It’s probably one of the most highly-anticipated series of 2023, so it’s no surprise that Scott Pilgrim Takes Off came to New York Comic Con. In a packed Main Stage panel, series creators and co-showrunners Bryan Lee O’Malley (creator of the original Scott Pilgrim comics) and BenDavid Grabinski gave fans a preview of what’s to come in the upcoming animated series.

Fans who attended the panel also got a first look at the official trailer:

I was fortunate enough to sit down for roundtable interviews with both O’Malley and Grabinski as they talked about the process and what they’re most looking forward to about the show.

I’m sure by now, we’ve all heard the famous anecdote about how Michael Cera (Scott in the live-action Scott Pilgrim vs the World) revived a nine-year-old email chain with the rest of the cast. O’Malley and Grabinski have a slightly different take on how everything got started, though.

Bryan had some talks with Netflix and they let him know that Science SARU was interested in doing an anime of the show,” said Grabinski. “They asked him if he was interested in doing the adaptation or being involved.”

The two have known each other for more than a decade and often give each other feedback on other projects, but until Scott Pilgrim Takes Off had never worked together. “We’ve had 10 million creative discussions,” said Grabinski, “but we didn’t plan on working together. And when we were having a discussion about how we could try to find a way to make the story new, I just suddenly had a lot of ideas, and Bryan really responded to them. So when he went back to Netflix, he said, ‘I think I know what I want the show to be. My friend BenDavid has some ideas that I really like, and I think we should do it together.’ And since then, we just were off to the races.”

“We didn’t know the actors were gonna be on board at first,” said O’Malley. “So once we were like, ‘Oh, we have this show. It’s coming together.’ And then all of a sudden Chris Evans is in it, and Netflix is like, ‘Wait, what?’ I think that really started to kind of get them really happy as it came together. Like, oh, this is actually really cool.”

Both were excited about using animation as a medium to tell this story, as it’s something that works really well with the source material and allows them a little more freedom than a live-action would.

“Just getting to do action scenes in anime was the thing I was the most excited about,” said Grabinski. “You know, you can write something that is so unbelievably big and you just know they’re going to completely go for it.”

“[Science SARU] can draw anything they want,” O’Malley said. “Anything can transform into anything. Anyone can fly instantly. Like you don’t have to have wires. You don’t have to have to stunt people. All you have to do is know how to draw so those guys know how to draw. So yeah, for the most part, it’s like, get out of their way. Get a good idea for a fight scene and then just let them cook.”

Something that was very important to both of them was getting to spend time with some of the other characters. The film, as O’Malley pointed out, is very much Scott’s story, but there is a whole supporting cast who deserved to have more time.

I always liked Ramona, and […] we don’t get to explore quite as much about Ramona, and Ramona’s backstory, and Ramona’s motivations,” O’Malley said. “But even in the books I didn’t I didn’t go as far as I could have, I think. So that really appealed to me: to get to write more of Ramona and to get to see more of her relationships with everyone else outside of Scott.”

Grabinski agreed. “The biggest reason to do this show was to spend more time with the exes and more time with Ramona. The thing about the original version of the story, I just wish I got just a little bit more with each of the exes. I kind of wish some of these characters who never got to share scenes with each other would get to.

“And that was the thing that Bryan and I were so excited about. It’s like, you know, for new viewers and [for fans]. There’s people who you never thought would be in the same room or mad at each other or love each other. We’re trying to create a lot of fun new dynamics.”

I wanted to do more with all the exes,” said O’Malley, “but I’m really excited with how we got to do more with Matthew in particular in this series. He gets a little more time in the sun, which is really fun. “

As for whether or not O’Malley had a favorite character to write for in this series, he said, “I think we’re probably always going to say Lucas Lee. It was just so much fun to do more with Lucas Lee. It’s such a ripe world of action movie and stupidity, but also bringing in the kind of Tony Hawk Pro Skater element. Just letting the animators go nuts with that stuff was so much fun.”

Fans can probably tell, based on the knowledge that we’re going to spend more time with Ramona and the exes, that Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is not just going to be an animated retread of the 2008 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World film. But both O’Malley and Grabinski believe that the series fits the essence of what makes Scott Pilgrim so great.

“Anytime fans can get something new, it’s good,” said Grabinski. “That’s our preference. Anytime you can get something new with a character, something unexpected, expand the world of it, that just is our approach. [Every time] there’s something of Scott it can just add more to the mix.”

I’m visualizing fans getting to the end of the first episode and just kind of like, they stand up off their couch or they’re just like, ‘What?’ and then they’re like that for the rest of the show,” said O’Malley. “Like that’s my goal. You know, I just I want to blow some minds. I just want people to have fun with it.”

“There’s a lot of new stuff in the show,” said Grabinski. “And that was always our goal. But every single element of every single thing I wrote or did, I’m sitting next to Bryan and we always just have the rules like, does this feel like Scott Pilgrim? Does it feel like the same voice? Does this feel consistent? Because we wanted it to all feel like the exact same tone.”

“We tried to do some nods to [the books],” said O’Malley. “You know, it’s like, the show kind of goes in so many directions. So some of those characters might not make as big of an appearance as fans want, but we know what they want, and we try to give them some of it.”


Scott Pilgrim Takes Off comes from award-winning animation house Science SARU (Devilman Crybaby, Japan Sinks, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken) and UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, produces for Netflix. The series premieres November 17th only on Netflix.

Be sure to check out the rest of our coverage from NYCC 2023!

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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