Curb Stomp: Ferrier & Neogi Go ‘Over The Edge’ In New Girl Gang Comic [Interview]
This week, Boom! Studios announced Curb Stomp, a new four-issue miniseries from the team of Ryan Ferrier, Devaki Neogi and Neil Lalonde. Taking place in a city divided up by four gangs, Curb Stomp shows what happens when the five women who make up one of those gangs, the Fever, are pushed into a war by an act of violence meant to defend their turf. On sale in February, issue one comes with cover art by Tula Lotay, Trevor Hairsine and Marie Bergeron.
Curb Stomp arrives in the midst of comics readers' increasingly vocal desire for more diverse stories featuring women protagonists. Boom! has been attempting to service this audience with books like Lumberjanes, Bee and Puppycat and Butterfly, and Curb Stomp would seem to speak to the call for more strong, action-based heroines in particular. With that in mind we spoke to Ferrier and Neogi about the feeling that they're trying to get from the series, the challenge of designing characters for a life of brutal violence, and just why it is that the gang is called "The Fever."
ComicsAlliance: So let's talk about the high concept for Curb Stomp.
Ryan Ferrier: I've just always wanted to do a kind of timeless street gang book, and when I say "timeless," I mean something that's not modern, that's not in the eighties, that's just there, but it still touches on all the wonderful things of those different times, and that's also more real. You take The Warriors, for example, which it's going to get a lot of comparison to, and it's a very rooted gang story, but it's almost fantastical because you've got these crazy gangs and there's hundreds of them throughout all these areas, stuff like that. I wanted to dial that down and have that kind of gang, street-level book, but very relatable, dealing with stuff that happens in our own back yards. It sounds cliché to say it, but I wanted something super punk.
CA: You talked about The Warriors, so obviously I'm going to ask about that, and it's a movie that's rooted in the idea of a journey through enemy territory. It's about trying to get home. Curb Stomp, just from what I've seen in the preview, feels like it's more defensive, more about going to war to protect your home. Is that the theme that it's built around?
RF: I think it's both the culmination of a war coming to them and what happens when you push very different forces over the edge.
CA: Devaki, Ryan talked about wanting to create something timeless, and looking at the art for the book, was there a particular influence for the book that you drew on to give it that feeling?
Devaki Neogi: Ryan mentioned punk rock, and I would say that punk rock was the leading reference to it, but coming from where I am today and all those city feelings and modern feelings, plus the punk rock, and a bit of what the story was all about. There's aggression in it, but when you go through the whole of it, you realize that there's a particular style attached to it, and it's quite slick also. It has blood, gore, violence and all that, and on top of that it's about a female gang, and they know what they are. They have their own individualism, so they needed to stand out. That was one high note.
I'm also very interested in clothing and accessorizing, and I wanted each of them to look like part of a group, but look different on their own. That was what I was trying to achieve.
CA: How closely did you work together on the character designs? Ryan, you wrote a pretty detailed guide to the cast of the book, was that something you came up with first and sent to Devaki, or was it a collaboration to get the look and feel right?
RF: We definitely worked on that together. There were a lot of notes and a lot of reference. A fraction of what makes Devaki's art so amazing is her attention to detail, but also connecting the styles to each character and how that fits in with this world that we're creating. It's not just in one city, there's four locations, four boroughs, so everything down from what the city looks like to the details like what vehicles there are isn't just picking things for the sake of picking things. We're both putting a lot of thought into that, and I'm sorry, I don't mean to speak for Devaki, but her eye for presenting characters and defining them in such a visual medium is fantastic.
CA: I really love the designs. You see a character named "Machete Betty," and of course she looks like that. She couldn't look like anything else. Did those initial designs come together easily?
DN: Yes. I don't think it was very difficult. The only difference I explored on my own was punk rock, and as I kept exploring, I found all the details around them. I tried to get a feel of the whole thing. They're women, they're strong, they're capable, but I didn't to make them look like they didn't have emotions or anything like that. They're bold and very sensitive and also have a certain elegance to them.
