Bryan Lee O'Malley's hipster graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim—first published in 2004 in the US by Portland, Oregon-based Oni Press and by Fourth Estate in the UK this year— gets the app treatment, just in time for the big screen adaption by "Shaun of the Dead" director Edgar Wright, starring rent-a-weedy-indie-boy Michael Cera (if you haven't seen the trailer, it looks brilliant), and the sixth volume of the series.
The app has a taster of the first 33 pages of Volume 1 in the series, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, with the option to download the rest of the volume for £3.49, plus links through to Amazon to buy the print versions of the books. So far, so good, but also, so run of the mill.
Yet Fourth Estate and developers Robot Media have cleverly integrated music, sound, movement and vibration into the comic. Briefly, the plot centres on 23 year-old slacker Scott, bassist for struggling rock band Sex Bob-Omb, who falls in love with mysterious indie chick Ramona Flowers, and then has to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle. So, for example, when Scott fights the first of the evil exes, the phone vibrates and the image shakes with their punches. Additionally, there is an option to play your own music from your device in the background as you read along.
The social networking aspect makes it stand out further. There is a rolling comments page, where users (who can make avatars using characters from the series) talk about the Scott Pilgrim universe. Often, the chat is about the app's internal game, which has "hidden secrets" in the text. Usefully, Robot Media also uses it for a de facto help desk and information forum, with everything from tips on resolving glitches to updates on when new versions will be released. There is also the option to integrate the app to both Facebook and Twitter.
The only thing that lets the app down is the Visit Website option. Most users, I am sure, would want it to take them to the Scott Pilgrim main website, or even the movie one. Instead, you are taken to a website telling you all about the features of the app. The app you have already downloaded. That is just silly and redundant.
That caveat aside, this is an excellent integration of free social media, a step forward in digital comics development, and a great soft sell approach to induce readers to buy more of the series.
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little App
Fourth Estate/Robot Media
For iPhone/iPod Touch; iPad and Android versions "coming soon"