Starting things can be difficult: a diet, a new job, a company. A lot of hard work, focus, and dedication go into beginning a new chapter of your life. And starting a business from the ground up isn’t exactly easy. Especially if the ground you are building from is behind prison bars.
“When I wrote my first book, Prison Stories, I got the idea for the publishing company when I saw urban fiction taking off in the late 90’s and it took me five years to get the company together and get the book out,” says Seth Ferranti. “It was hard to do from prison. My wife was the only one to help me, but we figured it out. I got the book out and we went on to publish seven more titles on Gorilla Convict while I was in prison.”
Seth Ferranti is an author that began writing books and articles while serving a 25 sentence for a first time non-violent drug offense for supplying 15 colleges in five states with LSD and marijuana on the East Coast. While in prison, Seth got clean and then got creative. He started up his own publishing company, Gorilla Convict.
“I didn’t really start writing like I do now until I got into prison and started taking college courses on article writing and creative writing. That really showed me that I could pursue something like that while I was in.” Seth remembers. “I was a creative guy, but you find other guys like that to talk to. It’s like any part of society; there are different types of people, but in prison you just keep that hard exterior front and you let dudes know that you aren’t to be trifled with.”
Seth’s attitude and writing earned him respect, even across prison yard race lines. He was able to watch YO! MTV Raps in the black TV room and became interested in the street legends rappers like Nas and Jay-Z were rapping about. He was particularly intrigued by Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, a Queens gangster that was both respected and feared.
“I was with Supreme and wrote the Don Diva article about his crew the Supreme Team with his blessing.” Seth says. “I kept getting pictures and doing interviews. Then I had enough material for the book, so I put it together and again had to get Supreme’s blessing. There were some dudes on the team that didn’t want me to put it out, but Supreme said it was cool so I did it.”
Supreme Team has since become one of Seth’s top selling books and has gotten recognition from within the street community and various reviews. In 2014, Seth got out of prison and started on a multimedia adventure, learning as much as he can, as if making up for lost time. One of these new creative outlets was comic books.
“I always wanted to write comics while I was in, but it was so hard to even get a book published.” Seth admits. “When I got out, I got hooked up with Anthony Mathenia and we started talking and ‘BOOM!’ now we got the Supreme Team comic book coming out.”
Seth had always been into comic books. He started his love affair with comics with Marvel’s Secret Wars and then fell in love with the X-Men comics. After he was arrested, Seth still managed to get comics sent to him on the inside. “I would order them right from a shop. My parents had their credit card on account for me and they would send me the Diamond [Previews] book. I would preorder what I wanted; like 50 a month, easy.” Seth says. “I liked the different stories that were being written in the 90’s when the creators really started breaking out on their own and getting away from DC and Marvel.”
Now Seth is a creator that is breaking out on his own and getting away from what is normally covered in comic books today. “I don’t really see anything like.” Seth says when referring to the racks of comic books at comic shops. Seth points out issues of Scarface and Shaft as similar comics to Supreme Team. “But, they don’t have the cultural impact of hip-hop that my book has. And they are fiction, my book is real life history.”
Seth had to put together his own ‘supreme team’ to tackle this comic. Stache Publishing’s Anthony Mathenia (Pretty Face, Butterfly) helped guide Seth through the comic making process from the beginning. “Anthony is amazing with color and the book wouldn’t be the same without his edits. He really helped me to hone and focus my vision for the story.” Seth says.
Supreme Team needed an artist that could produce high quality work that was loyal to the time period. Seth found that artist in Joe Wills. “Jordan [Williams] from Stache introduced me to Joe Wills and basically told me this is your guy. I looked at his art and I was sold.” Seth says. “He is an extremely talented artist and I knew if he took the time to study my characters that he was the one to draw them and give them life. Joe’s work is so professional. Joe’s art is top quality. He is going to be in high demand very soon and probably working with [Marvel and DC]. Once I saw his talent I worked hard to sell him on my project.”
Supreme Team is something new for the comic industry and Seth thinks it has something extremely unique about it. “The Supreme Team, including its colorful cast of characters, is just an iconic group. The infamy and notoriety around them and their presence in the lyrical lore of hip-hop is astounding.” Seth explains. “I was on the compound with Supreme and the way they talked about him in prison was as if he was a god. Then I met him and he was the most humble dude ever, very courteous and respectful. A complete gentleman. I see why this dude has so many legends surrounding him. [He was] very charismatic and he influenced the guys in the drug and hip-hop world. It’s all really down to him.”
Seth is a go-getter and doesn’t let anything slow him down. After spending some of the prime years of his life behind bars, Seth has resurfaced in society as a creative mind with a strong work ethic. “I just like to complete projects, get them done, and get them out there to the world.” Seth has plans for many more projects including a film version of Supreme’s story. And what is different about Seth is that he doesn’t just have plans for them, he has already started working on them. Seth’s freedom has opened up all the creative channels for him.
“I am glad to be in the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Seth says. “I am really like the proverbial kid in the candy store. Life is great.”
Supreme Team has a campaign running on Kickstarter throughout the month of August. You can preorder your copy of Supreme Team #1, signed copies of Seth’s non-fiction true-crime Supreme Team book, original copies of the hard-to-find Don Diva issue with Seth’s Supreme story in it, original artwork by artist Joe Wills, and the Limited Edition Kickstarter-only Hardcover. Preorder your copy!
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