I think you know how it is. You have to protect your turf and you have to look very strong, and you have to look very aggressive and be that bold, so on the outset, they needed to look that part. The leather jacket, the boots, the t-shirts, the racerbacks. They needed to look sporty. They're always on the go. They're never getting a time to stop and think and relax, so that was one thing that I needed to remember. They're not getting a comfortable lifestyle, they're not getting a relaxed way of life. They're battered emotionally, and outside, it needed to come out in a slight way. I was working on the emotional part, and trying to bring that out in the way they dress themselves and how they make themselves look, and it slowly shaped up to what you can see.
I started doing the characters from Machete Betty, she was the starting point and the rest followed. I tried to give each of them a different look. Mary was completely different, ethnically, and Violet was different, ethnically, so it was easy to do them. I think it was very cool to work on them. I really enjoyed it.
RF: Yeah. Everything Devaki just said about those characters visually is very apt for the characters and the situation on the whole. It's exploring the way that they live and that a huge amount of people all over the world live, and how they wear that, so to speak. It's also important, too, with a cast of women, especially when we're dealing with the context of violence and action, you don't want to strip that identity away from them. It's important for us to approach it very realistically, and show that they're represented in every way. You don't want to do what a huge amount of comics do, which is take a woman and have her look and do things the way that a man would because she's doing action. All the characters in Curb Stomp are really great people that have really awful things happen to them, but they're not just violent, and they haven't lost that, for lack of a better word, femininity. That comes back to Devaki's attention to visual detail as well.
CA: The main characters of the book -- Machete Betty, Violet Volt, Derby Girl, Bloody Mary and Daisy Chain -- are part of a gang called the Fever. Where does that name come from?
RF: It's funny, that wasn't the original name for that group. It wasn't a late change, but it was a developmental change. We bounced around with a lot of different names, what would sound badass for a street gang, but ultimately, it became the Fever because it's very indicative of how everyone else, all these other gangs, see this particular gang. There's a system that's set up that we'll show in the book. I don't want to say "code of honor" because they're not very honorable, but there are rules. There are business dealings, and by "business" I mean illegal stuff. But the Fever's different from that. They're good people, but they're forced to adhere to that lifestyle.
There are references in the book to the name "The Fever" that I won't spoil, but that's where it came from. And also it sounds badass.
CA: How about the other three gangs?
RF: There are two that are predominant in the book. The Wrath is one of the big villains of the story, and they're a real piece of work. They're super fun to write, but they are just terrible, terrible people. Then there's another gang, the Bayside Five. They're kind of in the middle. They're very much active participants in the chaos that's going on, but it's very much a story on the whole about challenging expectations in what each gang will do, but also what each person within that gang will do. It's not just a straight up street fight book. There's a ton of twists and turns within those gangs, and outside of them.
There's also another gang that's not even a gang, and it's the big city that's at the center of all these boroughs. They play a monumental part in the story.
CA: One of the things that's mentioned in the initial release is that there's an "oppressive mayor determined to gentrify the boroughs," and presumably get rid of all these violent gang members.
RF: It gets a lot deeper than that, too. You really don't know who's in the right at certain points.
CA: Curb Stomp is set to run as a four-issue miniseries. Is that going to complete the story, to the point where you'll be done with it? It seems just from talking to you that there's a lot in there for four issues, with a pretty complex web of characters.
RF: It's always been a miniseries, and in the four issues, there's definitely a beginning, middle and end. Maybe if it does well, but we haven't talked about it. It's definitely a complete story in those four issues. I don't know. Devaki, you want to do more?
DN: Yes, definitely! I was actually going to say that this is almost like the tip of the iceberg. You're just getting to know who they are and what's happening, but it's complicated. But yeah, as of now, I think this is more like a teaser for the four issues and what it's all about.
RF: Right now we've only locked down four issues, but who knows? Let's hope it does well.