Bryan Lee O’Malley is most famous for his six-volume set about slacker superhero Scott Pilgrim, and it’s been four long years since O’Malley closed that series with Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour in 2010. In 2014, we were treated to Seconds, only the cartoonist’s second work outside of Pilgrim, and boy was it a treat.
Drawn in O’Malley’s signature, wide-eyed imaginative style, Seconds is about Katie, a twentysomething chef and her restaurant Seconds, where a whole cast of characters—including a shy waitress named Hazel, Katie’s ex-boyfriend Max, and a mysterious spirit called Lis—exist within the walls. O’Malley thrives in creating emotional dreamers and fantastic occurrences, and in Seconds Katie’s obsession with nostalgia and regret are given an outlet when Lis presents her with a trove of mushrooms (yep, magic ones) and a set of rules:
1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew
Time-travelling hijinks ensue. But what makes Seconds so consuming and enjoyable is not just the magical and moving story in which O’Malley places his characters, but the fact that the artist takes his time with backstory and personality as much as line and form—making his his characters and their experiences just as wonderfully illustrative as the medium in which he works.—Breanna Murphy