Bryan Lee O'Malley is the 29-year-old creator of the Scott Pilgrim books, a popular comic book series that integrates familiar Gen Y tropes (the eponymous Scott is an emotionally underdeveloped slacker who can barely hold down a job) with fantasy elements borrowed from videogames (in order to win over his new girlfriend, Scott must do battle with her seven evil exes). There's talk of an upcoming movie directed by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) and starring Arrested Development's Michael Cera. O'Malley will be signing at Cosmic Monkey along with his wife, award-winning cartoonist Hope Larson.
I find it interesting that Scott Pilgrim is a coming-of-age story, but Scott's in his 20s. Is 23 the new 17?
Scott Pilgrim is definitely a 23-year-old who's emotionally arrested at age 17. That part is intentional, at least. As a person who had a miserable college experience and didn't really date between the ages of 18 and 22, that was a natural thing to want to explore. And anyway, I don't know if it's a coming-of-age story. Maybe more of a "coming to your senses" story.
Fantasy elements are integrated very casually into your storylines—it's taken for granted that characters have videogame fights and travel on subspace highways through each others' heads. Race and sexuality are handled in the same casual way, with little explication. Why did you choose to present the material this way?
I think it'd be nonsense if I tried to present my attitudes going into the Scott Pilgrim series as in any way intelligent or meaningful. I just wrote what came naturally to me in 2004, and any enlightened-seeming approach was just a happy accident. I don't have any deep thoughts on race or sexuality. I am of mixed ethnicity, and I have known a few gay people. That's about the extent of it. I try to present these things warmly and accurately.
The series isn't finished yet, obviously—will the movie be based on the completed series, or just a few books?
The movie is going to be one complete story. The creators of the film have consulted with me extensively ever since we began talking about it, and we've had sort of a symbiotic relationship. They've definitely influenced the books to a degree, too.