What would you have done if, as a kid, you came across Superman unconscious in the forest? Or Thor, or Wonder Woman, or whoever your favorite hero might be? You’d just been reading their latest adventure, and after you finished the book you went for a walk and there they were. Would you call for help, or would you try to help them yourself? Would you even know where to start?
That’s the basic premise of Olympia, a forthcoming miniseries from Image Comics. The series follows a young boy, Elon, who discovers the hero of his favorite comic, The Olympian, has somehow crash-landed in the real world. Elon takes it upon himself to nurse The Olympian back to health—and to use his knowledge of comics to somehow get his hero home. Olympia is written by Curt Pires, with art by Alex Diotto and Jason Copland, color art by Dee Cunniffe, and letters by Micah Myers. The series is particularly personal for Pires, who developed the idea for the series with his father, Tony Pires, before he passed away following a battle with cancer.
Themes of loss and loneliness are ever-present in Olympia, even after Elon begins his quest to get The Olympian back home. The series also serves as a love letter to comics, from the comic-within-the-comic “Olympia”‘s clear Jack Kirby influence, to the paths that Elon follows in trying to help his hero. Curt Pires and the rest of the creative team do some truly clever things with the structure of each issue of Olympia, playing with the way the ‘real world’ of the series ends up intersecting with the “Olympia” comics. I’ve been lucky enough to read the first three issues, and they’re a highly-satisfying read that have me excited to finish the series.
I had the opportunity to talk to Curt Pires about Olympia, what his comic tastes were like when he was Elon’s age, and the experience of bringing such a personal series to life.
Joe Grunenwald: I think a lot of readers will empathize with Elon’s use of comics as an escape from everyday life. He seems like a somewhat solitary kid before he meets The Olympian. What makes him a compelling lead for you? How much of you is there in Elon?
Curt Pires: There’s a lot of me in Elon. I think anyone who’s into comics or entertainment at large can relate to him. In tough times, when we struggle, we can take refuge in stories. For me it’s always been comics and cinema that take my mind off the darkness and make me feel good about things. Art in general. Elon has just dealt with something traumatic and he’s finding comfort in the world of Olympian and his comics.
Grunenwald: “Olympia,” the comic-within-the-comic, is clearly heavily influenced by Jack Kirby’s work. Did you read a lot of Kirby growing up?
Pires: No, I’m 27—so I’m not going to lie to you here and say I was reading Jack Kirby comics at the age of twelve. I was reading Jim Lee Hush and I think early Walking Dead. That and everything Mark Millar and Brian Bendis did. The Kirby love came later. Olympian was actually inspired by his Eternals stuff—a bit of the New Gods stuff—and I really loved the Captain Victory stuff he did. He’s so prolific, you can always find a new Kirby story—something new to love—if you go digging. It’s kind of magical.
Grunenwald: The entire creative team—artist Alex Diotto, guest artist Jason Copland, colorist Dee Cunniffe, and letterer Micah Myers—does an incredible job on the visuals in this book, especially in differentiating between the “Olympia” sequences and the real world sequences. How did you go about assembling this team? What are you excited to see each of them bring to the series?
Pires: It’s honestly just people I trust and have worked with before. Alex was the first person I thought of after my dad and I started cooking the idea. And he was into it right away. We’d worked with Dee on a few earlier things and he was brilliant—and I feel like is just so good—it’s crazy. Micah came on board when Ryan Ferrier got too busy with his own writing to letter the book. And he’s just such a consummate professional and hard worker, I brought him onto Wyrd and some other projects, too.
Grunenwald: You developed this story with your father before he passed away. What has the experience of bringing this book to life been like for you?
Pires: Working on it with my dad was a blast. I so wish he could see this book come out and hold it in his hands. But I know he’s with me. Having everyone get excited about this thing we made, it’s keeping him alive in a way. I know he’d be so stoked, and I just want to do him proud.
Grunenwald: This is a five-issue miniseries, but after reading the first three issues it feels like you’re just getting warmed up with these characters. Do you have plans for more stories with them beyond these five issues?
Pires: I do have an idea for how we could do more. But for now I’m just focused on hitting my deadlines and not blowing the ending! But here’s hoping!
Olympia #1 (of 5) is due out digitally and in stores on November 20th. The final order cutoff date for the issue is October 28th.