How do you follow up a phenomenon like Scott Pilgrim? Well, you take some time off and then come back with a beautifully realized standalone graphic novel that tells a story about..starting over. That’s Bryan Lee OMalley’s Seconds, which hits today.
While this book, published by Ballantine, definitely qualifies as “eagerly awaited,” the ape level on it has been very low. PW had one of the few (only?) advance reviews (WARNING SPOILERS), and a profile of O’Malley. Laura Hudson has another interview and some preview pages.
“You come of age and then you’re like, wait a minute,” says O’Malley. “That’s not the end of my story. What do I do now? Seconds is very much about reaching out for the next thing after you’ve figured out the first thing.”
It’s a shift mirrored in the earliest moments of Seconds, where we meet our protagonist,a 29-year-old woman named Katie. “Katie was a chef,” reads an introductory panel as a smiling, Katie stands in front of a restaurant with a crowd of hip young pals who could double as Scott Pilgrim extras. “Once upon a time, she’d started a restaurant with some friends,” One panel later, we jump four years into the future and see that Katie hasn’t moved from her spot in front of the restaurant, but everyone around her has disappeared. She stands in the snow, grimacing and suddenly alone.
I read this a few months ago, and it’s not quite what I was expecting. Restaurant owner Katie isn’t the world’s most sympathetic character but her actions are all too human, and most of us would screw things up in the same way she does. As alluded to above, it isn’t about sleeping in the same bed as your roommate, and starving bands, it’s about what to do when you think you have things figured out and you don’t at all. And O’Malley’s cartooning—aided by fantastic colors from Nathan Fairbarin and lettering by Dustin Harbin—is stunningly accomplished. I think in some ways this is a transitional work for O’Malley…second acts are hard, but judging by this, he’s as great a storyteller as he ever was.
And judging by Amazon, the book is selling quite briskly, already in the top 100 books overall.
O’Malley is on tour, kicking of tonight at the B&N at LA’s The Grove, continuing at Isotope tomorrow and then…the world.
Here’s one preview page banked from Wired.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.