Olly MacNamee: Youth, your new 4 part comic book series is billed as an “epic superhuman saga unlike any other”. Having read the first issue, it certainly isn’t The New Teen Titans is it? You went for a more authentic, more grounded superhero drama, and boy do you deliver. But, I’m interested in how much of your own life story is actually poured into this book?
Curt Pires: A lot of the events of the book were inspired by “wilder” times in my life and experiences I had in my late teens/early twenties. The characters also were inspired by friends, acquaintances, people I grew up with etc. I wanted the book to be grounded in humanity, but at the same time, none of the stories are 1/1. It was important that I wasn’t telling anyone’s story without their consent or simply grafting them onto characters. So the story and characters grow beyond what inspires them, while still being grounded in this reality.
OM: Out of the four main characters, who do you relate to the most?
CP: I relate to all of them. I think they all embody different elements of my personality.
OM: Like other super powered folk, the characters you bring together on this road-trip have also suffered pain, loss and hardship, but not the usual problems faces by mainstream capes. People like River, who’s lost his dad to cancer only to find him replaced by some dead beat. Many of these are experiences I imagine a lot of readers can relate to, right?
CP: Exactly. Even after the characters get empowered they are still burdened by very human baggage and problems. Their problems don’t disappear. In speaking to River specifically, I think we’ve all dealt with loss in some way or another, so it makes sense to me, to show this in the book. If only to let people know they’re not alone.
OM: The first issue is a great scene setter for the whole series. Thanks to Alex Diotto’s art, as well as Dee Cuniffe’s colors, it’s a very cinematic opener that feels very much like the start of a NSFW John Hughes film, with an accompanying soundtrack too! Was that the look and tone you were aiming for?
CP: I certainly welcome the comparison. Hughes is an icon. I wasn’t consciously trying to evoke Hughes, but I totally get the comp. I was really inspired by music for a lot of the book. Frank Ocean, Brockhampton, Kevin Abstract, artists who are really vulnerable about life and love and the reality of growing up in the world today. Films by Harmony Korrine, Andrea Arnold, and Gus Van Sandt were also big in terms of energy. And of course classic teen superhero comics.
OM: Without giving too much away, until the end of the first issue, you’d be forgiven for forgetting this is a superhero comic. And yet, issue two starts in a very different manner completely. It feels like it’s got more in common with Josh Trank’s Chronicle than Richard Donner’s Superman the Movie.
CP: Exactly. I wanted it to feel like Superhero Vérité. An on the ground look at the terror and beauty of what becoming posthuman would be like.
OM: What starts off in issue one as something of a read trip to escape their Midwestern dead end lives, veers into a very different direction with issue #2 which has more of a shady, government ‘bootleg’ (as you put it) Nick Fury vibe about it. That, and some pretty cosmic going-ons too. Is one of your aims, also, to explore and experiment with superhero tropes in a very different way? Expect the unexpected, so to speak?
CP: I have a comprehensive mythology mapped out for the book. It was important to me to honor the superhero angle of the story as much as the teen love coming of age angle, so my reverence and enjoyment of comics manifests a lot in some of these sequences.
OM: With many creators in comics, especially working for the Big Two, closer to middle age than their college years, do you honestly believe these creators have lost touch with what it’s like to be young in such a contemporary society we face today?
CP: I think it’s less an issue of creators having lost touch and more an issue with the way books are staffed at these big comic corporations. I don’t feel like someone 45-50 should necessarily be writing Teen Titans or Young Avengers over a 25-30 year old. They can write another book. Let’s give a young professional a shot. I’m not saying pluck the first 25 year old you see off the street, but there’s plenty of qualified “younger” writers who would bring a fresh take to these books. That said, Marvel and DC can do whatever they want. I wish them the best. I’m happy to provide for people who want these more contemporary stories.
OM: Finally, then, what would you like readers to take away from this series once it’s done and dusted?
CP: Well we’re coming back for Season Two so we ain’t even close to done and dusted! That said I hope people enjoy the ride. I love this book.
Youth #1 is out today, Tuesday 12th May on comiXology, with each subsequent issue of this 4 part mini-series available weekly. Go check it out!