The Postmodern Pinky Swear: The Young Avengers Wrap Party

Alasdair Stuart writes;


So, the Young Avengers After Party was held at Thought Bubble this weekend. Almost the entire creative team were there, including Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Annie Wu, Ming Doyle, Matt Wilson, Christian Ward, Becky Cloonan, Joe Quinones and a special appearance by a scale model of Emma Vieceli.

Firstly, Gillen asked the audience if anyone minded the panel being recorded. An avid podcaster, he recorded the audio and it'll show up on Decompressed, his podcast at some point. He then introduced the panel, including 'Emma' (Currently appearing in a production of South Pacific by the way, break a leg, Emma!) and showed got things going.

The Postmodern Pinky Swear: The Young Avengers Wrap Party

So, things were already distinctly meta and got more so as he noticed his own brother was outside. Gillen asked one of the Loki cosplayers in attendance to go and get him and we were all treated to the sight of a real life version of a fictional character obeying their writer's request and bringing his real brother into the room.

Somewhere, I like to think, Grant Morrison is smiling.

Once that piece of fraternal metafiction was out of the way, Gillen then launched into…

The Postmodern Pinky Swear: The Young Avengers Wrap Party

Every single person in the room was instructed to turn to the person next to them and link little fingers. He then had us swear not to reveal spoilers on the internet. Everyone agreed, even if the definition of spoiler, and, indeed, pinky swear, has been stretched wafer thin by certain other sites.

So, here's what I can tell you without breaking the sacred trust of the pinky swear.

-The final two issues of the run were born from a desire to do a crossover with Wolverine and The X-Men. Gillen joked that he initially agreed to this then realized he could do the story in Young Avengers and 'keep all the money'.

-The covers are interlinked, and show a line-up of the characters in the story. Even then, although the image looks complete, it was explained that the final covers will look a little different.

-There's a conceit at the heart of the story which is desperately sweet, poignant and vintage Young Avengers.

-Tumblr will burn.

-The story unfolds in a very specific location, and we got shown Jamie McKelvie's Sketch-Up models of this, and how he played with them. I'm a little late to the party on Mckelvie's method, but it's really impressive. He uses Sketch-Up to build 3D rendered models of specific locations, allowing him to keep the internal geography of any given location consistent. It's a really smart way of working, especially given the way these last two issues are laid out. Gillen also expressed his love for them, explaining that they always reminded him of a really bad '90s computer game.

-The final story is a jam. Every single artist on stage that day has drawn a story, each one of which is focused on a specific character. Now, given exactly how murdertastic several of the Avengers books are right now, Gillen admitted that getting the cast nailed down, and unspoiled, was a massive task. Even worse, working two months ahead meant that the moment the solicitations for the cover appeared, people would be analyzing it for spoilers and to figure out who was still alive at the end of the book.

-Of course Loki's still alive at the end of the book. That isn't even a spoiler. He's Loki.

Gillen's concern about spoilers extended to a couple of magnificently devious pieces of art teasing. We saw a page of Ming Doyle art featuring Loki. Gillen had carefully whited out the person Loki was talking to, using a large white square. Mckelvie got one of the biggest laughs of the panel by pointing out that might actually be in the issue. Gillen's athletic leap to point the square out, also got a round of applause.

Doyle and Mckelvie both talked at length about the new Loki costume, with Doyle saying it made him look like a 'Slytherin aristocrat'. Mckelvie mentioned that he only had two issues of it left to draw, and wanted to apologize to Lee Garbett, the artist for Loki, Agent of Asgard, for all the work they'd have to do.

Gillen coined the term 'Hickmanian', when showing off a couple of very science fiction costume designs. He's clearly a huge fan of Hickman, and later referenced both Hickman's FF run and Matt Fraction's Immortal Iron Fist as the sort of book, unfettered by crossovers, he realized he hadn't made yet. This desire, to make a definitive statement, was cited as one of the reasons for the book's finite run.

-When asked if it would come back during the Q and A that closed the panel, Gillen joked that his first response should be 'No. They're all dead.' That got a slightly nervous laugh. He wouldn't give any details but said his gut instinct was the book would be back sooner rather than later.

Becky Cloonan revealed she was a huge fan of the series and specifically asked for the story featuring REDACTED. She also said to watch closely, as one of her panels in that story deliberately mirrors one of the very first panels in the series.

Annie Wu talked about her creative process, explaining she would commonly print out scripts and doodle in the margins to play with facial expressions for characters. She, along with Mckelvie, also talked with huge enthusiasm about costuming choices. In her case, she decided to give a character a pair of trousers she couldn't justify buying, and joked about living vicariously through her characters.

-Costuming logistics were one of the most difficult elements of planning the book. Mckelvie was tasked with picking costumes for the main characters whilst everyone else was costumed by the firs artist to draw them. This is clearly an element of the process Mckelvie loves completely, especially Miss America's costumes. He mentioned both her trainers, that he wished were real, and an upcoming necklace she's wearing that he's planning on getting as a tattoo.

Christian Ward talked about wanting to experiment with panel layout and we were shown a string of panels by him, running from concept sketch through to final product. Ward's a remarkable, meticulous artist and the fine tuning he did for his pages was extraordinary. His work is as detailed ever but there's a lightness of touch to the lines that looks really impressive, even on isolated panels.

Matt Wilson and Jordie Bellaire, the two colorists on the issues, were both singled out for praise. Wilson talked about the design process on the covers and how they were still evolving. He was praised by other panelists for the way he uses gradations of color to give an image more depth than it would usually have. It's remarkable work, with the two covers featuring at least three levels of depth and hopefully Marvel will release a print of the final image. It's certainly worthy of it.

-The panel rounded out with some questions, including one about whether the book's open approach had caused controversy. Gillen's reply was interesting, stating he was uncomfortable lumping everyone who might have a problem into one group. He said that he wasn't bothered by any controversy and, if anything, felt the teenagers in the book were toned down from how they would actually act. He also said that he'd used those elements as a 'soft test' for Marvel, to see if they had any problem with where he was going with the title. The fact they didn't, and the freedom the entire team have been given, was also specifically praised.

And that was a wrap, on an energetic, smart, fun panel about an energetic, smart, fun book. Bring on the  reunion tour.

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