Seconds is the third graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley and seems to be marketed after the widely successful Scott Pilgrim series, his second graphic novel. Keeping a lot of details in the dark and only revealing brief snapshots of the art, Seconds had me feeling cautious but curious. I’m a creature of habit and relish in known conventions. ‘If Seconds wasn’t similar enough to Scott Pilgrim’ I thought ‘Then I’d probably won’t like it’. That was my mindset going in.
This review is spoiler free. I will try to refrain from mentioning any major plot points aside from what is mentioned in the blurb.
Author: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Publisher: Self Made Hero
Binding Reviewed: Hardcover (336 pages)
First and foremost, if you liked Scott Pilgrim then you’ll probably will like Seconds as well. It is filled with the charm and energy found in the indie slacker from Toronto but with a story book vibe thanks to the narration. Seconds’s lead is a budding restaurateur that unlike Scott, just cannot get it together. Romance, Money, Work, are all just out of her reach and you feel the frustration along with her. Fortunately, Katie can be granted another go around by ingesting a red fungus.
Seconds follows the “Mistake-Correction-Mistake” formula of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Groundhog Day but it’s the drama that occurs in Katie’s life that pushes the plot forward. The story and characters are more grounded than in Scott Pilgrim. Gone are the cool laid back gay room mates and in are the shy, amazonian art student and no-nonsense restaurant owner. I would’ve liked to see more characters developed in Seconds but it is Katie’s Story so a lot of it is based around developing her. As a successor to Scott Pilgrim it is a more mature book. It deals with romance, responsibility, and mistakes much better than Scott’s series. I found myself gradually liking Katie the more I read instead of taking an instant shine to her.
Unlike the recent color versions of Scott Pilgrim, Seconds was designed with color in mind. It is laid on thick making the panels burst out into your eyeballs. The layout is ever changing so no two pages ever look the same. When the story requires action, the art compliments it by adding speed lines and movie-esque camera angles to make the still images more dynamic. The landscape panels are gorgeous and beautifully detailed. If you enjoyed the real life places in Scott Pilgrim then you are in for a treat. A personal highlight are the restaurant scenes. They are brimming with atmosphere, energy, personality, and dialogue that makes you feel like you were right there amongst the hustle and bustle.
Seconds is a long book taking the better part of an afternoon to complete. The hardcover version (being reviewed) also looks and feels really nice. The artwork under the sleeve is lovely, encapsulating Katie’s Psyche as we follow her plight through Seconds. I wouldn’t say that it was as good as the previous series but Seconds stands on it’s own as a highly relatable story with some fantastic artwork.