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Lettering As A Necessity: A NYCC Interview With Ryan Ferrier

Written by Tim Midura on Tuesday, October 24 2017 and posted in News with Benefits

Lettering As A Necessity: A NYCC Interview With Ryan Ferrier

On the D4VE trilogy, writing as catharsis, and being a Canadian writing G.I. Joe.

Source: New York Comic Con

Ryan Ferrier is a Canadian comic book writer and letterer. His written work includes D4VE, Rocko's Modern Life, Kennel Block Blues, and Hot Damn. His lettering work is extensive.


Tim: You've worked at a variety of publishers as a letterer, then as a writer. Was that a conscious decision to cast a wide net?

Ryan: In terms of writing versus lettering, I think no. I've always wanted to be a writer. That was my MO. I used lettering as a way to learn the craft and be more involved with comics. At the start of my career, that was a way to meet people and network. And to quote unquote break in. Which is a term I hate using. Ed Brisson, who is a buddy of mine that I respect and admire, that's a thing he did as well. It was a thing of necessity as well. I lettered my own comic. It fell into place that when I started I was doing a lot of that. But I'm not actually doing a lot of that anymore.

Tim: A lot of lettering?

Ryan: Yeah. I'm dialing way back. Just focusing on writing.

Tim: Was lettering always the plan as a way in?

Ryan: It was pretty organic. The first published work I got in 2007 or 2008. I'm not going to tell you what it is because it's absolutely terrible. But my editor was like "Oh, you're a designer." My job was a graphic designer at the time. He was like "You know the software, you can go do it." So I thought how hard could it be. I learned very quickly that it's an entirely different skill set and the lettering was awful. I never once considered wanting to be a letterer. I think I started doing it so much that I got really good at it. That was a good way for me to do a lot of work. I could still work and do comics stuff. That work was far more easy for me to get. It started from there.

Tim: Was D4VE always planned as a trilogy?

Ryan: No. It was only planned as the first volume. I remember back in 2012 when Valentin [Ramon] and I started it, I was like "It's only going to be five issues and that's it!" Once you get that first taste of success, you want to keep doing it. We manage to get the second volume. That was great. We took that break in between D4VE2 and D4VEOCRACY with Hot Damn. Once we finished with Hot Damn and got into the third volume of D4VE, we thought that was as far as we could take that story. At that point, in all honesty, the only people buying D4VEOCRACY were the people who had it in their pull list. The sales were very much a straight line. Not that like it was so terrible we couldn't do it. But that factors into a little bit of a logical decision to not keep doing it.

Tim: Like you mentioned, you took a break to do Hot Damn. What made you take that break? Did you need a break?

Ryan: I think so. Me and Valentin had worked so fast on D4VE that it felt like an ongoing, even though there were a couple months. It followed more the Image model of taking a couple months, release the first trade, and go right into the second volume. I remember when we halfway through D4VE2, we knew we were going to do another thing together. D4VE is very silly and satire and they've got jerk off jokes and shit. Sorry, can I swear?

Tim: Yeah.

Ryan: It's also super emotional for him and I. There's a lot of our own personal stuff in D4VE, once you get over the weird robot stuff. I think it was really exhausting for us to go through that catharsis with the personal stuff. Also at the time I was doing Kennel Block Blues at BOOM!. That was another aspect of my life that was super personal and really difficult to write. I think both of us realized we needed to keep working together because we're great together, but we needed to do something that is more of an indulgence for us. That's why we took that break to do Hot Damn. I don't know. Maybe in hindsight we should have kept going with D4VE and kept that fire going, but I love Hot Damn a lot. I think it's super gross and funny. It was what we needed.

Tim: IDW was cool with you taking that break?

Ryan: Oh yeah. Totally. They've been super supportive ever since. I think a lot of other publishers would say that's stupid. I'm still surprised they greenlit Hot Damn to begin with.

Tim: You just got announced as the writer on the G.I. Joe vs The Six Million Dollar Man comic. How is it living in the '70s?

Ryan: It's pretty cool. Those franchises are nostalgic. They're still relevant and still content being made, but nostalgia is its touchstone. It always is. That's something that I'm kind of harnessing in my head. I'm not thinking about it in a modern context. I'm thinking about it like "What was that visceral experience when I was a kid playing with toys?" I'm kind of boiling everything down to these outrageous characters. That's kind of the approach that we're doing, but with that extra flavor of the '70s style. We're leaning into the camp aspect a little bit. It's straight-up classic Larry Hama-style G.I. Joe, with the television cheesiness of the Six Million Dollar Man. But he's also way more of a badassier version of the Six Million Dollar Man.

Tim: As a Canadian, what makes you think you're qualified to write real American heroes?

Ryan: That's a good question. I hate Canada. No, I don't hate Canada. I'm gonna get roasted for this. I feel like Canada doesn't have the kind of patriotism that America has. America's influence on the entire Western world is undeniable. As Canadians, we absorbed that. I grew up watching every American TV show. There's no difference. Well, Canadian media is shitty. What makes me qualified? I don't know. That is the most difficult question I've ever had. I feel like I've always had an affinity for the United States. I feel like I can do it justice. That's a terrible answer. That's difficult. Fuck.

Tim: It's a long way to say you can do it justice.

Ryan: Just boil it down to that.

Tim: How do you balance creator-owned and work-for-hire?

Ryan: This last year, I've just done licensed work. I'm itching to get back into creator-owned. In 2018, I'll have like three, which is nice. All my creator-owned stuff is personal. I take from my experiences and put that in there. I try to do the best I can with existing characters and existing situations. My balance is that I like writing other people's characters. I like the challenge of trying to figure out the whole puzzle and putting the pieces together. I think for me, as a creator, I want to balance it evenly. My ideal situation is to do both. If I had to choose one or the other, that's not fair. You always want to make your own stuff. That's what I like about all the licensed work that I have been doing, is that I can really make it my own. People are trusting me and letting me do my thing.

Tim: Do you have future plans with Valentin?

Ryan: I do. Valentin and I are like soul mates. We're always going to make comics together. We don't exactly know where we're going right now, but we have a pitch together for a thing. With luck, it'll land somewhere, but if not. We're almost always talking about doing something together and it's crazy to me. When D4VE came out, I thought he was going to blow up and be really huge. He's not getting a lot of work because he's amazing. I'll always keep working with him. I think he and I have this weird... I've actually never talked to him and I've been working with him for like six years. I've never heard his voice. It's always just email. His English is super broken. He's a weird guy. I almost want to keep it in that email.

Tim: It's the ideal.

Ryan: He's great. He's a very interesting guy. We're very similar. We're like a chaotic good combination and he's a little more chaotic than I am. He's a raw dog. You're a raw dog like me. You know. We're all raw dogs.

Tim: Aside from the new G.I. Joe vs The Six Million Dollar Man, what else do you have going on?

Ryan: I'm writing the Kong On The Planet Of The Apes series for BOOM! which starts in November. I'm writing the ongoing Rocko's Modern Life for KABOOM! in December. After that, I've got more work with the WWE comics. I have three creator-owned books next year, which are not announced yet, but I'm pretty jazzed about. It went from not busy to crazy busy.


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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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