Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life Color Edition: Nathan Fairbairn Turns a Reissue into a Must-BuyA comic review article by: David Fairbanks
Scott Pilgrim is a thing. If you don't know it, I'm not quite sure what you're doing on a comics website in 2012, considering that it is a massively successful creator-owned six-volume series of black and white comics that spawned a surprisingly less than successful (but no less wonderful!) film adaptation.
So why are we talking about it now, when the last volume debuted two years ago? Well, Oni Press and Bryan Lee O'Malley are seeking to, with the help of Nathan Fairbairn, bring some brightness to the world of Scott Pilgrim. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life: Color Edition drops this week and it is nothing short of impressive.
I would be hesitant but incredibly likely to get in line and double dip on Scott Pilgrim, with just the upgrade to a durable, lending-friendly hardcover and the increased size of O'Malley's artwork (now 6"x9"). The increased art size and promise of a long life have had me frequently rebuying works as oversized hardcovers, but here we get an added bonus of a completely different reading experience.
While I was very reluctant to support coloring a comic that seemed designed for black and white -- I'm not a very big fan of the Bone recoloring, for example -- Fairbairn blew me away with his coloring of Chris Burnham's Batman Incorporated pages, to the point that he became one of the few colorists that I follow, and he does not disappoint with Scott Pilgrim.
While Fairbairn's style, especially in Batman Incorporated seemed to be very flat, it still managed to pop off the page with the aesthetic that Burnham and Morrison wanted (which, at the time, was of an old-time comic), but his coloring here is a bit more dynamic. And all it takes is that bit to cause the characters to pop from the backgrounds so much clearer than in the original release. While it would be tempting to add other flourishes to things like the lightning bolts or the stars in Knives' eyes, Fairbairn plays it simple and delivers a much better product than if he had not.
There is a warmth to the colors too, despite how cool Toronto is. I mean "cool" as in cold, as despite the frigidity, the colored pages really do seem to give new life to the series. I don't think this is an indictment against the old volumes, as there are still merits to them, but I don't know how often I'll be going back to them once all of the color volumes are released.
One thing I really appreciate is that there's just a tiny bit of a hazy feeling for the dream sequences, which actually goes pretty strongly against what I envisioned them as. I always got the impression that they should be this shiny, almost 8-bit Super Mario Brothers style desert, but I think if Fairbairn went that route, he would have run the risk of glorifying this dream world. By muting them, it enforces the importance of the world Scott's living in, instead of the dream he's concocted for himself.
You see this with the way he colors the night-time scenes, making them much more distinct from their black and white counterparts. It causes the conversation and the change in venue to really stick out in the best way as you go from Scott's part of the conversation to Stacy's. And the onomatopoeias disrupt the scene just like they should, rather than risk being glossed over in the black and white editions.
This is a somewhat costly upgrade with a $24.99 cover price, but for the Scott Pilgrim fan, it is worth every penny. And if you haven't read Scott Pilgrim yet, this is a great place to start.
David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.