I went to the Scott Pilgrim 6 midnight release last night at Floating World Comics. Seeing the series wrap up makes me think about the impact that it had on me.
Aside from Watchmen, which a friend made me read, Scott Pilgrim 1 was the first feature-length American comic that I read. I walked into Floating World at age 19 thinking, "There have got to be American comics that I would like...there just have to be...!" Manga was less and less satisfying ; I just felt saturated with shojo and shonen titles, like I could see exactly where stories were going from the first chapter. I still wanted to read comics, but I didn't know how to shake things up.
I wasn't connected to the Portland comic scene yet, I didn't know what was up or down in American comics, and I kept being disappointed when I tried to branch out with American titles. I was really frustrated, but I had read a good review of Floating World and decided to try once more. I was especially interested in the description of the shop as atypical, and having something for everyone.
I walked around the shop in a slow loop, and then went up to owner Jason Levian and just told him, "I want to read American comics, but I have no idea what is good." He asked me what I liked and didn't like, and after listening, he handed me Scott Pilgrim volume 1. He said I should just try reading it in the shop and see if I liked it (Jason has always been super nice about me reading in the store--something I really appreciate after being pressured out of other shops for it). I read about 10 pages before whipping out my debit card.
Scott Pilgrim is a really strong comic with great characters. It's hilarious, action-packed, and unpredictable. Besides all of that, it is also a gateway drug to American comics for manga readers. I don't think I would have acclimated to American comics without the year or two period where I explored indie titles, starting with Scott Pilgrim.
Somehow, just staying in grayscale with clean line art made the transition easier. Even down to the pacing of each page; manga reads about 4 times faster than American comics, which makes it really, really difficult for manga readers to be patient enough to read American comics, at least in my and several of my friends' experiences. Scott Pilgrim reads quickly, though, like manga; dialogue is light, captions are few and far between, splash pages abound, and that little difference made it SO much easier for me to get into. I don't think I am alone in using Scott Pilgrim as my gateway drug, either; there were only a few people that I recognized at the release last night, and it was packed. I really believe that the series brings in a lot of new readers, both from manga and from not reading comics at all. Hopefully they will all keep exploring and reading comics.
So now, of course, I love American comics, and I have a great expanse of titles to choose from. American comics have affected my art style and introduced me to American artists, writers, and publishers that I like. I don't think it's too much of an exaggeration to say that finding Floating World, getting up the nerve to ask for help, and Jason connecting me with Scott Pilgrim lead me here. It felt so appropriate to buy the final volume at Floating World last night. Full circle ftw.