‘You Are Obsolete’ Mixes Kids, Tech, and Horror

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BY June 18, 2019

Any adult that ever uttered the phrase “kids these days,” is probably just bemoaning their own waning youth. Just because youth experiences are different than their own, they don’t think it is valid or “as good” as back in the day. You Are Obsolete, a new sci-fi, horror comic just announced by AfterShock Comics looks to examine this phenomenon. Using a murderous app on their smartphones, the villainous kids in this story kill adults over the age of 40. Klickstein acknowledges that this tale borrows heavily from Stephen King’s classic book Children of the Corn, though You Are Obsolete replaces eerie religion with eerie technology. The series will debut in September of 2019 for a five-issue run. This is the latest title announced in a vibrant indie comics scene looking to compete with the big publishers.

Who Is Mathew Klickstein?

The 37-year-old novelist and screenwriter is perhaps most well-known for his books about the history of Nickelodeon’s slate of series in the 1990s. He since went on to write a number of books over the past five years, including histories of Simpsons’ writers and notorious quasi-porn site Mr. Skin. His first novel, Daisy Goes to the Moon, debuted in 2009. His second novel, Selling Nostalgia, is forthcoming from Post Hill Press. He also works with youth, primarily those with disabilities, in a program that seeks to teach kids a love of theater. Klickstein famously does not use social media, likely because he went viral in a bad way back in 2014.

Speaking to Flavorwire about diversity on television, Klickstein seemed to downplay the need for it. He complained that modern shows for children featuring diverse casts/creators were not “as good” as the children’s shows from his own youth, like Pete & Pete or Ren & Stimpy. Klickstein told the Daily Camera earlier this year that he wants kids to get into theater because he thinks we all spend too much time on our phones. Even though people can read (and arguably have greater access) to great books via their devices, Klickstein would like to see more physical books out in the wild. His goal with his new series is to encourage kids and adults to renounce their tech. ““If I’ve done my job, at least some readers after going through the series will stomp on their cellphones and deactivate their social media accounts,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

You Are Obsolete: Important Message or Luddite Paranoia?

As far as works in the Stephen King canon go, Children of the Corn is a weird little story. Adopting the trappings of southern and mid-western fundamentalist religion, the cult at the center of the story is decidedly evil. The message in the story, arguably, is about how fear of outside influence and backwards thinking causes fundamentalists of all stripes to sacrifice their kids and themselves in service of their “faith.” The unseen monster in the corn fields is vague enough to represent anything, but the point is that it’s not the children’s fault they are “bad.” So, the most interesting question about ‘You Are Obsolete’ is how the kids are convinced to use the technological evil that kills the adults.

Whenever there is new technology introduced into society, from the printing press to the newspaper, there are always some who warn how it will ruin society. Yes, there are dangers associated with using too much technology, including psychological and developmental worries. However, rarely are such things the fault of the “tech” itself, but rather the people who are in charge of it. You Are Obsolete features a great, scary premise, but one that seems to skirt dangerously close to the line of being a five-issue horror version of a “kids these days” story. Considering that the work is already derivative, You Are Obsolete risks alienating the audience Klickstein desperately wants to speak to.

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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