Byran Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series is one of the unexpected success stories of comics in the 2000s. Published by Oni Press, the series was a financial and critical hit throughout its 6-volume release, garnering multiple awards. While it was popular in comic book circles, it reached greater heights thanks to the cult-classic Edgar Wright-directed film and a tremendously fun video game.
It has never been a better time to read Scott Pilgrim, with a Netflix animation (voiced by the film’s original cast) on the horizon. But where do you start, and what’s with all the different editions?
Luckily, this guide is here to save the day. It details how to start reading the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels series, gives a reading list, explains the various formats these comics have been released in, and heaps more.
Table of contents
- Where do I start reading Scott Pilgrim?
- Reading order
- Side stories
- Different formats explained
- Should you read Scott Pilgrim in black-and-white or colour?
- Where can I buy Scott Pilgrim comics?
Where do I start reading Scott Pilgrim?
This will seem obvious, but the best place to start reading the Scott Pilgrim series is from the beginning. However, what might not be obvious is which book is the beginning. Each graphic novel in the series has its own title – such as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness – instead of relying on a volume number like Scott Pilgrim Volume 1, Scott Pilgrim Volume 2, etc. in the title. As a result, it can be confusing if you only have access to the title names.
The first graphic novel is called Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Start with this one as it introduces the characters and sets up the ongoing story, which continues through subsequent volumes. (Find out the reading order in the next section.)
It becomes much easier if you’re in a bookstore or can see the cover online. Oni Press has made volume numbers easy to spot on the spine and cover.
As mentioned earlier, the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels are best read in order of release. Below is a list of the titles and their recommended reading order.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
Volume number: 1
Originally published: 2004
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Volume number: 2
Originally published: 2005
Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness
Volume number: 3
Originally published: 2006
Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
Volume number: 4
Originally published: 2007
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe
Volume number: 5
Originally published: 2009
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Volume number: 6
Originally published: 2010
There are a handful of Scott Pilgrim side stories published during the time of the original run. These are ancillary to the main story portrayed in the six-volume series and are now difficult to find in print. (Luckily, they can be read online using the Wayback Machine.)
They’re optional to read. You won’t be missing anything if you don’t read them.
Free Scott Pilgrim
A 17-page story set between Volume 3 and 4, which was given away for free for Free Comic Book Day 2006.
NOW’s Best of Toronto
A Sex Bob-omb strip that was published as part of NOW Magazine for their “Best of Toronto” issue in 2006.
Comics Festival 2007
A 4-page full-colour Kim Pine story appeared in the Comics Festival 2007 anthology. This was released in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival as part of Free Comic Book Day.
Different formats explained
The Scott Pilgrim graphic novels have been released in multiple formats over the years. Each format had its own defining features, which will appeal to different readers. You can find out more about them all below.
The six Scott Pilgrim graphic novels were initially published in black-and-white. This might be hard to envision if you’re first exposure to the franchise is via the very colourful movie, video game, or Netflix series. Bryan Lee O’Malley mentioned that he opted for black-and-white as it was cheaper. It also allowed him to lean more into the manga aesthetic he was inspired by.
Also aligning with the manga aesthetic, the original Scott Pilgrim editions are published at the same dimensions as most manga volumes – 5″ x 7.5″ (12.7cm x 19.05cm).
The original six volumes have also been published as a boxed set.
Hardcover editions (coloured)
The hardcover editions of Scott Pilgrim were published between 2012 and 2015. Beyond the larger format, 6″ x 9″, the main draw for these editions is the full-colour art handled by colourist Nathan Fairbairn.
There are a total of six hardcover editions, which cover the original graphic novels and extra material. Bonus material includes sketches, story notes, anecdotes for O’Malley and others, plus more.
Scott Pilgrim Color Collection
The coloured versions of Scott Pilgrim were also collected in thicker softcover editions, which were released to celebrate the 15th anniversary. There are three volumes, which include two graphic novels in one.
These can be purchased individually or as part of a boxed set.
Evil Ex Edition
Finally, there’s the Evil Ex edition. These hardcovers are the same as the standard ones but have a different cover depicting one of the Evil Exs. These editions cater to hardcover collectors and are only available through the Oni Press webstore.
Should you read Scott Pilgrim in black-and-white or colour?
Honestly, it’s all up to you and your preferences.
Check out the original black-and-white editions if you want to see how the Scott Pilgrim series was initially published or if you want to have the feel of reading manga.
However, the series does benefit from the coloured artwork. Nathan Fairbairn’s colours make Bryan Lee O’Malley’s art really pop and give it an additional boost of energy. If you’ve come to Scott Pilgrim through the movie, video game, and Netflix animation, the coloured edition will align more with your expectations.
Critically-minded readers might want to check out the black-and-white and coloured editions. It would be fun to compare the differences and see what works in each and how colour, or the absence of it, benefits the story.
Where can I buy Scott Pilgrim comics?
Scott Pilgrim graphic novels can also be found at many libraries. You can use WorldCat to find the closest branch that has the series in their collection.