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Review: Youth #1

Youth #1

Youth #1 is a new take on both the coming of age and superhero genres from Curt Pires, Alex Diotto, and Dee Cunniffe. It’s about two teenagers, River and Frank, who are kind of, sort of boyfriends, that are fed up with their lives so they steal River’s step dad’s mustang and go on the run. The comic has plenty of attitude, a little bit pretentiousness, and goes full throttle from the first page where Pires and Diotto cross cut between River being berated by his step dad and Frank being berated by his manager and a random customer at the fast food restaurant he works at. (Seriously, everyone seems to be an asshole in this universe.)

My favorite part of Youth #1 is Pires and Diotto’s creative use of grid layouts to introduce characters, ramp up conflict, and pull off one hell of a car chase. They immediately create parallels between River and Frank and establish a relationship between them based on shared trauma even though they don’t appear on panel together eight pages in. Basically, the world treats them like shit so they lash out through one great two panel page punch before slowing down to a more romantic nine panel grid with soft colors from Cunniffe.

After the blows are landed, Curt Pires immediately backpedals and uses a Mike Tyson quote to establish our protagonists as both unreliable narrators and the opposite of role models. With some Pires comics in the past, he seems to over-rely on purple prose narration, but he’s pared down this a lot or undercut it with self-deprecating humor. I enjoy that he and Diotto portray Frank and River as a couple of messed up kids, who fall in with other messed up kids later in the comic crafting a drama filled ensemble cast. Think the attractive cast of a reality television show, but with more overt drug use, assault of police officers, and in a breath of fresh air, queerness.

Heteronormativity is a big no-no in Youth #1 with River and Frank treating their homophobic classmate with a shrug as they skip town in a Mustang, or Frank telling a girl he makes out with at a party that he doesn’t like to label his sexuality. Your average, middle aged boring writer at the Big Two would make the high school bully some great foe for them, but he’s just an annoyance on their way to other adventures like blowing up cars, reenacting Grand Theft Auto, and this issue’s explosive ending.

Rebellion seems to be the central theme of Youth #1 with Frank and River truly having some to rage against as evidenced in the opening scene. However, it seems like some of their peers are rebelling just to rebel like the host of the party, who is the son of a senator, and parties in his huge house while his dad is doing consulting work in Dubai. The line of dialogue and corresponding image from Diotto is sharp satire at the children of well-off people, who choose to act out and rebel, but honestly, it makes sense that the cast of Youth are rough around the edges and can’t articulate their actions into a neat thesis.

Beat up a cop, go on the run, and fuck the consequences because life is short, right. However, the tail end of Youth #1 does introduce some consequences that will shape the narrative of this miniseries as Pires and Diotto introduce change into their story ecosystem like a splash page after a neat grid or car chase scene where you can see every maneuver.

Tone-wise, with its musical influence, teens on the run motif, and lackadaisical approach to superpowers, Youth #1 is We Can Never Go Home meets Chronicle, which is interesting because Pires has a written a few comics for Black Mask Studios. With their messy motivations, lust for life, and distrust of authority, I definitely gravitated to the teens of Youth even though they come across as little assholes at times. But weren’t we all at that age?

Story: Curt Pires Art: Alex Diotto 
Colors: Dee Cunniffe Letters: Micah Myers
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Comixology Originals provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

ComiXology Original Youth by Curt Pires and Alex Diotto Goes from Comic to Amazon Studios

Youth #1

Youth, a new four-part weekly comic series beginning May 12, is currently in development as an original series for Amazon Studios. The comiXology Original digital comic series is by Curt Pires and Alex Diotto. Pires is attached to adapt the comic for streaming. The comic is already renewed for a second season in production and Pires has two more projects in the works with comiXology. Color for the comic is by Dee Cunniffe with lettering by Micah Myers.

The comic is about the next generation of superheroes. It’s the story of two high school students who are a queer couple and run away discovering a world different than what they have imagined.

