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Young Avengers: Youth Movement Pt. 1

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie provide a peek behind the curtain of their collaborative process!

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By Carla Hoffman

It's the New Year! 365 fresh new days for new heroes with a new look to form a new team ready for the 21st century. Hold on to your butts as Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie show us the future of teen super heroes in the pages of the YOUNG AVENGERS!

We'll be talking to this creative team throughout the week on the style and approach to the most unique and fresh look at the modern young hero in an ever-changing world. Join us as we talk about the huge gap between the ages of 16 and 18, the difficulties of constant re-expression, traveling from the mundane to the extraordinary and what people keep in their closets while they're out trying to save the world. 

Young Avengers #1 preview pencils by Jamie McKelvie

Marvel.com: First off, I should say that obviously this book is not going to look like anything else on the stands. The preview art is amazing and I’m absolutely impressed with the style and design you’ve put into this book. Did you guys re-design this book from the ground up, or did you have any particular influences in mind when approaching the project?

Jamie McKelvie: Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to do something completely different to anything we’ve done before; we wanted it to be its own thing, to be individual. The idea of it was a super hero book for the 21st century and really trying to do something as modern and pop as we could.  So, we took in a lot of influences outside of comics in terms of design and fashion and all that kind of stuff.

Marvel.com: The hard work pays off, it really shows: every panel pops, people look like real people and it does indeed look like a book for the 21st century.

Kieron Gillen: The pages we're talking about were the deliberately chosen ones because we want to keep the stylistic quirks as a surprise. We don’t want to give away the set pieces. Some of the pages we are going to go through are kind of like the more grounded ones. Because part of our idea was that half the book would be grounded and kind of done in a kind of auto-biographical style, so you know, really clean grids, very direct storytelling. And stuff like the action pieces, set pieces, sort of any bit where the powers are really going to it, we rendered it as ludicrous as we would imagine as possible and we would never ever reuse an idea; that would be our challenge to ourselves.

Young Avengers #1 preview art by Jamie McKelvie

Marvel.com: In the interview we did last October, Kieron and I were talking a bit about your process and he mentioned that each fight scene you’ve developed for the book is kind of a "Fight scene as music video"—how you added a twist to each action sequence and a distinctiveness that you didn’t want to duplicate through the book. As a reader, I am astounded and exhausted just thinking about what that is going you look like from issue to issue. For you, is it just another day at the office?

Jamie McKelvie: It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge to ourselves and we want to try to see it through. So we are constantly trying to brainstorm different ideas, for different things for different fight scenes. I’m just about to start issue #4, and I am planning what I am doing with every fight scene for that. That is going to be completely different to anything I’ve done in the previous three issues. And there are other ideas I've got for further upcoming ones.

It’s fun, you definitely don’t want to get bored, and I'm definitely not getting bored on this book because we’re always trying to think of new things to do with it.

Here in [the] opening double page spread, Kieron specifically talked about wanting to break it down into individual little moments; he just listed a bunch of things that might or should be happen in the fight scene. Then I basically wrote down a bunch of things I wanted to include and I weighted them by their importance and terms of size and stuff, and then I wrote them all on pieces of paper, cut the pieces of paper out and sort of arranged them all to try and tried make more or less a grid to figure out how I was going to do this.

Young Avengers #1 cover by Jamie McKelvie

And with this one as well, obviously this is the pencils but in the inked preview you’ve seen online, there [are] the text bits that take up holes, sort of panel spaces as well, which was something else we wanted to do, making the text a part of the art.

Kieron Gillen: Words or pictures, by definition, are visual elements. So it's like some of things we did here, it's an idea I used before. I suppose it's like some of the stuff I suggested for the Young Avengers I would never suggest to anyone other than Jaime because you know, it’s like someone else would think I was mad. You’ve got to build that level of trust.

Marvel.com: You guys work very well together, you just get together and this kind of stuff appears.

Jamie McKelvie: Well, we’ve been at it for a long while now. It’s been, what, now hold on... we met in 2003?

Kieron Gillen: Yeah...

Jamie McKelvie: So, it’s the 10th anniversary of our meeting actually.

Marvel.com: Congrats, happy anniversary!

Kieron Gillen: Yeah, sorry starting to getting a bit depressed again. [Laughs]

We're just getting started!  Join us next time for discussion of one of the most dangerous and difficult forces of the Marvel Universe: magic! How you show it to the reader, how you define it as a power and how it differs from one godling to the next mutant hero.

YOUNG AVENGERS #1 debuts January 23.

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