I picked up Hot Damn on a whim, because I thought the cover looked cool. It was a guy covered in tattoos falling into hell. I’m covered in tattoos, and practically on my way to hell, so how could I not love this? Hot Damn is seriously one of the funniest comics I’ve read in a long time. (You can read our review of issue #1 here.) The main character Teddy is a great party animal, his hell sponsor Costello is diabolical and looking out for his own best interest, and his group counselor, Abaddon, is how you would imagine every youth pastor at church camp, he’s trying way to hard to be cool. (Heads up, this interview is potentially NSFW so read on at your own risk…)
4LN – This comic has a lot of interesting takes on theology. Were you raised in a religious family, and if so, does this impact your views on Heaven and Hell?
Ryan Ferrier – I wasn’t raised in a religious family at all, no. My Scottish parents grew up with the church (my father catholic, my mother protestant) but they didn’t stick with it. I went to public school, etc, and my exposure to anything religion-based was minimal and discovered on my own as I got older. As for how this has impacted my views on Heaven and Hell, I think as a whole, Hot Damn approaches these things from the aspect of how we as a culture and an ingrained part of our day-to-day see it. We absolutely don’t want to mock, ridicule, or make these things the butt of any jokes. We simply want to take the collective idea and popular representation of these things and deconstruct/reconstruct them. Given all the pieces of life we’re playing with, how can we have some fun with them in harmony, and explore some common areas, is kind of the question that has driven Valentin and I through the course of the story. The human-emotional things we’re tackling in the story are really applicable to everyone, whether religious or not.
But, surely, everything in my life and upbringing influences and impacts my views on the subject matter, whether it’s conscious or not. It would be tough to say otherwise. With Hot Damn though, I think we’ve tried to remain as thoughtful of “the other side” as best we can. Even though some of the scenes say quite the opposite!
4LN – I honestly haven’t laughed this hard while reading a comic in a really long time, and I know that you and Valentin Ramon have worked together before on D4VE & D4VE2, so how do you guys play off of each other as a creative team?
RF – The collaborative sync that Valentin and I share is truly remarkable. It’s a very, very natural similarity to the point where it’s almost creepy. It’s as if our brains are linked, unknowingly. There’s a very organic (barf, why did I use that buzzword?) workflow in place between he and I, and there isn’t a lot of back and forth, honestly. We both know how each other works, and what each other likes, and it just fits perfectly. We obviously think very alike and share very close thought processes, interests, and views, so it makes things very simple to work with. Valentin is a genius and I will forever work with him, if he allows it.
4LN – Abaddon might be one of my favorite characters in this series, mostly because he reminds me of almost every Youth Pastor I’ve ever met. He’s just trying so hard to be cool, where did the inspiration for this character come from?
RF – I love Abaddon! All of the demons in Hot Damn are named after actual demons, and Abaddon is often considered one of the worst. With that in mind, we made our Abaddon one of the best. The point of Hell being this therapy session you can never leave, and the actual act of these sessions being worse than any physical torture, yet the actual process is very calm and friendly, so we made Abaddon–the leader of these sessions–this very inviting, supportive character. I think we approached Abaddon as a personality to be very sinister in that he looks like a Baphomet, but is so kind and inviting; he basically coaxes you into confessing and realizing your sins. It’s awful when you think about it. But, like Satan, Abaddon’s heart and relative well-meaning is pretty genuine. He’s a nice dude.
4LN – Can you elaborate on the meaning of Abaddon, and why the counselor from hell is given this name?
RF – Our version of Abaddon, though a small part, is an important one, so we wanted to make sure his name had some weight. Abaddon is a real demon (well, as “real” as you believe demons are), and depending on what you read, he is a pretty damn gnarly sonofagun. It only felt fitting to re-imagine him in our story as a very kind soul, albeit one responsible for your worst undoing.
4LN – I think one of the most entertaining parts of this comic are the background images; testical strippers, suicide bombers, catholic priests… where do you get the ideas for the citizens of hell?
RF – With the exception of only a few notes from my mind, that is very much Valentin’s work. That’s his twisted mind conjuring up such atrocities. He loves conceptualizing and bringing to life the most ridiculous stuff. I love seeing the bizarre stuff he cooks up splatter onto the page. I aspire to reach his level of absurdity and brilliance.
