Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phototour: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

This is a follow-up to my earlier Scott Pilgrim-age, a phototour I did earlier this year visiting the locations that appeared in Volumes 1 to 5 of the Scott Pilgrim series. If you haven't seen it, you should totally check it out. You should also totally check out Mad5l5in5's Flickr tour, which visits the same places but has tons more photos and also panel comparisons. It is totally rad!

Yes! On the eve of the general release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I went out and assembled a tour of the Toronto locations featured in the sixth and final volume of the graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour! That's just the kind of guy I am!

I'm of mixed feelings now that the final volume is out and the movie is about to hit theatres. It's almost over. No more anticipation of what's to come, no more epileptic trees being planted by the fan base, no more speculation on what side of Toronto Bryan Lee O'Malley will choose to shine his light on next - because I presume he draws with some sort of awesome laser pencil. Personally, I had to grumble a bit that it jossed my theory for the climax - I was hoping for the final battle between Scott and Gideon to be a swordfight on top of the CN Tower in the middle of a lightning storm - but what we got is still good.

One thing I did notice while going through Volume 6 is that there's not that much of Toronto in it that we haven't already seen. Gideon's Very Definitely Final Dungeon occupies much of the book, and it doesn't exist - except for the part that does, which was already covered in the previous phototour. But there are bits and hints of clues that I was able to track down. So here's another look at Toronto, through the lens of Scott Pilgrim.

Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

19. Cameron House

I've never been in here - I'm familiar with it because the Queen streetcar takes me right by it, and because of the distinctive design on its facade that was modified somewhat for its appearance in Volume 6 - I'm not sure if it was a copyright issue or what, but the woman's face on the front of the building doesn't quite look the same. The ant is real, though - there's a veritable army of large white ants clinging to the walls of the building, no doubt preparing to be welcomed as our new overlords.

The appearance of the building along the side street where Scott and Knives have their talk - Cameron Street, appropriately enough - reflects the fact that Scott Pilgrim appears to be set in 2005 and 2006, from what clues I've been able to pick up in the dialogue and art. At the time, I believe it read "PROPOSAL: TILT THIS BUILDING TEN DEGRESS TO THE RIGHT," but recently it's been repainted into a large, smiling, toothy mouth.

HOW TO GET THERE: The 501 Queen streetcar goes right past it, with stops at Spadina to the east and Augusta to the west. Additionally, the area is served by the 510 Spadina streetcar north from Union Station or south from Spadina Station, which may be the route Scott is depicted as using to get there.

20. Queen and Spadina

The coffee shop where Scott meets up with Envy Adams, and the area where he tags along with Wallace Wells to a going-out-of-business bookstore, is roughly thirty seconds' walk from Cameron House, being on the east side of the Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue intersection. I've never been inside a Lettieri franchise, but I presume they sell... coffee? And baked goods? I guess.

HOW TO GET THERE: The 501 Queen and 510 Spadina streetcars will take you right there.

21. The Royal Theatre and the Gideon Encounter

The first time I read this, I had no idea where it took place - I only had a vague notion that it might be on Queen Street West, because the buildings looked right for it and because Scott and Envy had been there only a few pages before. After more thought and careful research, I was able to pin it down: the spot where Gideon Gordon Graves emerges from the crowd and confronts Scott Pilgrim for the first time took place on College Street, just east of Grace in Toronto's Little Italy neighborhood. It was the distinctive facade of the Royal Theatre that let me pin it down. I couldn't replicate the exact perspective that the book had, though; from what I could tell while I was there, I'd have to be standing in the middle of College Street in order to replicate it perfectly. Now that I'm putting it together, I notice the version in the book omits the crown on the Royal Theatre's sign - I wonder why that was done.

The triangular add-ons to the streetlight visible in the scene, incidentally, are actually miniature Little Italy flags.

HOW TO GET THERE: The 506 Carlton streetcar stops right at College and Grace, for those who want to alight into the heart of the action.

22. The Great White North

The thing about Toronto is that it has a huge, huge hinterland. Population here is predominantly clustered around the shore of Lake Ontario, owing both to historical patterns of settlement and the inescapble nature of the Canadian climate. Sure, there's a dense band of suburbs north of the city, but after an hour's drive on the highway you hit Barrie, and beyond there the suburbs fade away into the countryside. The largest cities beyond that are Sudbury and North Bay, each of which are hours away. While it's not too hard to get there during the warmer months, during which traffic jams and Ontario Provincial Police drunk-driving spot checks are common, during winter it's an entirely different story. Scott's lucky that the series didn't end with another April blizzard.

I don't have a comparison photo because, really, it's a big place and I have no idea where O'Malley got his inspiration. I can't even begin to guess where Kim Pine lives in Volume 6 - the only clue I can find in the text puts it somewhere between Sudbury and Thunder Bay. Unless, of course, that was an exaggeration. Seems likely.

HOW TO GET THERE: Bus station, man.

Hey, I said that this would be a light update - it's only covering one volume, and it didn't hit many new places. But this is not the end! Stay tuned for a third and final installment of the Pilgrimage, where I will not only go back and fill it out with sites that I missed the first time around, but I will integrate what I can from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - appearing in theatres very, very soon!

1 comment:

  1. "I was hoping for the final battle between Scott and Gideon to be a swordfight on top of the CN Tower in the middle of a lightning storm"

    ZOMG that would have been EPICALLY EPIC.