“Seconds” Is a Fable of Frustration, Friendship, and Fungi

“Seconds” Is a Fable of Frustration, Friendship, and Fungi

After six years of whirlwind success and the eventual film adaptation of his first comic Scott Pilgrim, it’s hard to still think of Bryan Lee O’Malley as an indie comics creator, though it’s obvious by his style and storytelling that he is anything but “conventional.”  In the intervening years since Scott Pilgrim’s conclusion, fans impatiently speculated on what O’Malley’s next project would be.  As of last week the wait is over, because Seconds hits shelves on July 15 and is making headlines across the comics community.

Drawing on fairy-tales from his early childhood and his own experiences working in the restaurant industry, O’Malley introduces us to Katie, an ambitious young chef, and Seconds, the restaurant she helped start four years ago.  Now nearing 30, Katie is desperate to leave Seconds and start a new restaurant, one that she will own.  Katie’s desire to distance herself from Seconds has left her awkward and tense around her former coworkers, and the sudden reappearance of her ex-boyfriend Max only make matters worse.  Most distressing of all, Katie begins having dreams of a strange woman perched atop her old dresser with cryptic warnings that she cannot understand.
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When a freak accident seriously injures a young waitress, Katie finds herself suddenly given the means to change the outcome of previous events, with the help of a miraculous mushroom.  What follows is a combination of folktale and slice-of-life dramedy, played out in O’Malley’s signature hyper-cute anime-inspired illustrative style.  Seconds manages to be a cautionary tale about expectations, perfectionism, and self-delusion, but also a sweet and thoughtful look at friendship and the power of old myths and traditions.

Seconds is a departure from O’Malley’s previous work, and it shines with individuality.  It feels like the story this new, older, and more seasoned O’Malley would tell, and I for one found it mesmerizing–a cute and cutting mashup of urban fantasy, workplace comedy, and most appropriately, a “second” coming-of-age.

Seconds is published by Ballantine Books and is available for digital download and at most book retailers.

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