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Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley has been answering all sorts of questions from his fans over on his Tumblr blog this week about Scott Pilgrim, his upcoming book Seconds and several questions on his process, among other topics. For instance, here’s where he came up with the idea for Seconds:
Q. When you finished Scott Pilgrim did you have a concrete idea of how Seconds would play out? Or do you have a vague idea of a concept then make it concrete along the way? I guess I’m really asking: what is your thought process when coming up with a new story?
A. To be honest, I came up with the basic idea of Seconds in 2004, a few months after finishing the first scott pilgrim book. There were moments during the series when I wished I could quit scott pilgrim and go off and do Seconds, this other unrelated book, but I was good & patient & I waited until I was finished.
Anyway, over those years (like 6-7 years thinking about it before I started really writing it), the idea grew and evolved along with me. I don’t think I could have done it properly at any time before now, but it’s still the same basic idea from 2004.
My actual process is to have 1 idea, write it down somewhere, then have idea 2, 3, 4, etc (all stemming from the first idea?) and write them all down, and then go back over everything i’ve written and try to figure out what i was trying to say. What is the point? What’s the core of the idea, what are all these little ideas orbiting around? Once you figure that out, that’s kind of the first real step.
And if you’ve ever wondered if he might be tempted to do more with Scott Pilgrim:
Q. I loved Scott Pilgrim and am equally excited about the next series you are working on, but considering how big SP has got recently (arguably the most popular it’s ever been) were you never tempted to just tell a new story with the same old characters that everyone is now growing to love? And is this something that you plan to come back to in the future?
A. I have to be honest, if I was doing a new scott pilgrim book in 2012 I could make a LOT of money and get a LOT of tumblr notes (lol). But listen, I’m really married to the idea that stories have beginnings, middles and ends. I set out to make a story that had an ending. I’m always bummed out by manga that goes on for 30+ volumes and just seems to be going nowhere. I set out to tell the story of Scott and Ramona in this limited scope. I think I was only like partially successful all-around, but I at least accomplished my goal.
If I do more Scott Pilgrim stories in the future, it would have to be a ‘new saga’ that had a different focus. I’ve had a few ideas for that, but I don’t have any specific plans to return to SP anytime soon, because I want to start a whole new unrelated series. That’s my plan for immediately after “Seconds” (which is a stand-alone book).
Also of note is this post dedicated to a question about how he broke into the comics business, in which he gives a lengthy account of the long road he took to get to his current superstar status. It’s a journey that involves “bullshit work,” drawing a Spider-Man children’s book and low order numbers on the first Scott Pilgrim, and eventually ends with him finally making money off of comics in 2008. “In late 2008 and into 2009 I actually made money off of comics – see, each book comes out and people talk about it and some people heard about it for the first time so they go buy the first book, then if they like it they have to buy the other books. Doing a series adds up over time, if you can keep it up and stay semi-popular.”