Below is the official synopsis:

In YOUTH, Franklin and River struggle to navigate family, friends, high school, work, drugs, and all the pressures of growing up. As a queer couple, they yearn to escape their lives in a small, bigoted Midwest town. They steal River’s stepfather’s Mustang and hit the road. Their destination? California. But along the way, the car breaks down. They meet some kids who are travelling the country, partying, and attempting to find themselves. They party some more. . . . And soon everything changes.

The comic will be available for no additional cost for Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited and ComiXology Unlimited subscribers, in addition to being available for purchase for Kindle and ComiXology.

Review: Olympia #1

Olympia #1

Olympia #1 kicks off a love letter to comics. The debut issue revolves around Elon, a latchkey kid who spends his days alone reading comic books. One day his favorite superhero, Olympian, comes crashing into reality. The concept is something we’ve seen before but there’s a heartfelt aspect to this debut that oozes off of the page.

Created by Tony Pires and Curt Pires, Olympia was created by them as Tony was undergoing treatment for cancer. There’s an earnest meditation on hope and loss in the first issue as we get hints of Elon’s life. The comic also oozes wonder as Elon meets his hero. There’s something for every comic fan to relate to in this debut which makes it all the more impressive. Whether it’s Elon’s personal life or his isolation reading comics, it’s something we’ve experienced.

While the concept, so far, doesn’t feel original, there’s just an enthusiasm that works in the comic. It’s relatable and emotional set up that sucks readers in. It’s also clearly a love letter to comics. From the magical story itself to the art.

The art by Alex Diotto riffs on the classic work of Jack Kirby who’s quoted within the comic. From the colors by Dee Cunniffe to the lettering of Micah Myers there’s a feel of “retro” in so much of the comic. A use of a Kirby crackle to the style of the colors and type of coloring, there’s been a lot of thought to create a look that evokes the classic comics the story loves.

Olympia #1 is the fantastical experience of a reader being drawn into the world they’re engaging in. There’s a meta aspect to the comic as we the reader are sucked into the experience ourselves. It’s a comic you can enjoy for the story and connect on an emotional and personal level. It’s an experience and story we can all relate to in some way.

Story: Tony Pires, Curt Pires Art: Alex Diotto
Color: Dee Cunniffe Letterer: Micah Myers Design: Ryan Ferrier
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Curt Pires, Tony Pires, and Alex Diotto Explore Hope and Loss in Olympia

Image Comics has announced an all-new miniseries by Curt Pires, his father, Tony Pires, and artist Alex DiottoOlympia, which will launch this November.

Olympia follows Elon, a latchkey kid who spends his days alone reading comic books—until his favorite superhero, Olympian, comes crashing off the page and into reality! But as he nurses his wounded and delirious hero back to health, he discovers Olympian isn’t the only thing that came through… something evil followed him.

A comedic yet heartfelt love letter to the comics medium, Olympia is also a meditation on hope and loss, co-conceived by the Pires together while Tony was undergoing treatment for cancer.

Olympia #1 Cover A by Alex Diotto and Dee Cunniffe (Diamond Code SEP190047) and Olympia #1 Cover B by Christian Ward (Diamond Code SEP190048) will hit stores on Wednesday, November 20.

Olympia #1 Cover A by Alex Diotto and Dee Cunniffe
Olympia #1 Cover B by Christian Ward

Review: Skip to the End

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got a graphic novel that mixes music and comics.

Skip to the End is by Jeremy Holt, Alex Diotto, Renzo Podesta, Adam Wollet, and Tim Daniel.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

 

Insight Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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We Rock Out With Jeremy Holt to Talk Skip to the End

The bassist of a breakout ’90s punk band, Jonny falls apart when his band mate and best friend Kirk commits suicide. Twenty years later he struggles with heroin addiction, lost in the songs they created and desperate to relive the past, when he discovers that he can-literally. With the aid of a mysterious guitar, Jonny begins to make trips back in time, searching for the roots of Kirk’s unraveling. At Nar-Anon meetings and in conversations with his sponsor Emily, he starts to cope with the events that led to Kirk’s death. But by the time Jonny realizes that his visits can’t change the present, he might be too addicted to stop.

