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“Electric Youth” in Irvine, California: In Conversation with Kyle Roberts

Electric Youth is a fresh take on Californian suburbia, with its odd mix of American nostalgia and horror. A good sense of nostalgia is a hard thing to nail, but the horror and humour in Electric Youth has an added authenticity! The setting comes from the experiences of the series’ co-writer Kyle Roberts and his time growing up in Irvine, California. We caught up with Roberts to hear more about the second issue of Electric Youth and the series as a whole.

A Place To Hang Your Cape: So, where does the story pick up in Electric Youth #2?

Kyle Roberts: Issue two picks up right after the cliff-hanger conclusion of the first issue. The kids have uncovered the conspiracy of the Kolisnyk brothers, but in doing so they’ve put themselves in mortal danger. There will be escapes and rescues as well as battles of wits and feats of strength!

AP2HYC: Without spoiling anything, what sort of directions can we expect the series to go?

KR: Issue two concludes the first story arc of Electric Youth. Our plan with subsequent volumes is to continue to expand the relationships and world of our characters while revealing larger schemes, greater threats and bigger baddies!

AP2HYC: You’ve mentioned both Stand By Me and The Stepford Wives influenced your approach to the comic. What types of stories did you look at to come up with the premise for Electric Youth? Are there any influences we might recognise as the series continues?

KR: Great question! When initially conceived the story was going to be more of an adventure, similar to Mission: Impossible. It was going to stay truer to it’s “based on actual events” inspiration, which was about getting in and out of the dumpster with the…umm…exotic(?) prize.

But the more I thought about the story, the more I liked the idea of the kids finding something more – something they didn’t expect – in that dumpster which would then send them on an even larger adventure. How and where we ended up will be made clear in the response to your next question.

But with regards to tone, and I cited this specifically in early discussions with my co-writer Clay Adams, is the original Fright Night movie. Even though we don’t have vampires in our story the blend of horror, humor and nostalgia are very similar.

AP2HYC: You’ve also said Electric Youth is inspired by your own time in Irvine, California. How far does that go when writing the story, and are there any keys moments of this connection coming in #2?

KR: The whole story of Electric Youth hinges on my early impressions and friendships that occurred when moving to Irvine at the start of high school. I remember thinking, and this was my 14 year old eyes and brain mind you, that every neighborhood and cul de sac looked exactly the same. It seemed like every 16 year old girl was issued a white convertible Volkswagen Cabriolet when passing their drivers test. It was all felt and looked so new. Modern homes with modern families, driving modern cars that were made even more grotesque as they were juxtaposed against these expansive orange groves and huge eucalyptus trees. There was no sense of history which was in direct contrast to the home I left in Philadelphia. It all felt a bit artificial, and that feeling is what helped shape the story. That and the amazing friends that I ended up making and carrying with me to this day.

AP2HYC: Do you have a favourite moment coming up in the story?

KR: It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, but there is a scene set at my old high school. Our artist, Rafael Dantas did a great job of recapturing the look and feel of it. Besides that, any time the kids banter back and forth I hear the voices of myself and my friends from that time which fills me with great memories and warm feelings.

AP2HYC: Finally, can you please tell us a bit about the creative team on Electric Youth?

KR: Absolutely! Electric Youth is written by myself and Clay Adams. Clay is known for his work with Fried Comics on series such as Deadskins and P.B.O.W. Also, his series Red X-Mas is being published by Scout Comics and will be in comic shops worldwide this holiday season. Rafael Dantas, who has illustrated for Action Lab and Lions Forge, is handling our interior art and Italian artist Emilio Pilliu is our colorist. It’s a truly great team!

For more information, check out the Kickstarter here – and then sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Matthew Smith