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Curt Pires Throws a Party with 'It's Only Teenage Wasteland'

We chat with the creator about his latest mash-up and why both worlds he's exploring feel totally alien to us.

Welcome to our Creator Corner, our new reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the comics industry. In this entry, we're conversing with Curt Pires about It's Only Teenage Wasteland. Listen to the unedited audio HERE.


Were you a party kid in high school? Your answer will determine how you react to the new genre mashup It's Only Teenage Wasteland from writer Curt Pires, artist Jacoby Salcedo, and publisher Dark Horse Comics. The twisty narrative begins in chaos then quickly dials it back into a realm some kids thrived in and other kids quivered from - the high school shindig.

Us typing the word "shindig" probably indicates what kind of party kids we were as teenagers. As weirdos who'd rather stick their nose in a book than name a Nirvana tune (or insert whatever popular band of your day) we immediately engaged with the anxiety percolating throughout It's Only Teenage Wasteland. Before any other fantastical genre enters the narrative, we were on guard as readers. When the book finally does hit its twist, we were almost relieved. Phew, some madness our book worming and movie watching prepared us for!

We're thrilled to be speaking with Curt Pires again. He last visited shortly before his creepy thriller Memoria released. If you haven't checked out that conversation, please do by clicking HERE. It's a chat of a very different order.

With It's Only Teenage Wasteland, we begin our conversation by delving into Pires' high school party experience and how it informed his radically, stressfully strange tale. We discuss the enthusiasm with which he smashes genres while trying to avoid the big spoiler from issue one. What's exactly going on is not revealed, but we may tip our hand (or is it his hand?) regarding the two colliding genres.

The below transcript was edited for length and clarity.


Lisa: were you a party guy in high school. Did you go to drinking parties.

Curt: Ah, I'm kind of like the kids in the comic. They don't really go to too many parties, you know? I think I went to like maybe a couple, but me and my friends weren't really cool enough to go to most of those parties. We were more like the kids in the book. We liked to hang out and play Street Fighter and read comic books. Then we'd maybe go to like 1 or 2 parties a year. We'd certainly drink if we could but we weren't like you know the popular kids.

Brad: When you're working on a comic like this one are you exorcising your high school experience or are you just having fun with genre-mashing?

Curt: I think it's about both really, right? I definitely feel like doing the book has given me a opportunity to think about and process things and really appreciate how great my friends at that time were. I think it's a balancing act. What's cool about the book is the way it shifts gears at the end of the the first issue. It goes in an unexpected direction that I feel like hasn't been done too much with the sort of high school coming of age stuff.

Lisa: What I like about the twist is that it reflects the momentousness and the drama and the the dangerous feeling that you experience in high school. um like like.

Brad: It raises the stakes to a level that you feel like those stakes are already at when you're in high school.

Lisa: Exactly and I like that. Your characters even post-twist are still their high school selves.

Curt: Yeah, exactly. The title of the book's a double entendre kinda. There's a metaphorical teenage wasteland from the song that we we stole the title from. Then there's actually a sorta literal teenage wasteland which these guys get thrown into. I mean, we won't get too deep into that. But I think it's clear just from the marketing for the book.

Brad: I do want to talk about that title a little bit. It's Only Teenage Wasteland. You could have titled the book Teenage Wasteland. It still would have been a reference to the song, but I love the It's Only.

Curt: Ah, well I wish wish I had like a really thought-out answer for you. But I think there was another book called Teenage Wasteland that came out a few years ago and I don't think it ever really finished but out of respect to those creators I wanted to alter it. But I do like a longer title.

Brad: I love that. I feel like the It's Only in the title really does reflect the mood of the comic, where you are in this situation but it just is what it is. It's Only a teenage wasteland, we gotta keep going. It's transitional. Hopefully, they're passing through it just like high school.

Curt: Yeah, I think you guys are onto something cool there. So, see how it plays out.

Lisa: What gets me excited about the comic is how right off the bat the characters - after having their world being turned upside down - the still hold it a grudge. You know what? Its the small worries being juxtapositioned with the big worries. That feels like your thing. That's what you do well. Do you feel that way?

Curt: Well, objectivity is really hard, especially in the entertainment industry. You have to be your own biggest hype man. You fully have to drink the kool-aid about yourself. Which I've certainly done. I think the best part about my writing is kind of what you're talking about. I can pair the really big high conceptpt genre beats without losing the small character moments.

Brad: Grant Morrison smashed with Brian Michael Bendis - that's It's Only Teenage Wasteland.

Curt: I'm definitely gonna like steal that from the transcript and use it as a pull quote.

Brad: Please do, please do.


It's Only Teenage Wasteland #1 arrives in stores and on digital on 12/7/22. We're trying our best not to spoil any plot information beyond it's high school party set-up, but if you want a little more detail, you can find it through the Dark Horse Comics website HERE.

Be sure to follow Curt Pires via his Twitter and Website.

And, of course, follow Comic Book Couples Counseling on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter @CBCCPodcast, and you can follow hosts Brad Gullickson @MouthDork & Lisa Gullickson @sidewalksiren.

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