4LN – Teddy doesn’t seem like that terrible of a person, he actually seems pretty smart. In issue two when he meets Maria, we find he is pretty self aware. He knows people are just at his party for drugs and self gratification. Where did you get the inspiration for teddy’s character?
RF – I think the most dangerous kind of person is the kind that doesn’t seem terrible, that seems smart and confident, but their records indicate the exact opposite. Teddy is a terrible person and he knows it, which is why he’s now in Hell and trying, desperately, to reverse all that. For him in particular it may be a delayed “oh crap” moment, but from the get go we wanted to make Teddy the worst, most unlikable character we’ve ever dealt with, and turn him completely around. We wanted to go further with the theme of redemption. Teddy isn’t being mistreated, or treated unfairly, in Hell. Everything he’s going through is very well earned and deserved. As for inspiration, there’s a little bit of me in there, and a little bit of people I’ve known in there, albeit amped up to 1,000. Teddy is the product of a lifetime of focusing on life’s negativity, to a fault. He’s a lot of flaws in our personalities personified. He’s certainly a walking, talking cautionary tale.
Lightning Round (a series of quick and random questions)
4LN – So, I follow you on twitter and have noticed that you are really into metal music, which we seriously love here at 4LN. So, I gotta ask, is the name a reference to the Every Time I Die album, Hot Damn?
RF – Every Time I Die is one of my most favorite all-time bands, current or otherwise, hands down. I’m a die hard ETID guy. Oddly enough, the title of Hot Damn, which was not the original title, came more from the expression and the imagery it conjures, mixed with a little Hell-ish double meaning. That came first, for me internally, and it wasn’t at all a reference to the (incredible) album. Though the coincidence is not at all lost on me. There’s actually an ETID reference in the first issue during the possession scene; we talk about Keith Buckley and one of his lyrics in particular.
4LN – What show have you been binge-watching on Netflix lately?
RF – I actually haven’t been binge-watching much lately, to be honest! The last thing I really marathoned was Daredevil Season 2. I don’t watch much TV (I don’t have any cable at all) and only stream stuff here and there. I’ve been making good use of my WWE Network subscription though, which is a damn time vacuum if you’re not careful.
4LN – Which character from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia do you think you relate to the most?
RF – Rickety Cricket, easily. I’m not confident enough to come close to the original/main cast.
4LN – Best concert you have been to this year?
RF – I haven’t seen any live music this year, sadly, though I’m seeing Charles Bradley and Ghost in a couple months (separately, of course, though imagine the crowd at that show if it existed). The last great concert I saw was Morrissey in Salt Lake City last year.
4LN – What’s your all time favorite metal album?
RF – All time? That is near impossible for the genre. I could make a top 10 list and it still wouldn’t come close to being succinct. Like…what kind of metal are we talking here? Thrash? Hardcore? It seems unfair to put, for example, Converge and Metallica in the same eligible field. Or Dillinger Escape Plan and Faith No More. It’s just too broad a category, and there’s too much to choose from, you monsters. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
Wow. Geeze. Okay. Ummm…this is insanely difficult. And it changes daily, I’m certain. I think…if I were to be somewhat objective about it, for me personally, and for where I’m at now in life with my interests, Deftones’ Around the Fur was a huge influence for me. But then their subsequent White Pony record pretty much redefined metal at that time and moving forward. But there’s other metal records I love more. I could listen to QOTSA’s Songs For the Deaf literally any time. God, this is difficult. Mastodon’s Crack the Skye is one of the finest metal records ever made. But how do you say that and not acknowledge any Pantera record or …And Justice For All? Or immediately think about DEP’s Option Paralysis, or Miss Machine, for chrissake?! I can’t do this. Don’t ask me to do this. It’s too hard for me.
Okay fine, Deftones’ White Pony for all time. This question is killing me.
My HUGE thanks to Ryan for chatting with me, and make sure you guys head down to your local comic shop and pick the first 4 issues of Hot Damn! #4 just released yesterday (08/03) so make sure you get caught up before the finale drops!