Writer Jeremy Holt tackles music, addiction, suicide, fandom, and more in Skip to the End whose hardcover collected edition is released this week by Insight Comics. With art by Alex Diotto, the comic is layered with multiple interpretations and absolute enjoyment for those who enjoy comics and music.

I got a chance to talk to Jeremy about the series and its multiple interpretations.

Graphic Policy: Skip to the End is clearly driven by your love of music. How did that go from your own fandom to a graphic novel?

Jeremy Holt: It was a freak accident. Early on I was fairly certain that I couldn’t pull it off. Trying to translate an audible medium through static images seemed like oil and water. Fortunately, what made these two compatible was a well written song that not only conveyed the sound of the times (early 90s), but more importantly complimented the on-going narrative. I have my good friend John Merchant to thank for that. He was my music guru in college. He truly shaped my passion for finding new bands.

GP: The story is inspired by Nirvana. What’s your earliest memory of them?

JH: My earliest memory would have to be hearing about Kurt’s death from a friend. Granted, the news wasn’t current. I had just moved from England to Norway, and was finishing 7th grade, which would have been ’97? I didn’t listen to any of that music then, but a friend Bastian Scholz told me that the lead singer of his favorite band had died a few years back.

I want to say that I vaguely remember getting crazy to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at a middle-school dance, but I’m probably projecting my current love for them.

GP: There’s this concept of time travel which is really interesting. Where did that concept come from as opposed to just focusing on a band member’s struggles after fame?

JH: I have long believed that music is time travel. Smell too. We all collect sounds and scents that are time machines. I just didn’t know how to translate that into a story. Then I discovered Nirvana about five years ago, and the story started to fall into place quite quickly.

GP: The series was originally released as single issues and now is collected. Are there things you might have changed if it was just a graphic novel?

JH: I would have extended the page length. Due to a myriad of factors, me and my team wanted to contain the story to four issues. If I had a chance to re-work it, I would have extended the story by another forty pages at least.

GP: This might be a bit spoilery but the character of Emily is really interesting and how I thought about her and the story changed from single issues to the collection. At first I thought the story was just about Jonny but on a second read it also feels like a story about fandom and coming to acceptance with it. Was there a dual story there?

JH: Honestly? No. But having re-read it as a complete story, I totally see this new narrative thread that I accidentally created along the way. I believe that seeped in due to my profound love for the band. That’s definitely something I would have shined more of a light on if I could have gone back in and re-engineered things.

GP: My personal theory and spin is the story is like Fight Club and Emily is imagining Jonny. Anyone ever come up with that theory before?

JH: There have been a slew of reviews that have been getting posted for the past few weeks. Two others had the exact same thought, so you’re not alone!

GP: How did the rest of the creative team come on to the book?

JH: It’s a long story, so here are the cliff notes: Alex and I had co-created on another series entitled Southern Dog, that was published through Action Lab back in 2012. Adam Wollet and I have been friends for a while, and he stepped in to replace Ed Brisson on letters for Southern Dog. Renzo Podesta and I collaborated on a pitch way back in 2009, and he had been on my radar after I saw his work on Charles Soule’s series 27. Tim Daniel and I go back even further, and he’s been gracious enough to design all of my logos. It so happens that he’s a huge Nirvana fan, so this project appealed to him instantly.

GP: The story has to do with suicide which is the news due to the loss of two celebrities. Are you hoping to raise awareness of it through the graphic novel and why do you think so many creative people do it?

JH: Initially my intention was to shed light on the complexities of addiction, and all the forms that it can come in. The byproduct of that has been suicide awareness and the topic of mental health. I did not believe that my story would connect with anyone other than comic book readers, but I have received some amazing letters from people that have gone through depression, addiction, and rehab, who have told me that STTE resonated with them on a very personal level. These messages remind me of the power that a comic book can have on a reader.

I’m not sure why so many creative people end things so abruptly. Multiple factors are certainly at play, and I think the immense pressure of living one’s life in such a public forum only exacerbates underlying issues in that person. More often than not, it seems to be a tragic recipe for disaster.

