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Monday, 22 September 2014


Story: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Art: Bryan Lee O'Malley & Jason Fischer 
Publisher: Ballantine Books

What’s it about?
Seconds is the highly anticipated first new comic from Scott Pilgrim creator, Bryan Lee O'Malley. Following a pretty impressive success (for such a small indie title), which even resulted in a much bigger motion picture feature, O'Malley went back to his roots. By releasing a new self-contained graphic novel!

Seconds tales the story of this woman, Katie Clay, who is a young talented chef and the proud owner of a local restaurant, called Seconds. Lately, Katie has been struggling with both her personal and professional life. Things have been quite stressful for our heroine, she is in the transition of opening her own new restaurant, leave the old place behind and try to finally move out of that restaurant's second floor and get a proper apartment to live in. And she's been guessing her step of the way. Is that new place a good or bad decision, should she settle for that building or a better locations, and has she been making good decisions all her life and how did she lose the good thing she had going on with her ex-boyfriend?

But one day she finally get the chance to redo it all!

She finds this mysterious white-haired magical girl she calls Lis. She's the resident house spirit at Seconds.

A young waitress named Hazel was severely burnt by Katie's fault. Lis offers Katie the one-time only use of a magic notebook which grants her the ability fix past mistakes. The rules? She has to write down the mistake she wishes to "correct". Ingest a magic mushroom. Go to sleep. And the next day when she will wake up, things will have changed anew.

But soon Katie finds a loophole. She decides to grab a few more of those mushrooms and starts abusing this newfound power. Trying to fix everything, her past relationship, the future new restaurant. Everything! Until it's perfect!

And it only makes things worse and worse the more she tries changing things...

Seconds is a fun entertaining little fable featuring some gorgeous pages with help of Bryan Lee O'Malley's new team of assistants.
What is good about it?

Seconds is really fun!

Bryan Lee O'Malley has become a great creative author with these types of quirky little stories. Even at its most epic, Scott Pilgrim always felt close to its characters and their feelings.

Well, Seconds is no different. The story might quickly get out of hands, it never forgets its characters. And specifically the panic Katie founds herself in as she wants to fix everything in her life.

Haven't you ever wished you could get a second chance to change things in your life? That's exactly what is happening to our heroine in this story. The story even gets slowly crazier and zanier as she abuses this magical help.

There's also a great emphasis on food, since our protagonist is a chef! A lot of work and attention was put into the life of this small Canadian restaurant. The way food is illustrated in this book, the way people work in a restaurant!

It's funny, epic, captivating and feels so unique and fresh! Even Scott McCloud himself loved the book!

The cast of characters is fun, colorful and diverse! Which is a nice change from super hero books dominating the medium.

What is bad about it?
I wouldn't say "bad" per say. But as usual, with Bryan Lee O'Malley. His art might not be your cup of tea if you're used to the "more generic" mainstream art from big publisher companies.

Bryan Lee O'Malley's art has been clearly really influenced by manga. And not your typical action-adventure series aimed at young kids. But the titles that love to take the time to savior the atmosphere. There's a lot of little "silences" in the panels here. Little side-moments and notes given to the tale to breath.

And like I said, some people might not like it.

Also, don't just expect another Scott Pilgrim. Scott Pilgrim was a coming of age tale blended with a generation of gaming pop culture. Seconds is more of a mid-life crisis scenario, revolving around a young woman who never really grew up.

What’s the art like?
The art is simply stunning!

The art was obviously crafted with a lot of care. The style is slightly cartoonier (more "chibi") than it was in O'Malley's previous work. Very fun and cute characters.

Seconds doesn't use a traditional coloring. There's a lot of effort put into tones in term of mood of the story. As such everything comes out slightly more red-ysh, almost sepia at times, kinda like the hair of our heroine.

Bryan Lee O'Malley has really developed a unique art style over the years. This is easily his best so far, it feels like he really perfected his designs over the years.

There are a lot of full spreads and even a few double-spread of gorgeous pages in Seconds. Something which he didn't much in the past. Those really show the care and love put by O'Malley and his assistants into crafting the little world of Seconds.

More information
Seconds, A Graphic Novel
336 pages, Priced at approximately £10.99 for the softcover and £16.38 for the hardcover
ISBN-10: 1906838887
ISBN-13: 978-1906838881
Further reading
If you liked this book, I suggest having a look at other indie titles like these. Oni Press and Drawn & Quaterly are perfect publishers to look for more similar stories like this.
Otherwise, I suggest having a lookt at the rest of Bryan Lee O'Malley's work.
Lost at Sea Another similar graphic novel from O'Malley.
Scott Pilgrim which was already reviewed over here. A much more energetic tribute to our video game generation. Full of references, meta-jokes and just as much quirky dialogues.
Seconds is equal parts Lost at Sea, in its protagonists, tone, melancolia and introspection, and equal parts Scott Pilgrim at time, having a sort of similar energetic pacing and surreal plot devices.

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