Review: 'Seconds' by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Bryan Lee O'Malley's first graphic novel since he concluded the Scott Pilgrim series in 2010, Seconds is a book about second thoughts, second chances and second helpings. It's also the book in which O'Malley is setting up his second act as a cartoonist. The first Scott Pilgrim book came out almost exactly ten years ago; six volumes and a movie later, that franchise has defined O'Malley's public image. That kind of early, extended success can be a trap for an artist, especially when it's with a project as self-consciously game-changing as Scott Pilgrim. The bigger the audience, the more it demands more of the same. Seconds is unmistakably the work of O'Malley's singular voice: it's a romantic comedy with magical elements and some witty fourth-wall breaking, drawn in a manga-derived style with big-headed chibi characters. But it's also a very different sort of book than he's drawn before: not a bildungsroman like Scott Pilgrim (or his earlier Lost at Sea), but a fable about a woman who's pretty much got her life together already, trying to undo her mature errors. It's virtuosic in a lot of ways, but one of its many charms is how casual and low-key it seems.