Left to right: Qi Brother No.1, Pierre, Ca, Bini, Qi Brother No.2
Pierre, who has also been known as Zhang Dong-Xu and Zhang Zei-Zei, is an elusive graffiti artist, illustrator and video-game designer known for his vivid punk aesthetic, and for the unpredictability with which he surfaces from periods of anonymity. He was one of the founding members of Choice of Cult Youth, a dōjinshi (an independently published magazine, manga or novel) with an intense cult following that was published between 2007 and 2009. Here he talks to the Chinese art magazine Snacks.
Snacks How did you form Choice of Cult Youth?
Pierre At the very beginning, it all relied on passion. We just wanted to make a baga dōjinshi!
S After the first issue was printed, were you really excited?
P I was! I remember it was Wednesday the 25th when the delivery reached the studio. We all made some excuse to leave work or uni – we were all trying to be the first one to see the result. Ca and his wife took 200 copies and drove to Hangzhou for a manga/animation fair. Bini started to sell copies online and booked a stall at a music festival. All of us were like a mega sales team – we were so busy. We got so much attention online, it was like viral warfare.
S How was the response from your public?
P It was amazing! The magazine sold really well at the music festival, even better than we expect ed. We all turned to coal under the sunshine, selling it there! Not to mention the online store, where we would sell five or six copies every day. Before the heat died down, we were already busy on the second issue, the core team of Cult Youth – Ca, Bini, the Qi brothers and me. We called ourselves the Five Summer Musketeers.
S But you guys split up afterwards?
P Yes. After the new year I got a full-time job; Bini got a new girl – so many things came up at the same time. So Bini went off into his own world, and I went for my IT job. Guo Qi went to Shanghai and Song Qi went to a top advertising agency. Ca became an illustrator. And just this time last year, I had a big fight with Bini. I said we would not see each other again before we die. Now, I recall, it was such little things we fought over.
To be honest, I did want to concentrate on my new job. Bini tried to run the online side of the company for a few months, but over the summer, he hid himself away and then left the company completely. Our plan for issue two – Cult Rock – was postponed.
So the key people of Cult Youth reformatted. We called ourselves the Four Eccentrics of North Taiping Zhuang [a neighbourhood in north Beijing]: Song Qi, Ca and me, plus a new person, Itō Junsan [a nickname that references Itō Junji, the famous Japanese horror mangaka]. Although I am no longer in charge of the company, I still meet them every week. Dinners, chats, buying DVDs… We used to toast each other all the time, and down every drink in one, but those times no longer exist.
Ca wants to continue. He even made a giant plaque that reads, “The Organising Committee of Cult Youth”, hung it in his house, and wished for someone to take Bini’s job. The Qi brothers finished their part for Cult Rock and drifted away. But I think, if Ca is still there, Cult Youth will never disappear. §