Stache Publishing in association with GR1ND Productions, announces plans for a captivating, raw and real street-lit/true-crime comic, Supreme Team. The title is based on the popular nonfiction work of gangsta chronicler Seth Ferranti (VICE, Don Diva, F.E.D.S.), who authors the Street Legends series for Gorilla Convict.
The gritty comic harkens back to 1980’s-era New York at the jumping off of crack and hi-hop. It was a volatile period in the urban city centers and the Supreme Team was born in a hail of bullets, making their mark in the drug game and generating serious cash flows. But with money and fame came new problems; the Team had to keep one step ahead of jealous rivals and the relentless arm of the law.
“Back before rap became big in ’85, the rappers emulated the street guys. It was guys like Supreme who would pay these young artists $1,000 a night to perform at parties. This was before they even had a record out or were playing at clubs. It was the drug dealers that funded their early careers in order to let the talent flourish. The Supreme Team influenced the music and culture of hip-hop as a developing art form,” explains Ferranti.
Ferranti wrote the original non-fiction book The Supreme Team: The Birth of Crack and Hip-Hop, Prince’s Reign of Terror and the Supreme/50 Cent Beef Exposed while serving a twenty-five-year sentence in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for an LSD kingpin charge. His case gained national attention and was covered by Rolling Stone magazine, among other media outlets.
After meeting the infamous Supreme in prison, Ferranti published an account of the Queen’s drug crew in Don Diva magazine. As a prison author, Ferranti had to use a pseudonym. While incarcerated, his frank writing on prison life for VICE and The Fix often landed Ferranti in solitary confinement. It also gave him time to learn the art of comics.
“I was getting 50 comic books a month sent into prison for thirteen years. I always wanted to make comics, but it was real difficult to pull off. There are talented artists in prison, but they do tattoos because it is hard to get the right paper to draw on. When I got out, I met Anthony Mathenia and we started talking about how to adapt Supreme Team into a graphic novel,” says Ferranti.
Mathenia is producing the book for Stache. “When I read Seth’s first draft for the comic, I was impressed by the dialogue. It had the authenticity of how people talk and it felt real. When we started looking for artists, I wanted somebody who could capture that same raw realism. Finding Joe Wills and seeing what he’s brought to Supreme Team as an illustrator is amazing,” says Mathenia.
For the comic, St. Louis artist Joe Wills presents dynamic action with the urgent chaos of the period. “My artistic focus is trying to get it as accurate as possible. I’ve been doing a lot of research into the time period and the area it took place in – to make sure the clothing and mood is well put together,” says Wills. “I hope readers will be first blown away by how it looks and get drawn in by that gritty street vibe,” he added.
According to Mathenia, the publication of Supreme Team is part of a long-term goal by Stache to explore what the medium of comics can offer beyond established genres. “Stache is for diversity in comics and bringing in types of books that aren’t represented on the comic rack by mainstream publishers. What we’re trying to do with Supreme Team is to take crime comics from the past and figure out what a modern urban comic would look like. I think Supreme Team nails it,” says Mathenia.
“I don’t see anything like the kind of book that we’re trying to do. You’d think that being in prison twenty years would make me a patient person, but I’m ready to get this comic out to the world,” adds Ferranti.
A Supreme Team graphic novel is planned for late 2016. The first chapter will be released as a special preview in fall 2015. A deluxe hardcover edition including concept art, production sketches, the original script, and more is available exclusively on Kickstarter in August 2015. Other collectible rewards include signed copies of Ferranti’s non-fiction, true-crime Supreme Team book, original copies of the hard-to-find Don Diva issue that the story first appeared in, and Supreme Team stickers, posters and T-shirts.