GP: There’s a meta aspect to it all as well. There’s the story and then there’s music lyrics which are themselves a story, so you’re transported to a story within a story. Obviously the difference between the two storytelling platforms is one has music and one pictures but what do you think comics and music share when it comes to storytelling?

JH: I think it’s fairly clear. They both share a story. At least the good ones that stand the test of time do. Examining it a bit deeper, comic book pages contain a pacing that reminds me of music. Where a comic book has plot twists, page turns, and cliff-hangers, a song has beats, bars, and refrains. Even though both are polar opposites in fundamental ways, they both share a lyricism.

GP: What else do you have coming out that folks can check out?

JH: Other than Skip to the End and Skinned, I have another series that’ll be debuting at New York Comic Con, and is also through Insight Comics. It’s a two-book series entitled After Houdini (October ’18) and Before Houdini (May ’19).

GP: Thanks so much for chatting!

Rock out and Skip to the End this June from Jeremy Holt, Alex Diotto, and Insight Comics

Bassist-turned-junkie Jonny Wells is addicted to his past, but the only way to get there is through his music.

This June, Insight Comics is publishing Skip to the End, a riveting graphic novel created as an allegory to the history of the legendary band Nirvana.

Skip to the End tells Jonny’s story as he tries to cope with his band mate and best friend Kirk’s suicide. Twenty years later he struggles with heroin addiction, lost in the songs they created and desperate to relive the past—unitl one day he discover he can. With the aid of a mysterious guitar, Jonny begins to make trips back in time, searching for the roots of Kirk’s unraveling. At Nar-Anon meetings and in conversations with his sponsor Emily, he starts to cope with the events that led to Kirk’s death. But by the time Jonny realizes that his visits can’t change the present, he might be too addicted to stop.

Skip to the End explores music’s transportive property, while sharing a story of friendship, combating addiction, and suicide awareness.

Skip to the End is written by Jeremy Holt, with art by Alex Diotto, designed by Tim Daniel, colored by Renzo Podesta, and lettering by Adam Wollet.

Preview: Brigands Vol. 1

BRIGANDS VOL. 1

Writer(s): Ram V
Artist Name(s): Nick Barber, Alex Diotto, Jason Lewis, ROSH, Kel Nuttall
Cover Artist(s): Mukesh Singh
160 pgs./ T+ / FC
$14.99
A rat-pack of medieval conmen, thieves, cut-throats, hasbeens and never-will-bes are set to carry out the heist of their lives. For some, it is a second chance at a better life. For others, it’s the only chance they’ll ever get. And in the treacherous world of BRIGANDS there are only two sureties to life; the steel in your hand and the promise of a dagger in your back.

Collects BRIGANDS #1-5.

Preview: Brigands #5

BRIGANDS #5

Writer(s): Ram V
Artist Name(s): Alex Diotto, ROSH, Kel Nuttall
Cover Artist(s): Somnath Pal
32 pgs./ T+ / FC
$3.99

The final issue of the hit mini is HERE!

The sky is blood red as the Myros Comet comes ever close to the port-city of Cartaduan. Half of our heroes are trapped, and the others powerless to save them. New allegiances will be forged, and scores will be settled. War is on the horizon, and a reckoning is at hand.

One last time into the fray, Brigands!

brigands-issue-5-cover

Jeremy Holt and Alex Diotto Go Heavy Metal and Back in Time with Skip to the End

During Emerald City Comicon it was announced that Heavy Metal Comics is launching a new series from writer Jeremy Holt and artist Alex Diotto, creators of the critically-acclaimed series Southern Dog.

The series is a time travel alternate history of a Nirvana like band. Skip to the End follows Jonny Wells, bassist of the breakout punk band Samsara, whose life has fallen apart after his bandmate and best friend commits suicide. Twenty
years later he struggles with heroin addiction, lost in the songs they created and desperate to relive the past, when he discovers a mysterious guitar capable of making the jump.

Get out the flannel, the first issue will hit comic book stores August 3rd.

STTE_Promo_V2

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