Ultra violence. Dismal future. Punk rock. Girl biker gangs.
This is the world of Curb Stomp.
Writer Ryan Ferrier, with newcomer artist Devaki Neogi, is bringing this story of futuristic turf war. family bonds that aren’t necessarily bonded by blood, and a gang of girls called the Fever, to BOOM! Studios in late February. When gang leader Machete Betty sparks a gang war in Old Beach, it’s up to her and the rest of the Fever to defend their home with everything they’ve got.
Newsarama recently spoke to Ferrier about Curb Stomp, how metal and punk influenced a lot of the story, working with a new talent like Devaki, and what he hopes readers get out of the story.
Newsarama: Ryan, Curb Stomp sort of plays out like Rat Queens meets The Warriors. What else went into influencing this world?
Ryan Ferrier: A huge influence on this world, honestly, is ours right now. We're in a strange time at the moment, and not necessarily in a good way. It's 2015 and we're still riddled with inequality and injustice right in our own backyards. In creating Curb Stomp we wanted to bring that into the grand design and actually say something, while also creating a kick-ass punk rock survival story with a diverse, interesting cast of characters. It's not all serious business all the time though, we're really excited about the fun elements of the book--our approach is very much a vibrant, thrilling one. Music--especially copious amounts of punk and metal--has played a big part in the creation of Curb Stomp. You wouldn't get that kind of experience if it were a book set in an office environment, or a white picket fence community. Everything is very influenced by being yourself and standing up for what you believe in, but also having a real ripper of a time with loud music, big leather boots, and baseball bats.
Nrama: You have your four main girls of your gang, the Fever, tell us a bit about who each of them are and what they bring to the team.
Ferrier: Together, they really are a family, though not blood related. They've all endured the same struggles, as has their community. What's perfect about the Fever, is that yes, they're a gang, so to speak, but for them--and unlike the other gangs in the story--they aren't in it to profit. They're in it because they have to be, to protect themselves and their borough. They each bring their own personality and strengths to the group, and they couldn't function better as a team...at first. Machete Betty is the leader of the Fever. She's strong and decisive, but through circumstance happens to set off an unfortunate chain reaction that affects everyone. Her right hand woman is Violet, who could be her opposite; she's got no filter and is completely unpredictable--but she's so incredibly fun and full of youth. Derby Girl is similar but comes with a dark secret that becomes her biggest crutch in the politics of the gang war. Then we have Bloody Mary, probably the most complex and intimidating woman you'll ever meet, who will prove to be the linchpin in the war, and Daisy Chain, who keeps these women together--she's completely selfless and devoted to her sisters.
Nrama: Now your color palette that's used here is pretty wild and unorthodox, I'd guess you'd say. What went into some of the creative decisions like that?
Ferrier: Our colorist Neil Lalonde has a knack for really bright, saturated coloring, and it's a look that I completely adore. He and I collaborated on a short comic called Southpaw, and he experimented a lot with incredibly vibrant palettes. It's something that fits perfectly with the tone of Curb Stomp--we want everything to be in your face and loud, but also beautiful and vibrant. These women are larger than life, rock and roll, street punks--they don't do anything subtle. The way Neil's colors work with Devaki's art is really something.
Nrama: Can you tell us a bit about the artist you have working on Curb Stomp?
Ferrier: Devaki [Neogi] is just amazing. She's an incredibly talented artist based in India, and her grasp of character design and environments--establishing the tone and world of a story--almost comes second nature to her. There's no detail too small for Devaki, and I think that shows; we're all incredibly proud to have her be an integral part of the story, and she's going to be a huge comics star, I'm sure. Her work is just so unique and is honestly the perfect fit for our book; she brings a sense of beauty, character, and vulnerability to this at-times gritty and violent story.
Nrama: The reasoning why the book is called C” happens fairly late in the first issue, but the point is made. Though, why do you feel it was important to name the book after this event?
Ferrier: In the early development, we had a couple other options floating around, all of which were great, but in the end we settled on Curb Stomp because of the reaction it conjures. Sure it's very relative to the story, both literally and figuratively--the act itself is in the first issue, which is the catalyst for the story--but it's also a very profound, horrible thing that demands at least a wince. It's very "in your face" and relentless, a tone that we're trying to capture with the story. Everything in the story is pushed to the limits, and even so with the title. Also, there's that double meaning there, "Curb Stomp" meaning "Turf War" or "Street Fight."
Nrama: You mentioned music played a pivotal role in this creation of this world, so I have to ask, did you have a soundtrack when working on this? If so, what was on it?
Ferrier: Great question! Music has been a huge part of developing the book, as it is for all of my projects. I've actually begun making Spotify playlists of my comics and sharing them online (spotify is so punk, right?). Anyone following me on twitter can check those out when I post them. As for the first issue, that playlist is as follows:
Rise Above by Black Flag
Boys Wanna Be Her by Peaches
You Don't Own Me by Leslie Gore
Where Eagles Dare by Misfits
The Eleventh Hour by August Burns Red
Hall of Mirrors by The Distillers
Moral Majority by Youth Brigade
Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill
Bloodmeat by Protest the Hero
Panasonic Youth by Dillinger Escape Plan
Nrama: Tell us a bit about the design process of each character. Did you have a specific idea for each one, or some idea and let Devaki fill in the rest?
Ferrier: It was definitely a collaborative effort between Devaki and I. As far as development, I had a very basic idea of the characters that came from developing their arcs and personalities. We knew the characters had to have meaning, reason, and be inclusive--from their race to body, and so forth. It was very organic but also guided by who these characters are and need to be, and how they live their lives and express themselves. When it came to the actual look of the characters, Devaki has been amazing at really bringing them to life, visually. Devaki actually is a fashion designer, so she has such an incredible eye for detail and style and aesthetic, and it really shows. We talk and work together on basic looks, but I wouldn't dare get in the way of Devaki's hard work and talent in bringing them all to life. It's been really cool how everything has informed everything else, as we've been working on the book.
Nrama: What are you hoping fans take away from reading Curb Stomp? Do you have anything else planned in the pipeline as well?
Ferrier: First, I hope they dig it! I hope that readers have as much a blast with the series as we're having making it. I hope that some readers see things they haven't seen before, and I hope that we see more of those things moving forward. I hope it prompts some discussion and makes us look at our own communities, and the people that live beside us and work with us and exist with us. Curb Stomp deals with some very real, very sensitive topics and themes, and without spelling them out, I hope it makes people think and learn and talk and listen. I hope it makes some readers feel like they can relate to the characters. I hope our readers feel this is a comic for them. We have hundreds of hopes, but above all, I hope people take a chance on the book and enjoy it.
As for other projects, I've been lucky enough to have a pretty busy first half of 2015. I'm really excited about D4VE coming out in single issue release from IDW, with the first issue hitting shelves February 11th. Releasing D4VE through Monkeybrain was such a great opportunity, and I couldn't be more pumped to see how the print market digs it. Valentin [Ramon, the artist] and I are beyond proud of what we cooked up. I've also taken over writing duties on Sons of Anarchy, starting with issue #19 in March, and I couldn't be more thrilled--it's been so freaking fun to be able to play in that sandbox, and we're all insanely pumped for the arc we're working on. I've got two more super cool things that are waiting in the wings for announcement, so those should be hitting the airways soon.