Top Five ’90s CanRock Bands Featured in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Work

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Nicholas Friesen @Nicholastronaut August 3, 2016

With Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley’s new comic book series, Snotgirl (a collaboration with California artist Leslie Hung), selling out all over town, and the recent Comic Con announcement of his next graphic novel series, Worst World, announced as a three volume set, it’s about time we look at the ‘90s CanRock acts that shaped the way this London, Ontario born writer/illustrator thinks and breathes.

Here are the five most referenced bands from throughout his career, which began with the warm blanket that is Lost at Sea in 2003.

1. Plumtree

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Obviously Scott Pilgrim gets his name from the catchiest two line song in history, but O’Malley’s representation of the Halifax band that is now a few other bands (Carla and Lynette Gillis are now Overnight and Catriona Sturton makes music under her own name, releasing Bumble Bee in 2015) goes far deeper.

The drummer of Scott’s least favourite band, The Clash at Demonhead, is named Lynette Guycott (after Gillis), while a fake Lucas Lee movie in volume two is called You Just Don’t Exist, which is also the title of a real Plumtree song. Most recently, O’Malley created some extremely metal alternate cover art for Overnight’s Carry Me Home LP.

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That, and Scott wears a Plumtree shirt all the damn time. Represent.

2. Sloan

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Going back to his first book, Lost at Sea, lyrics to Sloan’s “Penpals” are belted out on page 43, much to the chagrin of everyone in the car during one of the strangest road trips brought to paper with Canadian ink.

In SP volume one, Young Neil wears a classic Smeared-era Sloan shirt, while volume five’s chapter 27 is titled “Can’t Face Up” after a Sloan track from One Chord to Another. That, and Mr. Scissor Kick himself, Chris Murphy, was the music director on the Scott Pilgrim movie. Dude’s got moves.

Finally, for the completists, on his “Scott 5 Playlist” (found at the back of vs. the Universe) he mentions Sloan’s “I’m Not Through With You Yet” – a real stunner of a ballad from Navy Blues.

3. The Tragically Hip

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Gord Downie and the Hip both get shout-outs from various parts of the BLO universe – his old band Kupek covers “Nautical Disaster” on the B is for Bupek album and Scott, Stephen Stills and Young Neil take a listen to one of his solo records in SP book two. Ramona can be forgiven, being American and all, for her ignorance.

4. Joel Plaskett

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In his Scott 3 Playlist, titled “This is Kind of Like a Blog,” he riffs on what influenced him throughout the making of that book. Turns out “When I Have My Vision” and “Written All Over Me” were high on his list of favourites at the time. “He’s a guy whose music has had a huge influence on me and Scott Pilgrim,” he says in the volume, noting that Thrush Hermit’s Clayton Park is an “overlooked classic.” He has also tweeted such gems as “i think joel plaskett’s “True Patriot Love” should be our actual national anthem instead of the actual national anthem” and “Has anyone ever played a Joel Plaskett record for Judd Apatow?”

5. The New Pornographers

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OK, technically not a ’90s band, but the act is made up of members of defining such ‘90s CanRockers as Carl Newman of Zumpano, honourary Canuck Neko Case, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, Kurt Dahle from Limblifter and many others. In SP v1, a New Pornographers chorus is seen (“Make headlines believe them come back”) as a headline on a magazine, while Scott is wearing a New Pornos shirt in a dream Kim Pine has in v2. Additionally, Neko Case gets a shout out in the back page lists for v5 with her song “Lion’s Jaws” and v6 with her Middle Cyclone album. This cartoonist loves you.

Visit radiomaru.com to stay up to speed on all of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s pictures and words.