jones

Even without the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World film, author Bryan Lee O’Malley would likely still be a talent who is universally adored. However, after the movie, he is one of the most interesting creators who has ever graced the comic book scene. After finishing the Scott Pilgrim series of novels and wrapping the film, the author moved onto a brand new graphic novel (soon to beloved by readers) entitled Seconds. The new book is a stand-alone story that takes place in a restaurant setting. In addition, it is a story that toys with the fabric of time, altering the concept and toying with it in new ways. Take a look at what the esteemed author had to say about this book, and other comics spanning into the near future in the San Diego Comic-Con Spotlight on O’Malley;51kMcl9F rL. SX258 BO1204203200  SDCC 14: Spotlight on Bryan Lee OMalley Panel Recap  The also acclaimed Laura Hudson (Wired) kicked off the panel, and announced herself as the moderator. O’Malley showed off a new version of his novel Seconds that featured a white sleeve, as well as one with a slipcase. The author announced his presence in a shy manner to the audience and was met with applause. Jason Fischer is a cartoonist that assisted on the novel, who was also present on the panel. Hudson wanted to reflect on the past few years of Scott Pilgrim before moving into Seconds. When the author was asked, he announced that it took him about four years to craft the novel since the release of the film based on his last project.

That year I had to rush to get the book out in time with the movie. – O’Malley

Hudson noted that he likely wanted to talk about other things besides Pilgrim, and then proceeded to ask more questions about the project in a joking manner which was met with even more applause from audience. The room was then prompted to raise their hands if they had seen the film. Roughly 90% of the of the attendees raised their hands. The one person who would admit to not having seen it was an anomaly. When asked about how long he had worked on Pilgrim, the author noted that he first had ideas on it in 2002. Hudson elaborated that the series was important to her, as it pertained to theme of growing up overtime. Time played an important theme during the hour, especially when it was brought to the panelists attention that Seconds was crafted when O’Malley was entering his 30’s. She asked how many of the audience had read the book, which only shipped last week to the direct market, and was now available down at the show. There weren’t many who chimed in from the audience. IMG 0888 300x134 SDCC 14: Spotlight on Bryan Lee OMalley Panel Recap Hudson noted that lead character Katie is a chef. O’Malley stated that he had worked in the foodservice industry at a restaurant at around the time the first Scott Pilgrim novel shipped. He worked at a restaurant from August to December as a food runner. The kitchen was in the basement so he was running food up and down the stairs all day. He stammered that the was “sort of like a fly on the wall.” He detailed that he was mostly “sitting in a chair, drawing in my sketchbook.” The ideas started building more and more over time, as that stage in his life was over five years ago. Hudson compared the process to that of a Katamari ball, from the Katamari Damacy videogame which was met with laughter from the crowd. Eventually Katie tries to edit her own life and fix some of her mistakes through a sort of supernatural process within the story. Fischer and O’Malley wanted the world that they were crafting to feel “real.” The focus then shifted over to the double-page spread of the restaurant crafted through rough sketched pencils that Jason added the inks to later on in the storytelling process. He added in the subtle details of some of the equipment in the kitchen that he was working on. One day O’Malley even noted that he was actually taking pictures of the equipment in the kitchen. The author stated that his friend who he worked with in the kitchen now has a restaurant named Me & Mine in Toronto.

I am worried about actual chef’s reading this and saying “you fucked this up!” – O’Malley

Nathan Fairbairn, the colorist of Seconds was then praised. The group all wanted him to win an Eisner in the coming year for his work on the title. Katie starts abusing the power for the mistakes that she made. The protagonist wants “control over her life.” Through the title, she learns how to make “better choices”during the course of the story. Hudson used another metaphor likening the supernatural aspects of the choose your own adventure experience. She contemplated the rise of popularity of permadeath in videogames, and how that was likely a big pull in the story.MeetTheCast ScottPilgrimFinal31 300x184 SDCC 14: Spotlight on Bryan Lee OMalley Panel Recap The team notes that she gets to a point where she is out of lives. The group expanded on the musical influences had control over the comic. O’Malley noted that he had a playlist for the book that he had listened to thousands of times. The author brought out his iPhone in order to read off the list into the microphone. There was a joke made about how he was going to read off his iPhone playlist to an excited audience. While we never got the soundtrack, Jason Fischer mentioned that he was listening too Final Fantasy 3 in America from the Super Nintendo soundtrack, and Final Fantasy Four 4. O’Malley teased the Speed Racer soundtrack as one of his favorites.

“What is happening? Is it an Earthquake?” Exclaimed Bryan Lee O’Malley on the amount of bass wobbling the room from downstairs.

The team talked about how the Sierra adventure games were also a massive influence to them. They mentioned the reference to the “House Spirit” which was only touched on in-game during an optional sidequest in one of the aforementioned Sierra titles. The author also noted that the work would have only took three years, but he hurt himself after signing a lot at Comic-Con. This incident slowed down production of the book, as the artist could not hold a pen for a staggering six months.

I wanna keep doing graphic novels, even though it’s enormously taxing in every way – O’Malley

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